With no games to watch from the Memorial Cup yesterday, my mind started to wander. It got me thinking that the TBirds have to make a couple of important decisions soon (assuming they haven’t already) regarding next year’s roster. As examined previously, there’s both overage and import problems to solve. I took a look at the current roster and wanted to know, if you took out the this years 19’s and graduating 20, what kind of offense is returning. It’s not terrible but not good. Here are the top-6:
There’s a pretty big drop between your top-3 and the next 3. Granted, based on the list that would be expected as it’s offense/Theodore and defense. But what it shows is that maybe when deciding who should be coming back, offensive stats should be given some weight. The nice thing about the top 2 players is that they are averaging at or near a point per game. Gropp, who took some time adjusting to the system averages .75 points per game which isn’t too bad. In fact, if you take out the first 10 games for Gropp, he scored 41 points in 49 games which is .84 points per game, a much better average.
So the bottom line is, scoring is needed. Whether it comes from the players stepping up their games, choosing to have all your 20’s be offensive, or gambling on some potent imports, someone needs to be able to put the puck in the net. As you can see above, there are no shortage of players that can pass.
Of course, once I looked at Seattle’s numbers, I had to look at the rest of the US division to see how it stacked up. Oddly, the amount of returning points lines up with the standings of this past regular season. The top-6 for each team:
- Portland looks good to go as far as their returning offense goes. 3 80+ points players returning, which is 3 more than any of the other division teams.
- Portland and Everett are the only 2 teams to have 6 of their top-10 fit the criteria.
- Seattle has the lowest ranked player at 14th overall.
- Seattle also has the lowest top-goal scorer to make the list.
- Tri-City is the only team to have their overall top-3 in the list but considering how little the team scored overall, TC is going to need much more than that. (As an aside, Bowles was the entire reason I also included games played. He scored a point per game before a serious injury. Had he been healthy all season, it might have made a difference. Same could be said for Sandhu in Everett.)
So in summary, next season might look a lot like the past one. What could make a difference is how the teams surround these players. If anyone wants to seriously challenge Portland, they are going to need a huge offensive infusion from somewhere. No matter what happens, it should be a competitive division again and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a US division team get to the WHL final for the 6th year in a row.