SASKATOON, SASKATCHEWAN -- The VHLM playoffs have concluded - the Minnesota Storm have claimed the highest award in their inaugural season after relocating from Oslo to Minnesota - but now it is time to prepare for the off-season. Work doesn't stop for the general managers of each VHLM club, including the three new additions to the league, which means on top of a busy and deep draft class the skippers behind the wheel also have to prepare their clubs for expansion.
Saskatoon Wild have kept their protection list internal, but sources suggest the team is 'ready and waiting' for the conclusion of the expansion draft so they can prepare for the dispersal draft in greater depth. Saskatoon has three first round draft picks, and although they were unfortunately RNG'd right out of the top three by the introduction of a percentage based lottery (which undoubtedly pissed off the entire fan base and staff of the Saskatoon-based team) the club insists that they are already prepared to make selections with Saskatoon's pick, which dropped to fourth overall after the lotteries conclusion.
Unfortunately it's highly likely Saskatoon will also lose a second round pick in the draft.
"Expanding by three wasn't a smart decision, at least in my opinion, and I absolutely question the process behind it - especially our ability to protect our rosters and picks." GM Peace stats. "For the second time in a row Saskatoon is burned by attempting to accumulate a future through the draft, only to have it stripped from us once again. Last season we traded our first round picks to accumulate a high draft stock in this draft, but we had a pick taken from us that hampered our ability to draft a better team through the mid rounds. Now we're likely to lose an even higher pick because we simply can't protect it, which is beyond frustrating."
"We've protected the assets that we've protected, the list in finalized and we're waiting on the results from the league now. We're happy with our protection list and we think it gives us the best opportunity to be successful for next season and that's what we prepared for."
The Saskatoon Wild traded their first round picks last draft in return for first round picks and additional assets this draft, and through that move accumulated a large draft stock despite a mid-season trade that sent nearly a full set of picks to Philadelphia. The Saskatoon Wild will draft fourth, sixth and eighth in the first round and those picks are 'absolutely protected', Peace says, and will net the Wild a talented player regardless of their position thanks to the impressive depth of the dispersal draft.
Although the season has just ended, the team is already looking towards the beginning of the next.
"We have a strong returning core, our top players will remain our top players." Peace explained. "Couple that with our three first round picks, and at least one second round pick, I'm very excited about the prospects of next season."
Philadelphia is another team that has a lot of draft assets, and it isn't unreasonable that Saskatoon and Philadelphia will be among the top of the standings if they use the picks correctly.
"Obviously we need to address our goaltending," Peace replied to - perhaps - one of the most asked questions any GM gets. "We've always had faith in Juan, but he's draft eligible, he'll be in the dispersal draft and he'll either return to Saskatoon or won't."
Peace has been known to favor Saskatoon players. Nazarians and Dissanayake stayed with Saskatoon through dispersal draft, he reacquired Strong through a trade, so it's likely he'll drop a few picks on Wild players.