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TheFlash

Wolves add for future while building for today [1/2]

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On every team, in every sport, there is always an ushering in of a new era. When one door closes, another opens. Veterans, known by fans and fellow players as the faces of the franchise, reach their twilight stage in their careers take a final bow. This allows a new group of young players to come in and create new memories, both good and bad, for the fan base and history books. Though a good franchise is managed by a group who foresees this changing of the guard, and adapts to it before it happens. That is exactly what the management of the Vancouver Wolves did in the Season 66 draft.  

When most people think of the Wolves, formerly the Quebec Meute, they think of the veterans on the team. Like centres Beau Louth and Rauno Palo, both spending their entire careers with the team so far. Wingers Konstantin Mulligan and Jake Davis, both players acquired from other franchises but have quickly won the hearts of fans. How about defenceman Marvin Harding? The high scoring defender has been at nearly a point per game over the course of his career. What the Wolves did with this draft was grab some young players who will one day take the torch from the older veterans.  

The Wolves were able to get the 2nd overall pick in the draft from Riga, and they made a pick that was somewhat surprising to some, but made a lot of sense. Julius Freeman, the right winger formerly of the Halifax 21st in the VHLM, was only 20 TPE behind Shane Mars (the player many thought would go at number 2) and has been updating for about a month less than Mars. Freeman enjoyed a very successful season in the minors, scoring 40 goals and adding 60 assists. He’s a high skill, high hockey IQ player who will be a top player in the VHL for years to come.  

In the 2nd round, the Wolves had two picks. The first was spent on Shawnomir Jagr. Jagr, who was drafted at just under 300 TPE, was a high scoring winger for the Saskatoon Wild last season. Scoring 53 goals (good enough for 3rd behind HHH and Shane Mars) he was a top player on a team that underperformed and missed the postseason. Their second pick in the 2nd round was used on another winger by the name of Kyle Sabertooth. Sabertooth's skills are anything but prehistoric, scoring 76 points last year with Las Vegas of the VHLM. He recently signed with the Philadelphia Reapers of the VHLM and plans on staying down there to gain some more experience on a team that is slated to go far in the chase for the championship. Sabertooth will join the three other top picks of the Wolves next season. 

Finally, in the third round, the Wolves grabbed center Hans Gruber. Gruber was a late addition to last year’s Reaper’s team, being signed just before the start of the season. He worked his way up from a third line role all the way to the top line by being a defensively responsible player who had a knack for winning faceoffs. He was moved to Saskatoon just after the quarter mark of the season, and scored at a point per game clip. Based on this, he’s believed to have the potential to excel in all situations and be depended on to both kill penalties and win key draws on power plays.  

The Wolves also grabbed winger Ben Hafkey and centerman BALLS McZerhl. Both players are in the 100-130 TPE range so won’t see the ice for the Wolves this year, but if they remain active they could have an impact in the future. 

And these are just the picks from this year who could make a big impact. S65 rookie Denver Wolfe will also make his VHL debut tomorrow. Wolfe stayed down in the VHLM for another season, much like Sabertooth will do, and had a tremendous year. He scored nearly 120 points, totals boosted by his astounding 98 assists. Another S65 player, Gritty, played on the Wolves last year. He’ll look to build on a successful rookie year. S64 defenceman Jagger Philliefan had 42 points last year in his rookie season and will look to build on what looks to be a high calibre, offensively charged defence corps.  

Depending on how the lines shape up, there are a few combinations and one could see a “kid line” as it’s often called, with Freeman and Jagr on Gruber’s wings. This would work well as Gruber is a definite playmaker and putting two goal scorers on his wings could lead to a lot of success. This could also make the line vulnerable, as having three rookie players on one line could draw some bad matchups against some more veteran, higher TPE opponents.  

Regardless of the line combinations that the managerial staff decides on, this team promises to have some great depth and be a competitive team this season. They have veteran forwards, a high end defence who will score a ton of points, and a pair of goalies in net who had good seasons last year, especially Sterling who led the league in save percentage and was tops in other categories. It isn’t an easy task for a team to build for the future while maintaining a competitive team, but it appears that the Wolves have done it. Of course, as often happens in these kinds of leagues, the young players with a bright future could go inactive and totally ruin the Wolves plans, but if they get even two or three of the young players mentioned above to stick around, they’ll have a fantastic core to build around until the mid 70’s. If you get guys like Freeman, Jagr, Wolfe, Gruber, etc to stick around and build to their full potential they’ll surely win a few championships along the way. 

(Estimated Lines)

Forwards:

Weyed - Louth - Davis

Freeman - Palo - Jagr

Freeman - Gritty - Gruber

Gruber - Gritty - Davis

 

Defence:

Harding - Mulligan

Wolfe - Phillifan

 

Goalies:

Sterling

Nixon (25%+ of starts)

 

1023 words

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Review: I really liked how in-depth you went into the context of each pick, not just who the pick was, but the meta of the draft surrounding the pick, the reason behind the pick in particular, and the history of the player in question. A small critique, I think the article could be spaced a little better, perhaps with an extra line between players, for readability sake. Great job!

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