As the 2015-16 hockey season is now fully underway, we’re headed towards one of the two major roster deadlines in the Western Hockey League. The WHL’s 22 member clubs have until October 14 to reduce the number of 1995-born players on their rosters to three. Prior to the deadline, teams are allowed to carry more than three 1995s (also known as “overagers”), but can only dress three at a time for games.
In the event a team has a player that is their property reassigned to them following the roster deadline, they have 14 days to get back down to the roster limit. Teams can trade and tinker as much as they want before the second big roster deadline, the lock-down day on January 10.
Teams have already made moves in advance of the deadline, with Kootenay sending 1995-born Jon Martin to Swift Current.
However, there are still four clubs that will definitely need to make moves.
- The Brandon Wheat Kings have the most work ahead of them, presently with five 20-year-olds on their roster. Quintin Lisoway has yet to play and may be the most obvious player headed elsewhere.
- The Everett Silvertips are currently carrying four 1995s, but with overage goalie Austin Lotz presently at home waiting out the deadline, he seems to be the obvious odd man out.
- The Kamloops Blazers have four 1995s on their roster.
- The Kootenay Ice have four 1995 players after the recent return of forward Jaedon Descheneau from the Chicago Wolves of the AHL, and may also have to juggle injuries to both him and defender Tanner Lishchynsky in the short-term.
Three other teams have four players listed on their rosters, but functionally only have three 20-year-olds to worry about:
- The Calgary Hitmen are carrying three 1995s, with fourth overager Keegan Kanzig currently trying to crack the roster of the AHL’s Stockton Heat, the Flames affiliate.
- The Medicine Hat Tigers are also carrying three 1995s, with four man Markus Eisenschmid presently with the AHL’s St. John’s Ice Caps on an AHL deal.
- The Regina Pats have four 1995s on their roster, but Colby Williams is out for awhile with an injury while Taylor Cooper is expected back in November after shoulder surgery. In the event Williams is back soon, there may be a decision looming, but for now it seems fairly cut-and-dry.
Finally, a team to keep an eye on is the Portland Winterhawks. Portland has an opening for an overage player (they’re carrying just two right now) and have the ability to make a deal with one of the teams that have too many. The remainder of the WHL’s teams have three 20-year-olds and aren’t expected to make many moves prior to October 14.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.