The WHL season is not quite finished, but most of the hardware has already been awarded. Wednesday afternoon the WHL held their awards luncheon in Calgary where the Edmonton Oil Kings and Oiler prospect Tyler Bunz all walked away happy. Bunz took home the WHL goaltender of the year award, the Oil Kings were named the scholastic team of the year and Oil Kings’ GM Bob Green was named WHL Executive of the Year the Lloyd Saunders Memorial Trophy.
Another hockey season has come and gone for the Oilers. Another season ending at the bottom of the barrel and with only hope for a successful draft left for fans to cling to. But maybe there is something to the hope of the rebuild, after all the Oklahoma City Barons in only their second season of existence have led the Western Conference of the AHL. While not every player on the Barons’ roster is an Oiler prospect a good number are and now it just remains to be seen if the success can translate to the next level. Playoff success couldn’t hurt though.
Medicine Hat Tigers lose to Moose Jaw Warriors 4-3 in OT
It was a clean sweep Wednesday night in Alberta. The Edmonton Oil Kings took game 4 by a score of 6-0 and in southern Alberta the Moose Jaw Warriors took a 4-3 overtime victory over Edmonton Oilers’ goaltending prospect Tyler Bunz.
For Bunz, this was very likely his last WHL game and unfortunately this is not the way that he would like to close this chapter in his life. Fortunately, he does have a newly signed 3 year entry level contract with the Oilers and a bright future ahead of him.
The Edmonton Oilers have agreed to terms with 2010 goaltending prospect Tyler Bunz, signing the WHLer to a 3 year entry level deal.
Bunz has had the season of his career with the Medicine Hat Tigers posting a 39-17-5 record in the regular season, had 3 shutouts, WHL leading 5 assists from a goaltender, a 2.57 GAA and a 0.921 S%. This has also combined for 115 career wins for Bunz with the Tigers, a new franchise record. With 39 regular season wins, Bunz finished 2nd in the WHL beat by 3 games by Edmonton Oil Kings’ goaltender Laurent Brossoit.
For the Edmonton Oilers, goaltending continues to be an issue if not a major concern. When this season began, it appeared as though Nikolai Khabibulin was back to his prime and that Devan Dubnyk was ready to make the next step. Now, as the season has progressed, neither Dubnyk nor Khabibulin looks as steady, but they do still have great games from time to time.
What may be of little comfort to Oilers fans is that the Oilers may have the “real deal” waiting and developing in the WHL. For many however, Bunz is one of most exciting prospects in the Oilers’ system. After all, Bunz can be a real game changer. The best part of that of course being that Tyler Bunz was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 NHL Entry Round. Everyone loves an underdog story.
All good things have to come to an end, including winning streaks. Wednesday night, The Calgary Hitmen’s winning streak had to end at 8 after an emotional 5-1 loss to central division rivals the Medicine Hat Tigers. With a total of 8 fighting majors, 114 penalty minutes and 33 infractions, both penalty boxes could have used revolving doors.
The Team Canada World Juniors camp invitations have been announced and only 3 players from last year’s silver medal winning team will be returning. This group of players features no real surprises, but definitely a large number of talented players.
Edmonton Oilers’ prospect goaltender Tyler Bunz is on the list as is Edmonton Oil Kings defencemen Mark Pysyk. Both are Edmonton natives who are hoping to represent their country in their home town.
Aaron Vickers of NHL.com has some comments from Team Canada head of scouting Kevin Prendergast:
I think the skill factor overall (is higher),” Prendergast said. “We have a lot of skilled defensemen. Not near as big as we were last year, but we have good players back there. We’re young up front compared to where we were last year, but you look at these kids, you look at their stats, where they were drafted in the (NHL) draft, they were in NHL camps for a while. They understand what they have to bring when they get here.
This could be the second year in a row that an Edmonton Oiler goaltender prospect may be in net for Team Canada at the World Juniors tournament. Last year, Roy played the opening game for Team Canada and two other important preliminary games but struggled with consistency. Mark Visentin was Team Canada’s second goaltender who would start 4 games, and was the goaltender the team relied on through the final game. This year, it is Medicine Hat Tiger’s netminder Tyler Bunz who is on the radar for Team Canada.
After serving his jail time this summer and two horrible seasons on a four year deal most Oiler fans, including me, thought that Nikolai Khabibulin would be on an extremely short leash and hoped that Devan Dubnyk would be ready to shoulder most of the weight this season. In fact, many of us looked at situations where Khabibulin could play in the AHL and newly signed goaltender Yann Dannis could play with Dubnyk. The resounding response from Oklahoma City Barons fans was “What makes you think we want him?”
The Edmonton Oilers in a word, dominated the Vancouver Canucks prospects Sunday night, but that was to be expected. With the season finishes the Oilers have had through the past few years they have had the opportunity to accumulate a number of high quality draft picks and fortunately, those draft picks look good.
Had the Oilers struggled against the prospects of the Vancouver Canucks and the Winnipeg Jets, Oilers fans may have had ample cause for concern. Instead, for the first time in 15 years I can tell you that the Oilers have been the Winnipeg Jets, even if it is at the Young Stars tournament in Penticton B.C.
About Oil Patch
Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
Oil Patch focuses on the Edmonton Oilers, the Edmonton Oil Kings, The Oklahoma City Barons and Team Canada Hockey with game coverage, news updates, speculation and interviews.
Although the Oilers have had a difficult past decade… or three, here at Oil Patch, the future looks bright.
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