With the National Hockey League’s regular season beginning this week, 15 Wheat Kings alumni have attended their respective team’s training camps in anticipation of the 2020-21 season. Here’s a look at 8 former Wheat Kings and where they stack up on their club’s rosters. If you missed the first 7 we highlighted yesterday, you can read about them here –> WHEAT KINGS ALUMNI AT NHL TRAINING CAMPS Pt. 1
Kale Clague – Los Angeles Kings
Shortly before Christmas of last season, Clague got pulled up to play with the Kings for his first taste of the NHL after the defenceman had a very productive season in 2018-19, scoring 7G-22A for AHL affiliate Ontario Reign. Clague played 4 games with the Kings last season and 49 games with the Reign and looks poised to be an option for the NHL club sooner rather than later.
With the importance of NHL taxi squads this season – a group of 4 to 6 players aside from the listed roster who are quarantine-ready and eligible to play on short notice – and Clague’s steady improvement within the Kings’ system, if he doesn’t make the roster after training camp it’s a safe bet Clague will see NHL minutes for the Kings this season.
Travis Hamonic – Vancouver Canucks
Hamonic spent last season with the Calgary Flames and missed the beginning of training camp with the Canucks as he quarantined the mandatory week before joining his soon-to-be teammates. Technically, he’s still on a professional tryout with Vancouver but is expected to sign with the Canucks soon and it is very likely by the time you read this, he already has. Wheat Kings and Hamonic fans alike will be happy to see the hard-nosed d-man back on the ice after he was 1 of 6 NHLers who opted not to join the resumption of play after COVID-19 paused the 2019-20 season. Entering his 11th season in the league, Hamonic will be a valuable piece of seniority in the locker room for a Canucks team who exceeded expectations during the playoffs last year when they beat the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues in the first round. With new faces up and down the roster, Hamonic should be a dependable, veteran face that continues to be tough to play against.
Jayce Hawryluk – Vancouver Canucks
After being drafted by the Florida Panthers in the 2014 NHL Draft (2nd round, #32 overall), Hawryluk landed with a young Ottawa Senators team last season where he had a very productive 11 games, scoring 7 points (5G-2A) before the season came to an abrupt halt.
The Vancouver Canucks then signed the 25-year old winger to a 1-year contract in the off season and he entered Canucks camp looking to be a valuable depth player who has a nose for the net. Unfortunately for the Roblin, Manitoba native, he was unable to finish camp as he was injured during an intrasquad scrimmage and his status has not yet been updated. If this results in the scrappy forward beginning his season with the AHL affiliate Utica Comets, hopefully he’s able to get another chance to skate with the Canucks. Like so many other players in Hawryluk’s position, this season will be as good as any to get a look at NHL minutes. The parameters put in place for quarantining and COVID-19 could mean an influx of new faces on NHL rosters throughout the season.
Matt Calvert – Colorado Avalanche
Early last season, the gritty forward played in his 500th NHL game and continues to be a factor in the best hockey league in the world. After starting his NHL career in the 2010-11 season, Calvert has made a name for himself as one of the toughest, hardest working players on the team wherever he plays. Despite only playing 50 games last season due to an injury, COVID-shortened season, Calvert’s 25 points (12G-13A) was only a single point short of his season-high total set the year before. Some key injuries to the Avalanche (including Calvert) during last season’s Stanley Cup playoffs meant they weren’t able to make it past the second round. But when healthy, Calvert was his usual self scoring 3 points (1G-2A) in 8 post-season games. After spending the first 8 seasons of his pro career with the Columbus Blue Jackets, this will be Calvert’s third season with the Avalanche where he has fit in perfectly and whose talented, young roster is once again a legitimate Stanley Cup contender. With camp now completed, it looks like Calvert will start on the Av’s 4th line centred by Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. But no matter which line he plays on or where the Avs finish in the standings, fans can bet Calvert will bring the hustle.
Mark Stone – Vegas Golden Knights
Stone has been an alternate captain for three seasons in the NHL so far, twice with the Ottawa Sentators and last season with the Knights. Anyone who follows the Knights closely knows there’s a cult-like following by their fans for Stone to become the first captain in franchise history, as he has exemplified the energy, fortitude and leadership required of a captain since he joined in 2019. All this to say – yes, we think he will make the Knights’ opening night roster.
Ryan Reaves – Vegas Golden Knights
Reaves signed a 2-year contract extension in mid-June after scoring 8 goals and 7 assists during the 2019-20 season but as fans who watched Reaves play in Brandon surely know, it wasn’t his offensive prowess that’s kept him in the NHL all these years. Reaves led the league in hits last season (316 in 71 games) and continues to be a shining example of how the role of enforcer – an otherwise dying breed in hockey – can still be used effectively. With the wealth of talent the Knights have had to manage since the team’s inception to keep their roster cap-compliant, it says a lot about Reave’s effect on the team to be signed for another two years by the club.
Logan Thompson – Vegas Golden Knights
After posting a 2.25 GAA and .929 Save % in 32 games for the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays last season, Thompson signed a 2-year entry level contract with the Knights this off season, a team with no shortage of goaltending talent. Veteran superstar Marc-Andre Fleury and stalwart Robin Lehner who backstopped Vegas through the playoffs last season were not likely to be ousted of their jobs on the NHL roster so it probably wasn’t much of a shock when Thompson was reassigned to the Knights’ new expansion AHL affiliate Henderson Silver Knights yesterday. An NHL training camp is great exposure for the 23-year old Thompson and if he stays in Henderson this season, it will be a sign of great progression in his career.
Reid Duke – Vegas Golden Knights
After being the very first signing by the Knights in franchise history, Duke has played 97 games in the past two seasons for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, tallying 31 points (15G-16A) and 56 PIM but has yet to get his first NHL game under his belt. He signed a 1-year contract with the Knights last October but was waived by the NHL club on Monday and can most likely be counted on to return to Vegas’ new AHL affiliate, the Henderson Silver Knights, should no other team pick him up.
Micheal Ferland – Vancouver Canucks *Long term injury reserve
Ferland suited up for 14 games with the Canucks last season and would have likely been attending camp this season if not for lingering head injuries. Instead, Ferland has been placed on Long Term Injury Reserve and so far looks doubtful to play this season. A fan favourite wherever he goes, Ferland plays the game with an intensity and physicality that is rarely matched. With 335 games played and 134 points (60G-74A) in the NHL, hopefully Ferland can find his health to get back on the ice and compete.