Instead of launching preseason Power Rankings, SJHL writer Mike Stackhouse invited each coach to offer his thoughts on who may be the team to beat this year.
Nine of the twelve coaches have participated in ranking each team, however they were not allowed to rank their own team. Therefore a point system of 11-to-1 was applied based on how each team was ranked. Yorkton, Melfort, and LaRonge ended up extremely close while Weyburn and Kindersley ended up tied.
2-FLIN FLON BOMBERS
7-LA RONGE ICE WOLVES
8-BATTLEFORDS NORTH STARS
10-WEYBURN RED WINGS
12-NOTRE DAME HOUNDS
Mike’s Notes – Humboldt and Flin Flon were the only two teams to get first place votes.
Here’s my further take after writing previews for each team:
Humboldt has really good top end talent everywhere so it’s not a surprise they were a popular choice.
Flin Flon has had to replace quite a few defensemen and they are unproven in a few areas but still have the confidence of coaches around the league.
Estevan returns six defensemen and several top forwards from last year. Assuming everyone is a year better in addition to being a year older, they should be a force.
Nipawin is in a similar position as Estevan as far as returning a solid nucleus. They also have the benefit of bringing back last year’s goalie.
Yorkton has really good top end talent but their depth may end up determining where they finish.
Melfort may not be impressive on paper as they lost a lot from last year, but they also didn’t impress last year at this time and championships aren’t won on paper.
My early pick for Rookie Of The Year is La Ronge’s Narek Aleksanyan and there is plenty to like when evaluating the roster as a whole.
Battlefords have holes to fill everywhere except in goal as there were a number of unexpected departures in addition to the usual graduations. However, this has been a model franchise for years so I wouldn’t be overly concerned.
Kindersley has a new coach so it’s not unusual to see a new identity be established in year one but I like what I’m hearing from Ken Plaquin. They are on the right track.
Weyburn is my pick for most improved team and they are well under everyone’s radar. Excellent goalie, underrated defense, improved physicality, better depth up front. Beware.
Melville has a lot of ground to make up from last year and they are like Kindersley in that they have a new coach and are establishing a bit of a new identity. There’s potential for a quick turnaround.
Notre Dame, simply, is an unknown to many as they often bring in players nobody really knows about so they could surprise. The early word is that Kevin Anderson is going to be one of the best rookies in the league.