For Vancouver Giants General Manager Barclay Parneta, the challenge this season has been to assemble a team that can do what the Giants came, literally, within one goal of doing last season.
That is, win the Western Hockey League Championship, capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup and advance to the Memorial Cup.
Last season saw the Langley-based Giants force the series against the Prince Albert Raiders to seven games only to lose in a heartbreaker of a game that ended in a 3-2 overtime defeat.
It could have just as easily gone the other way, and a revised roster that plays the same type of hockey is what the Giants are aiming for.
“We wanted to continue where we left off,” Parneta told the Langley Advance Times.
That’s the “big picture, but our big picture has many variables,” he explained.
Among them, the fact that many of the talented players involved in last season’s run to the championship have attracted the interest of the NHL.
As well, a few have reached a dangerous age, 20, where league rules limiting how many overage players can be on the roster kick in.
“We have six 20-year-olds,” Parneta pointed out during during an interview earlier in the month.
“We can only carry three by Oct. 10.”
Parneta managed to shave that to five on Saturday (Sept. 14) by trading Jadon Joseph to the Moose Jaw Warriors in exchange for two draft picks; a third-round choice in 2020 and an additional pick in either 2021 or 2022.
It won’t be easy to pick two more from the remaining quintet of overage players made up of standouts like goalie David Tendeck, defenceman Dylan Plouffe and forwards Milos Roman, Brayden Watts and Owen Hardy
Defenceman Bowen Byram, drafted by the Colorado Avalanche, is another potential problem, but only if he manages to win a spot on the Avalanche roster.
“If he has success early, he may never come back,” Parneta cautioned.
If he doesn’t, Byram might be back after Christmas
Among the new arrivals are 2004-born forward Julian Cull, 2000-born forward Brendan Budy, 2003-born defenceman Brenden Pentecost, John Little, a 2002-born forward who spent last season with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL.
As well, the team has added ‘01 Forward Sergei Alkhimov, 2003-born defenceman Nicco Camazzola, 2002-born forward Cole Shepard, who joins brother Jackson Shepard, acquired four months earlier on the Giants roster,
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One plus to having as many top-level players (seven) away at NHL training camps as the Giants have, was the opportunity for recent acquisitions to get some ice time during preseason exhibition games that saw the Giants record a 4-2 record.
“We’re really impressed with the new group,” Parneta observed.
Two, however, did not get off to the best of starts, with Alkhimov and Cole Shepard sidelined with injuries.
Parneta, the third general manager in the history of the Giants franchise, honed his eye for talent during eight seasons with the WHL’s Tri-City Americans where he was both head scout and assistant GM.
In all, Parneta has 28 years in scouting hockey.
On Friday, September 20th, the Vancouver Giants kick off the 2019-20 regular season with the first of a Friday-Saturday double-header up north against their B.C. Division foes, the Prince George Cougars.
One week later the G-Men will take to the Langley Events Centre ice for their CIBC Home Opener on Friday Sept. 27th, when they battle the Portland Winterhawks.
Puck drops at 7:30 p.m.
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