Prior to the Pandemic
After dealing away overagers Kyle Olson and Beck Warm to the Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings respectively at the trade deadline, the Americans ended up well back of their divisional foes as they finished at the bottom of the Western Conference standings and missed out on the playoffs for the first time since 2016.
The biggest move for the club ended up happening in February, however, as former head coach and longtime WHL bench boss Don Nachbaur returned to the league to serve as an associate coach under Kelly Buchberger.
Until they were roughed up by the Portland Winterhawks in two of their final three meetings of the season, the 7-12-0-0 Americans hovered around the .500 mark for most of the campaign, which was interrupted from April 16-26 due to a positive COVID-19 test within the team’s cohort.
Their 2.47 goals per game mark was almost identical to the 2.49 average they had in 2019-20, but their goals against per game showed a big improvement as the Americans cut that down from 4.79 to 4.10 in the shortened season.
- Jack Barnes (0-2-2 in 16 games)
- Nick Bowman (5-2-7 in 19 games)
- Connor Bouchard (5-8-13 in 19 games)
- Booker Daniel (4-5-9 in 19 games)
- Samuel Huo (9-10-19 in 18 games)
- Edge Lambert (2-5-7 in 18 games)
- Sasha Mutala (6-14-20 in 19 games)
- John Little (Missed the season due to an undisclosed injury – Had 1-4-5 in 52 games with the Giants and Americans in 2019-20)
- Landon Roberts (0-1-1 in 17 games)
- Parker Bell (0-2-2 in 13 games)
- Tyson Greenway (3-4-7 in 18 games)
- Paul Minnehan (Unsigned 7th round pick in 2018 – 6-14-20 in 36 games for the Janesville Jets and the Northeast Generals – Committed to the Arizona State Sun Devils)
- Elouann Lemonnier (11th round pick in 2019 – 4-2-6 in 11 games for the Dallas Under-16 Stars)
- Rhett Melnyk (1-2-3 in 16 games)
- Jake Sloan (4-5-9 in 18 games)
- Drew Freer (6th round pick in 2020 – 1-4-5 in two games for the Calgary Under-16 Stampeders – 30-18-48 in 33 games for the Calgary Under-15 Flames in 2019-20)
- Tanner Gould (3rd round pick in 2020 – 1-1-2 in one game for the Calgary Under-16 Rangers – 31-34-65 in 31 games for the Calgary Under-15 Bisons in 2019-20)
- Deagan McMillan (2nd round pick in 2020 – 20-31-51 in 27 games for the Delta Hockey Academy Under-15 Prep Green team in 2019-20)
- Benjamin Stokes (5th round pick in 2020 – 0-0-0 in one game for the Calgary Under-16 Rangers – 34-11-45 in 32 games for the Calgary Under-15 Bisons in 2019-20)
As he did a year prior, Sasha Mutala was at a point per game pace to lead the offence, though Samuel Huo was right there with him as the WHL veteran easily had his best season to date.
While the Americans didn’t have a super dynamic attack this spring, their youngsters showed a lot of promise. 2019 third round pick Jake Sloan ended up in a tie for fourth in team scoring and Tyson Greenway bumped his production in his sophomore campaign.
- Luke Zazula (4-5-9 in 18 games)
- Mitchell Brown (2-0-2 in 15 games)
- Andrej Golian (0-0-0 in 15 games – Signed with HC Slovan Bratislava for Next Season)
- Bryan McAndrews (0-0-0 in 11 games)
- Ian Ferguson (1-2-3 in 17 games)
- Bryson Andregg (0-3-3 in 14 games)
- Carson Haynes (0-2-2 in 12 games)
- Marc Lajoie (1-4-5 in 19 games)
- Alex Serraglio (0-1-1 in six games)
- Ben Feenan (6th round pick in 2019 – 3-15-18 in 34 games for the Yale Hockey Academy Prep Team in 2019-20)
- Lukas Dragicevic (0-0-0 in six games)
- Carter Savage (6th round pick in 2020 – 0-1-1 in five games for the Delta Hockey Academy Under-17 Prep Team – 3-12-15 in 30 games for the Delta Hockey Academy Under-15 Prep Green Team)
After being acquired from Kamloops in November 2019, Luke Zazula quickly established himself as the top guy on the Americans blueline and was the club’s captain as an overager. The most impressive stat from his final season in the league is his plus/minus total of even, especially after he was a minus-36 in 37 games in Tri-City a year ago.
While Zazula is leaving the WHL, the Americans have their top two defencemen ready to go. Marc Lajoie had a solid sophomore season and could be a late round pick in next month’s NHL Draft, while Lukas Dragicevic suited up in six games after being taken fourth overall in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft.
- Talyn Boyko (7-7-0 with a 3.02 GAA, a .901 save percentage and one shutout)
- Mason Dunsford (0-5-0 with a 5.30 GAA, an .857 save percentage and zero shutouts)
- Tomas Suchanek (Unsigned 2020 Import Draft Pick – 8-10-0 with a 3.12 GAA, a .908 save percentage and one shutout for HC Frydek-Mistek in the Czech Republic)
- Ronin Geraghty (Signed Listed Player – 1-0-0 with a 2.01 GAA, a .951 save percentage and zero shutouts for the Burnaby Winter Club Prep Team – 10-4-1 with a 3.09 GAA, a .902 save percentage and zero shutouts for the West Van Academy Prep Team)
After Warm was traded last year, Talyn Boyko became the main man in goal for Tri-City. The 6’8″ netminder from Drumheller saw a dramatic improvement in his numbers from last season and might even be drafted this summer after being ranked 12th among North American netminders by NHL Central Scouting.
Although he hasn’t had great numbers over the last two years, Mason Dunsford appears to have the inside track to be the backup to Boyko again this fall. However, that could change if the Americans can sign 2020 import pick Tomas Suchanek, who has suited up for the Czech Republic’s Under-17 and Under-18 program.
Other than their run to the Western Conference final in 2018, the Americans haven’t made a lot of noise in the WHL in recent years. That fate seems likely for the 2021-22 campaign as they don’t have the horses to make a lengthy run, though they should be in the mix for a playoff spot.
One of the big storylines going into the year will be Mutala, as the Colorado Avalanche did not sign their fifth round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. If he ends up back on the Americans roster, that gives the club a strong overage trio up front with Huo and Connor Bouchard the probable favourites to earn those positions.
The Americans will also be adding a big piece to their future in December’s draft as they jumped up from fourth to second in the lottery. They also have second and third round picks from Edmonton as part of the Warm and Riley Sawchuk trades, in addition to their own fourth and fifth round selections.
With Lajoie and Dragicevic already on the roster, another high-end young talent could do wonders for the team as they look to slowly work their way back up the U.S. Division standings.