SJHL clubs were issued their player cards yesterday and the Estevan Bruins have already gotten seven prospects signed.
Forwards Wyatt Garagan, Brandon Halbgewachs, Dylan Johner and Ben Williams, defencemen David Robertson and Brett Dumaine, and goalie Travis Pelletier have signed with the team.
They are all 1994s.
Keith Cassidy said this morning that forwards Hudson Morrison, Dayton Picard and Darcy Deroose, and defencemen Jordan Greig, Sean Whelan and Blake McMillen are also expected to sign shortly.
Some of the signed players have been on the Bruins' radar for quite a while, and others vaulted themselves to the top of the list after impressive showings at spring camp last month.
Williams, Dumaine and Robertson, in particular, had strong camps. Dumaine and Morrison were pretty much the talk of the weekend.
Here's what Keith had to say about the new signings earlier today:
Wyatt Garagan is a local winger who did very well at the midget AAA level and, because of his size and physical game, is expected to make an impact as a rookie next year. He got into one game with the Bruins last season. He had 19 goals and 36 points in 40 games with the Tisdale Trojans, along with 64 penalty minutes (I don't know why EP doesn't have this year's stats).
Brandon Halbgewachs, the younger brother of WHL first round pick Jayden, is a White City native who played three years with the Regina Pat Canadians. Although he played on the wing during seven games with the Bruins (five in the playoffs), I believe he was a centre in AAA. He'll have lots of competition, but his advantage is he's got more Junior A experience than anyone else except for Morrison. Halbgewachs had six goals and 27 points in 44 games last year.
Dylan Johner is another local product who, after a slow start, notched 10 goals and 24 points in 44 games with the Moose Jaw Generals last year. He also played one game for the Bruins against Weyburn and had an assist (the goal attributed to him below was scored by Deroose). Prior to that, he played two years of midget AA in Estevan, leading the South Sask. league in scoring with 77 points in 39 games in 2010-11.
Ben Williams is a Manitoba kid who played the last three seasons with the Southwest Cougars. He was a player at spring camp who I had never seen or heard of, but he turned a lot of heads. At a listed 5'7", 148 pounds, he's a little undersized. He had 11 goals and 32 points in 44 games last year.
David Robertson was another player I saw for the first time at spring camp and he was one of the most impressive rearguards there. He's another Southwest Cougars alum who posted nine goals and 23 points in 44 games last year. Not bad for a guy who's projected as a stay-at-homer.
Brett Dumaine was one of the most surprising and most talked about players at spring camp, as he "blew the doors off" as Keith put it. His blue pants and helmet made him easy to notice, but his size and versatility (he can play D or forward) made people keep watching. If he turns in another performance like that at fall camp, he's pretty much a lock. Dumaine played with the Calgary Royals last year. I can't find his stats anywhere.
Finally, Travis Pelletier is the odds-on favourite to back up Steven Glass next season. The '94 goalie from Balgonie looked good at last year's fall camp and also practised with the team over the Christmas break. He played for the Pat Canadians last year, posting a 10-10-3 record with a 2.83 GAA and .903 save percentage. He played for Moose Jaw the previous year.
Among the other group mentioned as likely to sign soon, you would have to think Greig and Morrison are the two biggest priorities. Greig has been talked up by team officials for nearly a year now and is expected to make an impact similar to that of Tyler Kauk and Austin Yano this past season. As outgoing Yorkton and Melville play-by-play man Craig Stein put it on Twitter, having Greig sign here would be a kick in the junk for Swan Valley, who hold his MJ rights.
Morrison played 36 games with Wayway last year and, although I barely got to see him, was by all accounts the best forward at spring camp. Morrison also played five games with the Saskatoon Blades two years ago.