Key players to watch on every team in the WHL

Spokane Chiefs defenceman Ty Smith. (Larry Brunt/Spokane Chiefs)

With the Canadian Hockey League heading into the final six weeks of the regular season, let’s take a look at some of the key players from each team from across the CHL.

Some of these names aren’t shocking by any stretch of the imagination while others might have flown under the radar a bit for one reason or another.

Much like their counterparts in Ontario and Quebec, the Western Hockey League has seen its share of big names continue to dominate while others, like Prince Albert’s Brett Leason, have stepped into bigger roles this year and flourished.

Here’s a team-by-team look at some of the key players across the league.

Brandon Wheat Kings: A career Wheat King, Stelio Mattheos has been a point-per-game player in four seasons in Brandon, including 31 goals and 69 points in 46 games this season. A Carolina Hurricanes prospect, Mattheos will look to make the jump to pro hockey next year.

Calgary Hitmen: A former second-round pick of the Hitmen, Mark Kastelic has used a career year to make NHL scouts notice. With 36 goals in 50 games, Kastelic has been ranked by NHL Central Scouting and garnered pro interest.

Edmonton Oil Kings: Defenceman Matthew Robertson has played a key role on the Oil Kings blue line and is poised to be selected in the early stages of the 2019 NHL Draft.

Everett Silvertips: A third-round pick by the Minnesota Wild, Connor Dewar has seen a steady progression offensively in his WHL career. After setting career highs offensively last season, his fourth year as a Silvertip has been his best.

Kamloops Blazers: A Vegas Golden Knights prospect, overage goaltender Dylan Ferguson has seen a bulk of the workload between the pipes and serves as a mentor for young crease-mate Dylan Garand.

Kelowna Rockets: NHL draft prospects Lassi Thomson and Nolan Foote have made Kelowna a popular spot for scouts this season.

Kootenay Ice: Peyton Krebs has set career highs offensively and in doing so has found himself in the discussion as a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.

Lethbridge Hurricanes: Considered one of the top North American prospects available for the 2019 NHL Draft, Dylan Cozens has put together a great season alongside some quality NHL prospects in Lethbridge.

Medicine Hat Tigers: Goaltender Mads Sogaard joined the Tigers via the CHL Import Draft and has settled in nicely, posting solid numbers in his first season in North American, which also coincides with his NHL draft year.

Moose Jaw Warriors: A physical defenceman with offensive skill, Vancouver Canucks fans have reason to be excited about the development of Warriors defenceman Jett Woo.

Portland Winterhawks: Vegas Golden Knights first rounder Cody Glass had 102 points last season and is averaging nearly two points per game this season. It’s scary to think what kind of numbers Glass would have had he not missed time playing for Canada at the world juniors.

Prince Albert Raiders: It’s hard to ignore Brett Leason’s contribution to the top team in the country. Especially when that contribution is 32 goals in 43 games. And don’t forget Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Ian Scott’s outstanding season between the pipes.

Prince George Cougars: It hasn’t been an easy season in Prince George but that hasn’t stopped scouts from taking notice of the play of goaltender Taylor Gauthier. The soon-to-be 18-year-old has a .908 save percentage and is considered one of the top North American goaltenders available in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Red Deer Rebels: A defenceman with good size and solid offensive numbers, Alexander Alexeyev has shown why the Washington Capitals made him a first-round pick.

Regina Pats: Veteran forward Austin Pratt has quietly put up career numbers on a Pats team that is going through a full rebuild.

Saskatoon Blades: A former second-overall pick in the WHL draft, Kirby Dach will hear his name called early again when the 2019 NHL Draft rolls around.

Seattle Thunderbirds: Defenceman Jake Lee has good size and has put up solid offensive numbers in his second full season with the Thunderbirds.

Spokane Chiefs: Since being returned to junior hockey by the Los Angeles Kings and having settled in following an injury and missing time due to the world juniors, Jaret Anderson-Dolan has produced at a point-per-game clip and gives the Chiefs a solid compliment up front to defenceman Ty Smith, a New Jersey Devils prospect who is having an outstanding season in his own right.

Swift Current Broncos: Going through a rebuild, Swift Current will rely heavily on overage goaltender Riley Lamb down the stretch. Lamb, who spent two seasons with Red Deer before starting this season in Tier II, has appeared in five games with Swift Current since signing with the team in early January and has stopped over 40 shots in four of those games.

Tri-City Americans: Coming off a shortened season a year ago, Anaheim Ducks prospect Kyle Olson has picked up where he left off offensively as a point-per-game player and key piece of the Americans’ offence.

Vancouver Giants: His goals against average has steadily improved since he came into the league and David Tendeck has shown why the Arizona Coyotes took him in the sixth-round of the 2018 NHL Draft. The North Vancouver product has a 2.52 goals-against average this season. That’s half a goal lower than his previous career-best.

Victoria Royals: Montreal Canadiens prospect Scott Walford leads the pack for a Victoria team that has 25 wins and sits in second in the WHL’s B.C. Division.

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