WHL Season Preview: Players to watch on every team

Sportsnet's Sam Cosentino shortlists his top 10 prospects ahead of the 2021 NHL Draft on Hockey Central.

With the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League already well underway, the Western Hockey League is on deck to resume play among the CHL member leagues.

Teams in the WHL’s Central Division are set to begin play on Friday night with a pair of games on the schedule.

The U.S. Division and East Division are set to get underway in March, while action for the WHL’s B.C. teams remains in park for the time being.

With action set to begin this weekend, we take a look at some intriguing and important players around the league to keep an eye on in the shortened 2020-21 season.

Brandon Wheat Kings: Ottawa Senators prospect Ridly Greig has impressed in his pro debut with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate and stands to have a major impact on the Wheat Kings. Defenceman Braden Schneider, a New York Rangers prospect, is coming off a strong season offensively and his experience will be important in a shortened season as well.

Calgary Hitmen: Eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft, sophomore winger Sean Tschigerl, a first-round pick by the Hitmen, will look to take a step this season offensively.

Edmonton Oil Kings: St. Louis Blues prospect Jake Neighbours and 2021 NHL Draft prospect Dylan Guenther stand to be major pieces for the Oil Kings offensively.

Everett Silvertips: A veteran of 270 WHL games, Cole Fonstad’s offensive numbers have remained consistent over the past three seasons. Acquired from Prince Albert last season, Fonstad had 65 points in 51 games with Everett following the trade.

Kamloops Blazers: Coming off a 29-goal year as a 16-year-old, Logan Stankoven will look to take another step offensively when B.C.-based teams get approval to return to game action.

Kelowna Rockets: Vegas Golden Knights prospect Kaedan Korczak posted career highs offensively last season. Experience at the World Juniors and some time at the pro level this season will go a long way for the veteran blueliner.

Lethbridge Hurricanes: The 2019-20 season was a good one offensively for centre Logan Barlage. The veteran forward hit the 20-goal plateau for the first time and his 58 points were also a career high.

Medicine Hat Tigers: A pair of overage players will look to continue their impact on the Tigers offensively. Brett Kemp and Ryan Chyzowski are the Tigers' top two returning scorers from last season and combined for 64 goals in 2019-20.

Moose Jaw Warriors: 18-year-old Minnesota Wild prospect Daemon Hunt has been tabbed as the Warriors' captain this season. Set to play career game number 100 this season, Hunt missed an extended stretch in 2019-20 due to injury, but finished the year strong after returning to the lineup.

Portland Winterhawks: As Carolina Hurricanes prospect Seth Jarvis will drive the Winterhawks offensively upon return, the team added 19-year-old goaltender Gavin Gould from the Moose Jaw Warriors. Gould split last season with the Warriors and Victoria, seeing action in 31 games and gives Portland some experience in goal.

Prince Albert Raiders: With some AHL experience under his belt, San Jose Sharks prospect Ozzy Wiesblatt will return to the Raiders for the shortened regular season. Wiesblatt and Montreal Canadiens prospect Kaiden Guhle are expected to play major roles for the Raiders this season.

Prince George Cougars: Veteran goaltender Taylor Gauthier gained valuable experience over the Christmas break as a member of the Canadian National Junior Team.

Red Deer Rebels: After scoring 23 goals through his first three WHL seasons, Josh Tarzwell broke out for 32 goals last season.

Regina Pats: Granted exceptional player status, Connor Bedard will have plenty of eyes on him during the shortened WHL season. A 2023 NHL Draft eligible prospect, Bedard spent some time prior to Christmas training in Sweden in preparation for the WHL season.

Saskatoon Blades: Adding 21-year-old defenceman Wyatt McLeod from the Edmonton Oil Kings in a January trade gives the Blades over 200 games of added experience on the back end.

Seattle Thunderbirds: Sophomore forward Conner Roulette has garnered plenty of attention from scouts as a prospect for the 2021 NHL Draft. The 17-year-old is coming off a 19-goal rookie campaign with the Thunderbirds.

Spokane Chiefs: Minnesota Wild prospect Adam Beckman would have hit 50 goals had the 2019-20 WHL regular season not been cut short due to COVID-19.

Swift Current Broncos: A pair of overage defencemen in Owen Williams and Kaleb Bulych will be important for the Broncos as the team looks to move forward in the rebuild process.

Tri-City Americans: After spending the past three seasons in the BCHL with the Penticton Vees, 2000-born Jack Barnes signed with the Americans earlier this week. Barnes was a fifth-round pick of the Americans' in 2015.

Vancouver Giants: Colorado Avalanche prospect Trent Miner has put up solid numbers between the pipes with the Giants over the past two seasons and his play will again go a long way in Vancouver having success in a shortened season.

Victoria Royals: Overage goaltender Adam Evanoff, who recently inked an Amateur Tryout Agreement with the AHL’s Stockton Heat, split last season between Victoria and Moose Jaw. The 20-year-old has shown he can be a key piece between the pipes in his WHL career.

Winnipeg ICE: The ICE received some good news this week as high-scoring forward Peyton Krebs will rejoin the team after a stint in the AHL with the Henderson Silver Knights, the top affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights. An achilles injury forced Krebs to miss the start of the 2019-20 season, but he made up for lost time with 12 goals and 60 points in 38 games with the ICE after his return.

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