Here's an update on Bronco players attending NHL camps and their whereabouts. 19 year-old Zack Smith has been returned to the Broncos from the Vancouver Canucks following a free-agent invite.
18 year-old defenseman Eric Doyle continues participation in the Traverse City, Michigan NHL Prospects tournament with the Dallas Stars on a free-agent basis.
18 year-old defenseman Paul Postma continues with the Atlanta Thrashers in the same tournament. Atlanta beat Tampa Bay 6-4 to advance to the 3rd place game. It's expected Postma will be returned to the Broncos following the Prospects Tourney.
18 year-old defenseman Ryan Molle from my understanding continues in New Jersey with the Devils although their is no info on rookies, prospects or how camp is going on their website. Apparently he did well in the fitness testing portion but that's all I know.
19 year-old forward Levi Nelson did not make the trip to Boston Bruins camp because of a knee injury. He continues with the Broncos and is practicing.
How good can the Broncos be this season? Last year I predicted 35 wins, they picked up 33. This season I'm upping the ante to 42 wins and a top four showing in the Eastern Conference. Bold? Yes. Accurate? Time will tell.
If the prediction holds true, it would be the first 40 win season since 2001-02. That season the Broncos went 42-17-6-7 and finished 2nd in the Central division behind Red Deer. Nowadays teams win more games because ties have been eliminated - there is a winner in every game. So 42+ wins is no doubt a possibility. A 40 win season would also be only the 2nd of Dean Chynoweth's coaching career. He won 44 games in the 2002-03 season with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Leave a comment at the bottom. How many wins is the 2007-08 edition of the Broncos in store for? It will be fun to look back at the end of the regular season.
I'm thinking my ranking of this team will be the highest amongst WHL broadcasters when we conduct our annual poll in the next week. I'm expecting the broadcasting brotherhood to put the Broncos somewhere in the middle of the east division and 7th or 8th in the Conference. Prove me wrong guys, prove me wrong.
I haven't given much thought to my standings prediction. I'm thinking Regina and Moose Jaw will be solid teams, so will Kootenay and Calgary, Lethbridge could be explosive but has some inexperience on the blueline. Out west, I like Kamloops, and Vancouver, Seattle and Everett (if the Tips get some key players back from NHL teams)
No news out of Broncos camp regarding roster moves. I'm expecting the team to start the season with 26 players. They may get down to 25 or even 24 before opening night in Moose Jaw but we'll wait and see.
Myself, Ryan and the behind the scenes crew at the Eagle 94.1 FM are working hard so we can host our first broadcast this Friday night in Kindersley when the Broncos take on the Regina Pats. I'm not so confident everything will be in place from a broadcast standpoint but I've been told not to worry, the broadcast is a go. Personally, I have a lot of work to do in the coming days and weeks for game night features such as "The Five Minute Major" and "Homegrown Heroes" Bronco parents, this is your warning. Expect a phone call in the coming weeks! Last year the parents were fantastic when asked about questions about their young son growing up with the game.
An interesting note on Regan Bartel's Kelowna Rockets blog today:
"It's the first of it's kind in the WHL, and the Kelowna Rockets organization is leading the way. The Rockets are going green by no longer offering game programs at home games. Instead fans can now obtain them on-line on the Rockets new website.
The hockey club is encouraging fans to print them off at home and bring them to the game. The saving on printing costs and paper is significant. Program sales league wide have plummeted over the years, and the same holds true in Kelowna.
The environmentally friendly move may take some getting used too, but hockey fans attending games this season will still be able to get a lineup for both teams at the rink."
The Broncos have no plans to change in this regard to my knowledge. That may be a couple seasons (at least) down the road.
How many wins this season? Take a shot!