After starting the season with three clear-cut 20 year-olds because of players signing pro contracts or injuries, a 4th over-age player is about to be thrown back into the mix.
Defenseman Jesse Dudas is set to make his return to the Broncos coming off his MCL injury Friday, November 21st. At that point the Broncos then have two weeks to get back down to the allowed three over-age players.
F Keegan Dansereau, D Spence McAvoy, and G Travis Yonkman are presently the three 20's on the roster.
The off-season was full of questions regarding the three spots with the possible return of Dale Wiese and Zack Smith. But after the two signed NHL contracts, the situation became more clear. Then with Dudas suffering the knee injury in Oilers training camp, the three spots were all of a sudden set in stone.
So now what?
Keegan Dansereau isn't going anywhere. The captain for the month of November adds some much needed offense. G Travis Yonkman is still the #1 goaltender in theory and I don't think the Broncos are prepared to move him, especially with the current market on goaltenders being down. Too much supply little demand.
That leaves D Spencer McAvoy and D Jesse Dudas. Spencer has really played well in his role this season and was great yesterday in a 2-1 loss to Calgary. He was our 2nd star on our broadcast. I've never seen him log more ice-time in his career. He agreed post-game.
Jesse Dudas in my mind is one of the top defenseman in the Conference and adds size, toughness and a little swagger on the back-end. I've likened him to former Broncos d-man Aaron Rome in the past and I stick with that comparison.
It may come down to who holds more trade value in a defense-hungry market around the WHL. There's no doubt Dudas will fetch more value than McAvoy.
My take is that adding Dudas into the Broncos top four d-rotation gives them one of the best top four in the WHL (Doyle, Claffey, Dudas, Molle/McAvoy). But the Broncos have proven they are fine defensively without Dudas in the fold.
Plus, at some point you have to give some quality minutes to younger d-men like Joel Rogers, James Martin, Jordan Evans, and Andrew Hewett to help their development.
Nine defenseman is too many. Somethings gotta give.