Giants Make Changes Focused on Future
In just over a month, the Giants have changed their look and it appears to be with a focus on the future. Of note, the club seems to be slowly stockpiling up on young netminders. The transactions go as follows:
October 11: Acquire 18-year old forward/defenceman Jack Redlick [6’3″, 215#], from the Kamloops Blazers for the Giants’ 5th round Bantam Draft Pick in either 2002 or 2003.
Week of October 22: Trade 20-year centre old Paul Deniset for Prince Alberts’ 5th round Bantam Draft Pick.
Week of October 22: Acquire former Regina Pat, 20-year old centre Ryan Thomas [5’10”, 200#], and former Swift Current Bronco, 20-year old defenceman Clay Thoring [5’11”, 175#], through Free Agency.
November 10: Trade right winger Joe Bitz to the Regina Pats for 17-year old Mark Sargent, a goaltending prospect.
November 10: Trade 18-year old local boy and Giants’ history-maker, centre Tyson Mulock to the Regina Pats for 18-year old centre Chad Bassen [6′, 187#].
November 10: Trade 20-year old, left winger Scott Henkelman to the Kamloops Blazers for 17-year old right winger Josh Bonar [6’2″, 175#], and 17-year old goalie Jordan McLaughlin.
For the Giants, a return to playing some successful hockey will come once they focus on their defensive (and physical) play at both ends of the rink. On occasion, there is a player whose presence is not very illustrious but whose absence is felt through the ranks. The Giants 20-year old Jeff Beatch may be just such a player. With the big, steady, stay-at-home defenceman out until possibly February 2002, the Giants have been forced to bolster their defensive play all-round.
With the additions of faceoff specialist Ryan Thomas and skilled defenceman Clay Thoring, the Giants are trying to fill some of their defensive holes. Both of these players should help with one thing sorely lacking thus far: puck control. Thomas will help gain initial puck possession and Thoring should strengthen the Giants’ defensive zone control.
To further bolster the Giants’ defensive and physical play, GM Scott Bonner also moved out a couple of skilled guys in Tyson Mulock and stealthy sniper Scott Henkelman. In return he received a nice blend of size, youth and a more defensive presence for the forward troups in both Bonar and Bassen. And it never hurts to add a goalie prospect either, which they did in Jordan McLaughlin.
Yes, the loss of Tyson Mulock and Henkelman will sting offensively. But these moves were made with a look to the future while trying to add components that will provide the Giants with a better chance at winning some games now — basically, keeping the puck out of their own net, first and foremost.
IN THE CORNER: Last night at the Coliseum, The Giants played the Calgary Hitmen before 7247 hometown fans, the second largest crowd of the year. Jumping out to a 3-1 lead by the end of the first period, the Giants seemed to lose their intensity quickly in the second. This has been a problem for most of the season — a lack of focus and gritty determination for 60 minutes.
Despite the 4-3 loss in overtime, the Giants bookended the game with good effort in the first and third. Noteworthy play goes to the line of Darren Lynch, Nick Marach and Jeremy Jackson….this line is a keeper, Coach!
The upside of all this – as a fan of the WHL – was to watch a couple of good prospects from the Hitmen: Edmonton native Johnny Boychuk (D) and Delta boy Brandon Segal (RW). Both will go high in the 2002 Draft, imo. The game’s standout player was Owen Fussey, a 3rd round pick of the Capitals. Very nice!