Believe it or not, hockey is back. Well, it's back this Thursday as the Thunderbirds open their training camp for the 2014-15 season. We took to the Twitter machine to solicit questions from T-Birds fans – and one Portland Winterhawks fan – to answer before training camp starts. Questions used for this receive, well, nothing other than having their name or Twitter handle featured here.
Here is our T-Birds Twitter mailbag.
With the latest prospect list put together by Alan Caldwell, do you see any older college-bound kids deciding to jump to the T-Birds? – Matt Lepine
First off, if you're not familiar with Alan Caldwell, or his work at Small Thoughts At Large, you should check it out. Before every season starts he compiles a list of prospects for each WHL team. It's the only place that you will find this information as a lot of teams are pretty tight-lipped about who is on their list.
As far as any of the college players on the T-Birds' list coming out, it's hard to say. There are no rumors out there indicating that any of them are planning on leaving school to join Seattle. The best bet is to hope one or two get drafted and signed by an NHL team and that team wants them to play junior. Everett saw that happen last year with Jujhar Khaira. Khaira was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers and had been playing NCAA hockey but the Oilers wanted him to develop in junior hockey.
There are some draft picks on Seattle's list. Michael Brodzinski was a San Jose Sharks draft pick but will be playing for the Minnesota Gophers this season. At 19-years-old, it's highly unlikely the defenseman will jump ship and join the T-Birds.
All in all, I would be shocked if any of the college players showed up this Thursday for training camp.
Is there any update on the status of Connor Honey? If healthy, will the Birds take a chance on him? – @Frazic
WHL teams are pretty stingy when it comes to giving out information on injuries, for good reason, so there is no official update on Honey's health. You would hope that he is ready to go after missing all of last year. If he is healthy and if the team feels that he can stay healthy for the entire season, he could be a lock to fill the 20-year-old slot.
It all depends on his health.
Honey is an ultra-competitive kid who plays hard each shift and has the skill to potentially be one of the top players in the WHL as an over-ager. If he has a clean bill of health and there is no risk of further injury, it would not be surprising to see Seattle keep him. If he shows up on Thursday that would most likely mean that he is healthy, so we will have to wait and see.
Nolan Volcan, Lane Pederson, Kaden Elder, Sahvan Khaira, Donovan Neuls, Logan Flodell – who makes the team? – Zenon Herasymiuk
This is a tough question and one that will be fun to watch play out during training camp and the exhibition season. A lot of the answers depend on what Seattle does with its 20-year-olds.
What do we know for sure? Seattle will need to be young up front this year, which opens the door for some of these players. Forwards that we know are on the roster are Mathew Barzal, Ryan Gropp, Scott Eansor, Alexander True, Keegan Kolesar, Calvin Spencer and Florian Baltram. What we don't know is which 20-year-old forwards are coming back.
How the young guys up front fit in could depend on how many over-aged forwards are here. That said, the team really likes Pederson, he had a strong season last year so I'd venture he will make the roster. Kaden Elder was a first-round draft pick and I would expect him to also make the roster. Neuls and Volcan will be interesting to watch. Neuls is a year older so if it came down to the two of them, he might have an advantage.
I think Khaira will make the roster. He was impressive in camp last year and with Dante Fabbro not coming this year, the team can afford a 16-year-old defenseman.
Flodell seems to be the goalie of the future for Seattle. You would think that means he has to be up with the club this year. That, of course, means that something has to happen with Danny Mumaugh or Taran Kozun as the team can't carry all three.
Who is your least favorite Winterhawk? Current/past? – @hodgesheroes
This is a tough question to answer because I've got nothing but love for the team down south.
For this one I'm going to go back into my past and say Troy Mick. Not that I ever thought he was a dirty player or anything like that, he was just good. I usually was not very fond of the other team's best players when I was a kid as they ended up causing more pain than the agitators did or do.