HUMBOLDT — The Humboldt Broncos management, coaching staff, and scouting team have been hard at work landing talent to restock the roster for next season.
Last season, with the nation and the hockey world watching, the Broncos rebuilt, posting an impressive 35-19-0-4 record. In the first round of the playoffs, Humboldt fell 4-3 in a hard-fought series with Estevan that was capped by a 3-2 overtime Bruins’ win in game seven. From that successful squad, the Broncos expect about six to eight players to return.
“We will be a young team, but one I think the fans will like as far as the energy level and the way they compete,” said Scott Barney, Humboldt’s head coach and general manager.
He is looking to bring in players, especially in the 2001 and 2002-born age categories, that can develop their games and grow together for the next number of seasons. Barney said that time together helps players as far as “working together as teammates and playing for each other.” Coming in as 17 and 18-year-olds, the players could spend as many as three or four years participating in community events, getting to know fans and being part of Humboldt.
Barney said the coaching staff, assistant general manager Luke Strueby, and scouts have worked to bring in players for next season and the future. At the main camp, Barney expects between 60 and 70 players.
As well as athletes competing for 2019-20 roster spots, the Broncos camp will include 2004 and 2005-born players to give them a taste of junior hockey. Local players were certainly be a part of the camp experience, Barney said.
As well as recruiting, the Broncos swung a trio of June trades to bring in talented young players. The most recent deal was a June 29 move for Melville Millionaires forward Tristan Shewchuk.
Now headed into his 18-year-old season, Shewchuk had 10 goals and 20 points as a rookie last winter. He was the first overall pick in the 2016 Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Bantam Draft.
“He will bring a lot of energy and he will be a top six player for us going forward,” said Barney, who noted that Shewchuk is a skilled player who works hard.
In early June, the Broncos traded with Weyburn to acquire 2002-born forward Rhett Gibson. The Saskatoon product had 17 goals, 38 points, and 34 penalty minutes in 38 games for his hometown Blazers at the midget AAA level last season.
“I think he has a good two-way game. He has some skill … We hope he will be in the lineup next season,” said Barney, who noted that Gibson has some family ties to Humboldt.
In the middle of June, Humboldt picked up 18-year-old forward Griffen Ryden from Yorkton. Form Warman, Ryden had 15 goals and 35 points in 43 games for the midget AAA Beardy’s Blackhawks last winter.
“He’s a good character kid,” Barney said. “He plays the game both ways. He has an edge.”