The 2016-2017 Victoria Royals didn’t exactly sneak their way into the playoffs, finishing 14 points ahead of the next placed Spokane Chiefs, but they did end up as the second Wildcard team in the Western Hockey League’s Western Conference, losing their last 7 games of the season to set up a first round matchup with the Everett Silvertips. We all know how that ended, with the longest overtime game in the history of the Canadian Hockey League. With that loss, which Victoria Royals played in their last game for the club?
Following the loss, the Royals said goodbye to three 20-year-old players. Captain Ryan Gagnon and forward Carter Folk were not drafted to an NHL team, but could find their next step being professional contracts in the ECHL or American Hockey League. They could also follow in the footsteps in former Royals Logan Fisher and Jamie Crooks and go the Canadian University route. The third player, Jack Walker, was picked in the 6th round in 2016 by the Toronto Maple Leafs and could earn himself a contract this summer and be playing for the Toronto Marlies in the AHL this Fall.
Those three guys will not be the only players not returning to Victoria for next season. Defenseman Chaz Reddekopp signed his three-year entry-level contract with the Los Angeles Kings and has been playing for their AHL affiliate, the Ontario Reign, since the Royals season ended. There is a chance that the Kings send Reddekopp back to Victoria for his overage season, but after four years in the WHL, it is likely that he is ready to take the next step in his professional hockey career, whether that is in Ontario or as a member of their Manchester ECHL squad.
Tyler Soy is another member that could very well have played his last game in the WHL. A 7th round pick by the Anaheim Ducks in 2016, Soy signed an Amateur Tryout Agreement with their AHL club, the San Diego Gulls, and is working towards earning an NHL contract with the Ducks. As a 7th round pick, Anaheim could look at giving Soy one more year with Victoria before making a decision on a contract, but at already 20 years of age, he could play somewhere in their system at the professional level and, like Reddekopp, does not have much more to prove in Victoria.
Vladimir Bobylev started the season playing in the KHL for Spartak Moscow but was frustrated enough by lack of playing time and the situation for everybody to agree that a transfer back to the Victoria Royals was the best option for him and his development. He posted 36 points in 38 games after only 3 points in 20 KHL games, so it was clear that it worked out for him. Bobylev is eligible to return to the Royals for his overage season (along with fellow Russian Marcel Ibragimov), but that would force the Royals management to make some important decisions, with only two import and three overager spots available. Bobylev could also go pro, as a 5th round pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, he could sign an entry-level contract and be playing in the AHL with the Toronto Marlies or with the Orlando Solar Bears in the ECHL. Royals fans would love to have him back, but is it practical for the Royals brass?
Royals GM Cameron Hope, like every offseason, will have to make a decision on his 20-year-old players. He will have a few options which will be made more difficult if Chaz Reddekopp and Tyler Soy are returned to the team (or in Soy’s case, do not sign a contract).
The potential overage players are:
D Marcel Ibragimov
D Loch Morrison
D Chaz Reddekopp
F Vladimir Bobylev
F Regan Nagy
F Ethan Price
F Tyler Soy
Seven options for only three spots, so we will see how this all plays out in the coming months.