Marek Tvrdon (CP Images)The Vancouver Giants have had a particularly rough opening to the season, starting 1-3, not getting their first win until a Sunday evening win over the Spokane Chiefs thanks to a goal with 5:53 left to play by Trevor Cheek.
It started this offseason, when the Giants lost 1991-born goaltender Adam Morrison to age and traded Jackson Whistle to Kelowna to open up space for prospects Liam Liston and Payton Lee to take over. Lee was sent back to Junior B, and the team brought up walk-on Tyler Fuhr to be Liston's backup.
Liston has a WHL-low .776 save percentage through three games, and Fuhr has hardly fared better with a .870 save percentage. Few teams, just Everett, Brandon and Regina, are worse off at giving up goals in the season's early going.
The team took another hit today. For the second time in the last two seasons, the Giants have cut ties with their first round pick from the CHL Import draft. Steve Ewen of the Vancouver Province reports the team has cut ties with 19-year old Czech winger Ales Kilnar.
This is, according to Ewen, symbolic of a worry the Giants' have faced since the graduations of Michal Repik and Mario Bliznak—the team has yet to have two consistent import players since that time.
Slovaka defenceman Juraj Valach (3-1-3-4) was picked up via trade with the Tri-City Americans prior to the 2007-08 season. He lasted three games. Bliznak was shipped back to the Giants by the Vancouver Canucks from the minors a few days later for his 20-year-old season and final one alongside Repik, but GM Scott Bonner said at the time that wasn't related to the Valach trade.
Slovak winger Andrej Kudrna (72-18-20-38) was a Vancouver import pick before the 2008-09 season, and scored 18 goals that year as 17-year-old, but was sporadic defensively and was dealt five games into the following year, shipped to the Red Deer Rebels for Cass Mappin. [Vancouver Province]
Ewen also mentions other European players that haven't stuck it out with the team. Misha Fisenko, then a rare overage import in Milan Kytnar, Sebastien Svendsen, Casper Carning, Alex Kuvaev and Finnish goaltender Jonathan Iilihati, selected at the behest of the Vancouver Canucks, who selected him in the 2011 NHL Draft.Read More »from Vancouver Giants cut import-select Ales Kilnar, punctuates tough start to WHL season