Saskatoon, SK- A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at all the recruits who had been announced in the OUA West up to that point. Today, we take a look at Canada West, an entirely different conference and one that has had less action compared to it’s Ontario counterpart.
Over the next few days, 49 Sports will take a look at the Canada West schools who have announced their recruiting classes, and today we start with the 2019-20 champions, the University of Saskatchewan Huskies.
First off, not all the schools have announced recruits in Canada West, but this series will only look at the schools that have. The biggest recruits in the conference this season are actually not players, rather schools, as both the MacEwan Griffins and Trinity Western Spartans are joining the league on the men’s side. Although the Lethbridge Pronghorns program was suspended last week, the conference will still have one more member than it did in 2019-20.
Alright, let’s get into the Huskies…
The University of Saskatchewan has stayed close to home as they have picked up all WHL players in their recruiting thus far. WHL players are often thought to be the gold standard when it comes to recruiting for U SPORTS, so much so that a number of schools outside of Canada West have also drawn from the league. One school that has heavily used the WHL would be St.FX all the way over in the AUS, where they have already announced a trio of WHL commitments. Funny enough, that’s the same number of WHL’ers that the Huskies have brought in at this point.
Jaxan Kaluski: Swift Current Broncos
Jaxan Kaluski has a cool name. Born in 1999, the name Jaxon was beginning to grow in popularity, but Jaxan with an “A” was very rare, and still is today. The Huskies are bringing in a cool name, that’s all.
Ah yes, I’m supposed to tell you about his hockey-playing abilities! Not just his cool name.
Aside from six games in the AJHL this year, Kaluski has spent the entirety of his junior career in the WHL, where he has suited up in Moose Jaw, Seattle and most recently Swift Current, where he ended his WHL career. He never has lit the WHL up when it comes to points, however, he is coming to Saskatchewan after posting a career-high of 31 points in his overage season with the Swift Current Broncos.
Kaluski broke into the WHL after being looked over in each draft which he was eligible for. An ankle injury took away nearly a year of his career, but the Lloydminster native fought through recovery and eventually was able to make it to the highest level of junior hockey. It’s his hard work and resilience that he showed throughout his up brining that highlighted the reasons as to why he was named Swift Current’s captain and guided them through a shortened WHL season.
With Kaluski, the Huskies are bringing in an experienced leader, but also someone who has a lot of offensive strengths. His shot, mainly his quick release are aspects of his game which can instill fear in opponents, and his ability to find space on a rush allows him to harness all of his skillsets.
Ty Prefontaine: Lethbridge Hurricanes
According to BabyNames.org, another one of the top 200 boys names of 1999, alongside Jaxon was Ty or Tyler. So, the Huskies are bringing in another common 90’s name to the men’s hockey program. But it is not the name which is most important about the recruitment of Prefontaine, rather, its once again, the leadership qualities he possesses. Like Kalkuski, he is joining the Huskies after captaining his WHL team in his overage season. Prefontaine has spent the majority of his career with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, where he was part of the leadership group in the last three seasons. In one of his seasons with the Hurricanes, he served as a co-captain alongside Dylan Cozens, who was recently selected seventh overall by the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. His offensive output may not be that of an NHL prospect, but his two 25 plus point seasons from the blue line are nothing to sneeze at (especially now, please don’t sneeze).
For a player who grew up in Saskatoon, it is no surprise to see him heading home for his collegiate career, as he last played in the prairie metropolis back in 2014 as a member of the Saskatoon Contacts of Midget AAA. Other than his offensive numbers, Prefontaine is set to bring a physical presence to the Huskies defence, and while he may not be fighting as much as he did in the WHL, his presence will be a welcome addition to an already fierce Huskies team.
Parker Gavlas: Medicine Hat Tigers
Topping off the recruiting class so far for the Saskatoon school is defensemen Parker Gavlas, who is joining the Huskies after splitting his junior career between the Saskatchewan junior league and the WHL. His last SJHL game came back in 2017 with the Yorkton Terriers, and since then he has been an everyday WHL player. The Saskatoon native did not produce at a high offensive clip during his time in the WHL, only scoring over 10 points in his overage season. At 6 feet tall, he’s not a towering defenceman either, but the experience that he has gained in the Western league will help him in his transition to U SPORTS. If we are to compare the possibility of Gavlas being an every game player to that of the former two, it is likely Gavlas may be the one who sees a little more time in the stands of Merlis Belshir Place. That being said, while he may not play as much as he would like to as a freshman, the former Regina Pat will be a staple of the Huskies defence for years to come.
A quick little intresting thing about Galvas? Back in 2019, he got in a fight with soon to be Huskies teammate Ty Prefontaine, when both were in the WHL.
The University of Saskatchewan is bringing in a very strong group of players, and they are all coming from one of the best sources for U SPORTS players, that being the WHL. While two of the players will be very important players in the near future, all three present a pathway for success for the Huskies and could help pave the way to a second consecutive Canada West championship.