The Making of a Contenderby Matt MacInnis | May 26, 2017, 12:07 PM ET
For the past three years, the pre-season SICHL power rankings have showered praise on the Norsemen, placing them in the top 10 to start the season, often declaring them a real contender. Ranked #8 at the start of this season, #6 to start 2015-16 and #6 in 2014-15, the prognostications became myth. Each of the two previous seasons the Norsemen have not only failed to compete, they’ve failed to even make the playoffs. Finally they have broken through, and now face the Philadelphia Fire Ants in the Continental Cup Finals.
How did the Norsemen get here? A breakdown of how GM MacInnis assembled the 2016-17 Canadian Conference champions:
Jamie Benn: With a doubt the ‘best value’ draft pick in Norsemen history, Jamie Benn was selected 111th overall in the 5th round of the 2007 draft after GM MacInnis had scouted him in person for more than a dozen games that season with the Victoria Grizzlies. Benn has become a true cornerstone of the franchise.
Sidney Crosby: The best player in franchise history and career leader in pretty much everything, the Norsemen picked Crosby #1 overall back in 2005.
Ryan Getzlaf: Getzlaf was the centrepiece of a long-ago trade that saw the Norsemen trade the #1 pick that became Evgeni Malkin/Alexander Ovechkin for a package of highly-touted prospects. Although he’s never lived up to his real potential, Getzlaf is the third leading scorer in team history.
TJ Oshie: A relative newcomer to the core, Oshie was acquired last season as an impending free agent in exchange for Josh Bailey. Then, in a surprising twist, the team opted to Franchise Player tag Oshie, allowing Norsemen icon Henrik Zetterberg to walk in free agency.
Adam Henrique: Acquired at a March 2015 St. Augustine’s Summit from the Chicago Tigers in exchange for defensive prospect Jarred Tinordi and a pick. Tinordi has come to the team in a 2012 deadline-time UFA/contract shedding (Nik Lidstrom, Steve Sullivan and Kristian Huselius) with the Ottawa Slammers in the same deal as Carl Gunnarsson.
Pavel Datsyuk: A trade deadline rental picked up this season from the Winnipeg Falcons. Datsyuk previously won a Cup with the Fire Ants.
Nick Bjugstad: A 2010 first round pick, the rangy centre has had an up-and-down career. He’s been one of the more disappointing players in the playoffs so far.
Carl Hagelin: Picked up via trade from the Chicago Tigers in 2015 for defenceman Dmitry Orlov.
Patrik Elias: A trade deadline rental picked up this season from the Winnipeg Falcons. Elias is one of the greatest players in SICHL history, and will end his career in the green and white of the Norsemen.
Nick Spaling: A truly unique story. Spaling is technically a UFA acquisition, as the team signed him in the middle of its 2017 playoff run. However, the story runs a little deeper than that. Spaling was picked up from the Kansas City Krunch in March 2017 as a deadline acquisition to bolster the team’s fourth line. In his second game he was injured in what appeared to be a season-ending injury. The team made the difficult decision to cut him…only to discover more than a month later that he had healed and was ready to play again!
Emerson Etem: A 2010 1st round pick. Etem played about half the games in the regular season but has seen only spot action in the playoffs due to the late season additions.
Dale Weise: Drafted way back in 2008 by the Norsemen, this year represented his first true full-time SICHL season. Weise has made a solid contribution as a checker these playoffs.
William Karlsson: Part of a trade deadline dump last season when it became apparent we were going to miss the playoffs again, Karlsson had a tumultuous season, losing his job midway through before re-emerging in the playoffs as a meaningful contributor.
Oscar Lindberg: Acquired in the same trade as Karlsson. He’s played just one playoff game this season.
Eric Nystrom: Signed as a UFA at the start of this season, Nystrom played 64 regular season games and appeared in 14 playoff games so far, including several as the #6 defenceman when injuries decimated our d-corps.
Teemu Pulkinnen: A 2010 draft pick. He has seen intermittent duty in both the regular season and playoffs.
Erik Johnson: The other #1 overall pick in franchise history.
Duncan Keith: Acquired in a trade with the Philadelphia Fire Ants as outlined in yesterday’s story.
Hampus Lindholm: The 11th pick in the 2012 Entry Draft, which was heavily laden with defensive prospects. The team was thrilled to select him, definitely only because of his hockey skill, and not because his name is HAMPUS.
Zbynek Michalek:A 2017 trade deadline acquisition.
Ryan Ellis: Our first pick in the 2009 draft. Fun fact: We actually picked up the 12th pick in a trade with the Cougars the day before the draft, with the purpose of reaching up to take Dmitry Kulikov – who the Fire Ants took instead! More on that later this week.
Carl Gunnarsson: Via trade years ago from the Slammers when we moved three key UFAs to the Slammers.
Dalton Prout: a 7th round draft pick in 2011, Prout appeared in just part of one playoff game before getting injured.
Alex Grant: A former 5th rounder (2007), Grant has only appeared in 5 career SICHL games – one of which was as an emergency fill-in this playoffs.
Jonathan Quick:In 2011, the Norsemen were in terrible need of a new franchise goaltender. We pulled it off with a pair of trades. First we sent a 2nd rounder pick and prospect Michael Repik to the Slammers for Cory Schneider, and then flipped Schneider and prospect Patrice Cormier in exchange for Quick.
Joonas Korpisalo: The perplexing MVP of the first three rounds for the Norsemen, Korpisalo went 108th overall in 2012. Nobody expects his miracle run to last forever, but the Norsemen hope it goes on for 4 more wins.
The Norsemen have dressed 27 different players this playoffs. Of this group:
13 – Acquired by trade
12 – Drafted
2 – Free Agency