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Team Glance: Spokane Chiefs return impressive offensive talent

Spokane Chiefs’ Jake Toporowski defends on the ice during practice, Wed. Sept. 20, 2017, in the Spokane Arena. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
Spokane Chiefs’ Jake Toporowski defends on the ice during practice, Wed. Sept. 20, 2017, in the Spokane Arena. (Dan Pelle / The Spokesman-Review)
By Kevin Dudley For The Spokesman-Review

Last season: 27-33-8-4, fifth in U.S. Division, missed playoffs.

General manager: Scott Carter (second season).

Head coach: Dan Lambert (first season).

Assistant coaches: Scott Burt, Adam Deadmarsh.

Key losses: Keanu Yamamoto graduated after playing in 271 games in his junior career. Goalie Jayden Sittler graduated after appearing in 43 games last season.

The 20-year-olds: The Chiefs currently have three 20-year-olds, the maximum allowed: center Hudson Elynuik, right wing Rykr Cole and defenseman Tyson Helgesen – the team captain.

The Imports: The Chiefs selected forwards Milos Fafrak from Slovakia and Filip Kral from the Czech Republic in the CHL Import Draft. Only Fafrak played during the preseason.

Key returnees: Jaret Anderson-Dolan, the Los Angeles Kings’ second-round draft pick, was second on the team last year with 76 points (39G, 37A). Hudson Elynuik, a Carolina Hurricanes third-round draft pick in 2016, was third on the team last year with 73 points (29G, 44A). Goalie Dawson Weatherill is in line to be the team’s No. 1 goalie.

The waiting game: Kailer Yamamoto – the Edmonton Oilers’ first-round draft pick – led the Chiefs with 99 points last year (42G, 57A). He is having a strong preseason with the Oilers and remains on their roster. Final NHL 23-man rosters are due on Tuesday.

New faces: Top 2016 Bantam Draft pick left wing Luke Toporowski is heading into his rookie season. Jake McGrew is technically not a new face, but he missed all of his rookie season last year after suffering an injury in training camp.

Watch for: McGrew, if he remains healthy, could be counted on offensively. He was drafted in the sixth round by the San Jose Sharks despite his injury.

Noteworthy: The Chiefs welcome head coach Dan Lambert, who won a WHL Championship with Kelowna in 2015.

Did you know?: The Toporowski family continues to represent the Chiefs. Brothers Jake and Luke are on this year’s roster, while father Kerry played for the Chiefs from 1989 to 1991, and uncle Brad from 1989 to 1992.

Outlook: The Chiefs return a lot of experience and should be strong offensively. If the defense improves, they will make a return to the playoffs.

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