Thursday, October 30, 2008

Not Kicking Sand In Beach's Face

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Well, well, well a surprise surfaced when the WHL announced it's rosters for the upcoming Canada/Russia ADT challenge, and it's the only reason I disagree with Guy's idea below.

After getting snubbed by Team Canada for last year's WJC and this summer's training camp, Kyle Beach - the 11th overall selection in last June's drafty by Chicago - was named to team WHL, which is widely recognized as a chance for Hockey Canada to take a peak at it's possible team.

Beach of the Everett Silvertips, has had off ice issues, and was a problem child at the U-18's a couple of years ago, when he taped "TEAM OHL" over the Team Canada logo on his jersey, implying that head coach Dave Barr was giving preferential treatment to those from the Ontario Hockey League.

Has Hockey Canada punished him enough? I say yes, as he is exactly the type of player that can help them drive for 5 in Ottawa. Invite him to camp, if he's acting up, send him home, if he's not keep him and let him start repairing his damaged reputation. That's what HC did with Steve Downie in 2006.

Canada-Russia Challenge... (if you care)

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The Western Hockey League has released the names of the players who will comprise the league's entry to the 2008 ADT Canada Russia Challenge. You can find details by checking out the official press release here. The WHL has a 9-1 record in the series against the Russians and have collectively outscored their opponent to the tune of 52-17.

Together with the Ontario Hockey League and the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, the hosts have dominated the Russians by a 25-5 margin.

Some will see those stats, bang their chests and proclaim "See!? Canada is #1 in the hockey world! Bwah ha ha ha!"

I look at those numbers and ask: "Why are we still doing this?"

Every year the Russians send over a team made up primarily of undrafted and unheralded players - a far cry from the team they submit to the World Junior Championship at Christmas - and then get annihilated by a trio of CHL All-Star teams.

Hockey Canada supposedly uses these games as a precursor to their December WJC workouts. The Russians... well who knows what they're doing most of the time?

I seriously believe that the event has some use but not in it's current format. Hell, I don't think playing against Team Switzerland would be much of a step back from playing this version of Team Russia, especially as they wear themsevles out from their cross-country tour. (Remember, the Russians are playing 6 games in 11 days!)

I have a proposal.

If the three CHL leagues want to showcase their talent, fantastic! I suggest using players who can benefit the most from the spotlight. Instead of using players already chosen by NHL teams, use a combination of those who have been passed over in their draft years and those top kids eligible for the coming draft in June.

Here would be my ADT Roster using the 15 forwards, 8 defencemen and 2 goalies that the league released today: (red indicates players eligible for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, blue is for players who have been passed over at least once by NHL teams but in my opinion deserve a second look)

Forwards

1. Evander Kane - Vancouver
2. Brayden Schenn - Brandon
3. Jimmy Bubnick - Kamloops
4. Landon Ferraro - Red Deer
5. Scott Glennie - Brandon
6. Cody Eakin - Swift Current
7. Burke Gallimore - Saskatoon
8. Levko Koper - Spokane
9. Tristan King - Medicine Hat

10. Brandon Kozun - Calgary (tied 7th in league scoring)
11. Dustin Sylvester - Kootenay
12. Jason Reese - Tri-City (20-year-old, 9th in league scoring)
13. Brett Breitkreuz - Edmonton (tied 10th in league scoring)
14. Kyle Bortis - Calgary (tied 10th in league scoring)
15. Kyle St. Denis - Kelowna (19th in league scoring)


Defencemen

1. Jared Cowan - Spokane
2. Stefan Elliot - Saskatoon
3. Tyson Barrie - Kelowna

4. Craig Schira - Vancouver (20-year-old, 2nd in d-men scoring)
5. Giffen Nyren - Kamloops (3rd in D-scoring)
6. Victor Bartley - Regina
7. Dallas Jackson - Prince George
8. Mark Isherwood - Medicine Hat

Goalies

1. Mark Guggenberger - Swift Current 2.31 GAA and .923 sv%
2. Steve Stanford - Prince Albert 2.70 GAA and .923 sv%



There were a few other options at all positions but the point is made (I think). The WHL, and the other leagues, have a chance to showcase players who haven't received as much as the marquee names. Scouts would be all over this idea because they'd get a chance to see some late bloomers or guys that fell through the cracks, in a competitive environment with others in the same position.

It would also be a nice reward for those undrafted players, getting to represent the league on a major stage (all games televised). For a few of those names, it's probably CIS or ECHL next year unless they can get some attention, and this would be a good way to do it.

I don't know how many people really care about the ADT Canada Russia Challenge but I can tell you that I'd be more inclined to watch my version than the uneven, lopsided, one-way beating that is the current one.

That's my opinion though, love to hear yours and please... throw some other names of undrafted players you think should have made my list!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Welcome To The Jung-le

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My apologies to Guy Flaming for ripping off his text message last night and using it as a title for this entry, but it's appropriate right now when it comes to the Oil Kings.

Torrie Jung (pictured right while playing with Kelowna last year )didn't have to make a ton of difficult saves, he did make 29 and recorded the shut out, which is way more symbolic to his teammates than making 40 saves and winning 4-2 in my opinion. Jung did make a terrific stretch save on a breakaway last night when the game was 2-0, and that alone gave his mates confidence in him.

The Oil Kings have proven they can score goals, they've lit the lamp 56 times which is second best in the Central Division, and 5th best in the Eastern Conference. What they had lacked was help with the last line of defence. Dalyn Flette was not good, then was injured, and Cam Lannigan will be very good eventually is only 16 years old. Jung doesn't have to record a shut out every night, but he's proved with solid goaltending - he owns a 1.62 GAA, a .947 save percentage and has 2 wins and a shoot out loss in 2 games - this team can be successful.

Playoff spots in the Eastern Conference are there for the picking right now. Even though Edmonton dropped 7 of 8 games before their recent 3 game regulation unbeaten string, they are right now tied for 9th with Lethbridge, only 2 points out of a post season spot. As A.J. Jakubec, Kent Simpson and I discussed on the pre game show of the Oil Kings broadcast heard on the TEAM 1260 last night, if this team gets on a roll with solid goaltending, who knows what could happen.

The other thing I was impressed with last night, was the teams fire. Twice Oil King players jumped in to defend teammates and after a mini line brawl the coaches, in particular Rocky Thompson were fired up. Thompson almost broke down the Plexiglas between the benches to get at Kootenay head coach Mark Holick. We all know about Thompson's reputation on the ice, well so do the players and they had to get fired up about seeing the look in their assistant coaches eyes last night. Any one that has dealt with Thompson in the last few years knows he is an extremely nice man, but it's good to know the fire still burns, if that doesn't get you going as a player, then check your pulse.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

A Toronto Schenn-sation

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Much to the chagrin of The Kelowna Rockets, the Toronto Maple Leafs made it official in regards to their intention of keeping rookie Luke Schenn with them this season.

Maybe The Clash put it best when they penned "Should I stay or Should I Go?"

We posed the question to Adam Proteau of The Hockey News prior to the start of the season and back then he found it highly unlikely that Schenn would stick with the Leafs. With a plethora of NHL capable blueliners with the team, the argument was made that Toronto didn't need to have Schenn filling a depth spot.

Yet Schenn isn't just playing a small role while he gets his feet wet, he's carrying more than his fair share of the workload.

The question still remains though if this is the best thing for the Leafs and their budding star. Few believe that Toronto is a playoff team with or without Schenn so why burn a year off of his contract?

To me the answer is pretty simple. If he's proving that he can not only handle but thrive at the NHL level, then you have to keep him. Would he develop as much going back to the WHL? I would suggest practicing with NHL players on a daily basis would be more beneficial to development than playing in the WHL.

This isn't a slight on the WHL or on the coaching available in the CHL, although some would suggest that was what Leafs bench boss Ron Wilson was doing when he said "This may sound arrogant on my part but I truly believe he can get better coaching at this level (than in junior)."

Greg Drinnan has a wonderful take on that sentence alone, you can find it here.

No for me, the bottom line is that you shouldn't hold back a player if he's proving capable of making the jump. What this does now for the Leafs is provide some surplus that they could potentially uses in a trade... if any of the other 29 NHL teams agree with them that their excess blueliners are indeed NHL calibre.

But that's my perspective, I'd like to hear yours.

New Era for Portland

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The long awaited news has finally been made official in Portland where ownership of the WHL franchise has changed hands to Calgary-based business man Bill Gallacher. (full press release here).

Interesting to note that one assistant coach will continue on, the old head coach and general manager have options to stay with the organization (but in different jobs) yet a second assistant coach and the trainer were let go. The trainer, Innes Mackie, had been with the club since it relocated from Edmonton back in 1976.

Bottom line: Let's hope this change at the top ushers in a return to respectability that the Winterhawks once had. It wasn't long ago that they were a franchise others could try to emulate but in recent years things had gone from bad to worse to down right embarrassing.

With an alumni list that includes names like Dave and Wayne Babych, Braydon Coburn, Brendan Morrow, Marian and Marcel Hossa, Brandon Dubinsky, Byron Dafoe, Ray Ferraro, Adam Deadmarsh, Sheldon Souray, Jeff Finley, Jannik Hansen, Scott langkow, Brad Isbister, Jason Labarbera, Cam Neely, Glen Wesley and Richard Zednik... the franchise had become a parody of what it once was.

Here's to hoping the Winterhawks a nice resurgence on and off the ice. A great way to follow the events in Portland is to check in with play-by-play voice Andy Kemper and his blog 'After the Whistle'.

2009 Draft Prospect Performers Of The Week

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Each week, International Scouting Services (ISS), Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW), Hockey Now, and The Pipeline Show recognize the Top Draft Eligible player from each of the WHL, OHL, QMJHL, & USHL leagues for the upcoming 2009 NHL Entry Draft based on their play over the course of the week. Players are nominated and the selected by graduates of the SMWW Hockey GM & Scouting with each of the winners receiving a gift acknowledging their selection.

ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE – OHL

Zack Kassian, Peterborough Petes


Zack Kassian (pictured playing for Team Canada at the U-17 tournament, courtesy Getty Images) of the Peterborough Petes had an excellent pair of games this week recording a 2 goals and 3 assists in wins over Sarnia and Kitchener. Kassian, a native of LaSalle, ON has 9 points in 10 games this season and is a key part of the Petes offensive attack. After Friday evening’s game Kitchener GM/Coach Steve Spott commented to the Peterborough Examiner that Kassian was “...a big strong man and he’s going to be a great pro...” The 6’ 3” Right Wing plays well at both ends of ice and is utilized in all situations while not being afraid to mix things up physically. Kassian is currently ranked 17th overall by ISS for the upcoming draft.

Zack Kassian
Right Wing
Born Jan 24 1991 -- LaSalle, ONT
Height 6.03 -- Weight 205 -- Shoots R

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM

2007-08 Peterborough Petes OHL 58 9 12 21 74 5 1 0 1 2
2008-09 Peterborough Petes OHL 10 3 6 9 18


WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE – WHL

Tyson Barrie, Kelowna Rockets


Tyson Barrie made a solid impression on the scouts this week, registering a goal and 5 assists while being plus-2, during 2 wins against Chilliwack and a loss to Brandon. On the season, Barrie leads all WHL defensemen with 5 goals and 15 assists in 16 games. The Victoria B.C. native is known for his offensive ability and gets the most out of his 5’ 9” 165lb frame. Barrie is currently ranked 13th among WHL draft eligible players by ISS for this June.

Tyson Barrie
Defense
Born Jul 26 1991 -- Victoria, BC
Height 5.09 -- Weight 165 -- Shoots R

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM

2006-07 Kelowna Rockets WHL 7 0 3 3 2 -- -- -- -- --
2007-08 Kelowna Rockets WHL 64 9 34 43 32 7 1 3 4 0
2008-09 Kelowna Rockets WHL 16 5 15 20 13


QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE – QMJHL

Charles Olivier-Roussel, Shawinigan Cataractes


Charles Olivier-Roussel had an outstanding week for Shawinigan recording 4 assists in 3 games while also posting a plus- 6 rating. The 6’ 0”, 200lb native of St- Eustache, QC is amongst the league leaders in defenseman scoring with 2 goals and 14 assists in 17 games this season.
Roussel is known as a reliable defender who is rarely caught out of position. Right now Roussell is the 3rd ranked defenceman in the QMJHL for the upcoming draft.

Charles-Olivier Roussel
Defense
Born Sep 13 1991 -- St-Eustache, PQ
Height 6.01 -- Weight 200 -- Shoots R

Regular Season Playoffs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM

2007-08 Shawinigan Cataractes QMJHL 50 3 13 16 28 5 1 2 3 2
2008-09 Shawinigan Cataractes QMJHL 17 2 14 16 18


UNITED STATES HOCKEY LEAGUE – USHL

Paul Phillips, Cedar Rapids Roughriders


Paul Phillips had a strong showing this week in the USHL, recording a goal and an assist in 3 games while also posting a plus- 3 rating and 19 PIM. On the season, the 5’ 11” defenseman has 1 goal and 4 assists for 5 points and is a plus-8. The Darien, IL native is known as a smooth skater and puck handler.

Paul Phillips
Defense
Born Jul 16 1991 -- Darien, IL
Height 5.11 -- Weight 190
Regular Season Playoffs

Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM

2007-08 Cedar Rapids USHL 43 1 2 3 25 3 0 0 0 4
Roughriders
2008-09 Cedar Rapids USHL 8 1 4 5 25
Roughriders

About International Scouting Services (ISS)

International Scouting Service’s (ISS) goal is to offer the highest quality scouting information to hockey clubs through the dynamic integration of hockey experts, scouting procedures and state-of-the-art technology. We know that this mission is not only achievable - it is well within our grasp.

ISS is an international enterprise, in the business of scouting, evaluating, analyzing and ranking young bantam, midget and junior aged hockey players wherever hockey is played. ISS uses an exciting combination of traditional scouting methods along with the most advanced technology to arrive at quality and efficient results on these players.

Among the number of ISS products are: Annual NHL Draft Guide, Annual OHL, WHL and QJMHL Draft Previews, Annual CHL Import Draft Preview, Monthly NHL Draft Report, Monthly Future Stars Report

For more information on International Scouting Services and other products and services that it provides please visit their website at www.isshockey.com.

About Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW)

Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW) offers numerous sports job training programs, specially designed to get you started in a sports job or advance your sports career. In the highly competitive sports industry, sports business skills, sports team experience, and networking are all critical components. SMWW is here to provide quality sports career education, along with the skills that professional sports specifically crave.
Our eight-week sports-business training programs can be taken via the Web from anywhere in the world, at your convenience, and include live audio chats with prestigious, enthusiastic instructors in your chosen field of study.

Sports Management Worldwide’s intensive training is strictly for those individuals wanting to enhance their chances of gaining job placement in professional sports management. SMWW can assist you with sports jobs & sports careers in a variety of sports including hockey, soccer, football, basketball, baseball, motorsports, soccer, cricket, rugby, lacrosse and more.

The Hockey GM & Scouting course is an 8-week online course that offers cutting-edge theories on how to develop a career in professional or collegiate hockey. The Hockey General Manager and Scouting course will cover issues including hockey operations, team management, scouting talent, player personnel, cutting-edge methods of scouting, NHL traditional scouting techniques, statistical analysis and other essential tools of modern general managers of professional, major junior, and collegiate hockey organizations.

A unique aspect of each 8-week course is the opportunity for students to participate weekly in interactive audio chats with fellow students, SMWW instructors and other special guests from within the hockey industry. This allows students the tremendous opportunity to network within the professional, junior and collegiate hockey ranks and get to know your instructors and fellow students personally.

For more information on Sports Management Worldwide check out their website at www.sportsmanagementworldwide.com.

About The Pipeline Show – Live on the TEAM 1260 Tuesdays 7 pm – 9 pm, and online at www.thepipelineshow.com

Ever wonder about the next wave of budding superstars ready to burst onto the NHL scene? You might know their names but nothing about who they are, where they come from and where their careers are going.

The Pipeline Show debuted in 2005-2006 on Edmonton’s dedicated sports radio station the TEAM 1260, and weekly radio show with a unique focus quickly found its niche in the North American sports market.

Each week Dean Millard and Guy Flaming speak with world class hockey prospects, renowned coaches and scouts as well as various respected members of the media throughout the continent, taking an in-depth look at the top hockey prospects coming down the pipe on... The Pipeline Show!

For more information on The Pipeline Show check out their website at www.thepipelineshow.com.

About Hockey Now

The goal of Hockey Now is to recognize exceptional contributions to the game by all those involved. The ultimate objective is to provide ever-widening coverage of the game, from minor hockey levels through to Major Junior and the NHL, and to capture the spirit of the game and reflect its central position in Canadian life.

Since launching in 1999, Hockey Now has continually expanded their coverage, issues, circulation and readership. With official ties to many of the largest and most influential hockey organizations in Canada, including B.C. Hockey, Hockey Alberta, Hockey Canada, the NHL, and the NHLPA, the publications are now well established in hundreds of communities across the country.
With four regional editions plus special supplements serving B.C., Alberta, The Prairies and Ontario, Hockey Now covers about 80% of the vast hockey community in English-speaking Canada, with a total of 63 issues per year.
For more information on Hockey Now check out their website at www.hockeynow.ca

Top 5 Tuesdays: 5 Youngest NHLers

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Sam Gagner, born August 10th of 1989, was the youngest player in the NHL for the 2007-08 season and that's still younger than any of this season's rookies who were all born prior to August. Still, it is interesting to note that 3 of the youngest skaters in the NHL this season are defencemen, not what most people would expect. Here now are the 5 youngest players in the NHL at the start of the 2008-09 season.

5. Alex Pietrangelo D - St. Louis Blues
Born: January 18, 1990


The fourth player chosen in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft last June, Pietrangelo played three games before getting hurt with the ever-vague 'upper body injury'. He's expected to be out until early next month. The 6'2, 206 lb, blueliner didn't register a point in any of those games but did play a fair amount: (14:01, 15:54 and 19:30). The injury to Erik Johnson was a blow to the organization this year but it definitely opened a door for the former Mississauga/Niagara IceDog.

4. Luca Sbisa D - Philadelphia Flyers
Born: January 30, 1990


He's the best thing from Switzerland since chocolate and he's taken to Philly like a Cuckoo to a clock. The Lethbridge Hurricanes would love to have Sbisa back but probably shouldn't hold their breath. Sbisa has 2 points through 8 games with the Flyers but is playing in a top-4 role as the team deals with some injuries but also looks for offence. His ice time is contiually hovering in the 17-20 minute range and he's being asked to play well above his tender years might suggest he's ready for. But... he's how old again??

3. Steven Stamkos C - Tampa Bay Lightning
Born: February 7, 1990


The talk about Stamkos has been the lack of minutes he's been getting. Stealing a joke from Corey Graham... remember the 'Seen Stamkos?' promo ads that the Lighting were running in the summer? Well the fans are starting to ask the same thing and it's not in a positive way. Stamkos, the odds on favorite on every list to be the Calder Trophy winner this year, has zero points after 7 games and has played as little as 6:05 one night. No points for the poster boy has got to be a concern and although I highly doubt he gets sent back to Sarnia... someone somewhere is asking if it might be for the best.

2. Nikita Filatov LW - Columbus Blue Jackets
Born: May 25, 1990




He's got a goal and he hasn't even played over ten minutes in a game, in fact his ice time is dwindling as time goes on. Last time out against New York he played juse under 3 minutes... those are minutes usually reserved for knuckle chuckers, not budding superstars.

1. Zach Bogosian D - Atlanta Thrashers
Born: July 15, 1990


The youngest player in the NHL this year is the blueliner from Massena, NY. The 3rd overall pick of the Thrashers, Bogosian was expected by many as one of the leading candidates to make a quck jump to the NHL. He doesn't have any points yet in Atlanta but like Pietrangelo and Sbisa, Bogosian is playing a bunch of minutes usually in the 13:30-16:30 range. The Thrashers site indicates that he's partners with Mathieu Schneider so you have to think some good things are going to happen for Bogosian sooner or later if that duo stays together.

It's interesting to note that Sam Gagner is still the 12th youngest player in the NHL...

Ranking blatanly stolen from Mirtle.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Let's Go To Buffalo

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Last year it was the NHL's outdoor classic, in 2011 Buffalo will host the World Junior Championship as World of Junior Hockey points out. As Nathan writes, the Buffalo News has more details, and a news conference will be held Monday.

There are 2 reasons why Buffalo is getting this tournament, and they both have to do with Toronto. One is because Canadians will flock across the border and boost attendance, and the other is because Toronto lost out to Edmonton for the 2012 tournament.

When North Dakota (who was bidding again) hosted in 2005 the event was wildly successful because Manitobans showed up in droves. If it hadn't been for Canadians the tournament would have likely ended up like most other US hosted WJC's...not very well attended.

This is great news for North American hockey fans, as it means the tournament will be held on this side of the pond for the next 4 years:


2009-Ottawa
2010-Saskatoon/Regina
2011-Buffalo
2012-Edmonton/Calgary

in 2011 HSBC arena in Buffalo as well as Niagra University will play host to most of the games. Canada will be out for it's 5th straight Gold medal, hoping to complete the feet for a second time. This will also be the 5th time an American city has hosted one of my favorite tourneys.

UPDATE: This was made official today, click here for the official release from the Sabres.

Sunday School Wrap

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The Colorado College Tigers surged to the top of the pack last weekend, overtaking Boston College as the #1 ranked NCAA hockey team. The Tigers didn't win in 2 outings this weekend, but I don't think they should lose their top spot, as they didn't lose either. While the Tigers have to be disappointed with a pair of sister kissers against Clarkson, Chad Rau (Toronto, 7th Round, 2005) continued his scoring streak. The Hobey Baker candidate has 5 goals and 5 assists and hasn't been held off the scoresheet in any of 6 CC games thus far. Goaltender Richard Bachman (Dallas, 4th round, 2006-pictured right) is the main reason the Tigers came away with a tie on Saturday night, as Clarkson fired 44 shots on net, and only beat Bachman twice. While I don't think CC should lose their top ranking, the Golden Knights could move up from the 19 spot they occupied before the weekend began.

Sticking in the state of Colorado, the Denver Pioneers weren't as lucky as their state rivals. While Denver did defeat Ohio State 3-1 on Friday night, thanks to a pair of goals from sophomore Kyle Ostrow, they weren't so lucky Saturday evening. The Buckeyes, who weren't even considered for the top 20 last week, shocked the Pioneers 4-3 in Denver. Denver's Joe Colborne (Boston, 1st round, 2008-pictured left) faced a familiar foe in Zac Dalpe (Carolina, 2nd round, 2008) of Ohio State. The two battled for the Doyle Cup last year as Colborne's Camrose Kodiaks knocked out Dalpe's Penticton Vee's and advanced to the Canadian Junior A National Championship. Saturday night, Dalpe got some revenge, even though both players scored, Dalpe's Ohio State Buckeyes knocked off a National championship contender, and may have inched their way closer to the top 20, while the Pioneers might fall out of the number 2 spot.

3rd Ranked Boston College played only once, nipping Vermont 3-2, but 4th ranked New Hampshire struggled against UMASS and St. Lawrence. James Van Riemsdyk (Philadelphia, 1st round, 2007-pictured right) scored a shorthanded goal to salvage a tie with Massachusetts for the Wildcats Friday night. It would have been a loss for New Hampshire if the Minutemen could have capitalized more on their 39 shots, including peppering Wildcat tender Brian Foster (Florida, 5th round, 2005) with 17 in the first period. However Foster and the rest of his Wildcat teammates failed to show up Saturday as St. Lawrence became the first team to score more than 2 goals against UNH. Undrafted senior Zach Miskovic scored a pair for the Saints who have now won 3 straight and could also get consideration for the nations top 20.

Boston University served notice that they won't sleep walk through the first half of the season, like they did last year. The Terriers who were winless in 5 games a year ago, are now 4-1 early this season.They reached the mark Saturday night with an exclamation point, smoking Michigan 7-2 thanks to 5 power play markers. Undrafted senior Jason Lawrence scored twice, and his 4 goals are halfway to his total from last year already. Colin Wilson (Nashville, 1st round, 2008-pictured left) has 6 points in 5 games and the Terriers should at the very least switch spots with Michigan as BU was slotted just behind the 5th ranked Wolverines before the weekend.

Another top 10 team also felt the sting of an lower ranked opponent. #10 Miami shut out #8 Notre Dame thanks to 29 saves from freshman netminder Cody Reichard. That was Friday night, as for Saturday, the Fighting Irish were beaten up again by the Redhawks. Miami outshot Notre Dame 15-2 in the second period and thanks to goals from Justin Mercier (Colorado, 6th round, 2005) and Alexandre Lacombe (undrafted senior)outscored ND 3-2 to sweep the weekend series. Like BU and Michigan above, expect a swap in the national rankings.

Elsewhere #7 Minnesota avenged a 2-2 tie with unranked Wisconsin from Friday night with a solid 5-2 victory on Saturday, and Michigan state also played to a 2 all tie Friday against Northern Michigan before rebounding with a 2-0 shut out on Saturday.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Farm Almanac

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As I mentioned in the Springfield update on Friday afternoon, I spoke with Falcons Head Coach Jeff Truitt at length earlier that day and got a synopsis of how things have been going thus far in the early season.

First off, an update on the status of Gilbert Brule who was hurt a week ago in a game against the Providence Bruins. The Vancouver native, (born in Edmonton, raised in B.C.), was involved in what coach Truitt described as not being a dirty hit.

"We reviewed the tapes, there was a hit but it wasn't a dirty play at all," the coach said, "It just caught him in a bad spot just below the knee cap so it's bruised but no structural damage."

"He's got a bruised knee and he skated yesterday and today just lightly and we'll see how it reacts," said Truitt, "He's going to skate again tomorrow and then with the rest of the week here we think we'll get him back again next weekend."

The Falcons played on Friday night, the first of a back-to-back weekend set but are then off until Halloween so Brule (pictured in CLB last year) will have plenty of time to rest, especially considering the fact that the team has several healthy scratches able to take his spot.

I asked Truitt if he was able to tell what the strength of his team was this year even though the schedule had only a handful of games ticked off of it.

"It's our speed and our skill," he stated, "I'll put our character on top of that too because in our first two games we had to come up with big second halves or big third periods to get the wins. We got the win in Hartford and then had to come from behind to get an overtime point in Providence. Our guys never gave up and that was a great sign of our character and we've been building off of that."

In speaking with Rob Schremp earlier in the week, he made a point of how key the recent victory over Manchester was and Truitt also points to the Hartford win as being important for the same reason; both divisional opponents posed major problems for the Falcons last year.

"To go in there and get the two points on opening night in Hartford really sets the tone for the year," agreed Truitt.

The road win in Manchester this year was something the Falcons failed to accomplish at all in 2007-08.

Line combinations have been juggled as is the case normally in an AHL season, especially early on as the coach seeks to find chemistry and rotate as many players through as possible. Rookies will often play every third or fourth game unless they have immediate success simply for the fact that others have paid their dues by going through the same thing in previous years.

Kyle Brodziak barely played in the first half of his rookie AHL season, Liam Reddox spent all of his in the ECHL and even Rob Schremp was a healthy scratch at times in Wilkes-Barre.

"We're getting closer [to set lines] but we still have juggled lines to try and find the right fits," Truitt said. "We really like our Guillaume Lefebvre, Tim Sestito and Carl Corazzini line as our all-purpose line; Tim's got a couple of goals for us already this year so not only can they provide a good defensive game but offensively they can get something done too. They've all good good speed and grit on that line which is good, and that's been a constant here for the last few games."

Last season Slava Trukhno got out of the gate very slowly and it wasn't until late February that he started to pack on the points. Once he got on a roll he was hard to stop and put together a 3-week stretch that raised serious expectations for this new year. So far, Trukhno has delivered.

"He's very strong on his skates, he's more confident in his abilities and of course his skill has always been there but how he uses that skill in tight around the net and his willingness to take a defenceman wide and things like that have really come to the forefront," Truitt explained, "You can see that he's really taken a step forward; he's wanting to get inside of a defenceman to the front of the net and he's been rewarded this year by a lot of good plays in tight to the net."

There is no question that Trukhno (left) will be a fixture in the top 6 for Springfield from now on unless something unexpected and dramatic occurs to his performance level.

Colin McDonald has been bumped back to the fourth line for the last couple of games but Truitt insists that fans of the former Providence Friar shouldn't read too much into that.

"It's nothing against Colin that he's playing there it's just that the other night [in Manchester] we decided to put Stephane Goulet up there on a scoring line and he responded really well," the coach explained, "Colin is a really big part of everything and he'll get his opportunities as well. He's been there before in the early part of the season, the only time he hasn't been is in Manchester, and that line flourished the other night and in practice that line has been pretty good so we just wanted to keep that going."

The line combination in question saw Ryan Potulny in between Schremp on the left side and Goulet on the right wing.

The continual line mixing can be tough on players but I asked the coach if it's also tough on he and his staff knowing that it's often a delicate balance trying to keep everyone happy and morale up.

"What it does is add a healthy competition, not only in games but in practices and that makes everybody better," he countered, "There are a lot of bodies here and that's fine because it creates a good atmosphere for guys to perform in practice. We flip flop things in practice as we start firming up line for when games get closer and that competition is good for everybody."

Cody Wild, who was scratched to make room for Josef Hrabal's AHL debut on Friday, has been good but is not immune to rookie mistakes.

"You can just tell that he's got an offensive flair, he likes to jump into the rush and he's certainly been a contributor with the team," said Truitt, "It's a learning process no doubt and coming out of college to the American League is obviously an adjustment for him. We've had him in to watch tape and he's learning, it's part of the education and the process a first year player has to go through but he's been a good student so far."

I asked Truitt if he'd offer up a couple names of players he'd consider to be pleasant surprises thus far but those he chose he admitted aren't really shocking choices.

"I wouldn't say that I'm surprised but Taylor Chorney has been really good," he began, "His confidence with the puck and his all around game, he's obviously a highly touted guy and deservedly so. He works extremely hard, sees the ice, moves pucks really quick but having him in rookie camp for a bit he's not really a surprise because he's a great player. We've had him with Theo [Peckham] or Jake Taylor and he's been really good every night."

"Devan Dubnyk has come up big for us in a couple of games and has taken the work load and run with it here," Truitt mentioned.

"It's nice to have a guy like Brule here... Schremp, who has bought in right away and has done a great job... Corzazzini and Lefebvre who have added a really workman like attitude and professionalism, Spurgeon has been great and Reddox pretty good too..."

Last year was a growing year for Ryan O'Marra who didn't initially adjust well to the minor leagues but according to his new head coach, he's been a much different player in the early going this season.

"With Ryan, the games that he's played, he came up with a big shot block for us against Providence one night and is doing an outstanding job for us," Truitt praised, "We're seeing little things along the way that are adding to him. He's another great student of the game, always asking questions to get better. I've been really impressed with Ryan and how he's appraoched things to this point and I don't expect anything different. He's going to be a big part of this club and we're going to give him that ice time to develop and get better. He's stronger this year, you can see that in the make up of his body, I just think it will take a little bit of repetition for him before he takes off this year but he'll get that opportunity here for sure."

Some fans have been wondering where Mathieu Roy has disappered to. His name doesn't appear on the game notes the Falcons release as either an injury or a healthy scratch but it appears that has just been an over sight. According to Truitt, Roy is with the team but simply can't play right now.

"Matty hasn't played yet because of his wrist [injured in the NHL pre-season fight against Calgary]," Truitt updated, "He's here but he's still sore and with so many defencemen here there is no use rushing it so... I think it'll be another week."

Finally I had to address the outright snubbing of my recent on air suggestion to Truitt that Tyler Spurgeon should be named as his captain. In fact it was Tim Sestito who got the nod with Ryan Potulny and Jake Taylor getting the A's... I demanded an explanation.

"Well..." he chuckled, "[Spurgeon] is a young player. There is no doubt that Tim Sestito, just by his nature, has grabbed this team with its identity and has done a great job. Jake Taylor is an older defenceman for us although he's not a veteran of the league he can still help our younger guys on the back end. Ryan Potulny has won championships and that's what we want out of our leaders."

"There were lots of guys... like Reddox, McDonald or Spurgeon who could all be a part of that as well, " Truitt added, "[Spurgeon] is a natural leader anyway, I know he's well respected in the room, and we're not expecting just three guys to lead. Spurgeon is infectious because of his work ethic and enthusiasm for the game. It wasn't a matter of his character flaws because there are none."

The choice was made by Truitt and his coaching staff and as I quoted him saying earlier, leadership and character are not qualities that the farm team is lacking so it would have been extremely hard to make poor choices for the lettermen.

Farm Fodder: The Falcons will now play three consecutive games agaisnt the Lowell Devils (NJ) beginning Saturday and ending with back to back games next weekend... The Springfield power play (15.2%) ranks 20th, the PK (77.5%) is 27th in the 29 team league... G Devan Dubnyk's 3.20 GAA ranks 27th in the AHL while his .906 save percentage is 21st on the list... LW Slava Trukhno had 5 points in the first three games but has just 1 point in the last three... LW Rob Schremp has 5 points in 4 games, hitting the score sheet in each game he's appeared in so far... C Ryan Potulny has 5 points so far, all of them goals... D Theo Peckham, born November 10th 1987, is the youngest player on Springfield's current roster... D Josef Hrabal recorded an assist in his first official game in North America... The Falcons have been outshot in every one of their first 6 games by a collective total of 198-154, an average of just over 7 shots per game...

Friday, October 24, 2008

Friday Farm Report: Hrabal Ready to Go

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I just got off the phone with Springfield Falcons Head Coach Jeff Truitt and learned that injured import blueliner Josef Hrabal will make his North American debut tonight when the AHL club takes on the Albany River Rats.

Hrabal has not played a game since the opening period of the Oilers/Flames tilt in Camrose suring the rookie tournament. Initial reports suggested he could be out much longer but the shoulder responded to treatments and he is good to go.

"We're going to get him into the line up and see what he's got," Truitt told me, "He's been practicing hard and our trainer has said that he's as close as he's ever going to be and he certainly wants to play so it's time for him to get his feet wet."

Cody Wild will be the one getting the short straw making way for Hrabal.

Rob Schremp, Stephane Goulet and Ryan Potulny will play together again tonight after a successful game against Hartford last week. Hanz Benson, Ryan O'Marra and Colin McDonald will be another trio. Liam Reddox, Tyler Spurgeon and leading scorer Slava Trukhno have played very well. Gullaume Lefebrve, captain Tim Sestito and Carl Corazzini appear to be entrenched as the shutdown line with the way they have performed thus far.

Theo Peckham will also play tonight after his one-day recall to the NHL.

More on the farm later.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Peckham Recalled

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The Edmonton Oilers have recalled Defenceman Theo Peckham from Springfield. You can read the official release here.

Peckham might play his second career NHL game against the Avs tonight when the Oilers try and right the wrong from last night in Chicago.

Peckham was extremely impressive in training camp, and while he was sent down, Craig MacTavish thought he was very close, as did Oilers Assistant G.M. Kevin Prendergast.

I thought even though Steve Staios doesn't put up a lot of points, the Oilers missed his grit and leadership last night against the Hawks. Peckham can provide some of Staios' grit and then some.

The Oilers envisioned Peckham playing most of the year in Springfield alongside rookie Taylor Chorney, but he was so good in camp that the Oilers had thoughts of keeping him around, unfortunately contract situations didn't allow that to happen.

So far in 5 games with the Falcons, the 3rd round pick from 2006 has 2 power play goals and one assist to go along with 18 penalty minutes.

Last March when he made his Oilers debut he looked nervous and slightly out of place. Should he play this time, expect him to be much more comfortable and aggressive as he was during the pre season.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

WJAC Rosters all Set

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Last night we had Mark Carlson, the Head Coach of Team USA, on the program to talk about his club's approach to the 2008 WJAC that kicks off in Camrose on November 2nd. Today, the roster for Team USA was formally announced. (see here)

It's a decent team with some notable names from the 2008 draft and more so for the 2009 draft.

Russia's line up looks like this while the rosters for both Belarus and Germany can be found here courtesty of our friend Nate Fournier.

Here are Team Canada East and Team Canada West.

Dean and I had a healthy debate last night based around the comparison of the USHL vs the Tier I JR A leagues in Canada. We both agree that the USHL probably is a slightly higher calibre of league than any single Jr. A league in Canada but not to the standards of the CHL.

Dean feels that since this year's American entry in the WJAC is basically a USHL All-Star team, they should enter the tournament as the favorites to win gold. On the other hand, I believe that because Team Canada West is an All-Star team consisting of four Jr. A leagues (BCHL, AJHL, SJHL and MJHL) that they should still be the top seed.

I am on record now as predicting a Team Canada West vs Team USA final though.

You can hear last night's show by clicking here.

Hockey Canada has a page on thier main site dedicated to this event where you can hear all 4 of our WJAC Preview interviews as well. (see here)

Another place where you can go to find information on tickets and stuff around the Camrose event is here.

Oil Kings Go For Jung-ular

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OK so it's not the best headline ever but it seemed better than my second choice: Dalyn Flette Takes One in the Jung-k!

For the second time in a week, 19-year-old netminder Torrie Jung has been dealt. First it was from the Kelowna Rockets to the Lethbridge Hurricanes for a 6th round pick in 2010 and now today to the Edmonton Oil Kings for the exact same thing. Official details on the trade can be found here.

I mentioned very recently that I thought the Oil Kings needed to upgrade their goaltending ASAP if they wanted to stay in contention for a playoff spot. In conversation with Millard yesterday, he agreed as long as doing so didn't cost the team a chunk of it's future - like a roster player.

Well The Pipeline Show officially gives this deal two thumbs up because GM Bob Green has addressed the biggest flaw on his roster and has done so without sacraficing anything for the future.

The interesting part now will be to see what the team does with Flette who apparently is out with a foot injury (see update below)... but might now be the 4th best goalie on the team behind Jung, 16-year-old Cam Lanigan and equipment manager Rogan Dean. Millard and I both figure that Flette will end up getting released but he's checking that theory out with GM Green later today.

As for Jung, his career stats aren't exactly earth shattering despite being on a pretty strong Rockets team last year. In two seasons he hasn't had a save percentage over .896 and his best goals against average came last year with a 2.80 in 33 appearances.

Still, it simply has to be a step up from the status quo and that's all you can ask from a GM is to make improvements. Jung was a 7th round pick by the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2007 so at least one NHL franchise believes he has some potential.

I haven't heard if Jung will play tonight against Vancouver but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that play-by-play voice A.J. Jakubec would be willing to drive to and from Lethbridge himself if it would help. The Oil Kings have allowed 5 or more goals in 7 consecutive games (6 or more in the last 3)... and that's got to have been painful on the broadcast crew.

The Giants have had their way with the Oil Kings in their only meeting last year, a 7-0 wedgie which was broadcast on Shaw TV... as is tonight's affair. You can watch the game or hear the terrific play call of Jakubec and Kent Simpson on the TEAM 1260 starting with a pre-game show at 6:30.

Update: Millard had a chance to speak with GM Bob Green a little while ago... Dalyn Flette is expected to be out for about a month with an ankle injury. He's had a MRI done, surgery has not yet been decided on. Cam Lanigan will play in goal tonight for the Oil Kings.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Top 5 Tuesday

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Today we take a look at some NHL rookies, not named Stamkos, Turris or Brunnstrom you should keep your eye on:

5. Oscar Moller-Los Angeles Kings
The super swede scored his first NHL goal Monday night against Colorado.
Playing on a line with Alexander Frolov and Michael Handzus, Frolov took a pass down low and from a bad angle fired in his first. It was a goal Peter Budaj should have stopped, but it was a goal Moller (pictured courtesy Getty Images) has likely scored many times in his career, simply because he loves to shoot the puck. He lit up the WHL with 39 goals last year, and could be doing the same thing with Chilliwack as a 19 year old, but he cracked the Kings roster. Moller said during an intermission Monday night that he was "a little surprised" about making the team, but now he's making the most of it. Along with 18 year old Drew Doughty (who also scored his first career NHL goal Monday night, and was undressed by Ryan Smyth on an Avs goal), and 20 year Wayne Simmonds Moller is fitting well as a young star in Hollywood playing almost 15 minutes a night.

4. Viktor Tikhonov-Phoenix Coyotes
At the 2008 NHL draft in Ottawa, the Coyotes took a player who Peter Deboer told TPS before the Memorial Cup - was the most NHL ready player in the draft, selecting Mikkel Boedker 8th overall. The "Great Dane" as TPS started calling him during the Memorial Cup has 2 goals in 5 Coyotes games as of Monday and joins an embarassment of riches when it comes to young players in the desert. Kyle Turris, Kevin Porter, Peter Meuller, and Martin Hanzal are all stars on the rise like Boedker. But Viktor Tikhonov (pictured left courtesy thehockeynews.com)is another guy to watch. The grandson of the legendary Soviet Union coach of the same name was acquired by the Coyotes with the 28th pick in the first round this past June, a pick they traded to get, and select the Russian who had twice been passed over in the draft. The 20 year old was born in Moscow but grew up in California before moving back to Russia and representing his country at the 2008 World Junior Championship where Russia won a bronze medal. The fact that the Coyotes used a first round pick on a 20 year old tells you how important they think Tikhonov can be to their organization immediately.

3. Luca Sbisa-Philadelphia Flyers
The Philadelphia Flyers grabbed Italian born, and Switzlerand raised Luca Sbisa 19th overall last June, and most including myself expected him to play a second season with Lethbrige of the WHL. It looks like the Flyers have other ideas. Sbisa who started at the bottom of the defence pile in Philly, is now in the team's top 4, skating with Brayden Coburn on the 2nd pairing. The smooth skating rearguard ranks 5th among rookie D-men averaging 18:44 of ice time, but played a season high 21:05 recently against Montreal and has been on the ice in late game situations. Heading into action Tuesday the 18 year old had yet to register a point, but that will come in time. There's still a chance he could end up back in Lethbridge as he's yet to reach the magical 9 game mark, but it looks like the Flyers blueline of the future with Sbisa, Ryan Parent, and Brayden Coburn is in good hands.

2. Patrick Berglund-St. Louis Blues
Another Sweded on our list, the Blues 1st round pick, 25th overall in 2006 came over to St. Louis about a month before training camp to get used to the surroundings and make sure he was ready for the season. I'd say the plan worked. Berglund picked up his first goal, and assist in just his second NHL game, putting up 2 points versus the Leafs. He's since added another assist for 3 points in 4 games. Berglund has a ton of goal scoring potential, having netted 43 goals and 102 points in 81 games back in Swedend the past 2 years. He also has the size St. Louis is drooling over, at 6.04 and by his account was 210 pounds before training camp. While TJ Oshie might be more well known when it comes to Blues rookies, Berglund who's tied for 4th in rookie scoring heading into Tuesday night will soon be on the radar screen for hockey fans.

1. Derick Brassard
Quick, can you name the top scoring rookie in the NHL right now? If you raised your hand and answered Kris Versteeg of the Chicago Blackhawks, give yourself a gold star. With a goal and 5 helpers in 5 games, Versteeg has a 1 point lead on the Stars Fabian Brunnstrom. The question is will the 5th round pick of Boston from 2004 keep it up? Not likely. Only 2 points back of Versteeg is Columbus Centerman Derick Brassard, a player that is finally getting a shot in Columbus now that Gilbert Brule is no longer around. The 6th overall pick from 2006 played 17 games for the Jackets last season, and while he didn't dazzle with just 2 points, he reportedly did impress head coach Ken Hitchcock. This year he's been spotted with Jakub Voracek and Jason Chimera. Chimera told me at Perry Pearn's summer camp this year, he loved playing with the 2 young guys, and jokingly said he might get 50 goals with the rookies. Brassard almost reached the half century mark in junior with Drummondville in his draft year, potting 44 goals, and adding 72 assists in just 58 games. A shoulder injury limited him to just 14 games in 2006-2007, but Brassard (pictured right courtesy of syracusecrunch.com) rebounded with 51 points in 42 AHL games last season, which was his first as a pro, and included a few stints with the big club. Brassard has notched 2 goals and 2 assists in 5 games this year, 2 more points than he scored last year in 17 games.

A few others to keep your eye on are James Neal in Dallas, Ryan Jones of Nashville and Alex Goligoski in Pittsburgh.

(Pictures courtesy: Sbisa-Zimbia.com, Berglund-jamd.com,)

Schremp Responds to Rumors of Trade Demand

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In light of yesterday's unconfirmed reports that prospect Rob Schremp had asked for a trade from the Edmonton Oilers, The Pipeline Show did some digging to gauge the accuracy of the rumor.

Schremp, one of the last players cut from NHL training camp, has appeared in 3 of Springfield's 5 games after a late start due to a death in the family. The New York native has picked up 3 assists to begin the new campaign.

The forward needed no encouragement to talk about the quality of the AHL club this year as the abundance of talent means several players are healthy scratches on a nightly basis.

"There's a lot of depth here this year and guys have battled every night for a job," he said, "We've got the ability down here to have a really good team. We have a lot of youth and now we just have to mature a little bit together but when we do we're going to have a sick team!"

Yesterday the Falcons sent forward Bryan Lerg to ECHL Stockton simply to get him some playing time as competition for an AHL spot is keeping players out of the line up who deserve to play. Lerg has only dressed for a single game thus far and to hear Schremp describe him, it's certainly not because the rookie has done anything wrong.

"We have four guys in the stands who could be playing but what do you do?" Schremp said. "It's a good thing and a bad thing; it's hard for the guys sitting out but for the management and staff I mean, look at our team... you get a guy who plays poor one night and the next night you could have Lerg come in and he's not exactly a plug or just a guy you throw in - Lerg can make a difference."

"[Lerg] is going to go down there and play his ass off," Schremp predicted, "I talked to him last night after I heard the news and he wasn't down. He had a pretty good attitude about it because he understands and he just wants to play. I bet he'll be back here in no time."

As is normally the case during the early parts of the AHL year, rosters and line combinations in Springfield have been very fluid. Schremp has played with several different line mates including Ryan Potulny, Gilbert Brule and Slava Trukhno and he mentioned that there was definite chmistry there.

"It's going good, it's been fun and we have a lot of good guys here and a lot of upside," he said.

Sound to you like a frustrated player who has demanded a trade? Me neither but to make it official, I asked if there was any truth to the buzz that he'd made the request.

"Yeah, who the [heck] said that?!" he immediately responded. "That's bull[loney]! I even talked to Pat [Morris] this week but I never said anything about a trade, [heck] no."

Suffice to say that the player vehemently denied making any such demand and I confirmed the same from the Oilers end as well.

Schremp did opt to make one change this past off season when he parted ways with long time agent Scott Norton. Pat Morris is now Schremp's agent, a move which the player explained was due to recommendations from friends rather than as a slight to Norton.

"I'm just trying to change things up, a change in direction," Schremp said, "Pat's a big agent and he's got a lot of big NHL guys. He's got a lot of my buddies, [Corey] Perry and [Danny] Syvret, and they talk very highly of him. You talk to your buddies about how they deal with their agent and sometimes it's time for a change."

"Scott was good and he worked hard," Schremp insisted, "He was a good agent and he works hard for his guys but sometimes things just don't work out and after two years in the minors... you just have to change your ways a bit you know?"

"He never did me wrong though," he added.

Some outsiders may have viewed that the changing of representation and failing to crack the NHL roster were evidence of a disgruntled employee but clearly that's not the case. For a brief moment it appeared as though there was a two-horse race between Schremp and Gilbert Brule for the final roster spot but then came the arrival of tough guy Steve MacIntyre and the writing was on the wall. Still, Schremp took the high road and has dedicated himself to working his way back to the NHL.

"They obviously wanted more toughness and they got a hell of a guy for that because he's a monster!" said the 22-year-old of MacIntyre, "He deserves it, he's had a hard fight to get to where he's at. It's obviously tough because it was the last cut and when he came in, I went out but I'm glad I got to know him a bit, he's a really good dude and he deserves what he gets."

Lastly, this passed summer the London Knights threw a team of alumni together and went overseas to play a 7-game tour against some European pro teams. Schremp was joined by Oilers Sam Gagner and Marc Pouliot. I was always curious to know how he became involved considering the closest Pouliot ever got to being a former Knight was losing to London in the 2005 Memorial Cup. That fact wasn't lost on Schremp and the rest of the Knights in Europe who found it in their hearts to give Pouliot the gears.

"We gave him a lot of grief about it!" Schremp laughed. "I don't think he put that jersey on with a lot of pride, I think he had a pissed off face every time he pulled it on!"

The exhibition tour was meant as a tune-up for training camps and quickly got the players in game shape.

"It was full out, there were like three fights, one game a couple of guys took runs at Sammy [Gagner]," said Schremp, "You think it's just August hockey and then there's a bunch of fights and it's like it's mid-season already."

Last summer there was some discussion that Schremp was eyeing European options and with the Knights tour now under his belt, I asked him if there was some interest on his part to explore those options even more now.

"Not really, no. I'm not interested right now," he said. "It's cool to go over and see because guys talk a lot about Europe and what it's like and you want to see it first hand but in now way was I like 'man I want to play here!'. I want to play in the NHL."

So if you're keeping score at home... although he does have a new agent, Schremp has not demanded a trade, he has big expectations for the Falcons this year and is still happy to be part of the organization.

(uncredited photos courtesy: Springfield Falcons and a drunk fan in Europe... no, really.)

Monday, October 20, 2008

A Slew Foot Of Junior Notes

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How about the sentence handed down by the OHL this week. Garrett Wilson of the Owen Sound Attack has been suspended 15 games for slew footing Dan Kelly of Kitchener. Kelly broke an ankle on the play. I think slew footing might become the new "hit to the head" that leagues will start cracking down on. If you recall last week, Dallas Stars captain Brendan Morrow did the dirty deed on Columbus Blue Jacket forward Michael Peca, the Stars scored, Peca was very upset, grabbed the ref and he was suspended 5 games by the NHL. Leagues everywhere will be on the look out for this very dangerous play.

Congratulations to Brampton's Stan Butler, who recorded his 400th victory last Friday. The only coach Brampton has ever had reached the milestone with a 1-0 victory. Butler has also coached in Oshawa of the OHL and in Prince George of the WHL.

This next story is very Ugly. Michigan Wolverines defenceman Steve Kampfer was seriously injured Sunday morning, in what looks like an assault from a Wolverines football player. Unbelievably a similar incident took place on the campus of Michigan State over the weekend as well.

Team Russia has been announced for the upcoming World Junior A Challenge, starting November 2nd in Camrose, Alberta.

This does not seem to be a strong year for Russians at the 2009 draft, as according to International Scouting Services, no one from the former land of hammer and sickle is expected to be taken the first round. Of course a lot could change in the next 8 months, and some of it might take place in Camrose.

It should be noted that while no Russians are projected to be first round picks right now, the top Russian prospect will be at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge. Anton Burdasov is a 6.03, 180 pound right winger is playing for Traktor Chelyabinsk in the Russian first division from what I can tell. He suited up for Russia at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament and helped his country win gold. He has obvious size and from what I've read has decent hands. ISS has him ranked as their 11th best European, and first Russian, but that could mean 3rd round in June. also coming over for Russia that you might see drafted is D-man Georgy Berdyukov. The One guy you'll really want to watch if you're heading to Camrose is Kirill Kabanov, who could be a top 3 pick in 2010. By the way we'll be interviewing USA head coach Mark Carlson Tuesday on TPS see below for listening details, and if you want to take in the 2008 WJAC in Camrose, we'll be giving away a tournament pass Tuesday night.

A few other notes, from one storm to another, 2008 Carolina Hurricanes 1st round pick (14th overall) Zach Boychuk has returned to the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes. Boychuk played 2 games with the Senior Canes, and could be in the Junior Canes line up when they host Prince George Tuesday night. Without the 72 point man from last year Lethbridge has scored an Eastern Conference low 30 goals, and sit 4th in the Central Division. They could also use Luca Sbisa in the line up, but the Swiss blueliner who was also a 2008 (19th overall) first round pick of Philly is to valuable to the Flyers right now. He played a season high 21:05 last week versus Montreal.

Saskatoon netminder Braden Holtby has signed with the Washington Capitals, it's a standard 3 year entry level deal. Holtby was interviewed by TPS recently and talked about his training camp experience. He's the main man in toon town in his 3rd WHL season and will be a key reason if the Blades sneak into the playoffs. Right now he has a sub 2.25 goals against average and a save percentage of .922 (before Tuesday night)and the Blades are second in the East Division just 2 points back of front running Swift Current. (again before Tuesday night)

One other WHL note, Brandon Wheat Kings forward Jay Fehr (no relation to former Wheat King and current Washington Capital Eric Fehr) has been named the Boston Pizza WHL player of the week. Fehr notched 9 points in 3 games for the Wheat Kings, including a 4 point outing against Edmonton a week ago Monday.


Fehr's head coach Kelly McCrimmon, along with head scout for ISS Mike Oke, Lincoln Stars forward and last week's 2009 draft prospect performer of the week Brett Chartier along with Mark Carlson will join Guy and myself tonight on The Pipeline Show. You can listen in Edmonton on THE TEAM 1260 from 7-9 PM mountain time, or online at www.thepipelineshow.com where you can also listen to archived programming.

2009 Draft Prospect Performers Of The Week

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Each week, International Scouting Services (ISS), Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW), Hockey Now, and The Pipeline Show recognize the Top Draft Eligible player from each of the WHL, OHL, QMJHL, & USHL leagues for the upcoming 2009 NHL Entry Draft based on their play over the course of the week. Players are nominated and the selected by graduates of the SMWW Hockey GM & Scouting with each of the winners receiving a gift acknowledging their selection.


In the OHL it's Nazem Kadri of the London Knights. The 6.01, 170 pound centreman is ranked 8th in the October scouting report from ISS. Kadri notched 3 goals and added 4 helpers for London in just 3 games last week. He's currently riding a 10 game point streak and has put up 17 points in the Knights first 12 games. Kadri was picked up from Kitchener (seen with Rangers celebrating a goal from last year's playoffs ) as part of the Steve Mason trade last year, but didn't join London until this season, giving him valuable Memorial Cup experience, something the Knights are hoping will come in handy as they make a run for their 2nd Canadian Junior Hockey championship since 2004.


In the QMJHL, defenceman Gabriel Lemieux of the Shawinigan Cataractes gets the nod after 2 goals and 2 assists in his last 4 outings. Aside from the point per game performance, Lemieux was plus 6, and has amassed 13 points in 15 games, which is only 3 shy of his totals from last year. Lemieux makes a good first pass and has above average vision, which has made him the 17th ranked Q league player by ISS for the upcoming draft.

In the Western Hockey League, while the Red Deer Rebels may be struggling with just 4 wins on the season, their top draft eligible player is having a terrific start to the season. Centerman Landon Ferraro scored 3 times, set up another in 4 games last week and was plus 2 for Jesse Wallin's Rebels. The 2nd overall pick from 2006 Bantam draft has a wicked shot and has used it to light the lamp 8 times this year while adding 6 assists in Red Deers first 13 games. The son of former NHLer and current TSN analyst Ray Ferraro, Landon may earn an invite to Canada's World Junior camp in December, and is projected to be a late first round pick in this June's draft.

In the USHL, it's a Canadian kid playing junior hockey in the states. Louis Leblanc of Kirland, Quebec could have stayed home and played with Val d'Or of the QMJHL, but seems to be leaning towards the college route and is suiting up with Omaha of the USHL right now. The move seems to be agreeing with the 17 year old. He sniped 4 times and added 3 assists in the Lancers 3 games last week, while compiling a plus 4 rating. Known as a strong skating, hard working centerman, Leblanc will have to bulk up his 5.11 170 pound frame before his next step in hockey, but the former midget hockey scoring (pictured with the Lac St. Louis Lions) star has still attracted plenty of attention from NHL scouts, and is currently ranked 27th by ISS for next June's draft in Montreal.

By the way, one of last week's award recipients, Brett Chartier of the Lincoln Stars will join Guy and I Tuesday night to discuss his season thus far. Chartier is ranked 16th among those playing in the States for the upcoming draft. The Pipeline Show can be heard Tuesday nights from 7-9 PM Mountain time on the TEAM 1260 in Edmonton, or online at www.thepipelineshow.com.

Minor League Moves

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The Springfield Falcons have sent Bryan Lerg to the ECHL and have recalled injured blueliner Josef Hrabal. The Pipeline Show has learned that Hrabal could return to action in as little as 10 days.

More on the moves here.

Lerg's demotion shouldn't be seen as an indication of poor play because he's barely seen any ice time. That's something the organization doesn't want him to deal with and so they've sent him to California where he will play... a lot.

The Thunder lost their season opener by a 3-2 score which featured Robbie Bina's first pro goal and Bryan Pitton making his Stockton debut in net.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

School Wrap Sunday

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It was a weekend of upsets south of the 49th as a couple of NCAA powerhouse schools fell on Friday night.

We start with the phrase, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. That rang true for the defending champion, and #1 ranked (atleast going into this weekend) Boston College Eagles. While they won a non conference game against Bowling Green Friday night, all the talk was about their loss to the Northeastern Huskies on Saturday. The big dogs took down the Eagles in front of a sold out Northeastern crowd. BC gave up 2 shorthanded goals and while they were upset with the ice conditions, the Eagles might want to think about putting away more chances. Huskies netminder Brad Thiessen turned away BC 38 times on route to the 4-3 victory. You would have to think the Eagles will not be ranked #1 come Monday. As for Northeastern, they were just outside the top 20 before the season started and this win should definitely get them into the big boys club.

In the CCHA Northern Michigan goaltender Brian Stewart made 15 saves in a 2-0 shut out of the # ranked Michigan Wolverines. Michigan knocked the Wildcats out of contention last year and this one was all about redemption. To many penalties by Red Berenson's squad was Michigan's demise. The Wolverines did rebound on Saturday though, thanks to a pair of goals from Florida Panthers 2007 fourth round pick Matt Rust, but couldn't take advantage of #1 ranked Boston College losing and moving up in the top 20.

As for who will take over #1? You would think it would have to be Colorado College. The Tigers swept Michigan Tech with 2-0 and 4-2 wins respectively. Leafs 2005 7th round pick Chad Rau (pictured) led the way with 4 points in the 2 wins, giving him 8 in 4 games this year. The Senior had 42 points in 40 games last year and his 112 points in 3 years should make Leaf fans excited about him turning pro next year. The speedy Billy Sweatt, whom the Blackhawks chose 38th overall in 2007, chipped in with a goal and 2 helpers in the 2 victories.

Another WCHA team wasn't as successful as CC. The North Dakota Fighting Sioux didn't put up much of anything Friday night getting smoked 5-1 by Minnesota State. Junior forward Zach Harrison beat UND 3 times while shorthanded, giving him 4 goals in 4 games, and becoming just the 6th player in NCAA history to record a shorthanded hatty. It was the 3rd straight loss for Dave Hakstol's club who previously dropped games to BU and UMASS in the Ice Breaker tournament. The Sioux did rebound Saturday night, battling back from a 2-0 3rd period deficit to take the lead, only to need Chris Vande Velde, an Oilers 4th rounder from 2005, to take charge with a short handed game winner with only 9 seconds to play.

Elsewhere, Denver swept Wisconsin, Boston University split with New Hampshire, and the Minnesota Golden Gophers took a pair from St. Cloud State.

Lastly, it's never to early to start thinking Hobey Baker, so here's Elliot Olshansky forecasting for the most prestigious award in college hockey.