Sunday, November 30, 2008

School Wrap Sunday

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There is no longer a perfect team in NCAA hockey, but there might be a new #1 when the rankings come out. Here's a recap of the weekend that was south of the border where it was mostly non conference tournament action.

(11)Air Force stayed in Colorado for 2 games against their state rivals. Friday night Air Force kept it's bid alive for a perfect season with a win over (3) Colorado College. The Falcons chased Richard Bachman (Dallas, 4th round, 2006) from the net Friday night scoring 4 times on 13 shots. CC Junior Billy Sweatt (Chicago,
2nd round, 2007) broke Andrew Volkening's shut out bid in the 3rd, but Air Force improved to 13-0 with the 4-1 win. On Saturday the Falcons and their netminder Volkening couldn't get it going offensively and after withstanding 18 second period shots from (9)Denver, they wilted in the 3rd on route to their first loss, a 4-1 defeat. Freshman Joe Colborne (Boston, 1st round, 2008) set up 2 goals including the winner from Kyle Ostrow, while Rhett Rakhshani (New York Islanders, 4th round, 2006) scored twice in the win for Denver. Colborne and company were just as impressive Friday night, the former Camrose Kodiak also had 2 helpers as Denver smoked Colgate 6-1. Colorado College meanwhile rebounded from their loss Friday to also defeat Colgate 3-2.

Had Air Force rallied to beat Denver on Saturday night, a case would have been made by me for them being number 1. Especially after last week's top club (1) Minnesota didn't fair so well. The Golden Gophers in the College Hockey Showcase lost 6-3 to
(14)Michigan and settled for a 4-4 tie against Michigan State. The Gophers will fall out of the top spot, and another team from the tournament is about to move into the top 20. While the Gophers didn't face the Badgers, Wisconsin beat the Wolverines and the Spartans in weekend play, and have put their 0-6-1 start behind them with 7 wins and a tie in their last 9 games.

When Minnesota drops out of the #1 spot, (2)Notre Dame should move up the ladder and become top dog. The Fighting Irish beat Western Michigan 4-1 Friday and used the CCHA's new shoot out format to win on Saturday. Swedish import Calle Riderwall notched 2 goals and 2 assists Friday night, and added another helper on Saturday. The sophomore has 9 assists and 5 goals in the last 5 Notre Dame games.

Elsewhere, a week after falling out of the rankings, North Dakota smoked (12)Cornell 7-3 on Friday before the Big Red responded with a 2-1 win on Saturday. Mercyhurst shocked (7)Princeton Saturday night 6-4, and (5)Boston College and (8)Boston University were both victorious over the weekend.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Farm Almanac - Nov 28

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Yesterday, my compadre Dean Millard had an interesting post about how the Edmonton Oilers are calling up the wrong players to cure what ails them in the NHL. I do NOT disagree with him, let's get that clear right up front. However, today I'm going to play Devils Advocate and take the other side of the issue just for poops and chuckles.

You might call Dean the Chewie to my Han Solo, he'd obviously prefer that I use the 'ABBA blonde and redhead' analogy, but suffice to say that when it comes to prospect related stuff, most of the time we agree.

But if I'm going to try and shoot down his 'time to call up Schremp, Brule, Potulny' theory I'll do so by saying this: They might be hot in Springfield but even by AHL standards the top Oiler prospects are extremely... average.

Let me explain.

I've been looking into some stuff, what Dean likes to call 'research', and have discovered that if you took the top scorer from each of the 29 AHL clubs, Springfield's Rob Schremp would rank 14th for points per game (1.12) and 18th for overall points (18). I don't really like going simply by points because not all teams have played the same amount of games... so can we agree to just go with Pt/G.?

Notable names atop their team list who are scoring at a higher rate than Schremp thus far in the AHL season include Bobby Ryan (ANH) (1.36, 19 points in 14 games) and... well, not anyone else that jumps off the sheet at you. Matt D'Agostino (MTL) is cruising along at a 1.25 Pt/G pace, Cal O'Reily (MIN) is at 1.35 Pt/G, Chris Minard (PGH) 1.42 and league leader Keith Aucoin (WSH) is at 1.48 Pt.G.

Portland is an intersting team to look at. Scoring leader Mark Mancari was recently recalled by the Buffalo Sabres thanks to his 25 points in 14 games (1.79 Pt/G) yet behind him are two rookies who really do look like something a NHL team can be excited about: Nate Gerbe and Tim Kennedy who have 22 and 21 points respectively or 1.29 and 1.24 Pt/G scoring rates. But they are leading the division so perhaps that's not exactly a fair comparison for the Falcons.

In second place in the Atlantic Division is Providence who Springfield trails by a single point and recently thrashed 5-1. The Bruins have 3 players with more points than Schremp including Johnny Boychuk, a long forgotten bust pick originally belonging to Colorado. But Providence has played one game more than Springfield and three more than Schremp.

Remember Danny Syvret? He's still outscoring everybody in Springfield these days too.

My point is, no one outside of an Oiler fan is likely to look at the AHL stats and come away thinking 'wow, the Falcons have a few guys who really should be in the NHL right now'.

To their credit, the Falcons' best players are hot right now and none more so than Schremp who has 8 points in the last 4 games. Ryan Potulny has 7 in that same span while Gilbert Brule has 5 and Slava Trukhno has 3.

It's a good thing they have stepped up their production recently; I did this little exercise a few days ago and there were only 2 or 3 teams in the league with a top scorer who had less points than Schremp, meaning instead of 18th he would have been 26th or so.

Bryan Lerg (pictured) has been watching former MSU teammates like Kennedy in Portland and Justin Abdelkader in Grand Rapids get lots of opportunity and have produced as a result. Lerg must have been wondering if he signed with the right organization considering he was right alongside those two players last year at Michigan State scoring at a near identical pace. Lerg has been back and forth to Stockton a couple of times but has managed 5 points in 7 games with the Falcons (5th best Pt/G on the team).

To make a long story short, or at least a little shorter, I do agree with Dean that the time has come for the Oilers to look to the farm for some offensive help. Tim Sestito has been sent back to Springfield, Liam Reddox can follow suit. Schremp and Potulny have been a formidable pairing so far and neither (according to EDM cap expert Rick Olczyk) have to clear waivers to come up so there is nothing standing in the way.

Something has to change. Craig MacTavish has tried just about every line combination mathematically possible but has still not found the spark his team needs. Schremp is hungry, Potulny isn't going to hurt.

It's time to try something new but the Devils Advocate in me can understand why it hasn't been a slam dunk decision before now.

Prospect Notes: 2008 1st round pick Jordan Eberle had 2 goals and 2 assists in the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge earning Player of the Game honors in Swift Current... Tim Sestito was the third Stockton Thunder alum to play in the NHL when he suited up against Los Angeles on Wednesday. The first was defenceman Bryan Young two years ago while Liam Reddox joined the group last season... Andrew Perugini is impressing with his play in California for the Thunder. He currently has a .925 save percentage and 2.64 goals against average which rank 15th and 10th best in the ECHL... Swede Linus Omark is just shy of a point per game having 24 points in 26 SEL games with Luleå. The 21-year-old leads his team in scoring and is tied for 9th in the entire SEL... When Sweden released their 2009 WJC roster earlier this week one noticeable omission was 2007 and 2008 veteran Johan Motin. Motin was chosen by Edmonton in 2008 in part because of his impressive record at international events... Schremp's 17 assists in 4th best in the AHL while Potulny's 10 goals ranks 11th...

Starving For Offence

8 comments:
This one is going to be short, but not very sweet. The Oilers are starving for offence right now having scored more than 3 goals only once in their last 8 games and that was thanks to Pacal Leclaire giving his best Dean Millard impression in Columbus.

Meanwhile, the Oilers AHL affiliate in Springfield has scored 4 or more goals times in 3 of their last 4 games. 3 of the top 5 scorers in Edmonton right now are defencemen Sheldon Souray (15 points) Lubomir Visnovsky (12 points) and Tom Gilbert (11 points). Edmonton right now has just 6 players in double digits, with captain Ethan Moreau rounding out the bottom 6 with 10 points and Ales Hemsky sitting on top with 22. In the last 4 games, the Oilers top 5 forwards in scoring have combined for 13 points, which includes 3 goals. Their totals are as follows:

Hemsky-5 points in 4 games, 1 goal
Horcoff-3 points in 4 games, 1 goal
Moreau-0 points in 4 games
Cogliano-3 points in 4 games, 1 goal
Cole-2 points in 4 games, 0 goals

Now contrast that to what's happening in Springfield, and the top 3 scorers have 20 points in their last 4 games including 6 goals, and are all close or over a point per game on the season. Their totals are as follows:


Schremp-8 points in 4 games, 1 goal
Potulny-7 points in 4 games, 2 goals
Brule-5 points in 4 games, 3 goals

I'm not proposing you put any of the above 5 Oilers on waivers and call up this trio from the farm, but you could send Liam Reddox and Tim Sestito back down and likely put Steve Macintyre in Springfield on a conditioning stint after his injury and bring up the Falcons top scorers. I'm not saying these 3 would light it up in the NHL and solve the Oilers scoring problems, but a hot hand is a hot hand and what the Oilers seem to have right now is the equivalent to leaving your gloves in a snow bank overnight. It would make your line up a little softer, and Craig MacTavish has talked about not being tough enough to play against, but I think you have to try something, and calling up checkers when you're starving offensively in my mind isn't the way to solve the problem. Even a combination of the top 3 scorers might help the Oilers right now.

That's my 2 cents, what's yours?

(Schremp picture courtesy www.thehockeynews.com, Oilers logo courtesy www.sportslogos.net)

Fantasy Prospect Pick Up Of The Week

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Each week on TPS, I'll try and give you a heads up on what rookie, sophomore or budding AHL star you should try and grab in your fantasy hockey league. Sometimes they'll be an unknown, while others, like this week, it'll be a well known player you should trade for. So without further babble, here it is:

Devon Setoguchi-San Jose Sharks

It’s funny how players seem motivated by failure. In 2006 Devon Setoguchi wasn’t good enough to make Brent Sutter’s World Junior Team, despite a 33 goal season the year before in Saskatoon. Setoguchi finished 2006 with 36 goals. In 2007 he was again given bad news early in the morning, as one of the final cuts along with Oshawa’s John Tavares. Setoguchi also finished that season with 36 goals.

Some kids sulk, others respond and after 3 – 30 + goal seasons with Saskatoon and Prince George, Setoguchi moved onto a pro career. So far the 8th overall pick from 2005 hasn’t disappointed the San Jose Sharks one bit. Of the players drafted ahead of him, only Sidney Crosby has scored more goals.

Last season he split his time between the bay area and Worcester. In 44 games with the Sharks, he netted 11 goals.

This year (heading into Tuesday) in 21 games he has 12 already, putting him on pace for a 47 goal season. He’s also added 12 assists for 24 points and has only taken one penalty. His goal total puts him tied for 5th in the league and he’s tied for 10th in points.

Setoguchi leads San Jose in goals and is tied with captain Patrick Marleau in points, while only averaging 16 minutes per game. As his ice time increases, so should his point totals.

He might not be available in your league on the waiver wire but Devon Setoguchi is definitely worth trading for and building a team around as he has proven at every level he can score.

Goalie Situation In The Future?

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Both of the Oilers veteran goaltenders will become unrestricted free agents next season. Dwayne Roloson will be almost 40 years old, and I really wonder if Mathieu Garon will want to stay in Edmonton after how the goaltending situation has been handled so far this year. Now there is a lot of season left for things to turn around, but Garon certainly isn't getting the rope from Craig MacTavish that Dwayne Roloson received last year. So if both veterans aren't back, will the Oilers really go with a very unproven (so far anyway) 25 year old Jeff Deslauriers as their starter and 23 year old Devan Dubnyk as his back up?

How about this for a solution if both veterans aren't around and the Oilers don't bring one in through trade or free agency? A 30 year old NHL rookie. The Oilers drafted Bjorn Bjurling in 2004 with their 9th round pick, 274th overall. Guy previously wrote about him here. He was taken in the same draft as Dubnyk, but Bjorling was 25 at the time. He had a good season in the Swedish Elite league last year 2.40 goals against average to go along with a .928 save percentage in 30 games. So far this year with Södertälje he has a higher goals against average of 2.71, but a similar save percentage of .922 in 20 games.

Niklas Backstrom is only one year younger than Bjurling and wasn't drafted but has developed into a number 1 goalie with Minnesota. Jonas Hiller also didn't hear his name called at an NHL draft but appears to be next in line with Anaheim. So precedent has been set and if the Oilers don't bring Roloson back and if Garon doesn't want to come back, the Oilers could be "Head Over Heels" about the goaltender from the land of ABBA, and it would also save them some "Money, Money, Money" which is the "Name Of the Game" and who knows, Bjurling might be a "Super Trouper" who might be telling the Oilers to "Take a Chance On Me"

I apologize profusely for the ABBA references, I have no idea what came over me, if it happens again I'll send out an "SOS"

A couple of other Oilers prospect notes, Jordan Eberle (pictured courtesy The Hockey News)lit the lamp twice for Canada-WHL in the ADT challenge vs. Russia Wednesday night.

The Oilers first round pick, 22nd overall last June is 9th in WHL scoring with 19 goals and 34 assists. He's currently on a 51 goal pace for the Regina Pats, but here's hoping he doesn't play a full season. World Junior team invites will be going out, and his goal scoring prowess so far and good showing during this series should get him an invite. I was told Eberle didn't have a great summer camp, but it's all about showing up in December for this team.

One guy who likely won't get a chance to show up for Canada is Oilers 2007 draft pick Alex Plante. Taken 15th overall, much to the chagrin of a lot of fans and some media members, Plante wasn't named to the WHL team taking on Russia, which probably means he won't get a crack at the World Juniors. It was a long shot anyway, but Plante's play early did peak some interest from Hockey Canada. He's been good lately with 5 points in 4 games, and 15 points overall in 23 games. He's also plus 9 and has 61 penalty minutes. If you pro rate Plante's numbers to a full season it works out to 9 goals, which would be a career high.

And finally when it comes to Oilers prospects and Canada's World Junior team, the copper and blue have to be hoping Riley Nash (pictured celebrating a goal courtesy Cornell Chronicle) comes up big in the next 2 weeks. Nash and the Cornell Big Red play North Dakota twice and have one offs against St. Lawrence and Clarkson. So far the 2007 first rounder has just 2 goals and an assist in the 6 games Cornell has played this year. Nash would make a good checking forward for team Canada, but the fact that he'll have only played 10 games before Canada's camp opens December 11th might hurt him.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

#1 Again???

1 comment:
The CHL weekly rankings have come out and I can't believe it. Windsor is still #1.

CHL Mosaik MasterCard Top-10 Rankings – Week 11

Rank Team (Record) Last Week
1. Windsor Spitfires (22-2-0-0) 1
2. Shawinigan Cataractes (22-4-0-0) 2
3. Calgary Hitmen (22-4-1-0) 4
4. Vancouver Giants (20-1-0-3) 5
5. Moncton Wildcats (19-2-2-1) 3
6. London Knights (19-5-0-1) 6
7. Brampton Battalion (18-6-0-0) 7
8. Drummondville Voltigeurs (19-4-0-2) 9
9. Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (19-6-1-0) -
10. Medicine Hat Tigers (16-7-2-3) -

Now before you think I have a hate on for the Spitfires, that's not the case. They are having an incredible season with some extremely talented players and my favorite D-man for the upcoming draft Ryan Ellis. But how is Shawinigan not the top dog in the CHL? The Cataractes have won 15 straight games? For that matter why isn't Brampton #1, the Battalion are perfect in their last 16 games.

I just think if a team can run off that many wins in a row, and the team ahead of them loses even once, then the change should happen, but that's just me. What do you think?

ADT Solution - WHL

1 comment:
This is the last installment of my ADT series with the line up I would ice against the Canadian WHL team that is set to take on the Russians tonight and tomorrow to close out the 2008 ADT Challenge. You can find my OHL version here and my QMJHL version here.

The CHL currently holds a 3-1 lead in this year's series and now have an all-time record of 28-6 against the Russians. Yes... improvements can be made. Here's the Planet/USA team that I would prefer to see skating in Swift Current and Prince Albert.

Goalies:

1) Juha Metsola (FIN) – (undrafted) Lethbridge
2) Adam Brown (USA) – (2009) Kelowna
3) Mark Guggenberger (USA) – (undrafted) Swift Current

Defencemen:

1) Jyri Niemi (FIN) – (NYI 3rd – 2008) Saskatoon
2) Jonathan Blum (USA) – (NSH 1st – 2007) Vancouver
3) Tomas Kundratek (CZE) – (NYR 3rd – 2008) Medicine Hat
4) Matt Konan (USA) – (2009) Medicine Hat
5) Tommi Kivisto (FIN) – (2009) Red Deer (19th overall ISS, 7th in WHL CSB)
6) Stefan Ulmer (SWI) – (undrafted) Spokane
7) Collin Bowman (USA) – (2009) Kelowna (41st overall ISS, 22nd in WHL CSB)
8) Stefan Warg (SWE) - (ANH 5th – 2008) Seattle

Forwards:

1) Mitch Wahl (USA) – (CGY 2nd – 2008) Spokane
2) Drayson Bowman (USA) – (CAR 3rd – 2007) Spokane
3) Jim O’Brien (USA) – (OTT 1st – 2007) Seattle
4) Milan Kytnar (SLV) – (EDM 5th – 2007) Saskatoon
5) Tomas Hricina (SLV) – (2009) Regina
6) Tomas Vincour (CZE) – (2009) Edmonton (43rd overall ISS, 16th WHL CSB)
7) Tristan King (USA) – (2009) Medicine Hat
8) Zdenek Okal (CZE) – (undrafted) Medicine Hat
9) Colin Long (USA) – (PHX 4th – 2008) Kelowna
10) Stepan Novotny (CZE) – (2009) Kelowna
11) Dalibor Bortnak (SLV) – (2009) Kamloops (80th overall ISS)
12) Andrej Kudrna (SLV) - (2009) Vancouver (52nd overall ISS)
13) Tyler Maxwell (USA) – (2009) Everett
14) Tyler Johnson (USA) – (undrafted) Spokane

By country of origin: USA (11), SLV (4), CZE (4) FIN (3), SWE (1), SWI (1)
NHL Drafted Players: 9
Eligible for 2009 Draft: 11 including 5 ranked highly by ISS and/or Central Scouting.

Seriously, this is a line up that should be able to challenge the Canadian WHL team while providing scouts with more than enough eye candy to watch, fans with enough names and exciting players to watch, the WHL to be proud of showcasing and Hockey Canada with a better test for its players.

I rest my case.

If you agree, tell me so. If you don't... tell me anyway.

Wednesday Re-Set

2 comments:
Last night on The Pipeline Show we had another wide variety of guests from the world of hockey prospects. As always, you can find the archived interviews, convenietly cut up into the 6 segments of the show, by hitting our website and checking out the media archives section. Here's last night's archive.

First up Dean and I spoke about the current situation the Edmonton Oil Kings find themselves in - the playoffs! Will it last though?

Also in that first segment we talked about the story that Jonathan Willis commented at Oilers Nation on about the Oilers and Oklahoma City. We offered up our thoughts on it too.

The CHL Top 10 list came out, we debated the rankings for a while then moved onto some NCAA notes as well like undefeated Air Force.

Flaming Hot / Flaming Not and Dean's Fantasy Pick Up of the Week rounded out the opening segment of the show.

The 2009 Draft Prospect Performers of the Week were unveiled in segment #2 and then we went out to Brampton and spoke with highly touted Battalion forward Matt Duchene. Duchene talked about the ADT Challenge, his injury, Michigan State, John Tavares and a lot more.

In the third segment of the show we caught up with former Coming Down the Pipe! guest blogger Joe Colborne (pictured above) who is now a freshman with the Denver Pioneers. The former Kodiak talked about making the jump to the NCAA, the rumors of his eyeing Tri-City in the WHL and much more.


Sam Cosentino from Rogers Sportsnet joined us at the top of hour #2 to talk about the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge. His passion for junior hockey definitely came through and made for a great interview. I got to try out my ADT solution theory on him, he offered his comments on that but also why the current system might not be as bad as I think it is.

Bad Ass Trivia was, as always, entertaining in its own way but we FINALLY got a correct answer to the $30 question that was carried over from last week.

Lastly, Tim Sestito from the Springfield Falcons / Edmonton Oilers was on to talk about the recent recall from the farm but also touched on his time in Stockton, Plymouth and of course the current year in the AHL.

We also archived some recent audio that Dean picked up from Rexall Place after he had a chance to speak with some members of the Detroit Red Wings. Nick Lidstrom chimes in on top rated Victor Hedman, Kris Draper talks about his extremely unusual road to the NHL (you'll have to hear it to believe it!) plus young Jiri Hudler describes the patience that he and other Detroit prospects have to have being a part of the franchise.

Again, those Detroit clips did not air last night but can be heard by hitting the archive of last night's show.

(Photos credits: Colborne - Denver Pioneers, Cosentino - Rogers Sportsnet)

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

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 – Edward Pasquale, Saginaw Spirit

Goaltender Edward Pasquale had a stand out week for Saginaw, picking up 3 wins in 3 starts with a 2.00 GAA on the road in Owen Sound, Barrie and Sudbury. On the season the Toronto, ON native has 15 wins and a .918 save percentage. Pasquale communicates well with his defensemen and moves the puck up ice nicely.

Western Hockey League – Carter Ashton, Lethbridge Hurricanes

Carter Ashton (pictured with Team Canada west at the U-17 last year) was exceptional this week in his play for the Hurricanes, recording 2 goals and 3 assists in 2 games. This performance coming on the heels of a hat trick he notched to close out the previous week. Ashton has 12 goals and 19 points in 25 games this season and is known for having good hands for a player his size. He was ranked 36th overall by ISS in November.

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – Jessyko Bernard, Halifax Mooseheads
Bernard is the draft performer of the week after he scored 2 goals and added 2 assists in games against Cape Breton and Saint John. Bernard, a 6’ 2” Right Winger has 9 goals and 9 assists to go along with 20 PIM this season. The Dalhousie NB native is known for playing hard at both ends of the ice and his ability to deliver heavy hits.

United States Hockey League – Shane Berschbach, Indiana Ice

Shane Berschbach had a great week for the Ice, scoring 3 goals and adding 1 assist in two wins against Des Moines and Sioux City. Berschbach, has 6 goals and 15 points while posting a plus- 7 rating in 16 games. The 5’ 8” native of Clawson, MI plays with intensity and has good speed and passing ability. Berschbach has committed to the Miami Redhawks of the CCHA.

Top 5 Tuesdays: 2009 WJC Swedes

2 comments:
On Monday afternoon Sweden released their 21-player roster for the 2009 World Junior Championship in Ottawa and with that in mind here are 5 players I'll be watching with varying degrees of interest.

5. Victor Hedman (D)
6'6, 220 lbs - Modo (SEL)
He's ranked #1 by both ISS and Redline Report for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. He's 17-years-old and is already in his second season with Modo in Sweden's top men's league. Pundits and publications are saying he's the next Chris Pronger; a guaranteed franchise player. So why is he 5th on my list?

It's certainly not because I think he's any less than the budding superstar that those in the know have been envisioning for the last couple of years. I will be watching him for sure, but how much debate can there be on a player so roundly applauded? I have yet to have a single scout tell me that they have any concerns about him. Not one.

I'll be watching but I don't think there's much left to discover with Hedman - he's already the next big blueliner.

4. Erik Karlsson (D)
5.11, 163 lbs - Frölunda (SEL)

He's not big but he garnered so much hype in the weeks leading up to the draft (post U18) that quite frankly, I want to see if he lives up to the billing he was given. He's in the SEL but his stats suggest he's either struggling or not playing much of a role (3 points in 22 games) but the Senators drafted him 15th overall in 2008 because of his supposed offensive upside. He did have 7 points in 6 games at last year's WJC in Prague but I'm interested in seeing if he can rediscover that offensive flair after being held off the scoresheet so much with the men. I bet he can.

3. Jacob Markström (G)
6'4, 185 lbs - Brynäs (SEL)

I'm really intrigued by this goalie. He's got terrific size, his 2.37 GAA and .918 save percentage in 19 Elite League games this year suggest an 18-year-old worth paying a great deal of attention to. The Florida Panthers drafted him 31st overall in 2008 and I know for a fact that the Edmonton Oilers had him ranked much higher than that on their list.

On a strictly immature and personal level... I drafted him in my fantasy league with the 31st pick as well so call this a scouting mission of my own.

2. Magnus Svensson-Pääjärvi (LW)
6'1, 198 lbs - Timrå (SEL)

He's the second highest rated Swede for the 2009 NHL Draft but I think there is some debate about how high he will end up in the rankings. Most I've spoken with so far consider Hedman-Tavares then Cowan-Duchene the almost automatic top 4 but others suggest that a strong performance in Ottawa could get MSP some attention.

Like Hedman, Svensson-Pääjärvi was a 16-year-old playing in the U20 WJC for Sweden in Prague. He only had a couple of points there but he also had three in the SEL (as a 16-year-old) last year as well. How's he doing? Let's just say that dude has some skills. Here's a clip from this past September:



1. Mikael Backlund (F)
6', 198 lbs - Västerås (SEL)
He got a long look from the Calgary Flames at training camp but didn't do enough in pre-season to stick with the NHL club. Back in Sweden, Backlund plays for Västerås in the Allsvenskan, the league below the SEL where his club team was relegated to a couple of years ago. There he has 7 points in 14 games, slightly ahead of the pace he set last year when he scored 13 points in 37 games at the same level.

The Oilers took some flak for taking Riley Nash when they traded up in 2007, some of that criticism at the time was from me; I'm 3 for 4 with Oiler 1st round picks in the last couple of years during the TEAM 1260's draft coverage... but I predicted Backlund when the Oilers made their move up in 2007. Since then I've kept waiting for Backlund to prove me right and the Oilers wrong but frankly his stats don't scream 'NHL stud' like yoou would expect a player of his hype to have.

He had 7 points in Prague at the 2008 WJC and he should be Sweden's top guy in Ottawa this time around. He turns 20 next March and if Västerås appears headed for another Allsvenskan seeding in 2009-10, I would assume this is a player that the Flames would like to add to their organization at either the NHL or AHL level. I'm looking at this tournament as a way to gauge whether he should be Calgary bound or headed to Quad City.

The Swedes will have a strong team, there is little doubt of that. Peter Loubardias, a good friend of The Pipeline Show, suggested to me that Sweden will be exceptional in Ottawa but perhaps even better in 2010. Aside from the five names I have already mentioned, the 2009 roster is packed with players of interest; Mattias Tedenby (NYR), Simon Hjalmarsson (STL), David Ullstrom (NYI) and Joakim Andersson (DET) included.

Canadians are proud of our hockey history and tradition but sometimes I think we get a little caught up with being the dominant nation on the planet when it comes to sticks and pucks. Sweden has a pretty established record of its own with some individual hi-lights that still stand the test of time today; Markus Naslund still holds the record for most goals scored by a single player in the tournament with 13 back in 1993 while Peter Forsberg is the king when it comes to most assists (24) and points (31) done that same year. Defenceman Peter Andersson holds the record for defensive scoring in a single tournament with 14, set in 1985.

There is no doubt in my mind that the Swedes will be worth watching as they look to get revenge on Canada for the result of the 2008 Final game.

Final Note: It eluded me when I looked over the roster last night but... Oilers prospect Johan Motin is not on the list. He's in his 3rd year in the SEL but apparently isn't good enough for the WJC. That's not a good thing.

Washington 1st rounder, Anton Gustafsson is also a noticeable absentee. He was taken 21st overall in 2008 but has 4 points in 10 games in the Allsvenskan league. I assume he's either hurt or just really, really struggling.

(photos courtesy http://eliteprospects.com/index.php)
(WJC record stats courtesy
TSN.ca)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

School Wrap Sunday

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One team is still perfect while another is free falling and likely out of the top 20 rankings. Just some of the stories in our school wrap Sunday.

Atlantic
(12)Air Force kept it's perfect season alive by pasting Sacred Heart in a weekend sweep. The Falcons pounded the Pioneers 8-1 and 7-1 with Junior Jacques Lamoureux picking up a pair of points to move back into a tie for first in the nation. Lamoureux was recently a guest on TPS and talked about the critics who say Air Force hasn't played anybody tough lately. That will change next weekend with a pair of non conference games against Denver and Colorado College.

WCHA
Speaking of the two mountain schools both wound up on the wrong end of the scoreboard on Friday night before rebounding on Saturday. (10)Denver, like many teams couldn't contain (1)Minnesota freshman Jordan Schroeder (ranked 6th by ISS for 2009 draft) who notched a pair of goals while adding an assist and moving into a tie for 10th in NCAA scoring. Schroeder who is pictured playing for Team U.S.A at last year's World Junior Championship, should wear stars and stripes again this year. The top ranked Golden Gophers ran their unbeaten streak to 11 games thanks to 3 points from captain Ryan Stoa (Colorado, 2nd round, 2005) as well. As the Gophers expected, Denver came back with a stronger effort Saturday night. 2 Assists from freshman Joe Colborne (Boston, 1st round, 2008) and 34 saves from goaltender Matt Cheverie (Florida, 7th round, 2006) led the Pioneers to a 4-0 victory. It was the sophomore's first NCAA shut out and it came after a players only meeting. The victory snapped a 3 game losing skid for the Pioneers, and it should keep them in the top 10, while the Gophers shouldn't lose their top ranking.

As for the other mountain school, (3)Colorado College things started well Friday night up north against Alaska-Anchorage, as senior Chad Rau (Toronto, 7th round, 2005) opened the scoring midway through the first. But 3 straight from the Seawolves and CC's power play scoring only once in 12 chances earned AA a 4-2 victory and should sneak them into the top 20. Saturday night it was looking like the Seawolves would earn the sweep after sophomore Tommy Grant tied it shorthanded to force overtime. But Addison DeBoer bailed out his Tigers with the overtime winner to salvage the split.

Elsewhere (11)Minnesota State swept Michigan Tech, Wisconsin split with St. Cloud State, while (20)North Dakota lost and tied Minnesota-Duluth, which could mean UND ending up outside of the top 20.

Hockey East
For (2)Boston University to lose to (15)Vermont once after tying the game late is one thing, but for it to happen one night later is just bizarre.
The Catamounts scored 2 huge 4-3 victories over the Terriers giving Vermont just one loss in it's last 7 games and a shot at the top ten when the rankings come out Monday. Freshman goaltender Rob Madore made 38 saves for Vermont Friday night, while the Cats trapped the Dogs on Saturday to earn the sweep.

(4)Boston College didn't get swept by (16)Massachusetts, but they didn't win both either. Friday night sophomore tender John Muse kicked out 27 for the shut out, which was a nice turnaround for the Eagles who gave up 13 goals the weekend before. Muse made 37 saves Saturday night, but it was the 38th he couldn't stop that gave the Minutemen a 4-3 overtime victory. 21 year old freshman Casey Wellman capped off a 3 point night with the overtime winner.

Elsewhere, (6)Northeastern won both of it's games, beating (13)New Hampshire on Friday and Mass-Lowell on Saturday. As for New Hampshire, the Wildcats edged Providence 4-3 on Saturday.

CCHA
A key match up between (7)Miami and (9)Michigan was hard fought, tight checking and down to the wire, exactly what you'd expect from conference rivals who met in the CCHA championship game last year. Red Berenson's Wolverines beat the Redhawks in the title game a year ago, but this weekend, Miami swept Michigan for the first time in almost 3 years. Michigan native Andy Miele burned his home state for 2 goals on Friday night while freshman Cody Reichard made 20 saves for the shut out. Saturday night things were just as tight, but this time it was Connar Knapp beating Michigan 2-1. Miami head coach Enrico Blassi rotates his goaltenders and who can blame him as the Redhawks are red hot. Miami won it's 4th straight overall and 4th in a row over a Michigan based school (they swept Michigan State the weekend before) thanks to a pair of assists from Carter Camper. Miami could move into the top 5 this week as they're easily the top team in the CCHA.

If Miami can't bust into the top 5, it's because (5)Notre Dame is representing the CCHA. The Irish pounded Bowling Green into submission with 5-1 and 9-1 crushings. Notre Dame scored 6 times in the 3rd on Saturday and went 6-12 on the power play in remaining unbeaten in 8. Notre Dame is the text book team for spreading out the offence as they don't have anyone in the top 30 of NCAA scoring, but can boast 6 players in double digits in team scoring.

Elsewhere how far the Michigan State Spartans have fallen. Out of the top 20, MSU watched that bus drive further away after getting swept by (19)Nebraska-Omaha on the weekend. Rick Comley's crew hasn't won in 7 games and have given up 18 goals in their last 4.

ECAC
The big nuts among Ivy league schools kept rolling on. (8)Princeton edged out St. Lawrence on Friday and doubled up Clarkson on Saturday 4-2. The Tigers who put up 47shots Saturday night have only lost once this year and sit atop the ECAC.

That one loss for Princeton came to (14)Cornell. Big Red has yet to lose this year after weekend wins over (18)Harvard 2-1 and Dartmouth 3-1. Cornell outshot Harvard 37-15 on Friday and watched sophomore Riley Nash (Edmonton, 1st round, 2007-pictured) awoke from his scoring slumber with his first 2 goals of the season. He'll need much more production in Big Red's next 4 games if he wants to earn an invite to Canada's World Junior camp. Junior goalie Ben Scrivens continues his limbo dance with statistics, as you have to wonder how low he can go in goals against average. It's now at .81 and he owns a saver per centage of .971 to go along with his 4-0-2 record. You have to wonder if the 22 year old will get a contract offer from a few NHL teams at seasons end.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Inbound Collegian Jumps Ship

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com-mit-ment  [kuˈmit-munt] ...
1. the act of committing.
2. the state of being committed.
3. the act of committing, pledging, or engaging oneself.
4. a pledge or promise; obligation: I have made a commitment to play for Cornell..

I bolded definition #4 and altered the example given by dictionary.com to make it relavent to hockey. The definition also reminds me of the old saying "A promise is a promise". Well maybe a promise is a promise but a commitment apparently means diddly-squat.

News out of the QMJHL yesterday has promising 17-year-old forward Jordon Escott moving from his Jr.A team in Amherst, NS to the QMJHL's P.E.I. Rocket. Happens all the time, I know, but not usually a month after the player made a commitment to a NCAA program.

As TPS's comrade Nathan Fournier talked about on his blog, Escott had pledged his allegiance to Cornell not long before representing Canada East at the 2008 World Junior A Challenge in Camrose earlier in November.

Not to sound hypocritical because both Dean and I are on the record as saying we believe kids should be able to put off their NCAA commitments until they are 18, but, those aren't the rules in place. We've talked to players who admitted they committed to the NCAA when they were very young and may have made a different decision as they became 17 or 18 but those guys all followed through on their promise anyway because that's the right thing to do.

I feel bad for the NCAA programs who have to constantly cope with recruits who leave after a year or two - like Michigan, North Dakota or Boston College. I wrote back in the summer that I think the rules should be changed.

During he 2008 WJAC in Camrose I kept hearing whispers about Canada West defenceman Dylan Olsen. Olsen has yet to commit to a NCAA program although he told us in October that he'd narrowed his choices down to 5 teams (North Dakota being the only one he named). He was scheduled to fly down to Grand Forks in November to check things out.

The rumors in Camrose were that Olsen might jump to the Medicine Hat Tigers, the WHL franchise that owns his major junior rights. That hasn't happened but I still haven't confirmed if Olsen has committed to a school or if his trip to Grand Forks went as planned - although I have been told that Olsen may have been in North Dakota last weekend taking in the action at Ralph Engelstad Arena. That comes from a media source down there but just in case, I'll keep the name off the record.

Today's news of Escott ditching Cornell for PEI reminded me of Olsen although the two scenarios have one major difference; if Olsen joined Medicine Hat tomorrow, at least he wouldn't be doing so while slapping a NCAA school in the face in the process.

It would be interesting to know the details of why Escott is suddenly enamored with P.E.I. when a month ago he had pledged... promised... committed to attending Cornell. What could P.E.I. have done to sway him? Does it all really boil down to cash or is there more to it?

This one might be interesting to keep an eye on and dig a little more into.

In the meantime, the Rocket are pleased to add a talented youngster like Escott to their organization. Here's the story the day after according to The Guardian and beat writer Charles Reid.

What's your take?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

ADT Solution - OHL

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The ADT Canada-Ruussia Challenge changes shifts to the OHL for a game tonight in Guelph and then another on Monday in St. Catherines. Russia scored a 403 upset win over the QMJHL yesterday to even the current series 1-1 and improved their overall ADT record to 6-26 against the CHL. Russia has had the most success against the QMJHL with last night's victory giving them a 4-7 record.

Did last night's win change my mind about the ADT Challenge needing a serious re-vamp? Not in the least. With that in mind, here is the team I would ice against the OHL if the format was changed to fit my proposal from last week. If you missed my outline for the QMJHL version, you can find that here.

Team Planet/USA

Goalies

1) Thomas McCollum (USA) – (DET 1st – 2008) Guelph
2) Jaroslav Janus (SLV) – (Undrafted) Erie starter
3) John Cullen (USA) – (2009) Niagara starter

Defence

1) Bjorn Krupp (USA) – (2009) Belleville (22nd by ISS, 15th CSB)
2) Simon Gronvaldt (DEN) – (2009) Kitchener (29th by ISS, 25th by CSB))
3) John Carlson (USA) – (WSH 1st – 2008) London
4) Evgeny Molotilov (RUS) – (2009) Guelph
5) Michal Jordan (CZE) – (CAR 4th – 2008) Plymouth
6) Kevin Montgomery (USA) – (COL 4th – 2006) London
7) Martin Paryzek (CZE) – (undrafted) Ottawa
8) Sergei Sheleg (BEL) – (undrafted) Sudbury

Forwards

1) Eric Tangradi (USA) – (ANH 2nd – 2007) Belleville
2) Evgeny Grachev (RUS) – (NYR 3rd – 2008) Brampton
3) Phil McRae (USA) – (STL 2nd – 2008) London
4) Jared Knight (USA) – (2010) London
5) Marco Insam (Italy) – (undrafted) Niagara
6) Sergey Korostin (RUS) – (DAL 3rd – 2007) Peterborough
7) A.J. Jenks (USA) – (FLA 4th – 2008) Plymouth
8) Andrei Loktionov (RUS) – (LA 5th – 2008) Windsor
9) Austin Watson (USA) – (2010) Windsor
10) R.J. Mahalak (USA) – (2009) Plymouth
11) Nick Palmieri (USA) – (NJ 3rd – 2007) Erie
12) Shawn Szydlowski (USA) – (undrafted) Erie
13) Tony Romano (USA) – (NJ 6th – 2006) Peterborough
14) Miroslav Preisinger (SLV) – (2009) Sarnia

By country of origin: USA (14), RUS (4), SLV (2), CZE (2) BEL (1), DEN (1), ITL (1)
NHL Drafted Players: 12
Eligible for 2009 Draft: 6 including two ranked high by both ISS and Central Scouting.
Eligible for 2010 Draft: 2

This roster includes a top OHL scorer this season (Tangradi) and a top goalie (McCollum).

If you're Hockey Canada, would you rather seen your WJC candidates tested against the current Russian roster or this collection of international players? If you're the OHL, which game is a better showcase of OHL talent? If you're a ticket buying fan, who which game would be more bang for your buck?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Tuesday Review

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This past week on The Pipeline show we covered everything from the top goalie in the AHL to a college hockey player back from the brink of suicide. You can hear all the interviews at our website.

Guy and I started out making fun of my cheesy moustache I'm growing for Movember which raises money for prostate cancer. Trust me it's pretty bad, you can check it out and laugh for yourself on Global Edmonton (240 on Bell Express view) We then moved onto the Canada/Russia ADT challenge, whether Angelo Esposito has a chance to make Team Canada for the WJC and how Guy would change the event, which you can also read here. Guy also dished out praise and pointed out flaws in Flaming Hot/Flaming Not, and I suggested what prospect you should pick up in your fantasy hockey league.

Segment two we welcomed ISS head scout Mike Oke to the program. We discussed a number of players for the upcoming draft from Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi of Sweden to the U.S.A's Jeremy Morin to Ryan Ellis of Windsor.

Speaking of draft prospects, Guy and I also spoke to Swift Current Bronco forward Cody Eakin. How is the 6th overall bantam draft pick from 2006 living up to his expectations? Injuries have derailed him at key times in his young career but the hard worker is hoping to finish strong this year and hear his name called at the draft in Montreal.

The second hour started with an extremely inspirational story. Jacques Lamoureux plays for the Air Force Academy Falcons. He's 2nd in NCAA scoring with a game in hand. That's impressive but it's not the inspirational part. 5 Years ago Lamoureux stood on a ledge about to take his own life. Why? How did he overcome his depression? Is he looking for a pro career after college. Take some time to here his comments and you won't be disappointed. I do however apologize in advance for the bad phone connection.

Guy stumped our listeners this week with Bad Ass trivia, see if you would have won, and who knows you might get one of the questions next week. To wrap up the show we spoke with the hottest goalie right now in the AHL, Devan Dubnyk of the Springfield Falcons. The Oilers 2004 first round draft pick recently recorded his first shut out. Dubnyk also told us what kind of boost the Falcons got when teammate Liam Reddox was recalled by the Oilers and scored his first goal.

Like Guy always says, if you missed it live, click the archive, at www.thepipelineshow.com.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Top 5 Tuesday

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Yippee it's the second day of the week....and that means it's time for another edition of Top 5 Tuesday, and of course The Pipeline Show, which can be heard live tonight at a special time from 6-8 PM mountain time on the TEAM 1260 in Edmonton or world wide on our website. We're on early as Corey Graham will be up after the Oilers game with the post game show. Before we get to the top 5 list, here's a rundown of who's on the show tonight.

Mike Oke is the head scout for ISS, and will drop by to shed light on their November report which just came out. Who are guys to watch for after the big four of Tavares, Hedman, Duchene and Cowan. Cody Eakin of the Swift Current Broncos was one of last week's 2009 draft prospect performer of the week, Guy was impressed with him earlier in the season. He'll be live and we'll also tell you who this week's winners are. Jacques Lamoureux of the Air Force Falcons is tearing up the NCAA scoring list right now with 19 points in 10 games, putting him in a tie for second with one game in hand. He has an incredible story of triumph or the worst kind of tragedy, if you know his tale you'll want to get an update, if you don't you need to tune in. Devan Dubnyk is red hot right now in Springfield, the Oilers first round draft pick from 2004 was just named the AHL goalie of the week. We'll also have Bad Ass trivia, Flaming Hot/Not, fantasy prospect pick up and more thoughts on the world of prospect hockey tonight at a special time of 6-8 Mountain time.

This week with Top 5 Tuesday we'll take a look at the top 5 goaltenders rated for the 2009 NHL entry draft.

1. Olivier Roy-Cape Breton-QMJHL
Roy is ranked #1 by ISS and is expected to be a first round pick. In fact he could end up being the only QMJHL player taken in the opening round. Roy is your typical Quebec butterfly style goaltender with lightning quick reactions, great lateral movement and is technically sound. He plays the puck well and has decent size at 6.00. Roy was invited to Canada's U-18 camp this summer for the Ivan Hlinka tournament, but didn't make the squad. However he has turned that into motivation with a 13-4 record this year and has the Screaming Eagles second in the Atlantic Division.

2. Edward Pasquale-Saginaw-OHL
Projected to be a second rounder, the 6.02, 216 pound netminder has been busy in Saginaw this year. Pasquale has played every game for the Spirit and has faced 619 shots. He's also been pretty good with a .914 save percentage and a 12-7 mark to put Saginaw 4th in the Western Conference. Pasquale was ranked as the 2nd goalie to be drafted from the OHL last month, but his play as of late has moved him into the #2 spot. It will be interesting to see if he can keep up his hot play.

3. Brandon Maxwell-USA U-18 National Development team
This is a guy I'll be watching closely over the next 6 months as his stock could take a big upswing or drop like a rock in a river. Maxwell was 2-0 for the U.S. U-18team at the 4 Nations tournament earlier this month in Lake Placid, and was also a member of the bronze medal winning club at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. He was invited to the states development camp and with a strong showing could earn a spot. But what could really boost his stock is if he jumps ship to the OHL. Before the 4 nations tournament he was traded from Erie to Windsor. The Spitfires are currently ranked #2 in the CHL and have been picked by many to make a run to the Memorial Cup.

4. Brandon Foote-Brampton-OHL
Another player who last month was ranked lower than he is right now. Foote was slotted in as the 4th OHL goalie by ISS, now he's 4th overall when it comes to Pipemen. And it's not hard to see why. The last line of defence for Brampton has been spectacular with a 9-1 record, a 2.58 goals against average and a .901 save percentage, the best so far by any rookie in the OHL.

5. Mike Lee-Fargo-USHL
The only goalie from the US version of Junior A, Lee was brilliant for team USA at the World Junior A Challenge in Camrose earlier this month. He was 4-0, with a minuscule 1.75 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. Lee used his 6.01, 185 pound frame well and bailed out his D-man anytime they got in trouble. While Canada West didn't mount a massive attack in the gold medal game, Lee was there at key times to snuff out any momentum. Lee follows the puck through traffic really well and for his efforts was named a tournament all star. He's verbally committed to St. Cloud State, but told TPS recently he's not sure when he'll attend. Lee was invited to the U.S. World Junior development camp this summer but will be in tough to make the team this for this December in Ottawa.

ADT Solution

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Monday night was Game 1 of the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge and as expected the host club walked away with a 5-3 win. The Q team never trailed in the game, outshot their Russian opponents to the tune of 28-16 and although the three star selection generously included a Russian, it was Dmitri Kugryshev who was on temporary loan to the visiting team by the Quebec Remparts.

Last week I promised to unveil my solution as to how to make the ADT Challenge Series interesting again. Not just for the fans but for the scouting community, many of the ones I've spoken with over the last few weeks are considering taking a pass on the event when it comes near them simply because it's not a good evaluation tool.

The Russians don't have anyone of interest with them and the three CHL teams are mostly constructed of players already drafted so really... there isn't really all that much for a scout to do.

I'll try to keep this as concise as possible and then reveal my team that would be playing against the QMJHL right now.

Let's establish the reasons why this event even exists. 1) To showcase the talent playing in the CHL... 2) It's used by Hockey Canada as an evaluation tool before the invites are sent out for the December WJC tryouts... 3) It's a sponsored event so the CHL is making some coin from it.

Those are the three reasons I could come up with, feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments section at the end.

The idea I have come up with borrows largely from the American Hockey League and their All-Star game format. In the AHL, a team made up of the league's top Canadian born players squares of against 'Planet/USA' - a collection of the leagues best that hails from around the world.

Using that format in the ADT Challenge series would accomplish objective #1 (showcasing the league's talent) to an even higher degree. One might argue that it would simply become an all-star game then and to some extent, sure I suppose it does except for the guaranteed non-Canadian component of the second squad. Many of the players on Planet/USA wouldn't make the cut of an all-star game but do here simply because the pool of players to draw from is much smaller.

In my opinion, the CHL leagues could use this game (or games if the league wanted to continue the 2-game format) as a lure to European players who might be considering making the jump to North America. Agents and teams could sell those players sitting on the fence that getting to play in this showcase event in front of a ton of scouts would be a smart move for those looking to get drafted to the NHL. It would almost be a bit of a reward for choosing to make the CHL the development league of their choice.

Objective #2, Hockey Canada's interest in the event shouldn't be affected at all because the Canadian team would be exactly the same.

Objective #3, the sponsorship dollars... well, I'm sure ADT would be quite happy to continue supporting an event that when altered actually became more popular with fans and those in the business.

That pretty much outlines my position so without further ado, here's my suggested team for the ADT CHL Challenge Series - QMJHL vs Planet/USA

Goalies:

1) Timo Pielmeier (GER) – (SJ 3rd - 2007) Shawinigan
2) Robert Mayer (SWI) – (undrafted) Saint John
3) Chris Holden (USA) – (undrafted) Cape Breton

Defence:

1) Patrik Prokop (CZE) – (undrafted) Drummondville
2) Dmitry Kulikov (RUS) – (2009) Drummondville (5th in Q by ISS)
3) Denis Reul (GER) – (BOS 5th – 2007) Lewiston
4) Dmitri Kostromitin (RUS) – (undrafted) Montreal
5) Dominik Bohac (CZE) – (undrafted) Royun-Noranda
6) David Stich (CZE) – (undrafted) Saint John
7) Dominik Schlumpf (SWI) – (2009) Shawinigan
8) Richard Greer (USA) – (2009) Halifax

Forwards:

1) Andrej Nestrasil (CZE) – (2009) Victoriaville (3rd in Q by ISS)
2) Tomas Knotek (CZE) – (undrafted) Halifax
3) Max Gratchev (RUS) – (NYR 4th – 2007) Lewiston
4) Mikhail Stefanovich (BEL) – (TOR 4th – 2008) Quebec
5) Kirill Tulupov (RUS) – (NJ 3rd – 2006) Victoriaville
6) Luca Cunti (SWI) – (TBY 3rd – 2007) Rimouski
7) Maxime Sauve (FRA) – (BOS 2nd – 2008) Val d’Or
8) Yuri Cheremetiev (RUS) – (undrafted) Halifax
9) Michal Hlinka (CZE) – (2009) Chicoutimi
10) Sascha Famin (BEL) – (undrafted) Moncton
11) Dmitri Kugryshev (RUS) – (WSH 2nd – 2008) Quebec
12) Simon Olsson (SWE) – (undrafted) PEI
13) Sergei Ostapchuk (RUS) – (undrafted) Royun-Noranda
14) Toni Ritter (GER) – (undrafted) Montreal

By country of origin: RUS (7), CZE (6), SWI (3), GER (3), USA (2), BEL (2), SWE (1), FRA (1)
NHL Drafted Players: 8
Eligible for the 2009 Draft: 5 including two top prospects

Someone tell me how this line up wouldn't be of more interest to the scouts or the fans OR that it isn't an even better way for the QMJHL to showcase its talent both domestic and imported.

Would this team fair better than the Russians here now? Could they honestly do worse?

My OHL and WHL line ups will follow later this week.

Monday, November 17, 2008

2009 Draft Performers of the Week - Nov. 16/08

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Sports Management Worldwide (SMWW) / International Scouting Services (ISS) 2009 Draft Prospect Performers of the Week presented by the Pipeline Show & Hockey Now ending Sunday, November 16, 2008.

ONTARIO HOCKEY LEAGUE – OHL

Ontario Hockey League – Matt Duchene, Brampton Battalion

Matt Duchene is this week’s OHL draft performer of the week after notching 2 goals and adding 5 assists in 3 games while also posting a plus-3 rating. Duchene, a 5’11” centre currently sits fifth in OHL scoring with 12 goals and 31 points in 22 games. The Haliburton, ON native is an offensively gifted player with good mobility.


WESTERN HOCKEY LEAGUE – WHL

Western Hockey League – Nathan Lieuwen, Kootenay Ice


Goaltender Nathan Lieuwen makes his debut as WHL draft performer of the week after two wins including a shutout versus Edmonton Saturday. The 6’ 4” Lieuwen is in his first full season with Kootenay and currently ranks amongst the top goaltenders in Shutouts (2) and Goals Against Average (2.62). The Abbotsford, BC native has a quick glove and has improved his positional play since last year’s World U-17 Challenge.

QUEBEC MAJOR JUNIOR HOCKEY LEAGUE – QMJHL

Quebec Major Junior Hockey League – Dmitry Kulikov, Drummondville Voltigeurs


For the second consecutive week Dmitry Kulikov has been named QMJHL draft performer of the week. Kulikov recorded a goal and 4 assists in three games to give himself 10 points in his last 6 games. The 6’ 1” 195 lb Russian defenseman has 4 goals and 22 points in 20 games this season, his first in the Canadian Junior system. Kulikov is known for his overall offensive prowess and big shot from the blueline.

UNITED STATES HOCKEY LEAGUE – USHL

United States Hockey League – Josh Birkholz, Fargo Force


Josh Birkholz represents the USHL as the draft performer of the week after notching 2 goals and 2 assists in games versus Waterloo and Sioux City. Birkholz, a native of Maple Grove, MN has 4 goals and 4 assists in 11 games this season, placing him third in Fargo team scoring. The 6’ 1” forward is a good skater with a decent shot who plays with a physical edge.

Dubnyk Wins AHL Award

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Thanks to his stellar performances over the last 7 days, Oiler prospect Devan Dubnyk has been named the AHL's Goaltender of the Week. The official release can be found here.

Just a reminder, Dubnyk will be a guest tomorrow night on The Pipeline Show. The Calgary native is scheduled to join us at 7:45 PM Mountain Time, just as the Oilers game in Columbus should be wrapping up.

Of course Corey Graham will be on immediately following our program as he hosts the TEAM 1260 post game show. As a result, TPS will start an hour earlier than normal... you can hear us from 6-8 PM Edmonton time but as always, if you miss it live you can click the archives.

School Wrap Sunday

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One team remains perfect, while a couple of perennial powerhouses watched opponents get out the brooms, and the Terriers perch on top of the rankings might be over after just one week. Time to wrap up the weekend that was in NCAA hockey.

Hockey East
We'll start with the conference who had the top dog last week. (1) Boston University had been rolling along with atleast 6 goals in their past 3 games, but the (20) Massachusetts Minutemen stopped the Terriers in their tracks. BU's Colin Wilson (Nashville, 1st round, 2008-pictured) had averaged 3 points per game in the the Terriers previous 3 contests, but UMASS held him scoreless on Friday night while getting 2 points from captain Cory Quirk on route to a 5-1 victory. It was the first time the Minutemen had beaten a #1 ranked team since 1995. UMASS would find themselves rocketing up the rankings this week if they hadn't blown it against Mass-Lowell Saturday getting shut out 2-0, more on the River Hawks in a second.

As for BU, they did rebound with a solid Sunday afternoon shut out of (7) Northeastern. BU tender Kieran Millan made 18 saves for the bagel. Northeastern had been coming off a 5-3 win over (15) Vermont Friday night, a victory that gave the Huskies their 7th win in 9 games.

Back to Mass-Lowell, before shutting out UMASS Saturday, the River Hawks pounded (6) New Hampshire 8-3. Junior Kory Falite (pictured) netted a hattrick against a Wildcat team playing without number one goaltender Brian Foster (Florida, 5th round, 2005). The 2 weekend wins by Mass-Lowell should vault them into the top 20, but they and BC might be the only Hockey East team moving up the ladder.

After losing Friday night, New Hampshire gave up another 8 spot, this time to (5) Boston College in an 8-6 slugfest. Eagles freshman Jimmy Hayes (Toronto, 2nd round, 2008) notched the hatty and set up one more, while senior Brock Bradford (Boston, 7th round, 2005) who was coming of his own 3 goal night in a 5-5 tie with Merrimack Friday night chipped in with 4 points of his own. James vanRiemsdyk (Philadelphia, 1st round, 2007) replied with 3 points for the Wildcats who have now just one win in their past 8 games and will not enjoy the bumpy ride down the rankings list this week.

WCHA
(2)Minnesota could be the new number 1 this week, as the Golden Gophers were the only team in the top 8 that didn't lose, and have yet to wind up on the wrong end this year. However they didn't win both either. Despite leading 2-0 in the 3rd against Michigan Tech Saturday afternoon, they couldn't close the deal and settled for a 2-2 tie. Things weren't quite so Rosy for the Huskies Sunday as Minnesota blanked the dogs 3-0. Gopher senior Ryan Stoa (Colorado, 2nd round, 2005-pictured) and Jay Barriball (San Jose, 7th round, 2006) each had 2 points, Stoa now sits 6th in the nation in scoring, while fabulous freshman Jordan Schroeder (ranked 6th by ISS for the 2009 draft) picked up his 4th goal to go along with 10 assists, the right winger leads all NCAA rookies in scoring. Minnesota goaltender Alex Kangas (Atlanta, 5th round, 2006) certainly earned the shut out, kicking out 38 Huskie shots in the win.

(3)Colorado College slipped up against (17)Minnesota State Friday night losing 2-1, before rebounding with a 4-3 win on Saturday. Chad Rau (Toronto, 7th round, 2005) and Billy Sweat (Chicago, 2nd round, 2007) paced the Tigers with 2 points each in the Saturday win.

For the first time in 8 years, (4) Denver was swept in St. Cloud. The Pioneers now have just 2 wins in their past 7 and scored only 3 goals on the weekend. Garrett Roe (L.A. 7th round, 2008) was big for the Huskies with 3 points in 2 games, as St. Cloud State has now won 4 straight and 5 of 6. What might save Denver from finding themselves outside of the top 10 this week is that so many other top clubs struggled, but they could slip out.

The Badgers appear to be back. Unranked all year, Wisconsin who was winless in it's first 7 games tied Minnesota-Duluth 3-3 Friday night and beat the Bulldogs 4-1 on Saturday. The weekend success means Wisconsin hasn't lost in 5 games with 4 wins over the span, and moves them alone into 3rd place in the WCHA standings. It might also be enough to sling them into the national rankings.

(18)North Dakota is barely hanging onto it's top 20 spot, and might have lost it this weekend. Fighting Sioux goaltender Aaron Walski gave up 3 goals on 9 shots and was chased Friday night by Alaska-Anchorage. UND did mount a 3rd period comeback but it fell short as the Seawolves held on for a 3-2 win at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks. Saturday the Sioux were better thanks to outstanding special teams. Matt Frattin (Toronto, 4th round, 2007) and Brett Hextall (Phoenix, 6th round, 2008) scored power play goals, while sophomore Brad Malone (Colorado, 4th round, 2007) added a shorthanded tally.

CCHA
The team that will likely make the biggest jump in the rankings this week is (10) Miami. The Redhawks swept (17) Michigan State with convincing 5-1 and 3-1 victories. Friday night Miami scored 5 unanswered, while Saturday senior Justin Mercier (Colorado, 6th round, 2005-pictured) scored once and set up another. Miami has just one loss in it's last 5 but will be tested this weekend when they host (8) Michigan.

Speaking of the Wolverines, they were upset Friday night by Western Michigan. Former Spruce Grove Saint (AJHL) Kevin Connauton scored the winner, unassisted with under 5 minutes to play in the third. The Bronco victory was Western Michigan's first in conference play this year and was Michigan's first home loss in 12 outings. They would not suffer a 13th on Saturday though. Sophomore Louie Capporusso (Ottawa, 3rd, 2007) ripped off a 3rd period natural hattrick for the Wolverines, tying him for top spot when it comes to goals. Fellow 2nd year forward Aaron Palushaj (St. Louis, 2nd round, 2007) assisted on all 3 goals, giving him 20 points on the year, good enough to overtake the countries scoring lead.

(9)Notre Dame kept rolling on the weekend. The Irish haven't lost in 6 after beating Lake Superior in a shoot out Friday night, and downing the Lakers 5-2 on Saturday.

ECAC
(12) Princeton has now won 4 straight since being shut out by Cornell 2 weeks ago. The Tigers scored decisive 4-1 victories over Rensselaer and Union this past weekend. Junior goaltender Zane Kalemba (undrafted, 23 year old) improved to 5-1 with a .83 goals against average and a .965 save percentage.

The only goalie in the country with better stats is Ben Scrivens (undrafted 22 year old Junior) of (14) Cornell. Big Red beat Colgate 4-1 on Friday and tied the Raiders 2-2 on Saturday. Scrivens hasn't lost in 4 games, but has tied twice. He owns an amazing .977 save percentage and a.72 goals against average.

One other NCAA note, (13) Air Force stayed perfect with a road sweep of Holy Cross. The Falcons picked up 1-0 and 5-1 victories, but interestingly enough, for the first time this season Jacques Lamoureux was held scoreless in both games. It dropped him into a tie for 2nd in nation. This Tuesday Lamoureux will be a guest on The Pipeline Show, if you haven't heard his incredible story, you'll want to tune in from 6-8 PM mountain time on the TEAM 1260 in Edmonton, or world wide courtesy our website.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Farm Almanac - Nov 14

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It's a busy weekend for the Springfield Falcons who will play 3 games in as many nights this weekend starting tonight against Syracuse.

The Crunch will be tough opponents; they share top spot in their division and have only lost 3 times in regulation so far this year. Their young Russian duo has been hot and as a whole, Syracuse currently dresses 5 players with 10 points or more while Springfield has just one (Schremp with 10).

In net the Crunch are also strong. Dan LaCosta (a 3rd round pick of the Blue Jackets in 2004 and someone the Oilers also had high on their radar that year) has been exceptional. Back Up Sebastien Dahm, another Dane worth watching, doesn't have a great GAA but his .916 SV% is even better than LaCosta's. However, Devan Dubnyk's numbers are even better thanks to the quality of his recent performances.

Mike York, yes... that Mike York, is leading the Crunch in scoring. Tonight is also a Sestito family reunion as big brother Tim faces younger brother Tom. Will we see Hans "Calibos" Benson chuck knuckles with Jon "Nasty" Mirasty?

I personally really like the Columbus Blue Jackets and the way they have drafted (mostly) for the last four or five years. I'm still a believer in Kris Russell, always liked Derek Dorsett, Adam Pineault and now Alex Picard is on the farm too looking for a kick start. In chatting with a Columbus scout recetnly, they're looking at the the Brule experience and seeing that some of the prospects they've drafted need time on the farm... the guys I listed will benefit from this.

Saturday and Sunday the Falcons are scheduled to play a home-and-home with Worchester, the AHL affiliate of the San Jose Sharks. That's a sub-.500 team so the Falcons could (perhaps should) have a successful series.

Farm Fodder: After much debate on whether the first forward recalled by the Oilers would be Rob Schremp or Gilbert Brule it turns out that Liam Reddox wins the race... Going the opposite direction are forwards Stephane Goulet and Bryan Lerg who both were reassigned to Stockton for some playing time... Devan Dubnyk's recent 46-save shutout has been a long time in coming. DD's last perfect game was in 2006-07 as a member of the Stockton Thunder, he had two that year.

Dubnyk will appear on The Pipeline Show this coming Tuesday night and maybe we can ask him about the St. Patty's Day gear (picture) they wear in Stockton. Thor with a top hat and shamrock, pretty spiffy if you ask me.

I have a couple calls in to the club but being game day... not expecting a call back. If I get some more info, I'll let you know.