Monday, August 31, 2009

Kings go 3-0 in pre season tourney

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The Oil Kings went undefeated in their pre season tournament thanks to a 5-3 win over Medicine Hat Sunday night. Edmonton watched Cam Lanigan and Laurent Brossoit give up just 4 goals in 3 games, while youngsters like Griffin Reinhart, Michael St. Croix and Dylan Wruck scored in the victories. Reinhart the team's first round bantam pick in 2009 is on his way back to midget, but St. Croix and Wruck will stick around and along with veterans like Brett Breitkreuz, Torrie Jung and 2nd year Dman Mark Pysyk will hope to improve on the Kings 8th place finish last season.

You can catch conversations that Guy and I had with Brietkreuz, Wruck, Keegan Lowe as well as Medicine Hat Tigers head coach Willy Desjardins and Buffalo 2008 first round pick Tyler Ennis, this Tuesday on the show. Details on that and the rest of the show here.

Edmonton with face Red Deer next weekend in a pair of road games.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cougars Go National

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Posted By Allan Bristowe

6 players trying to make the Prince George Cougars will have their stories told to Canada. Rat Production Company out of Montreal will follow 6 players who will be anywhere between the age of 16 and 20 through Cougars training camp this weekend. The show will be called "The Rookies" and the production company will even travel down to Everett next weekend with the team for an exhibition tournament. The stories will be picked up again at the Cougars home opener on September 18th to see if the players made the team. The players, coaches and scouts will be mic'd and the camera crew will go in-depth with each player and possible their families too. In March after the Olympics Rogers Sportsnet will air 6, 30 minute features on each player. The Cougars weren't the first choice as the Rat Production Company had hoped to do the feature on the Guelph Storm in Ontario and then the Brandon Wheat Kings, but they both fell through.

In other Cougar news with Wade Klippenstein taking over the reigns as the Head Scout there are some changes to the scouting staff. Most notably missing is former GM of the Cougars and Saskatoon Blades Daryl Lubiniecki who is no longer with the Cats. A new face is former NHL tough guy and Brandon Wheat King Jeff Odgers.

Friday, August 28, 2009

O'Marra Dismisses Finland Rumour

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Contrary to recent whispers out of Europe, Oilers prospect Ryan O'Marra is not considering playing in Finland and is looking forward to camp in Edmonton.

Last week I commented on the message board rumours that the 22-year-old forward was in Finland seeking employment for the 2009-10 season. At the time I said that I could confirm that O'Marra was indeed in Finland but whether he was there on business or pleasure was still a mystery.

Having just spoken to the player I can set the record straight - O'Marra was in Finland simply to train and prepare for the coming season in North America. According to the former 1st round pick, Finland offered some advantages to his preparation for Oilers camp.

"Their season starts a month and a half before ours," O'Marra told me earlier today, "I just wanted to be in the best shape I could be in for camp."

It sounds a bit unusual but a little out-of-the-box thinking is probably what O'Marra needs to kick start his career with the Oilers.

"It was my agent's idea and because their season starts so much earlier they're already in full swing," he added, "Their tryout process is done, they have their team set and their pace is pretty high plus they play on a bigger ice surface. One huge aspect of my game that I need to work on is my skating so it really became a no-brainer once I thought about it."

So for the past few weeks he trained in Jyvaskala, what he described to be a really nice University town about 3 hours north of Helsinki. There will still be people who won't buy his explanation and will believe that he's just setting up relationships for 2010-11 once his entry level deal with the Oilers expires. Not the case according to O'Marra.

"It was for no other purpose than to skate and get my hands going. This was totally innocent and I was not going there with the intention of leaving North America," he insisted, "I get it, I get why people might think that but that is not what I was doing. I want to play in the NHL."

Safe to say that this was just an internet rumour that may have made sense to some degree but in the end proved to have no foundation. O'Marra will be at Oilers camp in a couple of weeks.

Oilers Rookie Camp Released

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The Edmonton Oilers have released their 26-name rookie camp roster which features several free agent invites as well as a smattering of their own drafted prospects. The official list released by the club is incomplete and inaccurate as at least two more players are confirmed to be coming including a name we first revealed Tuesday night on The Pipeline Show. There is also a deletion from the list due to injury and the potential that another forward is still to be added.

I find it very interesting that there are 6 goalies going to be at the camp. Clearly this is the beginning of the AHL-backup auditions. I say "beginning" because Aaron Sorochan is not one of the six at rookie camp and he too will get a long look during main camp. Three of the netminders coming in are free agents and only one of the 6 (Olivier Roy) is ineligible for the AHL.

There are just 8 blueliners scheduled to appear, another sign that the goaltending situation is a higher priority right now. 13-14 forwards (or 12 according to "the list") will take part as well.

Here are a few tidbits of information on each player as well as some comments from head amateur scout Stu MacGregor on the group of invited players.

Goalies

Edmonton prospects Bryan Pitton and Olivier Roy will be joined by Andrew Perugini, whose minor league rights are held by the Oilers, and three free agents. Pitton and Perugini split time in Stockton last year with the latter picking up 21 wins compared to the former's 9. It wasn't a good year for Pitton but he impresses me every year during camp, I honestly think he's a better goalie than his record showed.

Kris Lazaruk was the starter for the Kootenay Ice during the 2007-08 season and had decent numbers playing behind an average team. Last year he was a victim of the 20-year-old limit rule and ended up moving to Kelowna where he struggled to maintain a .500 record with a club that would eventually go on to win the WHL title. He was released when the team traded for Mark Guggenberger at the deadline but eventually found new work south of the border with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. With no NCAA eligibility remaining, my understanding is that Lazaruk was on a list of potential recruits for the UofA but the Golden Bears opted for Travis Yonkman instead. I do not know where Lazaruk will play this year but the UofA might still be an option.

"Kris showed a lot of potential when he was younger," said MacGregor, "He didn't have a great year last year but previous to that, all 3 years in the WHL he had a save percentage over .900 including one year when it was .912 which is pretty darn good."

As Oil Kings coach Steve Pleau revealed ten days ago on The Pipeline Show, his netminder Torrie Jung will be at rookie camp for the Oilers. Jung was outstanding for the WHL club last year and was easily their MVP. He was originally a late draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning but with an apparent glut of goalies in their system, they allowed Jung to become a free agent by not signing him to an entry level deal. Jung went unselected in the draft and remains a UFA.

The 6th netminder coming in is Kurtis Mucha, an Edmontonian who played for the worst team in the WHL over the course of his junior career. The Portland Winterhawks have been cellar dwellars much to the detriment of Mucha. The local boy had a total of 53 wins throughout a 4-year career, never once had a save percentage over .900 and posted bloated GAAs of 3.82, 4.10 and 3.74 over the last 3 years. His numbers are horrible but believe it or not, I'm told he's actually a promising goalie. we'll get a chance to see that in a couple of weeks.

"Kurtis Mucha... many nights he was the one thing that kept the Winterhawks close," MacGregor echoed, "He's a real competitive goaltender, battles and we're just trying to make an assessment to see if he might fit within our organization.

It's too early to say how many of these goalies might move on to the main camp (if any) but there they will be joined by Nikolai Khabibulin, Jeff Deslauriers, Devan Dubnyk and Aaron Sorochan.

Blueliners

The Oiler properties who will be at rookie camp are Alex Plante, Johan Motin and Jordan Bendfeld. Plante is likely headed for the AHL where he will make his rookie debut. Motin is expected to join him after playing a few seasons in the Swedish Elite League. Bendfeld missed most of 2008-09 with a serious knee injury and although I've spoken with him and he hopes to play in Springfield, it's likely he's headed to Stockton of the ECHL.

R.J. Anderson completed his NCAA career with Minnesota last year and then played 5 pro games, two of which were in Springfield with the Falcons. As we saw during the summer, Anderson's appearance at this camp may be a promise being kept and a repayment for aiding the Falcons at the end of the year when injuries had the team scrounging for help. Philadelphia originally drafted Anderson back in 2004 but they opted not to sign him last year. He had a total of 26 points during his 4 years with the Gophers.

Speaking of promises kept... Jesse Dudas returns for a second rookie camp. He was badly injured last year during the game against the Calgary Flames in Camrose and missed half the WHL season as a result. Swift Current didn't want him back and he only lasted 19 games with Regina before being released. Dudas appeared in 5 games with the Charlotte Checkers of the ECHL to close out the season.

Dmitri Kostromitin is a big Russian defender that played for the Montreal Juniors last year after they selected him 11th overall in the 2008 CHL Import Draft. He was eligible for the 2009 NHL entry draft but went unselected. The 6'3 and 200 lbs blueliner had a good debut year in the CHL and is expected to return to the QMJHL but his rights were dealt from Montreal to Rouyn-Noranda this past June so he'll be getting used to new surrounding once again.

"We liked him and had him on our draft list, " admitted MacGregor, "He skates pretty good and like a typical Russian defenceman that keeps his game quiet and pretty simple. He does shoot the puck really well and he's been training with the Russian U20 team so he's at least on their radar."

Dalton Prout is a 19-year-old who has split his OHL career between the Barrie Colts and the Sarnia Sting. The Ontario native stands 6'2 and weighs a hair over 200 lbs and plays a steady defensive orientated game.

"He's a solid guy, good stay at home guy with good size and makes quiet defensive input every night," described MacGregor.

Adrian Van de Mosselaer is another Oil King that will take part in the event. The big blueliner had a strong year for Edmonton before breaking his leg and sitting out the final couple of months of the season and playoffs. He was originally acquired from Medicine Hat and is expected to be a key player for the Oil Kings this year. He had 19 points in 49 games with the OK kids in 2008-09.

Forwards

Edmonton properties who will be at the camp include Jordan Eberle, Cameron Abney, Jamie Bates, an injured Toni Rajala, the recently traded Philippe Cornet (see notes below) and Milan Kytnar.

Three Oil Kings have gotten the call including former leading scorer Jeff Lee. Lee will attend UNB this season if he doesn't get a pro contract but that's something Stu MacGregor wouldn't rule out.

Brett Breitkreuz earned his chance with the way he played for Edmonton as a 19-year-old last season. The veteran will be expected to carry more of an offensive load this year but can always be counted on for putting out a consistent effort.

"He's a hardworking guy that provided lots of things for the Oil Kings and frankly, I saw lots of improvement in him," MacGregor said, "I thnk he deserves an opportunity at a camp to see what he needs to do to get to the next level. He's got lots of energy and compete in him, that's for sure."

The most recently added Oil King is Michael Burns, an underachiever last year who only managed 5 points. Burns is still growing into his 6'2 body and might be more of a late bloomer.

"I think he has potential and he got a lot better in the second half," said MacGregor, "If you've ever seen him he's got big hands and feet so he's not done developing physically yet. He's still got to add a lot to his game but this will give him an opportunity to find out how much he really wants to do it and what it's all about."

The Saskatoon Blades will be well represented at camp; Oiler prospect Milan Kytnar's two linemates have both been called on to appear. Burke Gallimore and Derek Hulak put together impressive seasons with their offensive numbers and their plus/minus stats as well. The fact that Hulak was also the captain of the Blades last year should not be overlooked as the Oilers have always been drawn to character players.

"[Gallimore] is a kid that puts up good numbers, he competes hard and he can overcome and improve his skating but he has the basics that you look at with hockey sense and he does score goals," agreed MacGregor, "[Hulak] is a skilled player with hockey sense. He plays the game with intelligence and smarts and you always hope to add people to your organization with a good work ethic and good direction."

One of the more intriguing invites to watch for might be Stepan Novotny. The winger scored 41 points last year with Kelowna and has been described as a player whose talent is only equaled by his inconsistency, both of which might be off the charts. Novotny was originally supposed to play for the Denver Pioneers in the NCAA but after his year in the USHL with Indiana (see photo) he saw that the Pioneers appeared to be a loaded club with little playing opportunity so he moved to the WHL.

"Really skilled player," MacGregor began, "This guy is an extremely skilled hockey player. He showed some inconsistency but when he's got the throttle on and he's got it going, he's a very very hard guy to keep up to. He can make reads or shoot the puck while on the move, great hockey sense and a quick release. He has to learn to use his size and compete more in the harder areas but that's what we're hoping to see."

The Oilers release has Kamloops forward Dalibor Bortnak attending but he will actually not be coming after he recently injured his spleen during the Blazers Blue/White game.

Another player who was left off of the official list that is actually going to be in Edmonton is forward Jordan Skellett of the Saginaw Spirit. This is a player the Oilers had on their radar during the 2008 draft while he was a member of the Erie Otters. The photo is of him slamming Windsor's Taylor Hall into the boards.

Finally, don't be surprised if Ian Duval is another late addition. The invitation has been issued but the new Mantiboa Bisons forward is to let the team know about his availablity very soon. The former WHL hired gun (traded for 3 times during his career) was a hot commodity at the trade deadline and helped the Kelowna Rockets win the league title. Duval has enrolled at the University of Manitoba for the 2009-10 season.

Notes: Phil Cornet's rights were quietly moved to Rouyn-Noranda earlier this summer as completion of a deadline deal. Rimouski and Rouyn-Noranda made a deal that included "futures" which have turned out to be Cornet. Cornet (seen on the right) will play with the Huskies this season...

Apparently 2009 1st round pick Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi twisted his ankle during preseason training. It doesn't sound sever or that he'll miss much (if any) time...

The Springfield Falcons have signed Kip Brennan to a new contract. The veteran tough guy will definitely add toughness to the line up and probably means the couple of enforcers who were being invited to AHL camp are no longer needed.

The Stockton Thunder are having open auditions to try and earn one of 3 walk-on invites to their main ECHL camp. If you're down in Cali and have $100 burning a hole in your jeans, contact the Thunder. Tryouts are being held on October 2nd...

The upcoming EDM/VAN/UofA rookie tournament was originally supposed to be held in Penticton B.C. but with the Calgary Flames opting not to take part this year it fell apart. However, once Vancouver agreed to include the UofA Golden Bears the event was back on...

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Red Vs. White Scrimmage

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Only in Canada can we sell out a no hit scrimmage in August. But the Dome was jammed tonight in Calgary for the final night of the Olympic Summer evaluation camp.

Martin Brodeur at one end for team red. Roberto Luongo the pipeman for team white. Both were spectacular early on. Luongo making several nice stops, with this best being on a red 2 on 1 where he slid across to stymie Jeff Carter, after Corey Perry was badly outskated for the puck. Brodeur was up to the task as well with his trade mark one knee down stop, then snagging a Sidney Crosby wrister that was making it's way to the top corner glove side.

The first hit, kind of came from Drew Doughty on a pinching Jay Bouwmeester along the boards. Okay so it was a love tap, but atleast it was contact midway through the first. I can't imagine how hard it is for Shea Weber to play this type of game. A man coming down on the wing against him and he can't crush him into the boards.

Roberto Luongo is standing on his head. 1:24 to go in first, his team is being outshot 17-5, it's still 0-0. Thanks to a pair of great stops on a red odd man rush. Luongo makes the first save on Dan Cleary, who used Joe Thornton as a decoy, then dives across to stone Duncan Keith who jumped into the play.

Cue a Brodeur retort. After Rick Nash dangles and drives his way to the net, Brodeur takes away ice level and covers up the rebound. That was while shorthanded with Jordan Staal in the box. But Marty's party wasn't done yet. With time ticking down Scott Niedermayer uncharacteristically gives it away but his old teammate bails him out. Jarome Iginla feeds is cross crease to Jason Spezza who would have had a sure goal if Brodeur hadn't kicked out his leg in lightning quick fashion. What a great save. After 1, 0's on the board, shots 17-7 for team red. Both goalies were great as was Rick Nash.

To start the 2nd, Cam Ward in the pipes for team White, his boyhood idol at the other end still.

1:35 into the middle frame. Ryan Smyth on a two on one with Vincent Lecavalier. Now Smyth isn't known to have that strong of a shot. Some call it a muffin shot, so you would expect him to dish to Lecavalier right? No he shoots, and it goes off Marc Staal's stick and past Brodeur. 1-0 team white.

After that the boys in red with a glorious chance to tie it. Milan Lucic's rebound pops up in the air where Shea Weber bats it out of the air. It would have went in if Cam Ward didn't get his swinging arm on it and bat it on top of the net. On the play Corey Perry takes a tripping penalty, so team red goes on the power play.

After power play expires, red keeps pressing. A loose puck in the crease ends up behind Ward courtesy of Jeff Carter and Brenden Morrow whacking away. Carter gets credit, 1-1.

You would think if there is one place Dany Heatley wouldn't get booed it would be Calgary. He's from here and he's wearing the Maple Leaf right now. But each time he gets the puck, the boos rain down. He had one supporter though one fan had a sign that read 'Dany, don't worry I wouldn't go to Edmonton either.'

Midway through the 2nd, Marc Andre Fleury takes over for Martin Brodeur, and will immediately face a white power play as Jay Bouwmeester goes off for interference. Not much for offence on red pp, but just as it's ending, Sidney Crosby has to slow down Andy McDonald after giving away the puck. He heads to the box so the red squad with the man advantage.

Odd sighting. Dan Cleary and Jordan Staal both wearing number 11, on the same line. Jeff Carter and Milan Lucic are also wearing 17. Speaking of the Staal's, all 3 were on the ice at the same time with about 5 minutes to go in the 2nd.

With under 2 minutes to play, Brent Seabrook fans and falls on clearing attempt, Patrick Marleau gets the gift and goes 5 hole on Cam Ward. 2-1 team red.

After 2 periods, 2-1 red and they hold a 30-14 shot advantage.

To start the 3rd, Steve Mason for team white and Marc Andre Fleury remains for the red squad. Also Martin St. Louis has moved up to the top line with Crosby and Nash, the trio skated together in practice on Wednesday. Their second shift together they get some chances, the best coming on St. Louis' point blank blast that Fleury managed to get a blocker on.

Nine minutes to go in the 3rd, with Milan Lucic off for tripping, team white pulls even. Corey Perry after a pick from Ryan Smyth puts away a wrap around goal on Fleury, 2-2.

Just announced attendance, 19,282, that might be a season long number for the Coyotes this year.

5:29 to go, some controversy as Patrick Marleau centres for Joe Thornton, he clearly kicks it in, and they initially count it. Thornton is seen with a sheepish smile on his face on the bench and they finally waive it off.

Late in the game, St. Louis had a great chance to win it, but Fleury comes up large, to send this one to the showdown.

Patrick Marleau scored the nicest move for my money, as team red picked young Steve Mason apart on the blocker side. Sidney Crosby went high in a hurry on his teammate Fleury.

There weren't big hits, but it wasn't a float around all star game either. Good intensity and some systems play.

Next stop, Vancouver. Head over to the TEAM 1260 tonight as Corey Graham will be using some of the audio I collected tonight on Edmonton Sports Night Live. Guy and I will also have some stuff this Tuesday on TPS. You can also catch a one on one interview I did with Ryan Smyth on Global Sports tonight at 11 in Edmonton.

TPS Reset

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It was the big finale for Season 4 of The Pipeline Show this past Tuesday and to celebrate Dean went to Calgary and missed it. OK, he went to cover the Olympic camp for Team Canada and he didn't miss the entire show... but he wasn't around to lead the way.

In Dean's place I invited Dustin Nielson from the TEAM 260's morning show. Dustin and I go back a few years and have partnered up on the broadcasts of Viking Cup and ACAC events.

Dustin and I started the program off by speaking with A.J. Jakubec, the voice of the Edmonton Oil Kings. A.J. has been out with the local 'Dub club during training camp so we got an update on several of the players trying to make a good impression. Some of the key names we talked about included Keegan Lowe, Henrik Samuelsson and Mitchell Moroz. (Hear the Oil Kings Update)

In our second segment we spoke with an Edmonton product who plays in Saskatoon, went undrafted and yet has earned an invite to Oilers rookie camp. Burke Gallimore had a pretty decent rookie year in the WHL with the Blades and I was a bit surprised that no one picked him up in the draft. We talked to him about what getting the invite from the Oilers means to him and we also broke the news that his linemate Derek Hulak received his own invite earlier in the day. The entire line of Gallimore-Hulak-Milan Kytnar will be reunited at rookie camp. (Gallimore Interview)

Dean Millard joined us to discuss Team Canada's Olympic camp and we specifically talked about the chances some of the young guys in attendance might have of making the club. Drew Doughty, Steven Stamkos, Jonathon Toews, Milan Lucic, Carey Price, Steve Mason... all names we bandied about. (Millard's Interview)

Hour #2 began with another local product who has gone on to bigger and better things. Kieran Millan is coming off a NCAA National Championship freshman season and will head back to BU as a sophomore who was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche. Millan and the BU Terriers will take on their arch-rivals from Boston College at an outdoor game at Fenway Park this coming January and we discussed that as well. Finally we touched on Millan's previous time spent in the AJHL with the Spruce Grove Saints. (Hear Millan's Interview Here)

We played a spirited round of Bad Ass Trivia and asked a bunch of questions, many in regards to the Calgary Flames and their prospects. That led in to our final segment of the night, a discussion with D'Archy McGrath, the owner of www.Calgarypuck.com, the popular website/message board of Flames fans. We've regularly get criticized by members of the site for not having worthwhile insight into the Flames so we attempted to rectify that this week and I think we succeeded. (Calgary Puck Interview)

That's it for Season 4 but don't worry... we're back again on September 1st to kick off Season 5 of The Pipeline Show!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Top 5 Tuesday: Canadians In 2014

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Last week I threw out 5 guys that might be helping Team USA go for gold in the 2014 games. That was during the countries summer orientation camp. With everybody dissecting and predicting the 2010 team at Canada's 4 day event this week in Calgary, TPS will gaze down the road to the next Olympic games with 5 players who could be wearing the Maple Leaf in Russia.

5. Steve Mason-Columbus Blue Jackets
Most think Steve Mason is at Canada's summer skate to be groomed for the 2014 games, but you can bet he's not ruling out grabbing the 3rd spot for the 2010 event in Vancouver. It wouldn't be the first time Mason has exceeded expectations. In 2008 he started the WJC as Jonathan Bernier's back up before outshining the LA King prospect and leading Canada to a thrilling Gold Medal win over Sweden. He was named the tournament's top pipeman and it's MVP with a sparkling 1.19 goals against average in 5 games. This past year Mason saved the Columbus Blue Jackets playoff hopes by standing on his head when Pascal Leclaire went down with an injury. He won the Calder trophy this year and his 10 shuts outs made him a Vezina finalist.

4. Cody Hodgson-Vancouver Canucks
Hodgson was widely considered the best all around player in junior hockey last season. Before and after a terrific world junior tournament - where he led everyone in scoring - the 10th overall pick from 2008 scored 43 goals and set up 49 others in 59 games with Brampton. Whe his season was over, the CHL's Player of the Year lit the lamp twice and added 4 assists in 11 games with the Manitoba Moose as they reached the Calder Cup final in the AHL. Hodgson came close to making the Canucks last year and many think he'll do it this year, as well as challenge to get his name engraved on the Calder trophy as NHL rookie of the year.

3. Drew Doughty-L.A. Kings
There were some that thought Doughty could have went first overall in 2008. They weren't far off as the Kings snapped him up with the second pick, and he made an immediate impact in Hollywood. He tied for the rookie scoring lead among defenceman and his 6 goals and 27 points were second best among rearguards with the Kings. Doughty showed poise and skill in his 81 games with a Kings team that is on the rise but struggled last season.


2. Steven Stamkos-Tampa Bay Lightning
He was close to getting in invite from Hockey Canada, and could get a phone call in December if he comes flying out of the gate. Canada left of players like Sidney Crosby in 2006 because of his age, despite a terrific start to the season, and it won't happen again. After a slow start to his rookie campaign, Stamkos heated up down the stretch. He notched his first career hattrick on February 17th, and never looked back, putting up 16 goals and 8 assists in his final 26 games. The run was enough to get him on Canada's World Championship team where he produced 11 points in 9 games. He was also plus 9 in the tournament where Canada came up short in the Gold Medal game against Russia.

1. John Tavares-New York Islanders
Like fellow first overall pick Steven Stamkos, John Tavares should be ready to don the Team Canada jersey for the 2014 games in Russia. If Tavares lives up to the lofty expectations set before him, he should be scoring between 40-50 goals by the tim his 4th NHL season rolls around. A player I've compared Tavares to, Dale Hawerchuk had 53 in his 4th season, although it was a more free flowing offensive time. Still Tavares is a goal scorer and with 215 lamp lighters in junior he'll be counted on for some big time offence. Until the Olympics Tavares should get a couple of chances to suit up in the World Championship as the Islanders aren't expected to go deep in or even make the playoffs in the next few years.

A few honourable mentions go to Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, Evander Kane of the Atlanta Thrashers, Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues, Tyler Ennis of the Buffalo Sabres, Karl Alzner of the Washington Capitals and David Perron of the St. Louis Blues. Have I missed someone on your list? Do I have someone that you don't? Pipe up with a comment below.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Wheat Kings Loading Up??

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The Brandon Wheat Kings made a move today they hope pays off before the puck drops on the Mastercard Memorial Cup.

Brandon dealt 18 year old goaltender James Priestner and a 5th round conditional draft pick to the Prince George Cougars for a 3rd round 2011 bantam pick and the rights to 19 year old defenceman Aaron Ness who is currently a member of the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

I say for now, because the Wheat Kings are obviously hoping Ness comes North and join them as they host the Memorial Cup this year.

The 2008 2nd rounder of the New York Islanders has never to my knowledge indicated he's looking to leave the Golden Gophers, so on the surface this seems like a long shot for the Wheat Kings, but Kelly McCrimmon is widely known as one of the smartest and shrewdest GM's in the league so don't be surprised if it does actually happen.

Just like I wouldn't be surprised if the Schwartz boys also at some point end up in the Wheat City. Brandon owns Rylan's rights and could trade for Jaden's from the Tri City Americans. Right now Jaden is planning to play for the Tri City Storm of the USHL. I've heard he will not play for the Americans but would consider the Wheat Kings. TPS spoke to Jaden Tuesday night and ask him about Brandon. His response was expected and you can listen to it here but the rumours of this happening just won't go away. Rylan is slated to attend Colorado College this year, while Jaden is supposed to follow suit next season.

Throw in Swedish defenceman Alex Urbom and the possibility of Oilers draft pick Toni Rajala suiting up in the WHL's most eastern club and Brandon could be a very interesting team this year. However, for all of the above to happen, a lot of things have to fall into place at the same time, which would be about as rare as a Loch Ness Monster sighting. Wheat King fans would settle for an Aaron Ness sighting.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Oiler Prospect Update

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Yesterday I was asked by a fan of the Brandon Wheat Kings if I had an update on the status of Finnish forward Toni Rajala.

The forward was picked up by the Wheaties in the CHL Import Draft and at last report, the club was working on freeing him from Ilves so that he could join them as they begin their season as Memorial Cup host. A knee injury threw a wrench into the works but fans have been left wondering where the talented winger will end up this year.

According to Brandon's website, it looks like it will be with the Wheat Kings... eventually. In a release today that proclaims Brandon's other Euro to be on his way, there is somewhat of an update on Rajala's status.
While Urbom is expected to arrive by the weekend, Brandon’s first pick of the CHL Import Draft will soon be on his way to the Wheat Kings.

18-year old Finnish born right-winger Toni Rajala was originally expected to fly with Urbom to Brandon on Friday but due to a knee injury sustained this summer at an Under 20 Hockey Tournament in Europe, the arrival of the Edmonton Oilers’ fourth round draft choice has been delayed.
Rajala will also attend Oiler camp but is not expected to skate thanks to the knee injury. Officially listed as 4-6 weeks.

Oil Kings Coming to Camp

Yesterday I spoke with Oil Kings head coach Steve Pleau during my 3-hour guest host job on Edmonton Sports Night Live (Corey Graham, TEAM 1260). During our conversation I made reference to the two players who have ties to NHL clubs (Brent Raedeke with Detroit and Tomas Vincour drafted by Dallas). According to Pleau, two Oil Kings have been invited to rookie camp with the Oilers - forward Brett Breitkreuz and netminder Torrie Jung.

Breitkreuz scored 19 goals and had 55 points last year with the Oil Kings. He'll be one of Edmonton's three 20-year-old players this season and will be counted on to play a big role with the team.

Tampa Bay opted not to sign Jung so his rights were up for grabs again and no one has claimed him either through the draft or as a free agent. I am quite surprised by that considering his performance last year and especially down the stretch and in the playoffs. If Jung plays at the same level again this year he'll definitely earn a pro contract from someone.

Both players will report to Oiler rookie camp but that's no guarantee of staying longer for main camp let alone earning a contract from the big club.

Also coming to camp is Saskatoon Blades forward Burke Gallimore. He's an Edmonton native and quite frankly I was surprised that he went undrafted in June after scoring 26 goals and 53 points as a WHL rookie. The Oilers will have a small window of opportunity to claim his rights after he attends their camp by signing him to an entry level deal. Sounds crazy but considering the entry level deal doesn't hit the books until his WHL days are done, it's basically like drafting him in September. Detroit did it with Brent Raedeke last year and the Vancouver Canucks recently did it with Kellan Tochkin after their prospect camp this summer.

Trukhno Back

Earlier this summer I reported that there was some concern in Oilerville in regards to prospect Slava Trukhno perhaps staying in Europe this year. I have recently learned that Trukhno has now officially committed to returning to North America where he is almost certainly headed for Springfield in the AHL for a third consecutive season.

Trukhno was a 4th round pick in 2005 and appeared to have a lot of offensive potential. after 96 and 102 point seasons in the QMJHL, Trukhno has definitely struggled as a pro; He had a respectable 35 point rookie season thanks to a red-hot 3-week stretch at the end of the year but followed that up with only 25 points last year. He's battled injuries but this will be a crucial year in Trukhno's career. A step ahead will earn him another contract but if there is no progression he may simply go unqualified next summer.

O'Marra to Finland?

A poster at HF claiming to have inside knowledge suggested that forward Ryan O'Marra is considering options to play in Finland this year.
Appearently O'Marra is practising with the Finnish team JYP for a couple of weeks, getting to know the organization and city and of course vice versa the organization sees if he is up to the level they need. After that O'Marra heads to the NHL-camp. So basically it's either NHL or JYP (if he convinces the organization/ is convinced by the org.)
I have little information on the subject at this point but this is what I can say. I can confirm that O'Marra is indeed in Finland right now and has been to both Helsinki and Jyvaskala but whether he's there scoping out a potential team to play with or simply on vacation I do not know. My attempts to reach the player directly have thus far failed.

The "insider" at HF earlier speculated that:
I also saw he's got one year left of his contract with the Oilers. Perhaps the Oilers just release him, but there's a slight chance Oilers and JYP (the team is rumoured to go) are working on a some kind of loan-contract here.
I have checked with a source within the Oiler organization who claims that this is all news to him and that there has certainly NOT been any sort of discussions with JYP (or anyone else) to loan O'Marra to them for the 2009-10 season. At this point, O'Marra is expected by the Oilers to be at camp and play for the Falcons in the AHL if he should not crack the NHL roster (and at this point that seems rather far-fetched).

I will update if/when I learn more on the matter.

Oilers rookie camp opens the week of September 7th and will feature games against the Vancouver Canucks and the University of Alberta Golden Bears.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!

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The title of this blog is a quote from Admiral David G. Farragut - American Navy's first four-star Admiral.

The reason I bring it up is because the Norfolk Admirals could make hockey history next year.

A source has told me that the AHL club is trying to plan an outdoor game on the DECK of the USS Eisenhower, that just returned to Norfolk after a 6 week deployment in the Arabian Sea. The ship can accommodate up to 5000 fans.

No date has been set, but I'm hearing the game will take place after the upcoming New Year.

For obvious reasons if this happens, in my opinion, this would be the coolest outdoor game so far, and maybe for years to come.

Sioux Release Leafs Prospect

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The University of North Dakota has announced the release of forward Matt Frattin for "violation of team rules." Here is the official release from the school:
GRAND FORKS, N.D. – University of North Dakota head men’s hockey coach Dave Hakstol announced today that junior forward Matt Frattin has been dismissed due to a violation of team rules. Frattin was arrested and charged with driving under the influence on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2009.

“This decision was made with the best interests of our program in mind, specifically the responsibilities to the program and what is expected of the members of our team,” said Hakstol. “But we also care about Matt Frattin and would like to put him in position to be able to live a healthy lifestyle and resume his hockey career.”

Hakstol said Frattin’s status with the team may be revisited prior to next season.

Frattin was a 4th round pick (99th overall) in 2007 and recorded 25 points last year for the Sioux. This follows closely n the heels of another Frattin incident from July which was first reported by TPS NCAA regular Brad Elliot Schlossman who covers UND for the Grand Forks Herald.

(Photo Courtesy: University North Dakota)

Wednesday Reset

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Big show last night as Millard made a pit stop appearance between weeks off and we talked with some pretty interesting guests.

We began the program as we usually do with some back and forth discussion on some current topics of the day. Was Patrick O'Sullivan deservedly left off the Olympic camp roster by USA or should he have been there? The Ivan Hlinka domination by Canada and specifically the OHL contingent. The Colten Teubert hit on Jordan Caron - was it necessary? Marty Murray signs with Manitoba. Oil King camp beginning soon and the P.A. Raiders lose out on a 4th overall pick as he declines to attend camp. Hear the opening segment HERE.

Next up was a conversation with Air Force head coach Frank Serratore. This is a really unique and interesting program considering the limitation they have when it comes to recruiting players. Coach Serratore talked in depth about the process and how they find quality players who are also focused on giving 5 years of their post-college life to the military service for their country. You can imagine that can be a tough sell but some how they've managed to do it and have developed into a successful NCAA Hockey program. We talked about specific players and about coach Serratore's personal development behind the bench and away from the rink since joining the Air Force Academy. A highly recommended listen that can be found HERE.

We played a quick round of Bad Ass Trivia to take us to the mid-point of the show. If you're a trivia fan, HERE is where you can find last night's questions.

After the top of the hour we joined up with Jaden Schwartz who just helped Canada win a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka tournament. Schwartz is a smallish forward with a ton of offensive talent who will be a real wild card in the 2010 draft. He's headed for the Tri city Storm of the USHL this season before embarking on a NCAA career at Colorado College where his older brother Rylan is attending as a freshman this year. But will the brothers stay at college or might the lure of playing for a Memorial Cup in Brandon be too strong??? Hear all about it from Schwartz himself right HERE.

Edmonton Oiler forward Patrick O'Sullivan joined us and looked ahead to the coming season. A fresh start with the Oilers out of camp, a new coaching staff, his preferance to play the wing - all things covered for Oilers fans. we also went back in time a discussed his past with USA Hockey considering his omission from the Olympic camp this summer. O'Sullivan commented on not getting that invite despite his World Championship and WJC experience. In response to a listener's email question on a sensitive subject, O'Sullivan offered some advice to parents of hockey players. finally, we asked the American born forward why he chose the OHL over the NCAA and about his former Mississauga teammate Rob Schremp. Hear everything O'Sullivan had to say HERE.

Our final guest of the night was The Director of Player Personnel with the Tampa bay Lightning, Jim Hammett. We went over the Lightning's 2009 draft class and asked about several of the organization's up and coming players. We also touched on the potential of the off ice circus around the franchise ownership group to become a distraction during the season. You can hear that TBY Update HERE.

Next week: Millard's gone again but I'll be joined by Dustin Nielson from the TEAM 1260's new morning show "Nielson and Chase". It's the big season Finale for Season 4 and we'll close out August in style.

(Photos Courtesy: USCHO.com, Air Force Academy, USA Hockey, Hockey Canada.)

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Top 5 Tuesday:Americans On The Rise

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USA hockey is holding it's Olympic team summer camp right now and it's clear with the 2010 team that youth will be served in Vancouver. Players like Patrick Kane, Erik Johnson and Kyle Okposo were born in 1988, the same year that elder statesman Mike Modano was drafted. Here's 5 players who might be ready for the 2014 games in Sochi Russia. You should see most of them at the World Junior Championship in Saskatoon/Regina this year and can catch glimpses of them with their respective junior and college programs, as well as hear from them this year on The Pipeline Show.

5. Zach Budish-Minnesota Golden Gophers
He missed almost all of his final high school season in Edina, Minnesota but was still a 2nd round pick of the Nashville Predators. Budish is a beast at 6.03, 230 pounds who will play for his home state Gophers this season. He gives the U.S.A some beef who can skate up front. A more skilled version of Dustin Byfuglien might not be ready for prime time in 2014 but is certainly one to watch at this year's WJC.

4. John Carlson-London Knights
This is one guy I think will end up being a absolute steal in a few years. The Washington Capitals snagged him 27th in the first round of 2008. Last year with the Knights he quarterbacked their pp and put up 16 goals, 76 points in just 59 games. Carlson is close to being physically ready to play pro, and has 16 games of AHL hockey under his belt, including helping Hershey win the Calder Cup championship this spring. Providing he doesn't make the caps this year, he'll be team USA's top blueliner in Saskatchewan. At their summer camp he scored a power play goal along with 7 assists in 6 games.

3. Kyle Palmieri-Notre Dame Fighting Irish
Will USA hockey forgive and forget? They kicked Palmieri off their U-18 team last year for off ice issues. Some say he wouldn't rat out teammates, but the official reason has never been revealed. This year he'll attend Notre Dame instead of playing in Guelph where some thought he might end up after being turfed from the team last year. In 4 plus years, I'm sure USA hockey will welcome him back into the fold, after all he was at their World Junior summer camp. At 5.10 and 190 pounds he was nearly a point per game player with the U18 team while putting up 51 pim.

2. John Moore-Kitchener Rangers
John Moore and John Carlson have 2 things in common. The same first name and the potential to be the guys in their drafts that makes people wonder how they slipped so far. Moore was drafted by Columbus 21st in 2009, right before where the Oilers were hoping to draft him, if they could have snagged another first round pick. He was slated to play for Colorado College, but is heading north to Kitchener and might instantly be the best skating defenceman in the entire CHL. After 2 years in the USHL it will be interesting to see if he can have the success that Carlson had in his first OHL season.

1. Jordan Schroeder-Minnesota Golden Gophers
We started with a Gopher on this list and we'll end with one. Schroeder will certainly have plenty of experience wearing the stars and stripes should he be on the radar for the Olympics in 4 plus years. The offensive dynamo will represent the States for the 3rd time this year in Saskatoon/Regina. The 5.08, 175 pound centre might be small but he oozes skill with 45 points in 35 games as a freshman with Minnesota last year. At the summer evaluation camp for team USA's world junior team he racked up 14 points in 6 games. The Canucks grabbed him 22nd overall last June and in 4 years he might be playing on a line with fellow prospect Cody Hodgson, as well as getting set to face Hodgson on the international stage again.

Tune in tonight as we may speak to one of the above players, as well as Oilers forward Patrick O'Sullivan, Air Force head coach Frank Serratore, and Jaden Schwartz who helped Canada win the Ivan Hlinka tournament. As well as BAD ASS trivia and your questions to the ST. ALBERT SOURCE FOR SPORTS inbox, pipeup@thepipelineshow.com.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

TPS Reset

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Question: What do you get when you remove Dean Millard from TPS for a week?
Answer: No mentions of that WHL team in Manitoba. Oh, an chaos. lots of chaos.

The adventure began before we even went on the air. My normal routine is to get to the studio an hour or so before hand so Dean and I can chit chat and firm up some of the stuff we want to talk about. This is usually also when I research my trivia questions and so on.

Earlier in the day I had pre-taped an interview for the show that night, saved it on my flash drive and promptly left it at home. Which I noticed at about 6:15. I live in Devon. There and back to the studio... about 20-25 minutes each way. Do I bolt home, get my stuff or...

Decision made - I Steve McQueen it home in about 20 minutes, grab my stuff and head back. I park and sprint back into the CTV building and get to the studio with about 3 minutes to spare. (But me sprinting is not a pretty sight and I needed all 180 seconds to get my air back).

Little did I know that The Sports Doctor was also having a bit of pre-show trouble. He was stuck south of Edmonton on a return from Calgary. After an lengthy stop at Wendy's in Red Deer and a conversation about speeding with a highway RCMP... Taylor made it in just before I did.

Preparation? Screw it... we've been doing this for a few years, good to go!

Quite honestly, listening to the archive since, it's not nearly as bad as I feared. I'm not as polished as Deano, that's for sure, but I got by. And a big thanks to Corey Graham who sat in with me to help keep the ship on track... or... afloat. See?

We kicked the show off with some discussion about CIS hockey. Corey is the play-by-play voice of the Alberta Golden Bears (hockey and football) so it was perfect timing. We also chatted about the WJC camp in Saskatoon and other things as well.

Corey had to slip out for the next segment so he could pre-tape an interview for his own show (Edmonton Sports Night Live, 9-midnight, Mon-Fri in case you've been living in a cave). Thankfully my first guest was Peter Loubardias who is so well spoken and knowledgeable in regards to junior hockey that I can just lob a subject into the air and know he's going to hammer it home for a couple of minutes. Less me, more Peter = good. By the way, Peter's the guy on the left standing next to another 1st class guy - Regan Bartel, voice of the Kelowna Rockets.

Peter and I discussed Canada's WJC camp in Saskatoon and we went in depth about a lot of players. we also talked about the fact that Canada is the only country that has a camp in December and in August... should they? It's hard to argue with success though so is it a case of "don't fix what ain't broke"? You can hear that conversation HERE.

Next up was a visit with Carter Camper of the Miami RedHawks. The NCAA National Finalists from last season lost a heart breaker to Boston university by gassing a 3-1 lead with a minute left to go, and you know we had to ask about that. I also wanted to know how he felt seeing players his size dominating the NHL or getting taken in the first round and yet he, with back to back +40 point seasons, is still a free agent. Finally, looking ahead to next season I declared him to be my early pick for the Hobey Baker and he reacted to that and agreed that the RedHawks will not take a step back in 2009-10. Hear what Carter Camper had to say.

The second hour of the show began with an entertaining conversation with Saskatchewan Huskies coach Dave Adolph. we talked a lot about his incoming class of recruits, #2 on my recent top 5 list, and also about the changes in CIS recruiting over the last few years. The growing trend of offering "Leadership Bonuses" - basically paying players big money simply for things like appearing at off season hockey schools) is getting out of hand and teams like Saskatchewan and Alberta are starting to feel the effects as WHL grads head East to the AUS. Coach Adolph reacted to a clip we played him of Alberta head coach Eric Thurston as well. Well worth the listen and you can hear that conversation HERE.

Our next guest deserves credit for trying his best. Devan Dubnyk, just getting over a chest cold, joined us for a little while to discuss the upcoming season. Does he expect to be in Springfield? Is there room for both he and Jeff Deslauriers in the organization this season or in 2010-11 when both will be RFAs? How did he feel about playing behind a team that struggled as badly as the Falcons did last year? We talked about as much as we could before we finally pulled the plug so he could give the vocal cords a break. Hear that Dubnyk interview HERE.


Lastly, the interview that Corey and I pre-taped earlier in the day with former Oilers colour analyst - Morely Scott. How did Morley spend last season, his first away from the Oilers? How did he land his new gig with the Vancouver Giants of the WHL? We covered it all and I know there are a lot of people out there who wondered "What's Morley doing these days?" so... HERE is you answer.

All in all, I'm glad it was a guest heavy show and even more pleased that Millard will be back in the big chair next week. Of course, he's gone again for the Season 4 finale show on August 25th but... I have a couple weeks to prep for that one!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Top 5 Tuesdays: CIS Freshmen Classes

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I know a lot of people don't pay much attention to University hockey in Canada but it's really to bad. I know plenty of NHL teams that regard the CIS as an untapped source for free agents that is only getting better and better every year. As more and more CHL players are choosing CIS instead of the ECHL or Europe, the quality of play is on the rise. The crop of players not longer eligible for Major Junior that is headed to CIS programs this season is another prime example of late bloomers who will continue to attract the attention of the NHL during the Student-Athlete phase of their hockey careers.

A few months ago the San Jose Sharks signed forward Kevin Henderson away from UNB. Joel Ward of Nashville played 4 years of CIS hockey for PEI and has since gone on to AHL success and is now a regular player for the Preds.

There aren't tons of NHL players with CIS backgrounds but there are some out there and the numbers are growing. Here now are the top 5 incoming freshmen classes in CIS hockey for 2009-10.

5. St.FX

The X-Men announced their group back on July 22nd and it includes a few WHL grads including goalie Joey Perricone (pictured) who spent 5 years with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The California native will now head to the East coast for his X-Men uniform.

Also headed to St. FX from the WHL is Swift Current defenceman Spencer McAvoy. The Edmonton product is a good two-way blueliner who chipped in 39 assists and 44 points for the Broncos last season. At 6'3 he's got good size and I always thought he skated well and played with poise on the back end. I liked him as a potential pro camp invite and that may still happen, but if not, then the X-Men get a pretty good rearguard.

St. FX has 4 other Major Junior players coming in: Brennan Wray (Red Deer), Nick Pageau (Belleville), Josh Day (Brampton) and a pair of QMJHL alum in Ryan Sparling (Saint John) and Murdoch MacLellan (Cape Breton).

4. Manitoba

The Canada West Conference as largely been a two-team battle for the last couple of decades but slowly the likes of UBC, Calgary and Manitoba are closing the gap. The incoming Bisons are led by Ian Duval, a Winnipeg product. Duval began his WHL career with Regina before being dealt to Calgary. From there he bounced from the Hitmen to Swift Current and finally to Kelowna, all withing the last season. Duval was a point per game player this year and was an often overlooked part of Kelowna's WHL championship offence.

Another Winnipeg kid who returns home to play CIS is Brandon Lockerby of the Edmonton Oil Kings. The converted forward put together a 35 point campaign playing on the backend for the Oil Kings and should add some offence and speed to the Bisons no matter where they decide to play him in their line up.

3. Alberta

Alberta has been the cream of the crop in Canada West for many years now but they no longer appear to be the program that is attracting the top players out of the WHL. That's not to say who they have secured are bad players, quite the contrary really, but the Golden Bears incoming class doesn't compare to those of the past.

Netminder Travis Yonkman is the headliner and slated to be the starter now that Aaron Sorochan is no longer in the picture. I've heard that the New York Rangers have invite Yonkman to their camp though so his future isn't quite set just yet.

Also join the Bears are five local boys including Sean Ringrose (Medicine Hat), Michael MacAngus (Regina/P.A.), Ian Barteaux (Kootenay), Colin Joe (Saskatoon) and Reade Wolansky (Sacred Heart - NCAA). Ringrose scored 28 goals and had 59 points with the Tigers while Barteaux managed 39 points for Kootenay.

2. Saskatchewan

Almost always seen as the number one challenger to Alberta's CW crown, the Huskies are going to have a pretty darn good team the next few years thanks to the group they have coming in.

10 players are joining the Huskies this year including 8 with a WHL background. Among them are Brendan Dowd, a co-captain and co-leading scorer with the Edmonton Oil Kings last year. Dowd is a Saskatoon kid so he's going back home after his 29-goal season in Edmonton.

Brennan Bosch (pictured) had three consecutive 20-goal years with Medicine Hat and reached the 70-point plateau in 2007-08.

The Calgary Hitmen turned Kyle Bortis into a offensive machine after they acquired him from Swift Current. Bortis had 72 points in 2007-08 and 84 last year with the Hitmen. He scored 37 times two seasons ago so he knows how to find the back of the net.

Andrew Bailey scored 30, 28 and 28 goal campaigns during his final three seasons in Kootenay. The 5'9 forward's point totals are actually quite impressive as he rattled of 79, 87, 83 point years. The Hazlet Saskatchewan native might be one to watch in the green, black and white for the next few years.

Goalie David Reekie arrive from his 38-game stint in the USHL with the Lincoln Stars. Reekie began in the WHL but went south where he compiled a 23-10-4 record and posted a .935 sv% with a 2.01 GAA.

Another key ingredient being added to the Saskatchewan mix is Kyle Ross who is transferring from Regina where he led the Cougars in scoring in each of the last two seasons. It's a nice pick up for the Huskies and a blow to their rivals to the South.

1. New Brunswick

The V-Reds top my list based on quality over quantity. Saskatchewan might have more talent coming in but I think I like UNB's group just a hair more. The official list so far is only 3 names long but they were all captains of the WHL team last season and two also led their club in scoring.

Taylor Procyshen (pictured) finished 16th overall in the league with 81 points, 36 of which were lamplighters. The captain of the Tri-City Americans is an Edmonton product who was on the want list of the Golden Bears so you know this one has to sting for Alberta. Procyshen scored 30 goals or more in each of his last three seasons so the kid clealy has a nose for the net.

Edmonton Oil King Jeff Lee will head East if he can't find a pro contract with his name on it. The Calgary born Lee only played a year and a half in the WHL after leaving the Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks. Lee played a couple games for the Springfield Falcons in the AHL late last year after a breakout season with the Oil Kings. His 40 assists were a team high and his 62 points earned him a share of the scoring title with Brenden Dowd.

The third official recruit for the V-Reds is defencemen Ben Wright of the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The former draft pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets might still get looks from the NHL but will be a huge player for UNB if he does play CIS. Wright was the leader for the 'Canes the last couple of seasons and is considered a pretty solid defensive defenceman.

Rumors are that UNB isn't done and that should he not get a pro contract, Ben Shutron will also end up in a V-Reds uniform. The former 4th round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks played in the last two Memorial Cups with finalist Kitchener in 2008 and CHL champion Windsor in 2009. That would be another great addition to their line up if in fact that comes to fruition.