Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Top Prospect Games Hurt by Absences?

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The CHL Top Prospect game will be played on Wednesday but the shadow of injuries to the Class of 2012 hangs over this year's showcase. Certainly the game will still be worth attending or watching from home but it's impossible to ignore the fact that the absence of several key players is a blow to this year's event.

When you consider the same was the case with last week's inaugural USHL Top Prospects game (and the US-NTDP tied up with exams), it really is an unfortunate year for the class of eligible players. Of the top 30 players ranked by ISS in January, only 11 will have taken part in either the CHL or USHL Top Prospects Game. 6 of those 30 are European based so ineligible anyway but still, less than half of the ISS first round?

Maybe the Central Scouting list will be more applicable because it separates the North Americans from Europeans. Don't get your hopes up.

Friday, January 27, 2012

McKee Finds Fit in USHL

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The USHL Top Prospects Game featured a number of the top draft eligible players in the league with the exception of those from the US-NTDP and a couple key players unfortunately sidelined by injury. The vast majority of the skaters who were on hand in Muskegon, Michigan this past Tuesday were of the smallish, skilled variety with a couple of exceptions.

One was an 18-year-old behemoth patrolling the blueline for Team West named Mike McKee. The nearly 6'5, 232 lb rearguard definitely stuck out from the group because of his size but also because of his passport; McKee is Canadian.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

90 Shots, 9 Goals, Almost 65 mins

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A week ago it was the top two teams in the WHL and the #1 ranked team in Canada vs. the #9 team. Wednesday night at Rexall revealed how great an Edmonton/Tri City playoff series would be. Playoff starved hockey fans in Edmonton will eat it up.

The 2 clubs combined for 90 shots, 9 goals and almost 65 minters of excellent hockey. According to Corey Graham who calls the games on the TEAM 1260, there was talk it was the best game at Rexall Place since the Stanley Cup run of 2006. I'm not sure about that, but it was the best game I've seen this year at Rexall Place and a lot of the scouts I spoke with agreed.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Comrie/Rimmer Homecomeing

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Some are calling it the 'game of the year' at Rexall Place. Tonight the Edmonton Oil Kings play host to the Tri City Americans. Edmonton leads the Eastern Conference while The Americans are 2 points back of top running Kamloops in the Western Conference.

When you look into the match up statistically it's even more intriguing. Edmonton is the highest scoring team in the league with 208 goals through 48 games while Tri City is #1 defensively with just 112 goals against this season.

Monday, January 23, 2012

On The Road: TPS Hits the USHL

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The Pipeline Show is hitting the road once again. We've made the effort over the years to try an attend as many of the major events as possible that we feature on our show. Whether it was at the World Junior Championship in Saskatoon, the Memorial Cup in Brandon the RBC Cup in Prince George, the NHL Draft in Minnesota or various Hockey Canada camps, Deano has done his fair share.

Now that my kids are a bit older, it's a bit easier for me to get away. I've covered some Hockey Canada stuff, the World Junior A Challenge, the CHL Top Prospects Game and obviously the recent WJC tournament, conveniently located in our back yard, but I want to travel a bit further than I have been able to.

Last April I was able to check out the Frozen Four in Minnesota and that was an awesome experience. It was my first taste of college hockey but it will definitely not be my last.

This week, it's another first for me and for TPS; The USHL.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Lazar V Forsberg: Round 1

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Edmonton vs Prince George was really no contest Wednesday night at Rexall Place. The Cougars came out hard and doubled the Oil Kings in shots during the opening frame. All in all a good road start, but found themselves down 2-0. From then on it was a bit of a rout. The home side outshot their guests 24-2 in the middle frame and led 4-0 before adding a goal and 23 more shots in the 3rd. Drew Owsley could sue for non support making 50 saves. He was good, but the Oil Kings were to fast for the young Cougar team with a plethora of 16 year olds.

PG has a bright future if they can add a few pieces, the Oil Kings are right in the middle of what could be some very successful seasons. On this night they were led by Michael St. Croix's natural hat trick who said post game his last one might have come in midget back in Winnipeg. It was also a night to compare the first 2 picks from the 2010 WHL bantam draft.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

First to 40

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Ty Rattie's late third period goal against Tri-City on Monday gave him an even 40 on the season making him the first player in the Canadian Hockey League to reach that plateau this season. The St. Louis Blues second round pick has accomplished the feat in 43 games. The Portland Winterhawks have 27 games remaining in the regular season schedule so some quick math has Rattie on pace for an impressive 65 goals.

How's that compare to the other top junior leagues on the continent?

Who's The Best Young Back Up Goalie in the NHL?

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Not many teams in recent memory have had the type of goalie platoon that the Edmonton Oilers had during their hay day. Grant Fuhr and Andy Moog were #1 goaltenders on all the teams they played on other then Edmonton and they shared the distinction in Edmonton. Fuhr did get most of the playoffs starts, but it was even if not slanted slightly towards Moog during the regular season.

That doesn't happen anymore. Teams use journey men or youngsters to caddy for the starter. Some get in more action then others depending on who that starter is. Tuesday night on TPS we discussed who the top young back ups are in the NHL. It was the topic of our poll question on the main site, and we welcomed Justin Goldman from The Goalie Guild to chat about it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Captain Latvia Looking to Build on WJC

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The big stage of the World Junior Championship meant different things for different players. For some, like Canada's Quinton Howden, it meant a chance at golden redemption. American netminder Jack Campbell was trying to finish his WJC eligibility the same way it began - with a gold medal. Yevgeni Kuznetsov and the Russians were trying to make it two in a row while Oscar Klefbom and Sweden were hoping to finally live up to expectations.

Then there was Denmark and Latvia, the two nations who played their way up to the big pool who were hoping to avoid relegation and embarrassment along the way. Leading the way for Latvia was an Edmonton Oil King who has come away from the experience with a new found attitude and level of confidence.

Monday, January 16, 2012

ISS January Rankings

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The January 2012 NHL Draft rankings from ISS have been released. Some of the notable topics this month include a new defenceman leading the pack of blueliners in the #4 spot, the London Knights with a pair of players inside the top 15, a Russian playing in the KHL cracks the top 30 and there may be a friendly wager in June between a pair from Dubuque.

Matheson Addresses CHL Rumors

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First it was Boston University's Charlie Coyle leaving for Saint John. Then it was Cam Reid leaving St. Cloud for Portland. Recent collegiate defections to the CHL have some people on edge and ready to believe any small suggestion that might point to another seemingly NCAA-bound player choosing his other option and heading to major junior.

The Moncton Wildcats traded impact defenceman Brandon Gormley to the Memorial Cup host Shawinigan Cataractes last week, before the QMJHL deadline, and got a pretty good return. 6 draft picks, including a 1st in the 2013 CHL Import draft, and the rights to defenceman Michael Matheson.

Yes, the same Michael Matheson who is eligible for the 2012 NHL draft this June and has been one of the players blogging for The Pipeline Show this year from his current home with the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the USHL.

So will the defenceman leave the Fighting Saints and report to Moncton? More after the jump...

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Musil "Lucky" With Wrist Injury

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The Vancouver Giants may be without defenceman David Musil for a handful of games but it could have been much worse. TPS has learned that the wrist injury suffered by the Czech defenceman a week ago was first believed to have been broken. Not only will the Oilers prospect avoid a lengthy recovery time but also possible surgery.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Spencer's Future Unwritten With Seawolves

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It was reported Thursday that Alaska-Anchorage junior Mickey Spencer had left school without giving any explanation for his decision. TPS has learned that the initial report is only half accurate. While the Seawolves leading scorer has indeed removed himself from the team, the student has not in fact left school and that a return to the team is possible.

More on the situation after the jump.

Flames/Habs deal from a prospect point of view

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Montreal and Calgary made quite a stir Thursday night. I'm not sure why they couldn't have done the deal before or after the game instead of yanking Mike Cammalleri out of the game after the 2nd period. But it was a big deal for January. Cammalleri, who spent 3 years with the Michigan Wolverines, goes back to Calgary where he nearly potted 40 and Rene Bourque, a one time St. Albert Saint and 4-year forward with the Wisconsin Badgers, is much needed size for the Habs with a potential for goal scoring.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

NHL Central Scouting 2012 Mid-Term Rankings

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It's one of those banner days during the NHL draft season for players, scouts, media and fans alike; the NHL Central Scouting mid-term rankings have been released. As always, the list will get picked apart by folks who have differing opinions but as the late great E.J. McGuire said at least once during every appearance he made on The Pipeline Show - "We're a recommending body to the NHL, our list is meant as a recommending list to the NHL team scouts".

That said, the Central Scouting list is a good barometer for many. The links and some thoughts follow...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

WHL Deadline Day Done

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Who improved the most? You tell us by voting on our poll questions here. A handful of teams made big time upgrades but most teams decided that what they had was good enough. Or at least good enough for them not to pay reported extremely high prices.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Who is the dominant country at the WJHC?

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For those who complain about Canada winning all the time at the World Junior Hockey Championship, you must think this is the greatest tournament in the world. The last 4 years has produced 4 different winners and this year's event had some real 'holy #$##$$" moments to it. From big hits, slick moves and outstanding goaltending it was worth all the hype.

The crowds were great in both cities, but it sure seemed like Edmonton was a bit louder when it counted. I like the fact that in both Calgary and Edmonton it wasn't only the Canadian games that attracted big crowds. Both cities proved they can host international events very well.

As for the title question...

Thursday, January 5, 2012

WHL Deadline nears

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The annual 'get traded while you're at the World Junior Hockey Championship' shuffle doesn't happen any more.

Gone are the days of Steve Mason going from London to Kitchener on the same day he was beating the U.S.A in the semi-final or Brad Marchand the same year who knew before Canada's training camp that he was going to be dealt to Halifax at some point. Some in the hockey world have told TPS there is an unofficial trade freeze for players taking part in the World Junior Championship and Under-17 events.

But that doesn't mean you can't talk trade, kick tires or make an offer and it sounds like several teams are doing that while others seem to be standing pat.

Is There a Canadian Crisis In The Crease?

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"I've said it before but why is it Canada never has a goalie that steals the show? We are horrible at picking goalies for this team."

That's a quote from a friend of mine in a recent email. He is amazingly patriotic and passionate, but obviously making a blanket statement like that shows he's more tin man then scarecrow after meeting with the Wizard.

His memory is shorter then it would take anyone riding the stick Tiger Williams style to get planted in the WHL.

That Canada hasn't had a goaltender steal the show in recent years is true, but never is bit much.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Henrik Samuelsson to Join Oil Kings

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The Eastern Conference leading Edmonton Oil Kings just got better without really doing a thing. 2012 NHL draft eligible Henrik Sameulsson has decided to leave Modo in Sweden and will reportedly join the Oil Kings prior to the January 10th deadline.

The news was broken on Twitter by Uffe Bodin, the Editor in Chief for hockeysverige.se who simply tweeted "Draft eligible fw Henrik Samuelsson is heading to the #WHL. He's leaving Modo, where his dad Ulf is coaching, for the Edmonton Oil Kings."

The press release from Modo. (in Swedish)

Monday, January 2, 2012

Blain Traded

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TPS has learned that Edmonton Oilers prospect Jérémie Blain has been traded today in the QMJHL. The Acadie-Bathurst Titans have dealt him to the Tigres of Victoriaville, one of four clubs considered to be true contenders for the QMJHL title this year.

Blain returns to the organization that he first broke into the league with in 2008-09. He has 6 goals and 24 points in 29 games this year. He was suspended last month for uttering racial slurs towards player Jonathan Racine during a game against the Shawinigan Cataractes.

Blain was drafted in the 4th round (91st overall) by the Oilers in 2010.

The deal involves a pair of draft picks and 18-year-old defenceman Francis Godin headed back to Bathurst. The Titan has released the details via Twitter.

Czech Wanted Russia as Opponent

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"It would be really nice to beat the champions."

The Czech Republic will have the opportunity to do just that tonight when they square off against the mighty Russians in WJC action. It's hard to imagine anyone choosing to play Russia but that is what one Czech player told me after his team lost to Finland on Saturday.