Kelly Friesen

  • Oilers pick Caleb Jones looks to make his mark in Portland

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 3 mths ago

    A familiar name will be on the back of a Portland Winterhawks sweater next season. Caleb Jones is set to play for the WHL franchise just as his brother, Nashville Predators defenceman Seth Jones, did two years ago.

    The 6-foot, 194-pound rearguard did inevitably consult his brother when deciding whether to go down the major junior or college route, but he made his own decision. He decided the WHL was the best fit for his development because of the extensive 72-game schedule and the league’s track record at getting players to the next level.

    “I talked to him (Seth) about it a little bit to see what he thought,” says Jones, whom the Edmonton Oilers selected 117 th overall in the 2015 NHL draft. “He told me what to expect in the WHL and how everything works. But he was supportive of whatever decision I made and knows both routes (WHL and NCAA) are good routes. I decided the WHL was my best option because of the amount of games in the schedule and how it’s second to none at developing NHL prospects.”

    Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

  • Jost, Fabbro put 2016 NHL draft spotlight on BCHL’s Penticton Vees

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 4 mths ago

    Albeit a lot can happen between now and June, Jost and Fabbro are expected to don jerseys within the first 30 selections in Buffalo. If that comes true, it would be a memorable moment for the Vees. There have only been two BCHL teams to have multiple first-round selections in the NHL draft since 1979, when the process switched from an amateur draft to an entry draft.

    It’s not surprising to see Penticton lead the way among Junior A clubs in draft eligible talent. Evident in how the Vees had 16 players with Division 1 commitments in 2014-15, they have developed an esteemed reputation for attracting high-end players who want to go the NCAA route. The club has seen the likes of Columbus Blue Jackets star Ryan Johansen, Pittsburgh Penguins first-round pick Beau Bennett and Minnesota Wild prospect Mike Reilly wear their colours in recent years.

    “It’s a world-class organization,” says Jost. “They have a great facility, great fans and great coaches. They do a good job of preparing players for college in a pro atmosphere.”

    Jost, a St. Albert, Alta., native, has already made an NCAA shortlist. He is high on the University of North Dakota and is open to joining the University of Denver.

  • Athol Murray College of Notre Dame proves to be unique hockey hotspot

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 4 mths ago

    Unlike most prominent minor hockey programs, Athol Murray College of Notre Dame isn’t based in a large city or heavy-traffic area. It’s located in the small village of Wilcox, Sask., the home of roughly 350 people.

    Despite its unique location, Notre Dame has developed a reputation as one of the top hockey programs in the world, let alone Western Canada. It seems the school has at least two or three future NHLers in its development program at any given time. They have played a role in helping mold many young stars such as Jaden Schwartz, Morgan Rielly and Sean Couturier as well as retired greats like Wendel Clark, Rod Brind’Amour and Curtis Joseph.

    The school is best known as a breeding ground for the Western Hockey League. They have had 22 players selected in the past three WHL bantam drafts, including many first-round selections such as Kelowna Rockets sniper Dillon Dube (21 st overall, 2013), Moose Jaw Warriors prized prospect Josh Brook (fifth overall, 2014) and Tri-City Americans young stud Carson Focht (seventh overall, 2015).

  • Top 10 players to watch in 2015 Memorial Cup

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 6 mths ago

    From high NHL draft picks to unsung heroes, Quebec will see some of the CHL’s top talents in the 2015 Memorial Cup. It’s a fitting way to bid farewell to the Colisée Pepsi .

    For various reasons, here is a look at the top 10 players to watch in the tourney, which kicks off tonight in a game between the Kelowna Rockets and Quebec Remparts.

    10. Alexis Loiseau, centre, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

    Loiseau is easily one of the top overagers in the tournament. The 6-foot-1, 179-pound centre, who scored 35 goals and 96 points in 68 games, along with Anthony DeLuca, led Rimouski’s offense this season. On top of his goal-scoring abilities, he has developed a reputation for being a shifty player that has the ability to adapt to any role that is laid upon him.

    9. Michael McCarron, wing, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

    After a disappointing 18-year-old season with the London Knights, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound McCarron elevated his game this year. He netted 28 goals and 68 points in 57 contests while overpowering and dominating his opponents in tight areas. That said, he still has a long ways to go before making the Montreal Canadiens look smart for drafting him 25 th overall in 2013.

  • Memorial Cup preview: Top 10 Kelowna Rockets observations

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 6 mths ago

    With the King of Late Night signing off, Buzzing The Net is borrowing the Top Ten trope to profile the Memorial Cup teams. It's an homage. Or as   David Letterman   would say to someone who tried to slip a fancy word by him, "you mean stealing."

    Presenting the Kelowna Rockets, who are hoping to be the second WHL team in as many years (Edmonton Oil Kings won it in 2014) to win the Memorial Cup. 

    10. “Lambert forgot to lose first.”

    Someone forgot to tell Rockets head coach Dan Lambert that he isn’t supposed to be here. He was supposed to struggle as a rookie coach because of how he lacks “experience.” This is the time of the year where he should be phoning his predecessor Ryan Huska for advice on how to better prepare for next season.

    That said, it did help that Lambert had an all-star team in his arsenal, but what he’s accomplished is impressive nonetheless. He’s on the fast-track to the pros, especially if he leaves Quebec with a nice trophy.

    9. “Rally around Goulbourne?”

    8. “How about them Cowboys?”

    7. “Thanks, Prince Albert.”

    6. “Team Canada defensive connection.”

    5. “Undersized, but not undervalued.”

    4. “Best line in junior hockey?”

    3. “Whistling Jack.”

  • WHL bantam draft: A foot in the door, but not the be-all and end-all

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 6 mths ago

    The annual Western Hockey League bantam draft coming on May 7 will be full of mixed emotions for hundreds of Grade 9 kids in Western Canada and parts of the United States. For some, it will be the first step towards playing major junior hockey, but others will feel the disappointment of having 22 teams pass them over.

    The fact of the matter is that being drafted into the WHL isn’t as big of a big of a deal as it may seem and getting passed over isn’t as devastating as it may seem. Look no further than how 20 per cent of the players currently in the WHL weren’t drafted into the league for proof of that. Moreover, getting passed over in the draft didn’t stop the likes of Jarome Iginla, Dan Hamhuis, Milan Lucic and Shea Weber from going on to make millions in The Show. On the flipside, many former No. 1 picks like Chris Nielsen (1995), Ryan Hollweg (1999) and Ryan Kerr (2004) didn’t exactly go on to become stars in the pros.

    Ins and outs of the draft

    Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

  • NHL draft watch: Players rising, falling in Central Scouting’s final list

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 7 mths ago

    To the surprise of no one, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel topped NHL Central Scouting Service’s final 2015 draft ranking. There were, however, some eyebrow-raisers beyond the two phenoms. Some prospects saw their draft stock spike while others were on the other end of the spectrum.

    Here is a look at some of Central Scouting’s notable risers and fallers.


    Travis Konecny, centre, Ottawa 67’s (OHL) – Konecny has seen his stock fluctuate throughout his draft year quite a bit. He was ranked surprisingly low at 26 among North American skaters in CSS’ mid-term rankings even though some scouts regarded him as a potential top 10 pick earlier in the year. He fittingly jumped up to 14 in the scouting organization’s final ranking. It seems to be a fair spot for an undersized (5-foot-10, 176-pounds) sniper who scored at over a point-per game (68 points in 60 contests) and possesses oodles of skill.


    Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

  • The Friesen Files: McDavid, Eichel inch closer towards championship banners

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 7 mths ago

    Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel took one-step closer towards wrapping up the 2014-15 season with championship rings on their fingers last week. McDavid led the Erie Otters past the Sarnia Sting in the first round of the OHL playoffs while Eichel helped the Boston Terriers advance to the semifinals of the NCAA’s Frozen Four championship.

    After dropping Game 1 at home, Erie came out on top of their next four contests against Sarnia, including a 7-0 shellacking in the last game. McDavid, of course, put his name on the stats sheet in every match, racking up three goals and nine points. The Otters take on the London Knights starting Thursday in Round 2.

    Even though he missed 21 games because of a hand injury and the world juniors, the Newmarket, Ont., native finished third in OHL regular-season scoring with 44 markers and 120 points in 47 contests. Fellow 2015 draft prospects Dylan Strome, who’s also an Otter, and the Knights’ Mitchell Marner finished ahead of him in that respective order.

    Five to watch

    Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen

  • WHL Eastern Conference Playoff Preview: Brandon aims to dethrone Oil Kings

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 8 mths ago

    Like any coin, there are two sides to the WHL’s Eastern Conference playoff picture. The Brandon Wheat Kings are heavily favoured to come out of the East Division following capturing the Scotty Munro Memorial Trophy. The Central Division, on the other hand, appears to be an all-out dogfight.

    Nonetheless, as every junior hockey fan knows, the post-season is very rarely as it seems. There is bound to be at least one upset every year. The third-seeded Calgary Hitmen were toppled by the Kootenay Ice last season, albeit it’s not exactly accurate to consider any team led by Buffalo Sabres prospect Sam Reinhart as an underdog. In 2012-13, the Medicine Hat Tigers swept the Saskatoon Blades, the Memorial Cup hosts, in the first round.

    East Division

    (1) Brandon Wheat Kings (53-11-4-4, 114 pts) vs. (4) Edmonton Oil Kings (34-31-4-3, 75 pts)

    Season series: Wheat Kings 3-1-0-0. Prediction: Wheat Kings in 6.

    Series in a sentence: Clash of the Eastern Conference Kings.

    (2) Regina Pats (37-24-5-6, 85 pts) vs. (3) Swift Current Broncos (34-33-1-4, 73 pts)

    Season series: Broncos 5-2-0-1. Prediction: Pats in 7.

    Series in a sentence: Overachieving Pats look to buck the Broncos.

    Central Division

  • Nikita Scherbak trade pays dividends for Everett Silvertips

    Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 8 mths ago

    The Everett Silvertips took a bit of a gamble when they acquired Nikita Scherbak from the Saskatoon Blades at the start of the season. They gave up a handful of future assets – a 2015 first-round pick, 2016 second-round pick and 1997-born goalie Nik Amundrud – in an effort to solidify their squad as one of the top teams in the WHL’s Western Conference.

    Seventy games later, the big trade has paid dividends for the Silvertips, at least in terms of the regular-season. The Montreal Canadiens first-round pick has easily been their most dangerous scorer all year long, notching 27 goals and 79 points in 63 contests. His offensive production is a major reason why Everett has left three of its U.S. Division rivals in the dust and is in a 90-point tie with the Portland Winterhawks for second place in the Western Conference.

    “He has added a lot of offense to our group that we thought we needed,” says Silvertips general manager Garry Davidson. “He has been a big part of our group’s success and has helped us get where we are in the standings.”

    Looking ahead

    Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen