Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 4 days ago
In a blockbuster trade on Sunday, the Red Deer Rebels took a step forward in building its 2016 Memorial Cup-hosting team while the Saskatoon Blades moved forward in piecing back together its club after selling the farm to host the 2013 tournament. The Rebels acquired Winnipeg Jets pick Nelson Nogier and 18-year-old wing Austin Adamson from the Blades for 17-year-old wing Mason McCarthy, a 2016 first-round bantam pick and a 2015 second-round bantam pick.
This is the second significant trade that Red Deer GM-head coach Brent Sutter has made this year for an established 18-year-old. He brought in Tyler Sandhu from the Everett Silvertips in October for a pair of fourth-round bantam picks.
Red Deer is now poised to have at least three NHL draft picks – Nogier, Fleury and Bleackley – on its roster next year as long as none of them jets to the NHL in their 19-year-old seasons. In addition, all indications point to power-forward Adam Musil donning a sweater early on in the 2015 draft.
The deal to send away two 18-year-olds was made just before the WHL holiday trade freeze kicks in on Monday.
Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 6 days ago
No. 1 Star: Troy Timpano, Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
In a night where six goalies posted shutouts in the CHL, Timpano’s performance was the cream of the crop for more reasons than one. The 17-year-old sophomore posted a 43-save effort against the Windsor Spitfires for his first perfect game in the OHL and the struggling Wolves’ sixth win on the year. His best 20-minute showing in the 3-0 win came in the third period when he stopped 18 pucks. It was a bounce-back effort for the Pickering, Ont., native as he let four of 12 shots sneak by him in his previous game against the Mississauga Steelheads.
Chad Heffernan (1G-1A, +2) gave Sudbury a huge confidence boost in the first period by scoring a short-handed marker. Matt Schmalz gave the Wolves some breathing room in the middle frame by netting one on the power play before Danny Desrochers potted an empty-net goal with three seconds left in the contest.
No. 2 Star: Christian Dvorak, London Knights (OHL)
No. 3 Star: Dominic Turgeon, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Honourable mention: Alex DeBrincat, Erie Otters (OHL)
Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 15 days ago
If Jack Eichel is going to get an opportunity to steal some of the 2015 draft spotlight away from Connor McDavid, it’s right now. The Boston University freshman is as healthy as can be while the Erie Otters superstar is sidelined with a hand injury that he suffered in a fight.
Having a better points-per-game ratio than some former NCAA greats has helped Eichel garner more attention. The 6-foot-2, 194-pounder’s eights goals and 21 points in 13 games (1.61 per game) puts him at a pace to outscore the freshman years of Minnesota Wild sniper Zach Parise (1.56), former No. 2 overall pick Dany Heatley (1.47) and NHL veteran Brian Gionta (1.46). Only Paul Kariya’s incredible 1992-93 freshman season with the University of Maine where he averaged 2.56 points-per game tops Eichel’s current pace.
Among the enticing aspects of his game, scouts have been most impressed with how the 18-year-old centre brings his A-game night in and night out against opponents who are mostly much older than him. The North Chelmsfort, MA., native got on the board in his first 11 college contests before being held pointless for the first time this past weekend in games against Harvard and Dartmouth.
Five to watch
Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 22 days ago
Look no further than the Western Hockey League for proof that size doesn’t always matter. Starting with Kelowna Rockets star forwards Rourke Chartier and Nick Merkley, who have 45 points apiece, the league’s top seven goal scorers all measure in at under 6-feet.
Not to imply that smaller players can’t play with an edge, but it’s somewhat unforeseen because the WHL has a reputation as the more rugged major junior league in the CHL. Developing the likes of Boston Bruins star Milan Lucic, Nashville Predators blueliner Shea Weber and Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf has helped build that reputation of truculence. But when considering how speed and skating has become the be-all and end-all to some degree, it’s not that surprising to see size become less of a factor.
“I don’t think it’s that surprising because we have a lot of elite, skilled players in our league that are under 6-feet,” says Moose Jaw Warriors GM Alan Millar. “Skating and hockey sense are so important in how the game is played right now that if you can do those things well, you can succeed in this league.”
The odds are in favour of a Western Hockey League goalie representing Canada at the world junior championship this year in Toronto and Montreal. It would be the first time since Los Angeles Kings backup Martin Jones, who at that time played for the Calgary Hitmen, did so in 2010. The Tri-City Americans’ Eric Comrie and Edmonton Oil Kings’ Tristan Jarry have made strong cases to justify why they should get the opportunity to represent their country, but since the Halifax Mooseheads’ Zachary Fucale is expected to return to Canada’s blue paint, they appear to be in a battle for one spot.
Comrie was ultimately a favourite to be one of Canada’s goalies last year, but he was passed over in favour of Fucale and then-Saginaw Spirit netminder Jake Paterson. The Winnipeg Jets second-round pick didn’t, however, let it bother him as he knows he wasn’t the only capable goalie in Canada’s arsenal.
“I don’t feel I have anything to prove because Canada has a lot of good goalies that they can take,” says the 6-foot-1, 180-pound Comrie. “I never took it personal last year and am just going to do the best I can this year and leave the decision up to them.”
Swift Current Broncos forward Jake DeBrusk picked up this season right where he left off last year. Just as he ended the 2013-14 season on a scoring tear with four goals and 14 points in his last 10 games, he has been a vital offensive threat for the Broncos early on this year. His 10 goals and 21 points in 18 games places him second on his team’s stats sheet.
“I felt I got going in the second half of last year when I started getting more ice time,” says DeBrusk, who turned 18-years-old on Oct. 17. “I learned from players like (former Bronco) Graham Black and Jay Merkley. They are skilled guys that play hard and I saw how they prepare themselves. Then this year I feel I took what I learned last year and applied it to this year. I also went into this year with more confidence because it’s my second year in the league.”
DeBrusk is continuing the family business on the ice. His father, Louie Debrusk, played 401 games in the NHL from 1991-2003 after spending three years with the OHL’s London Knights. His hockey bloodline has benefited him as he has gained a better perspective on the game from his father.
1. Do you have a favourite NHL team?
2. Do you have a favourite NHL player?
Nick Merkley knows how to exceed expectations. The Kelowna Rockets forward not only won the WHL’s Rookie of the Year award last year, but he also matched Edmonton Oilers top pick Leon Draisaitl’s rookie season stats total with 25 goals and 58 points in 66 games. He has done it again so far this year by possessing the best points-per-game ratio in the league with four goals and 24 points in 13 contests.
“My linemates have really helped me out this year,” says Merkley. “(Rourke) Chartier has done well down the middle and (Tyrell) Goulbourne opens up space for me. I also feel, being in my second year, that I’m a lot more confident. I’m more comfortable out there this year.”
The 5-foot-10, 187-pound Merkley came into this season with a better perspective on what it takes to make it to the pros. He skated alongside Edmonton Oilers star Jordan Eberle and Washington Capitals blueliner Mike Green in the off-season.
“It was nice to get to play with those guys,” says the 17-year-old. “You really see how good they are when you’re on the ice with them and it motivates you to keep on working to get to that level. I never talked to them much, but I took a lot out of that just by seeing them play.”
Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 2 mths ago
Even though most of the draft talk is surrounding Erie Otters superstar Connor McDavid and Boston University freshman Jack Eichel, elite talent out of the U.S. and Finland has scouts looking down the road to what the 2016 NHL draft class has to offer.
That’s not to suggest Canada is weak in skill in 2016. Mississauga Steelheads defender Sean Day, Vancouver Giants winger Tyler Benson and Regina Pats centre Sam Steel are just a few prospects that could be top-10 selections if they fulfill their potential. But unlike most of the more recent entry drafts, it seems The Great White North won’t have as many high-end young guns to hang its hat on.
Despite not producing a prospect as highly regarded as Eichel, in 2016 the United States may have its best crop of talent since 2006, which included four top-10 picks (Erik Johnson, Phil Kessel, Kyle Okposo and Peter Mueller). America's elite group of 16-year-old prospects could not only give them bragging rights on the draft floor, but also another gold medal at the world junior championship.
Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 2 mths ago
When Nikita Scherbak inevitably returns to the WHL from the Montreal Canadiens organization, he won’t be heading back to the City of Bridges for a second season. The Saskatoon Blades have announced that they’ve dealt the Russian sniper to the Everett Silvertips.
In their second year of a major retool, the Blades made the right long-term decision to cash in on the 1995-born talent for future assets. Saskatoon acquired a nice return of a 2015 first-round bantam pick, a 2016 second-round bantam pick and 1997-born goalie Nik Amundrud. The Blades are now in good shape for the 2015 draft with two first-round picks (the other being Kootenay's from the Kamloops deal involving Matt Revel) even though former GM Lorne Molleken traded their top pick to the Spokane Chiefs for Collin Valcourt when loading up for the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The addition of Amundrud, which led to the release of overage goalie Troy Trombley, also makes them younger in net.
The $100 refund is approximately 20 percent of the price of an average season ticket.
The guarantee was informally announced during last week's town hall meeting with season ticket holders.
Kelly Friesen at Buzzing The Net 3 mths ago
Just as in any other year, there is no shortage of uncertainties surrounding the WHL’s 2014-15 season. It seems to all start with the immediate futures of the league’s elite NHL prospects, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg.
BTN has took a stab at 10 bold predictions surrounding the upcoming season just in time for the opening night's puck drop.
Top quartet of 19-year-old talent sticks in The Show – The writing is on the wall that the NHL is going to steal the WHL’s top 1995-born talent. Prince Albert Raiders superstars Leon Draisaitl (Edmonton Oilers) and Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg Jets), Edmonton Oil Kings centre Curtis Lazar (Ottawa Senators) and Kootenay Ice sniper Sam Reinhart (Buffalo Sabres) appear to be ready to make an early NHL entrance. They have nothing left to prove at the major junior level and their respective teams seem to have holes for them to fill.
Past the big four, it seems only Everett Silvertips blueliner Mirco Mueller has what it takes to skip out on his 19-year-old season. The Sharks could make room for the 6-foot-4, 200-pound Switzerland native if he earns his keep in training camp and pre-season.