Saturday, June 10, 2006

QMJHL Draft Results

Because of the number of trades and the complexity of the analysis I have to do regarding today's draft, my comments regarding the results are delayed until tomorrow morning.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Twas the Night Before the QMJHL Draft and All Through the League ....

The GMs made trades and Ted Nolan took leave. Ah, the old Christmas poem. I wonder tonight whether the trades below or the draft selections tomorrow will be like Christmas gifts for one or two of the teams in the Q. Some of the trading seems a bit unbalanced, and I am not sure what the team management is thinking, but I guess, all will become clear with time. Without further ado, lets get to what happened today in the Q.

The league is in the middle of its draft festivities in Charlottetown, PEI, and there are league meetings that have been going on for the last two days. Today there were 2 meetings to discuss trades, as well as a previously unscheduled press conference.

Ted Nolan appeared at the press conference in Charlottetown this afternoon to thank Moncton, the league, etc. for the opportunity to coach again, and for helping him realize that he still had the passion to be behind the bench. Nolan is a fine coach and for whatever time he was able to inspire the players in Moncton and the Q, it was a gift. Good luck to him on Long Island. If he can stay on the straight and narrow, avoiding some of his previous debacles, Nolan should be able to successfully coach in the NHL for a long time.

Ah, the trades. Twenty six of them today in anticipation of tomorrow's draft. The straight pick for pick or no compensation trades are as follows:

1. Baie-Comeau sent its 8th round 2006 pick to Val-D'Or for no compensation

2. Gatineau sent its Rounds 6 and 9 2007 picks to P.E.I. for no compensation

3. Halifax sent its Rounds 1 and 9 2006 picks, plus its Round 1 Euro 2006 pick to Rimouski for Val-D'Or's Round 2 and Quebec's Round 8 2006 picks, plus Rimouski's Round 1 Euro 2006 pick

4. P.E.I. returned Rouyn-Noranda Round 4 2007 pick back to the Huskies, in exchange for Rouyn-Noranda's Round 5 2006 pick

5. Quebec returned Rouyn-Noranda Round 3 2008 pick back to the Huskies, in exchange for Rouyn-Noranda's Round 4 2007 pick (which the Huskies had just gotten back from P.E.I.)

6. Quebec exchanged Round 1 Euro 2006 picks with Val-D'Or

7. Gatineau returned Acadie-Bathurst's Round 6 2006 pick to the Titan, in exchange for Acadie-Bathurst's Round 7 2006 pick

In addition for pick swaps, there were several significant trades today.

Acadie-Bathurst sent 3 of the teams' roster players and one prospect off to other teams today. Goaltender Maxime Joyal will join the Saint John Sea Dogs, his fourth QMJHL team in as many years. In exchange for Joyal, Saint John sent winger Martin Bartos to the Titan. Bartos is eligible for the NHL draft this year (ranked 142 in North America by Central Scouting)and had a very good rookie seaosn for the Sea Dogs in 2005-06 (28 points in 43 games).

Winger Mathieu Roy, who was the Titan leading scorer this past season (104 points in 65 games) was traded to Val-D'Or for a younger winger, Dany Masse, plus the Foreurs' Round 2 2007 pick.

Finally, Acadie-Bathurst traded 2 players to Halifax for draft picks. Center Ryan Seymour was exchanged for Halifax's Round 4 2007 pick, and the rights to Bradley Malone, who played for the Boston Jr. Bruins this past season, were traded for Halifax's Round 5 2006 pick.

Baie-Comeau traded away left winger Francois Chabot, who registered 15 points in 59 games in his rookie QMJHL season, to Chicoutimi for defenseman Jean-Sebastien Adam, plus the Sagueneens Round 6 pick in 2007.

Chicoutimi engaged in 2 other trades today. It sent the package of Vancouver Canucks prospect, goalie Alexandre Vincent and defenseman Louis-Etienne Leblanc to Val-D'Or for goaltender Bobby Nadeau (ranked 23rd goaltender by Central Scouting for the 2006 draft),the prospect, winger Hubert Poulin and Moncton's Round 4 pick in 2007.

In Chicoutimi's last trade of the day, it sent the tough defenseman Guillaume Lepine and a Round 3 2007 pick to Rouyn-Noranda in exchange for the rights to defensemen Maxime Provencher and center Jeff Christisen, plus Rouyn-Noranda's Rounds 2 and 4 2006 picks.

Drummondville made 5 trades this morning. In the first, the Voltigeurs sent the recently signed Montreal Canadien prospect, goaltender Loic Lacasse and Halifax's Round 4 2006 pick to Quebec, in exchange for the Remparts' Round 3 2006 pick.

The Voltigeurs then completed a trade with Rouyn-Noranda, which sent Halifax's Round 3 2007 pick to the Huskies, in exchange for defenseman Lucas Longpre and the Huskies Round 3 2007 pick.

Rimouski sent the Voltigeurs the exciting young center Maxime Macenauer and its Round 2 Euro 2006 pick for Drummondville's Round 1 and Round 2 (Euro) 2006 picks.

However, Drummondville turned right around and traded Macenauer, plus Acadie-Bathurst's Round 5 2006 pick and the Voltigeurs Rounds 1 and 2 picks in 2007 to Rouyn-Noranda for offensive defenseman Olivier Magnan, and Rouyn-Noranda's Round 1 pick in 2006 and Chicoutimi's Round 4 pick this year.

Finally, Drummondville did a second deal with Rimouski, sending potential overage center Yannick Charron to the Oceanic in exchange for the rights to winger Etienne Bellevance-Martin and center Nicholas Albany.

Moncton traded away its excellent center, the NHL draft eligible Brad Marchand (ranked 80th by Central Scouting before the Memorial Cup), in exchange for the return of its Round 1 2006 pick, which it had previously traded to Val-D'Or. Additionally, the Wildcats traded winger Jean-Philippe Chabot to Gatineau for the Olympiques Round 5 2006 selection.

P.E.I. also made a trade with Gatineau, sending star winger Victor Trukho (Drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 2005) and the Rocket Round 6 2006 pick to the Olympiques, in exchange for the excellent defenseman Pierre-Luc Lessard and Gatineau's Round 2 and Round 1 (Euro) 2006 selections. Lessard is NHL draft-eligible this year and is currently ranked 67 among North American skaters by Central Scouting.

P.E.I. executed a second trade, this one with Victoriaville. The Rocket sent Steve Natywary to the Tigres for Voctoriaville's Round 8 pick in 2006.

In 2 final trades, Lewiston sent the prospects Karl Prefontaine to Victoriavill for a Round 10 pick in 2006; and Quebec sent prospect Tommy Gauthier to Shawinigan, in exchange for the Cataractes Round 9 2006 draft selection.

The league is finally ready for the draft, which starts at 10 am tomorrow.

Two Additional Transactions Reported

Yesterday the WHL Tri-City Americans completed their obligations to the expansion Chilliwack Bruins, by sending 16-year old Vernon, B.C. center David Robinson to the Bruins. Robinson, who was the Americans' ninth round pick in last year's bantam draft, was not on the 2005-06 roster, but was on Tri-City's protected list.

In the OHL, yesterday the Barrie Colts announced that the team had claimed 18-year old left-winger Tibor Radulay off waivers. A native of Trencin, Slovakia, Radulay (6'0", 205) was the Ottawa 67’s first round pick (43rd overall) in the 2005 CHL Import Draft. Radulay appeared in 49 games in his rookie year (2005-06) and tallied 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) and 88 PIM.

Belleville Bulls News

The OHL Belleville Bulls have had a very busy week. Last Saturday night the team had their annual post-season awards dinner. Nineteen-year old goaltender Kevin Lalande was named the team's Most Valuable Player. Lalande, who just completed his third season with the Bulls, is a Calgary Flames prospect (5th round, 2005). In the 2005-06 regular season, he had a record of 24-17-3-2, with 3 shutouts. Lalande's GAA was 2.86, with a .916 save percentage. Lalande also represented the Bulls at the OHL All-Star classic.

Additional awards were given to John Hughes as the team's outstanding center and to Matt Kelly as the best defenseman. Shawn Matthias took home the award for Most Improved Player and Bryan Cameron was named Rookie of the Year.

The Bulls have also announced the signing of their first round (9th overall) 2006 priority draft pick, Shawn Lalonde. Lalonde (6'0", 160) played defense last season for the Ontario Minor Midget AAA Cumberland Barons. He played in 60 games with Cumberland last season, scoring 19 goals and adding 35 assists, while accumulating 98 PIM.

OHL Institutes Goal Reviews at All Games in 2006-07

The OHL has announced that, during the 2006-07 season, the league will utilize video replay to review all goals in all regular season and playoff games. To aid such a review, overhead cameras in the goal area will be installed in every OHL facility prior to the commencement of the season. A league-appointed video goal judge will be present at all OHL games and will view all available camera angles, when 1) a puck crosses the goal line; 2) there are questions as to whether a puck went into the net prior to the net being dislodged; 3) to check whether a puck went into the net prior to the end of the period or game; 4) to ensure that a puck was not kicked into the net by a foot or directed in by other means when a goal is scored; 5) to see whether or not a puck was deflected into the net off an official; and 6) on a goal scored, to check whether a puck was struck with a stick above the height of the crossbar (by an attacking player) prior to crossing the goal line.

CHLers to Play at August US National Junior Evaluation Camp

Five skaters who played in the CHL last season have been invited to participate in the United States National Junior Evaluation Camp, which will take place in Lake Placid from August 5-14, 2006. Former NTDP player, OHL Sudbury's Nick Foligno has been asked to play at the 10-day camp, which will include scrimmages against Sweden and Finland. Foligno will be fresh off of the NHL draft, in which he is expected to be selected in the first or second round.

Invitees who were members of last year's U20 team include Everett Silvertips' Peter Mueller and Owen Sound's Bobby Ryan. One of the WHL's stars, Mueller is expected to be a first round pick in the Vancouver NHL draft on the 24th, and is almost a sure thing to make the US Junior U20 Team. Ryan, the number 2 pick (Anaheim) in the 2005 NHL draft, recently completed his 2005-06 season participating in the AHL playoffs. He had joined the Portland Pirates after his team, the Owen Sound Attack, was eliminated from the OHL playoffs.

Hopefully, Michael Sauer will be healthy enough to play in the Evaluation Camp this summer. Invited last year, Sauer, a defenseman for the WHL Portland Winter Hawks, could not play due to injuries.

Finally, Plymouth Whalers' right wing Dan Collins was invited to the August Evaluation Camp. Collins, who was drafted in 2005 by the Florida Panthers (3rd round, 90th overall), scored 49 points in 44 regular season games in 2005-06.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Ted Nolan to Coach NHL Islanders

There have been rumours for days, but a press conference was held this afternoon on Long Island, New York, US, naming Moncton Wildcats' Ted Nolan as the new head coach of the New York Islanders. The NHL club also announced the hiring of Neil Smith as the team's general manager and former QMJHL Verdun Juniors' Pat LaFontaine as assistant to owner Charles Wang. LaFontaine had played for Nolan, when both were employed by the Buffalo Sabres' organization in the late 1990s. According to reports, Nolan was flown to the Long Island press conference on Robert Irving's (the owner of the Moncton Wildcats) plane.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Wednesday's CHL Musings

The Red Deer Rebels are having a very active week. Yesterday the team announced that it traded defenseman Eric Frere to the Moose Jaw Warriors, in exchange for a conditional pick in the 2007 Bantam Draft. The 17-year old Frere, a 6'1", 187 lb stay-at-home defenseman, just completed his second season with the Rebels. In 50 regular season 2005-06 games, Frere registered 2 assists and 25 PIM, with a plus/minus of -8. A new start with the Warriors can only help Frere's already precarious junior career.

Red Deer moves on from the Frere trade to its summer prospect camp, which opens on Friday. The three-day camp includes on-ice practices at the Red Deer Arena, which are open to the public, each day. Other camp activities include off-ice conditioning, a nutrition seminar, and a Hunting Hills High School tour. All the Rebels' 2006 bantam draft picks, as well as all other protected list players, have been invited.

The Portland Winter Hawks will also hold a summer prospect camp this weekend. The team's camp opens tomorrow, and will take place in Calgary, Alberta. Fitness testing and an evening BBQ will take place tomorrow. On each day from Friday through Sunday, prospects will take the ice for practice and games.

Three OHL teams held award banquets last weekend. On Friday afternoon, the OHL Champion Peterborough Petes handed out accolades to its top players. First line center, Daniel Ryder took home 3 top awards. Rewarded for being the team's top scorer, Ryder also got the award for the most "3 Star" points. Perhaps the most cherished, however, is the award for Most Valuable Player. Ryder was chosen for that honour by a vote of his teammates. Goaltender Trevor Cann, who was 16-2-0-2 during the regular season, was chosen as Rookie of the Year. Cann will be eligible for the NHL entry draft in 2007. The award for the Top Defenseman was shared between Trevor Hendrikx and Bryan Young. Hendrikx, twice drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets, completed his overage season in 2005-06 with 56 points in 60 games (a plus/minus of +12 and 123 PIM). A big nasty defenseman, Young was signed to an entry-level contract by the Edmonton Oilers. In 2005-06, Young tallied 10 points in 67 games, with 113 PIM.

The Petes' competition for the J. Ross Robertson Cup, the London Knights, also held an awards banquet this weekend. Another Edmonton Oiler prospect, Rob Schremp, took 3 awards. Named the team MVP, Schremp also received accolades as the team's leading scorer. Finally, he was given an award for the most "3 Stars" on the team throughout the season. Nineteen-year old Sergei Kostitsyn was named the Knights' Rookie of the Year. Kostitsyn, a seventh round 2005 draft pick of the Montreal Canadiens, recorded 78 points in 63 games. Scott Aarssen, a 2006 NHL draft-eligible defenseman, was given the award for the club's Best Defenseman during the 2005-06 campaign. The best defensive forward award went to the recently signed Buffalo Sabres prospect Dylan Hunter. Hunter, who played his overage year in 2005-06, tallied 117 points in 62 games, with a plus/minus of +9, and 50 PIM.

Also on the awards podium this weekend, were several Guelph Storm players. The Storm had their awards banquet on Sunday night, recognizing the accomplishments of the team's most productive members. Captain Ryan Callahan received 4 awards, including the most popular player (as voted on by the fans). The recent New York Ranger signee also received the leadership award, as well as the "3 Star" player and top scorer awards. The team named its top-end goaltender, Ryan MacDonald. MacDonald's record in 2005-06 was 35-15-1-3, with a .907 save percentage and a 2.57 GAA. The Nashville Predators' first round draft pick in 2005, Ryan Parent, who scored 21 points in 60 games with 122 PIM, was named the team's best defenseman. Finally, 16-year old Drew Doughty, an offensive defenseman, was named Rookie of the Year. Doughty, who is not eligible for the NHL draft until 2008, had excellent numbers this past season (33 points in 65 games) and looks to become a star in the near future.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Notes From the OHL Brampton Battalion Mini-Camp

This past weekend, the Brampton Battalion held a mini-camp, which included fitness testing Saturday morning, two 45-minute, four-on-four games Saturday afternoon, and ended with 2 four-on-four games Sunday morning. I was able to attend Sunday morning's games, and recorded the following impressions regarding some of the prospects that skated in the two 45 minute games.

Fifth round priority draft pick Patrick Killeen, a 6'3", 170 lb goaltender, made some excellent saves. His positioning and lateral movement looked very good.

On Saturday, the Battalion announced that the team had signed it first round pick, center Cody Hodgson, to an education contract, so I was very anxious to see how he would respond on Sunday. His play was quite impressive, as he looked to have great instincts with and without the puck. He dug pucks out from the boards well, and his touch pass abilities are excellent. Additionally, he put the puck past one of the netminders with a very good deke. All-in-all, an OHL player to watch, and a very good signing for the Battalion.

Third round selection center Matt Zarbo (6'0", 160) looked very good with the puck, both positioning himself well to protect his puck possession and putting the puck past the goaltenders.

One of Brampton's seventh round picks, Stephen Thorne (5'11", 165), showed good power and balance on his skates and was very adept along the boards.

A most impressive performance was put in by twelfth round selection Scott Tanski. A 5'9", 145 lb center, Tanski is an excellent skater, who has very good on-ice vision, and nice passing abilities.

Finally, I thought the skills of camp invitee Jason Dale, a 1988 winger, who played this past season with Collingwood Blues Junior A., were worth noting. The 5'11", 170 lb Pickering, ON native showed excellent stickhandling and a very good slapshot during Sunday's games.

Post-camp, the Battalion announced that it had signed defenseman Brad Albert (5'11", 175), the team's fourth round selection (74 overall), of the 2005 OHL Priority Selection to an education contract.

Ottawa Signs Fourth Round 2005 Draft Pick, Cody Bass

Late yesterday, the Ottawa Senators announced the signing of the OHL Mississauga Ice Dogs captain Cody Bass. Bass, a 6'0", 193 lb center played the last three seasons with the Ice Dogs and was chosen 95th overall in last summers draft. In 2005-06, the 19-year old Bass recorded 41 points (16 goals, 25 assists) in 67 games, with 152 PIM. After his junior season ended, Bass signed an ATO with the Senators’ AHL affiliate in Binghamton, where he tallied 1 goal and 2 PIM in 9 games.

Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils Announce Contract Signings

Four more CHLers were signed to entry-level contracts last week by Buffalo, and 3 signings of 2005 draft picks were announced yesterday by New Jersey. The Buffalo Sabres announced that the team had signed prospects Dylan Hunter, Patrick Kaleta, Mike Card, and Michael Funk to 3 year deals. The Devils announced the signing of Patrick Davis, Mark Fraser, and Sean Zimmerman to entry-level contracts.

Hunter (6'0", 196) just completed his overage season as the captain of the OHL's London Knights. The left winger, who was the Sabres' 9th round pick (273 overall) in 2004, spent his entire 5-year OHL career with the Knights, scoring 117 points (32 goals, 85 assists) in 62 games with the team this season. Fourth in regular season scoring in the league, Hunter also played very well in the playoffs (36 points in 19 games, while maintaining a plus/minus of +4).

The American-born Kaleta (6'1", 200)was Buffalo's sixth round selection (176 overall) in the 2004 entry draft. Known for his game winning goals in the 2005-06 playoffs, the 19-year old Kaleta had a very good regular season too. In 68 games, the right winger tallied 51 points (16 goals, 35 assists), with 121 PIM, and a plus/minus of +20. In the playoffs, Kaleta became a clutch player, with 18 points in 19 games.

The Kelowna Rockets' defenseman Mike Card also inked a multi-year deal last week. Card (6'1", 200) was tied for third in scoring in the WHL last season with 55 points (12 goals, 43 assists) in 64 games. The twenty-year old Card, who also accumulated 103 PIM last season, was Buffalo's eighth round pick (241 overall) in 2004. The offensive defenseman's 55 regular season points was tied for third in the league.

Twenty-year old Michael Funk was the Sabres' fourth signee last week. The Portland Winter Hawks defenseman had been Buffalo's second round pick in 2004. Funk (6'4", 208) had an very good year in 2005-06, scoring 47 points (11 goals, 36 assists) in 70 regular season games. That total was tied for seventh in scoring for defensemen in the WHL.

A review of these signings indicates that Buffalo had a superb draft in 2004. Three late round picks developed into genuine NHL prospects and have been signed to contracts. This continues a recent trend of excellent selection and development of players within the organization. It is no surprise then that the NHL team did so well in 2005-06, and there is every indication that the team will continue perform well over the next several years.

Patrick Davis, a 19-year old winger, split this season between the OHL Kitchener Rangers and Windsor Spitfires. Davis (6'2", 205) was the Devils fourth round (99 overall) selection in 2005. In a total of 60 regular season games in 2005-06, Davis accumulated 68 points. Fifty-one of the points were accumulated in 38 games with Windsor. As a Spitfire, Davis also maintained a plus/minus of +23, and had 64 penalty minutes. He maintained his high performance during 7 playoff games (2 goals, 6 assists). After the completion of Davis' season with Windsor, he played 3 games with the Devils' AHL affiliate, the Albany River Rats.

Defenseman Mark Fraser was the Devils third round pick (84 overall) in 2005. The nineteen-year old Fraser (6'3", 200) has played for the OHL Kitchener Rangers for the past 2 seasons. In 2005-06, the stay-at-home defenseman registered 5 assists in 59 games, with a plus/minus of +13 and 129 PIM. Fraser played 4 games in Albany after his junior season was completed.

New Jersey signed another big defenseman in the Spokane Chiefs' Sean Zimmerman. Zimmerman (6'2", 200) was selected in the sixth round (170 overall) of the 2005 draft. In his third season with the Chiefs, Zimmerman registered 21 points (2 goals, 19 assists) in 72 games in 2005-06, while maintaining a plus/minus of +3, and accumulating 44 PIM. Another late season ATO with Albany, Zimmerman played 6 games with the AHL affiliate, serving 4 minutes in the sin bin.

St. Mike's Majors Trades One of the Donati Twins

The OHL announced late yesterday that the Toronto St. Michael's Majors had traded 20-year old Tyler Donati to the Belleville Bulls in exchange for Scott Baker and Toronto's 2nd round priority draft pick in 2007, which had previously been traded to the Bulls.

The twenty-year old Donati is eligible to play an overage year in the OHL next season. In the 2005-06 regular season, Donati, a 5'10", 175 lb left winger, scored 36 goals and 36 assists for the Majors, while accumulating 50 PIM. In 4 playoff games, he tallied 3 points, a plus/minus of -3, and 8 PIM. After his junior season was completed, Donati signed an amateur try-out agreement with the UHL's Motor City Mechanics and played 4 games with the team, registering 1 assist.

Baker, also a left winger, is a year younger than Donati, with more eligibility time. In 62 games with the Bulls this season, Baker (5'11", 170) recorded 45 points (16 goals, 29 assists), with a -11 plus/minus, and 47 PIM.

The trade between St. Mike's and Belleville was initially agreed upon in principle on May 5, but awaited league approval until yesterday.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Chicago Blackhawks Announce Additional June 1 Signings

Today the Blackhawks announced that the team had signed prospects Troy Brouwer and Bryan Bickell to entry-level contracts prior to the June 1 deadline.

The twenty-year old Brouwer was the WHL Moose Jaw Warriors regular season scoring leader, with 102 points (49 goals, 53 assists) in 72 games, while registering a +37 plus/minus. Brouwer (6'2", 212), who was an overage player in 2005-06, also accumulated 122 PIM in the regular season. The Blackhawk's seventh round (214 overall) draft pick in 2004 continued his stellar play in Moose Jaw's playoff run, scoring 14 points in 17 games, while spending 34 minutes in the sin bin.

Brian Bickell(6'4", 215), Chicago's second round (41 overall) draft pick in 2004, played his 4th OHL season in 2005-06. After spending 3 years with the Ottawa 67's, Bickell was traded to the Windsor Spitfires halfway through this, by far his best, past season. In 67 games with both teams, Bickell, who plays left wing, accumulated 45 goals and 38 assists, with a plus/minus of +19 and 60 PIM.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

2006 NHL Draft Combine Review Article


I am including below the link to an article I wrote today for Hockey's Future regarding the just completed NHL Combine.

Sunday's CHL News and Notes

In addition to the additional NHL signings that I have posted below, there are several items of note in the CHL over the past few days.

First in the QMJHL, the draft website that will contain real time results of the June 10 entry draft is now set up. The site ( contains the event schedule, draft rules, draft order and player ranking. The festivities will take place in Charlottetown, PEI, and activities begin on Wednesday; the draft itself will begin Saturday morning at 10 am local time.

In the OHL, there were 2 signings late last week. The London Knights have signed Sam Gagner, their fourth round selection in the 2005 priority draft. Gagner is a 16-year old center, who played his 2005-06 season with the Sioux city Muskateers of the USHL. In 56 games in Sioux City, the 5'11", 198 lb forward recorded 11 goals and 35 assists. Among his accolades this season were being named to the 2006 Ontario U17 Team, USHL Western Conference All-Star Team, USHL All-Rookie Team. Gagner will be eligible for the NHL entry draft in 2007.

The Brampton Battalion are holding a 2-day minicamp this weekend, and on Saturday took the opportunity to sign Cody Hodgson, the team's first round 2006 priority draft selection last month. Hodgson is a 5'10", 170 lb center, who played for the Ontario Minor Hockey Ass'n champion Markham Waxers this past season. With the Waxers, Hodgson recorded 118 points in 73 games.

Besides the WHL expansion draft (which took place Friday afternoon), there was other news in the league over the past few days. Prior to the draft, the Saskatoon Blades sent 20-year-old goaltender Jim Watt and 19-year-old defenseman Michael Hengen to the Chilliwack Bruins. With the completion of this transaction, the Blades avoided Chilliwack picking an uprotected player from the unprotected list. Watt appeared in 10 games for the Blades in 2005-06, picking up 4 wins while compiling a 3.48 GAA and a .908 SV% including 1 shutout. He had been traded to Saskatoon in January. Hengen was also acquired by the team via trade at the 2006 deadline from the Swift Current Broncos. He played in 12 games for the Blades, registering 1 assist, and 6 PIM.

The Tri-City Americans were involved in 3 transactions late in the week. In the first two transactions, the Americans traded the rights to 2 players that had refused to report to the team. Lucas Bloodoff, originally a 6th round pick in the 2004 Bantam Draft was sent to the Kelowna Rockets and Colton Grant to the Medicine Hat Tigers. Bloodoff, a 17-year old British Columbia native was traded to the Rockets for a third round draft pick in the 2007 Bantam Draft. Grant, also 17, was the Tri-City second round draft pick in the 2004 Bantam Draft. He was dealt to the Tigers for a second round pick in the 2007 Bantam Draft.

The Americans were on the receiving end of a deal with the Red Deer Rebels on Friday. In exchange for Tri-City's sixth round selection in the 2007 Bantam Draft, the team received defenseman Jonathon Smith (6'2, 215). In 45 regular season 2005-06 games, the 18-year old Smith recorded 4 points (1 goal, 3 assists), while maintaining a -12 plus/minus. Not afraid to fight (60 PIM in 2005-06), Smith should add grit to the Americans' team.

Later this evening, I will post information regarding the expansion draft that took place in the WHL, including how the draft works and the impact of the players chosen on the Bruins and on the teams they came from.

Late Announcements of June 1 NHL Signings

On Friday, it was announced that 6 more members of CHL teams that had been drafted in 2004 or 2005 signed entry-level contracts this past week. I apologize for the delay in posting this, and other news, but I was attending the NHL Combine in Toronto yesterday.

Atlanta signed three players from the OHL. Scott Lehman, a 20-year old defenseman, who has played 4 seasons with the Toronto St. Michael's Majors, has signed a contract with the Thrashers this week. Lehman (6'1", 200) ranked fourth among OHL defensemen with 50 assists in 2005-06. Atlanta's 3rd round (76 overall) selection in 2004 registered 55 points in 68 games during the season.

Sarnia Sting winger Chad Painchaud (5'11", 185) was also signed to a three-year entry-level contract this past week. The 20-year old 4th round draft pick (106 overall) in 2004 registered 65 points (31 goals, 34 assists) in 49 games this past season. The native of Mississauga, Ontario was also chosen to play in the 2006 OHL All-Star Classic this past January in Belleville.

Finally, Atlanta announced that it has inked Kitchener Rangers' 4th year goaltender, Dan Turple to a three-year deal. Turple, selected by the Thrashers in the sixth round (186 overall)in 2004, registered an 87-54-11 record, along with 12 shutouts and a 2.68 GAA in 163 games with three teams (Kingston, Oshawa and Kitchener) in his junior career. The 6-5, 220-pound goaltender posted a 40-15-2 record and led the league with a 2.25 GAA in 57 games with Kitchener in 2005-06. The 21-year old netminder led the OHL with a .924 save percentage, finished second in the league in wins and ranked first in the league with 7 shutouts.

Tampa Bay signed Radek Smolenak (6'3", 197), a 3rd round choice (73 overall) in the 2005 NHL draft to an entry-level contract. Smolenak, 19, led his team, the Kingston Frontenacs, in goals (42) and tied for first in power-play goals (12) in 2005-06. His 84 points (42 goals, 42 assists) placed him third on the team in total points for the season.

Another European born player, Michal Birner (6'0", 183), was signed before the June 1 deadline. The St. Louis Blues inked Birner, who had been selected in the 4th round of the 2004 entry draft, to an entry-level contract. Birner, who is 20-years old, played in 60 regular season games as a winger for the Saginaw Spirit in 2005-06, scoring 85 points (31 goals, 54 assists), while maintaining a plus/minus of +23. That performance was sufficient to place Birner second among Sting skaters in offensive production.

In the last announced signing, the San Jose Sharks' prospect Marc-Edouard Vlasic (6'1", 190) was inked to a deal this week. The Sharks' second round (35 overall) 2005 NHL entry draft selection is a member of the Memorial Cup winning Quebec Remparts defense corps. An offensive defenseman, Vlasic recorded 73 points (16 goals, 57 assists) in 66 games this past season.

I will post more news, including info on the WHL expansion draft, later today.