Thursday, June 29, 2006

List of Import Players For Each CHL Team

The following players from Europe are expected to be on the 2006-07 rosters of CHL teams (sorted by CHL league). If the player has a number next to his name, that is hius 2006 draft order; an "R" means that he was already on the team's 2005-06 roster or was traded since the the end of the 2005-06 season. As the names are preliminary, rosters may change. If you see any changes that need to be made, please shoot me an email.

Baie-Comeau Radek Vlasonek (16) Joakim Jensen (R)
Acadie-Bathurst Dmitri Fedosenko (43) Martin Bartos (R)
Chcoutimi Juraj Mikus (46) Kirill Tulupov (19)
Cape Breton Oskars Bartulis (R from Moncton) Ondrej Pavelec (R)
Drummondville Tomas Svoboda (R) Tomas Zohorna (R)
Halifax Jakub Vaoracek (1) Jiri Suchy (R)
Gatineau David Kveton (13) Slava Trukhno (R)
Lewiston Michal Korenko (R) Jakub Bundil (R)
Quebec Ruslan Bashkirov (22) Roman Bashkirov (28)
Moncton Roopertii Martikainen (34) Igor Voroshilov (52)
PEI Martin Latal (37) Peter Cmorej (40)
Rimouski David Skokan (R) Michael Frolik
Rouyn-Noranda Ivan Vishnevskiy (R) David Buc (R)
Saint John David Stich (4) Felix Schutz (R)
Shawinigan Patrick Prokop (25) Egor Egorov (R)
St. John's Mario Kempe (31) Joonas Salmi (66)
Val-D'Or Julius Sinkovic (R)
Victoriaville Jan Kolarik (7) Morten Madsen (10)

Barrie Tomas Marcinko (R) Tibor Radulay (R)
Belleville Michal Gazur (69) Erik Caladi (R)
Brampton Tomas Stryncl (R) Michal Klejna (R)
Erie Stanislav Polodna (12) Christian Seest Olsen (R)
Guelph Arturs Ozolins (45) Rafael Rotter (R)
Kingston Robert Nyholm (42) Michael Kolarz (R)
Kitchener Yannick Weber (15) Jakub Kindl (R)
London Adam Hasani (58) Sergei Kostitsyn (R)
Mississauga Alexander Ilyin (56) Oskar Osala (R)
Oshawa Ziga Pance (24)
Ottawa Lukas Flueler (21) Jakub Vojta (R)
Owen Sound Tomas Kana (6) Marek Bartanus (R)
Peterborough Branislav Rehus (9) Arturs Kulda (48)
Michal Neuvirth (27) Jozef Sladok (39)
Saginaw Jani Mursak (33) Tomas Zaborsky (36)
Sarnia Sebastien Dahm (R) Tomas Pospisit (R)
Sault Ste. Marie Jiri Tlusty (R) David Kuchejda (R)
Sudbury Patrik Lusnak (51) Jakub Korinek (70)
Toronto St. Mike's Kaspars Daugavins (3) Kriss Grundmanis (30)
Windsor Marek Biro (18)

Brandon Juraj Simek (23) Igor Musatov (68)
Calgary Robin Figren (17)
Chilliwack Oscar Moller (2) Aki Kangasmaki (60)
Everett Luka Vartovnik (38) Ondrej Fiala (R)
Kamloops Juuso Puustinen (29) Ivan Rohac (65)
Kelowna Robert Capcara (53) Kaspars Saulietis (61)
Kootenay Arnaud Jacquemet (47) Lukas Bohunicky (R)
Lethbridge Tomas Kudelka (R) Lukas Vantcuh (R)
Medicine Hat Jakub Rumpel (59) Alexi Provkin (71)
Moose Jaw Richard Papac (50) Martin Grundling (R)
Portland Viktor Sjodin (26) Stefan Langweider (63)
Prince Albert Lukas Zeliska (11) Milan Jurik (57)
Prince George Patrik Vrana (35) Vladimir Milalik (R)
Red Deer Kirill Starkov (8) Martin Hanzal (R)
Regina Niko Snellman (41)
Saskatoon Rastislav Konecny (44) Bohdan Visnak (62)
Seattle Radek Meidl (32) Jan Eberle (64)
Spokane Ondrej Roman (5) Michael Grabner (R)
Swift Current David Stieler (14) Daniel Rakos (R)
Tri-City Juraj Valach (20) Daniel Bartek (55)
Vancouver Michal Repik (R)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

CHL Import Draft Review

The Import Draft began this morning on schedule with the Halifax Mooseheads choosing winger Jakub Voracek. A star player with the Kladno Junior team in the Czech Republic, Voracek is an excellent prospect with a sneaky shot. Eligible for the 2007 NHL entry draft, Voracek had an excellent U18 World Championships in Sweden this past April, with 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 games.

In all, 68 players were chosen in the 2 rounds that ended earlier this evening. Nineteen players were draft picks for NHL teams, 3 chosen in 2005 and the other 16 selected by NHL teams this past Saturday. All of the other 49 Import Draft selections are NHL draft eligible in 2007. Of the 19 NHL prospects, 5 will play in the QMJHL (including 2 for Chicoutimi), 6 in the OHL (including 2 for Saginaw), and 7 in the WHL.

Other picks of note follow:

Chilliwack had the second overall selection, and picked another 2007 NHL draft-eligible phenom, the Swedish Oscar Moller. Moller, also a right wing, had participated in the MACs AAA Midget Tournament in Calgary last December, where he was incredible. A very mobile player with a great shot, at 5'11", 175 lb Moller is a sniper that will add huge offensive skills to the expansion Bruins team.

Toronto had traded up over the last 2 days to get the number 3 slot. The team then chose the Latvian superstar Kaspars Daugavins. Drafted last week by the NHL Ottawa Senators in the third round (91st overall), Daugavins plays left wing and had an outstanding U18 WJC Divisional tournament this past April. Playing for Latvia, Daugavins registered 9 points (5 goals, 4 assists) in 5 games while accumulating 20 PIM. One of the stars of the Latvian team, Daugavins is a prime reason why the Latvian U 18 team has qualified to the 2007 U18 World Junior Championship.

Owen Sound, who selected sixth overall chose the Czech born center Thomas Kana. Selected in the second round of the NHL entry draft this past Saturday (#1 overall), Kana is a great two-way player, who is an excellent puckhandler.

With the thirteenth pick overall, The Gatineau Olympiques selected David Kveton, who just last Saturday was selected by the New York Rangers 104 overall (fourth round). According to NHL Central Scouting, Kveton, who plays right wing, is an excellent skater and very good puckhandler.

Three of the Rangers' 4 European draft picks (Kveton, Lukas Zeliska, and Tomas Zaborsky) were selected today in the CHL Import Draft and all are expected to sign contracts and play in North America next season. Both of the Nashville Predator 2006 NHL draft selections (Viktor Sjodin and Niko Snellman) were chosen by CHL clubs and will also be coming over to North America.

In all, 6 of the top 10 selection in today's import draft were from the Czech Republic, including 4 that played for Vitkovice at some time during the past season. Four played in Sweden, including two 2005 NHL draft selections, Kirill Starkov and Morton Madsen, who played for Frolunda.

OHL Trades Announced Tuesday That Affect Today's Import Draft

Five OHL trades were announced yesterday, three of which will affect this morning's CHL Import draft. Winger Jason Cassidy, who spent the last 2 seasons as a member of the Brampton Battalion, was traded twice in the last 2 days. Cassidy, who registered 34 points (15 goals, 19 assists) and accumulated 102 PIM in 48 regular season games in 2005-06, was first shipped to the Sarnia Sting in exchange for Sarnia's 2007 3rd round priority draft selection. Sarnia then turned around and sent Cassidy to the Toronto St. Mike's Majors, along with the Sting's 1st round pick in today's Import Draft, which is #3 overall. In exchange, the Majors sent tough guy defenseman Ryan Wilson (61 points in 64 games with a -4 plus/minus and 145 PIM) and the Majors' 2008 5th round pick to Sarnia. There are rumors that Toronto made this trade to pick up a top European prospect that was drafted on Saturday night, but those have not been confirmed.

In the other trade that affects this morning's proceedings, the Belleville Bulls sent its first round import selection (which is #27 overall) to the Plymouth Whalers, in exchange for Plymouth's 2007 5th round priority draft pick. This gives Plymouth both the 27th and 39th selections in today's draft.

Belleville additionally sent goaltender Sebastien Dahm (25 games, 7-10-2-1, 2.56 GAA and .908 save percentage) and tough guy defenseman Bobby Davey (57 games, 4 points, 143 PIM) to Sarnia in exchange for Sarnia's 2008 7th round priority draft selection and the return of Belleville's 2nd round pick in the 2007 priority draft.

In the last trade announced yesterday, Brampton sent its 2007 8th round priority draft selection to the Saginaw Spirit for 19-year old goaltender Aaron Rock (12 games, 1-5-0-1, 2.85 GAA, .891 save percentage).

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

2006 NHL Draft Review-By Team, Part 2


`Scroll down for part 1 of this article, which covered 14 of the 30 NHL teams' selection of CHL players in Saturday's entry draft. That leave 16 more, so let's begin.

Ten of the 16 teams that remain selected 3 CHLers among their 2006 draft picks.

Minnesota had one of the most active draft days that it has encountered in the team's short history. First, in an apparent attempt to find a interesting playing partner for unsigned superstar Marion Gaborik, the team traded away its second first round pick (#17 overall) and prospect Patrick O'Sullivan for Pavol Demitra. In addition to increasing the likelihood of keeping Gaborik around for at least one more year, this trade had the effect of giving notice that the Wild were willing to spend some bucks to make the team a more offensive (i.e., entertaining) franchise. After trading away the number 17 pick, Minnesota went on to choose 3 CHLers with its first 3 selections. All are very good picks, and all have the potential to be solid NHL players.

With its first round selection (#9 overall), the Wild chose the Cape Breton winger James Sheppard. An excellent skater, with great hands, Sheppard can make plays along the boards, as well as on open ice. A complete player, Sheppard has the added quality of not shying away from physical contact. This past season the Screaming Eagle winger tallied 84 points (30 goals, 54 assists) in 66 games, with a plus/minus of +3 and 78 PIM. In the second round, Minnesota selected the overlooked Everett Silvertips' center Ondrej Fiala. The Czech star had been projected to be a first round pick, but to Minnesota's great advantage, he fell to #40 overall. Fiala is an excellent skater with great hands, who can handle the puck better than most of this year's prospects. Slightly questionable on defense, Fiala tallied 35 points in 51 regular season games in 2005-06. He lost some time to injury, but upon his return to the lineup, Fiala played exceptional hockey. Last but certainly not least, the Wild chose Oshawa's Cal Clutterbuck in the third round (# 72 overall). There was general consensus that Clutterbuck would go toward the end of the second round, so for him to be available half way through the third round was amazing for the Wild. Although somewhat small, Clutterbuck is a player you just don't look forward to being on the ice against; he knows how to both score and be a complete pest. He accumulated 139 PIM this past season, while recording 68 points in 66 games. Sometimes compared to Steve Downie, he may not quite have Downie's skills, but he definitely has NHL potential. It was surprising to see him fall so low, but he is a Minnesota type player, and he will do well within that organization.

Florida only had 6 picks in the 2006 draft, and the team chose 3 CHLers with the Panthers second, third and fifth selections. After selecting Czech star Michael Frolik in the first round (at #10 overall), Florida did not have another pick until # 73 (in the third round). With that slot, the Panthers chose Everett Silvertips' right winger Brady Calla. The hard working forward is a very good skater, who does not mind physical contact. In 66 regular season games in 2005-06, Calla registered 33 points (8 goals, 25 assists), with a plus/minus of +7, and 52 PIM. With their fourth round pick (#103), the Panthers chose Guelph Storm defenseman Michael Caruso. Caruso is a big defensive defenseman, who has really improved his game this season. After a less than mediocre rookie season in 2004-05, when he had a lot of difficulty in his own end, Caruso blossomed in 2005-06, registering 16 points in 66 games, while maintaining a plus/minus of +21 and accumulating 85 PIM. He was a very good pick for Florida, who could use Caruso's aggressive style in years to come. The sixth round Florida selection (# 155) was the Windsor Spitfire's Peter Aston. Aston, a 1986-born offensive defenseman, had been overlooked in past drafts. Now at 6'1", 205 lbs, Aston had an excellent season in 2005-06. Dividing his year between Peterborough and Windsor, his total stats for the year were 52 points in 65 games, with a +16 plus/minus and 31 PIM. Aston deserved a shot with an NHL team, and hopefully, he will impress at rookie camp later this summer.

For the past 2 drafts, the Panthers have only selected one European player per year. Over the years, the team has a history of preferring North American players, and has selected generously from among CHL prospects.

The Los Angeles Kings had 2 first round picks, and with the first of those (#11), the Kings selected the Lewiston MAINEiac goaltender Jonathan Bernier. Bernier, who had been ranked first among North American netminders by NHL Central Scouting, was indeed the first goaltender to be selected in the draft. With excellent balance and lateral movement, a fine glove, and a calm demeanor, Bernier is an exciting addition to LA's list of prospects. In 2005-06, Bernier had a record of 27-26, with a GAA of 2.70 and a save percentage of .908. I don't know if the Kings would have made this pick if the team had been successful in acquiring Roberto Luongo, but after Luongo went to Vancouver, a top flight goaltending prospect was absolutely necessary.

Given that the trade with Minnesota sent forward Pavol Demitra to the Wild in return for NHL-ready forward Patrick O'Sullivan and the 17th pick overall (which turned out to be center Trevor Lewis), it was natural for the Kings to look to the blueline for their next pick. So with the team's second round pick (# 48 overall), the Kings selected the Quebec Remparts defenseman Joey Ryan. At 6'1", 189 lbs, Ryan has really come into his own this season, registering 24 points in 61 games, with an astounding 202 PIM. The resident tough guy had an excellent +4 plus/minus to go along with all that. Ryan has shown great potential, both as a physical player and as a defenseman with offensive skills. This was an excellent pick up for Los Angeles, as was the team's third round selection (#86 overall), Bud Holloway. Holloway, who had really good results at the Combine's fitness tests, is an excellent two-way forward, who is also just coming into his own. A third-year Seattle Thunderbird, Holloway accumulated 34 points (21 goals, 13 assists) in 72 games, while maintaining a +8, and only taking 18 PIM. I believe Holloway was a steal at # 86, as I expect him to really shine in this next year.

All-in-all, this was an excellent draft for the Kings. For the oft injured Demitra, LA received O'Sullivan, who tore up the AHL this season, and Trevor Lewis. Then they picked up a top prospect goaltender and 2 CHLers who are underrated. No wonder the Kings' management was grinning from ear to ear when speaking to the press after he draft.

The New York Rangers were also a very happy team as they started their prospect development camp yesterday. Neither the team nor I can get over the fact that top prospect, Owen Sound Attack defenseman, Bobby Sanguinetti dropped to number 21 in the draft and the Rangers were able to select him. It made Sanguinetti glad, because the Rangers are his favorite team (for anyone who hasn't heard, his father is a Rangers' season ticketholder), and it allowed the Rangers to hope that their weakness on the blueline may disappear in a few years without bringing in free agent after free agent. Sanguinetti had an excellent 2005-06 season, 65 points in 68 games, with 44 PIM. Although his plus/minus of -4 needs some improvement, no one questions his raw talent. What got around was that he is "soft" and needs to improve his shot. So he dropped approximately 10 spots. This should not have been a shock to me, as several scouts during this season had asked me if I had seen Sanguinetti play and did I really think he was that good. Anyone who sees him play knows that the big defenseman is new to his size and needs some work, but Sanguinetti is the real thing, and the Rangers are rejoicing.

After also getting a steal with their second round non-CHL pick, the Rangers selected Halifax's Ryan Hillier with their 3rd round pick. Hillier was another player who dropped somewhat in the rankings and got snapped up by the Rangers. He had an excellent season for the Mooseheads (57 points in 68 games, with a plus/minus of +76 PIM), but there was some question among scouts as to his size (5'11", 180) and strength. Finally, with their 6th round pick, the Rangers went back to the WHL (the league from which they made most of last year's picks) to select Eric Hunter as the 174th pick overall.

Breaking News from the WHL-New Expansion Team Approved for 2007-08

Just minutes ago, the Western Hockey League announced that the owners of the Edmonton Oilers NHL franchise have satisfied all conditions set by the WHL and have been officially awarded a WHL franchise commencing the 2007-08 WHL season. More info will be posted as soon as it is available.

WHL News and Notes

With the NHL entry draft occupying almost everyone's mind, there have been several moves in the Western Hockey League over the last 5 days that need to be brought to everyone's attention. Not the least of which is that the Board of Governors met last week and decided to implement the NHL Rules regarding obstruction. A realignment of the teams in divisions was required with the addition of the expansion Chilliwack Bruins, and that was accomplished. The playoff eligibility rules were also changed to allow for a wild card in the Eastern Conference to accommodate the uneven number of teams that will vie for playoff spots.

To implement the rules changes, the league will be putting 2 referees on the ice during 40% of the regular season games and at 100% of the playoff matches. This is a big relief (and a necessity), as the WHL was the only league that did not implement the changes last season and this coming year, the Memorial Cup will be played in Vancouver. It is not understandable to me that the WHL waited out last season, particularly since both other CHL leagues quickly adopted the new rules. I think the lack of experience with the new rules really hurt the Vancouver Giants in the Memorial Cup, and was part of the reason for the team's early exit. Now that the Giants will be hosting the Cup next season, this rule change was required.

As for the 2 referee rule, I know that there are manpower difficulties in putting 2 refs on the ice in every game, but the league MUST gear up for doing so. In addition to the ability to call more infractions, 2 refs will also keep better control over the game, and limit scrums in which players could be injured. It will also increase the prestige of the CHL, which is facing increased competition with American hockey for high end talent and NHL drafting.

Now to the player personnel moves. The Red Deer Rebels have been burning up the trade wires, completing 5 in the last week. The Rebels' fans, who were very disappointed that their team did not make the playoffs last season, will be looking at lots of changes, as 4 players were sent packing. Seventeen year old winger Garrett Klotz (6'6", 225), who just completed his rookie CHL season, has been sent to Saskatoon. Klotz and a second round import draft pick were exchanged for Saskatoon's 7th Round selection in the 2007 bantam draft and a conditional pick in 2008. Last season, Klotz played in 35 WHL games, registering 2 goals and 26 PIM.

Also sent to a new team was 18-year old Justin Scott, the Rebels center who has just not developed as expected. Scott, a 6'2", 185 lb center, had come to the Rebels from Moose Jaw prior to the season and just did not perform up to expectations (although he did show some signs of improvement over the last days of the season). Sent to the Saskatoon Blades in exchange for a 6th round selection in the 2007 bantam draft, Scott played 49 regular season games in 2005-06, and tallied 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists) and 24 PIM. His plus/minus was a dismal -15, which was not an aberration from his previous 2 WHL seasons.

2005 Import draft defenseman Vladimir Milalik, a 2005 draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning was sent to the Prince George Cougars in exchange for a 4th round pick in the 2008 bantam draft. During the 2005-06 season, Milalik (6'7", 222) played in 62 games, registering 12 points (3 goals, 9 assists), 86 PIM, and a -12 plus/minus.

Also traded from Red Deer was center Matthew Cline (6'3", 201). The Rebels sent Cline and a 4th round selection in the 2007 bantam draft to Chilliwack for center Martin Hanzal and defenseman Mike Cann. Hanzal was the first round selection of the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2005 NHL entry draft, and, if he reports to Red Deer, will play in his first WHL season in 2006-07. Cann played for both the Brandon Wheat Kings and Lethbridge Hurricanes last season, appearing in 52 games and recording 4 points and 54 PIM.

In addition to Hanzal and Cann, yesterday Red Deer announced that it had acquired defenseman Matt MacDermott from the Regina Pats for a conditional draft pick next year. MacDermott played in 27 games for the Pats last season recording 1 point and accumulating 12 PIM.

CHL Import Draft Rules

Tomorrow morning, starting at 9 am EDT, the CHL Import Draft will begin; the draft will be entirely conducted by telephone. The rules as far as drafting go are that a club is allowed to have 2 import players on its roster, and there are 2 rounds of the Import Draft. Therefore, if a club has no import players, that team is eligible to draft two players in the draft, if they have one import player on the roster, they are allowed to draft one, etc.

Who is eligible to be drafted? An Import Player is defined as a player whose parent(s) do not reside in Canada or the United States as of January 11 preceding that year’s CHL Import Draft. In addition to the residency rule, a player must be 16, 17, or 18 year old and not already on a CHL member team’s protected list to be eligible for the draft.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Update on Posting of Reviews and Some Prospect Camp Invites!

I wanted to update everyone as to where I am at with posting the reviews. Part 1 of the NHL Draft Reviews is available in a posting below. I am working on the reviews of the 11 teams that chose 3 CHL players, which should be ready tomorrow. The last part of the review of the QMJHL draft is still outstanding, but reviewing the NHL draft has to take precedence and I am only one person. So, the Q reviews will still have to wait. The CHL Import Draft is coming up Wednesday, and I will be covering this in real time. Also as promised, I will start my 2006-07 team previews as soon as the draft reviews are over, and I will start with the Chilliwack Bruins.

Now for the prospect camp invites. Nashville will be holding a prospect camp this coming weekend, and the following CHLers have been invited or were draftees:

Lauris Darzins 2003 draftee Kelowna (WHL)
Cal O'Reilly 2005 draftee Windsor (OHL)
John Vigilante free agent Plymouth (OHL)
Kelsey Wilson invitee Guelph (OHL)
Cody Franson 2005 draftee Vancouver (WHL)
Ryan Parent 2005 draftee Guelph (OHL)
Jesse Deckert invitee Prince Albert (WHL)
Josh Tordjman invitee Moncton (QMJHL)

Forty Four Players Chosen to Play at U18 Canadian Selection Camp

Last week, 44 hockey players were chosen to try out for the Canadian U18 team. All but three of them are from the CHL. The camp will take place in Calgary from July 28th through August 3rd, in anticipation for the Junior World Cup, which will take place in Slovakia and the Czech Republic from August 8-12.

From this list of 44, twenty-two will be selected to travel with the team to the August tournament.

Cann, Trevor Peterborough (OHL)
Fischer, Jake Windsor (OHL)
Leclerc, Justin SK Lethbridge (WHL)
Mucha, Kurtis Portland (WHL)


Aulie, Keith Brandon (WHL)
Desnoyers, Marc-Antoine Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Doughty, Drew Guelph (OHL)
Doyle, Eric Everett (WHL)
Grant, Alex D Saint John (QMJHL)
Hickey, Thomas Seattle (WHL)
Katic, Mark Sarnia (OHL)
Lund, Stephen PEI (QMJHL)
MacAskill, Ben Halifax (QMJHL)
Marshall, Kevin Lewiston (QMJHL)
Negrin, John Kootenay (WHL)
Plante, Alex Calgary (WHL)
Ross, Nick Regina (WHL)
Schenn, Luke Kelowna (WHL)
Smith, Brendan St. Michael’s (OPJHL)
Subban, P.K. Belleville (OHL)


Allard, Jean-Simon St. John’s (QMJHL)
Bastien, Yves Kitchener (OHL)
Boychuk, Zach Lethbridge (WHL)
Brannon, Scott Cape Breton (QMJHL)
Cameron, Bryan Belleville (OHL)
Couture, Logan Ottawa (OHL)
Ennis, Tyler Medicine Hat (WHL)
Esposito, Angelo Quebec (QMJHL)
Fortier, Olivier Rimouski (QMJHL)
Gagner, Sam Sioux City (USHL)
Gillies, Colton Saskatoon (WHL)
King, Dwight Lethbridge (WHL)
Leffler, Brett Regina (WHL)
Macenauer, Maxime Rimouski (QMJHL)
MacMillan, Logan Halifax (QMJHL)
Malone, Brad Cushing Acad. (USHS)
Sceviour, Colton Portland (WHL)
Sonne, Brett Calgary (WHL)
Stinziani, Michael Gatineau (QMJHL)
Sutter, Brandon Red Deer (WHL)
Tavares, John Oshawa (OHL)
Terry, Chris Plymouth (OHL)
Torquato, Zack Saginaw (OHL)
Turris, Kyle Burnaby (BCHL)

Wednesday's CHL Import Draft Order

As previously announced, Wednesday's 2-round CHL Import Draft will be done by telephone, starting at 9 am EDT. The following is the first round draft order and the time of the phone call from the team to the CHL office (all times are EDT). With many teams expected to pass in the second round, the CHL estimates that entire draft will conclude before 10 pm.

1 Halifax Mooseheads (from Rimouski) 9:00
2 Chilliwack Bruins 9:15
3 Sarnia Sting 9:30
4 Saint John Sea Dogs 9:45
5 Spokane Chiefs 10:00
6 Owen Sound Attack (from Oshawa) 10:15
7 Victoriaville Tigres 10:25
8 Red Deer Rebels 10:35
9 Peterborough Petes (from Mississauga) 10:45
10 Victoriaville Tigres (from PEI) 10:55
11 Prince Albert Raiders 11:05
12 Erie Otters 11:15
13 Quebec Remparts (from Val d'Or) 11:25
14 Swift Current Broncos 11:35
15 Kitchener Rangers (from Sault Ste. Marie) 11:45
16 Baie-Comeau Drakkar 11:55
17 Lethbridge Hurricanes 12:05
18 Windsor Spitfires (from Ottawa) 12:15
19 St. John's Fog Devils 12:25
20 Tri-City Americans 12:35
21 Ottawa 67's (from Windsor) 12:45
22 Rimouski Oceanic (from Halifax) 12:55
23 Brandon Wheat Kings 1:05
24 Oshawa Generals (from Owen Sound) 1:15
25 Shawinigan Cataractes 1:25
26 Portland Winter Hawks 1:35
27 Belleville Bulls 1:45
28 Drummondville Voltigeurs 1:55
29 Kamloops Blazers 2:05
30 Toronto St. Michael's Majors 2:15
31 Lewiston MAINEiacs 2:25
32 Seattle Thunderbirds 2:35
33 Saginaw Spirit (from Sudbury) 2:45
34 Cape Breton Screaming Eagles 2:55
35 Prince George Cougars 3:05
36 Saginaw Spirit 3:15
37 PEI Rocket (from Gatineau) 3:25
38 Everett Silvertips 3:35
39 Plymouth Whalers 3:45
40 PEI Rocket (from Rouyn-Noranda) 3:55
41 Regina Pats 4:05
42 Kingston Frontenacs 4:15
43 Acadie-Bathurst Titan 4:25
44 Saskatoon Blades 4:35
45 Guelph Storm 4:45
46 Chicoutimi Sagueneens 4:55
47 Kootenay Ice 5:05
48 Barrie Colts 5:15
49 Val d'Or Foreurs (from Quebec) 5:25
50 Moose Jaw Warriors 5:35
51 Sudbury Wolves (from Brampton) 5:45
52 Moncton Wildcats 5:55
53 Kelowna Rockets 6:05
54 Kitchener Rangers 6:15
55 Tri-City Americans (from Vancouver) 6:25
56 Mississauga IceDogs (from Peterborough) 6:35
57 Calgary Hitmen 6:45
58 London Knights 6:55
59 Medicine Hat Tigers 7:05

2006 NHL Draft Review-By Team, Part 1

Twenty eight of the 30 NHL teams selected players from the CHL in Saturday's draft. Neither St Louis nor Nashville picked a CHLer this year. This has not been a pattern with either team, as last year each team selected 4 players from among the major junior leagues (the Blues chose 4 players from the Western Hockey League and the Predators, 1 from the WHL and 3 from the Ontario Hockey League).

Five teams chose only one CHL player in the draft this year. Pittsburgh, who had the second overall selection, picked the highly touted Jordan Staal. Widely expected to go second, the very talented center with excellent bloodlines followed in his brothers' footsteps. With the addition of Staal, Pittsburgh continues to amass incredible talent up front, and with former CHLer Marc-Andre Fleury in net, it is scary to think of what this franchise will become over the next 5 years.

Chicago, who also has a very good stable of young players in their system, added Kingston's Ben Shutron to their list of prospects. Shutron, who was expected to be selected higher than number 95 (4th round), is a very good offensive defenseman, but there are some questions as to his on-ice decisionmaking. If he can overcome some of the deficiencies in his mental game, Shutron will be a steal for the Blackhawks.

The New York Islanders, with former Moncton Wildcats' coach Ted Nolan behind the bench, only chose one major junior player on Saturday, and that player was one of Nolan's own. In the sixth round of the draft (at #160), the Islanders chose defenseman Andrew MacDonald. Although not really on most of the NHL teams' radar, MacDonald, who 19 years old, had an excellent rookie season in the QMJHL. With 46 points in 68 regular season games, a +22 plus/minus and 62 PIM, he was among the best players on the team.

The Islanders chose their players from across a broad spectrum, however, the team displayed a propensity to select Americans. It remains to be seen whether this is a trend or just a result of the availability of players this year.

For the second straight year, Toronto selected only one CHLer in Saturday's draft. In the fourth round (at # 99), the team chose the Red Deer Rebels goaltender James Reimer. A rookie in 2005-06, Reimer accumulated a record of 7-18-3, as well as a GAA of 2.81 and a save percentage of .910 during the regular WHL season. With this weekend's trade of Tuukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft, Reimer becomes one of only 3 goaltending prospects in the Maple Leafs' system.

It is worth noting that, after selecting many young Canadians in previous years, the Leafs have been picking many European players in the past 2 drafts. Of the 13 draft selections in 2005 and 2006, only 4 were from North America.

Tampa Bay is the final team that selected only one CHLer in Saturday's event. With the team's sixth round pick (#168), the Lightning chose the tough defenseman Dane Crowley. This season Crowley split his time between Saskatoon and Swift Current, playing in 71 regular season games. The 6'2", 207 lb blueliner had 21 points and 149 PIM in that time. Never one to back down from a fight, Crowley does need to work on his defensive skills to make the jump to the NHL. Over the course of the 71 games, he had a plus/minus of -15; in the 4 playoff games in which he appeared, Crowley was -5.

With only 4 selections in this year's draft, Tampa Bay chose 2 North Americans. Last year, when the team had a full complement of picks, the Lightning chose 6 CHLers.

Of the seven teams that chose 2 CHLers on Saturday, Phoenix chose the top rated prospect. By selecting Peter Mueller in the eighth position overall, Phoenix became the first of four NHL teams to choose an Everett Silvertip to their prospect list. Mueller is an outstanding center, whose playmaking ability is matched by his grit and determination. In 52 regular season games, Mueller recorded 58 points (26 goals, 32 assists), with a plus/minus of +4, and 44 PIM. He continued his assault into the playoffs, where in 15 games, he accumulated 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists), +4 plus/minus and 10 PIM. In the 5th round, the Coyotes went back to the WHL for their selection (# 152 overall) and selected Medicine Hat defenseman Jordan Bendfeld. The 6'3", 209 lb defenseman is very solid in his own zone (plus/minus of +19) and physical. During the regular season, he accumulated 92 PIM. In 13 playoff games for the Tigers, Bendfeld had 4 assists, while maintaining a +9 plus/minus. Many of his 27 PIM were for banging and generally being a pest.

Both of these selections were excellent pickups by the Coyotes. Last year, Phoenix had 5 selections in the draft and chose 1 player from the Q. This year, there were 8 picks and the Coyotes chose 2 CHLers.

For the past 3 years, Atlanta selected a CHLer with the team's first selection, and this year made it four in a row. With the 12th pick overall, the Thrashers chose the highly skilled and appropriately named center Bryan Little. At 5'10", 190 lbs, the third year Barrie Colt is the consummate playmaker. Very strong, with excellent acceleration, Little piled on the points this past season, registering 109 (42 goals, 67 assists) in 64 games, while maintaining a +26 plus/minus and taking a total of 99 PIM. He continued his wonderful play into the playoffs, where Little scored 23 points in 14 games. Not afraid to mix it up, and a very creative two-way player, Little can do it all. It was an excellent selection for the Thrashers. With the Thrashers' second selection in Saturday's draft (2nd Round, 43 overall), Atlanta went out west, to Moose Jaw, for another really talented center in Riley Holzapfel. Incredible defensively, Holzapfel had a +35 plus/minus during the 2005-06 regular season. On top of that, he tallied 57 points (19 goals, 38 assists) in 64 games. These picks are great for the Thrashers who are undergoing great changes among their forward lines both in this upcoming season and for the foreseeable future.

Vancouver also selected 2 CHLers on Saturday. With only 1 pick in the first 2 rounds, the Canucks used that selection to take Austrian-born WHL sensation Michael Grabner. The Spokane Chiefs right winger was highly rated, but was expected to go later in the first round. Even at #14, this was an excellent selection for Vancouver, who had just traded away a star forward, Todd Bertuzzi, the day before. Grabner, who tallied 50 points in 67 games last season, is an exciting sparkplug who can make things happen on the ice. Evan Fuller, also a right winger, was chosen by the Canucks in the seventh round (197 overall). Fuller is an energy player, who gets on the ice and bangs everything in sight. Never one to walk away from a fight, Fuller needs to improve some of his other stats to make it to the professional level. Also of note regarding Vancouver's draft picks, I spent quite a bit of time at the NHL Combine talking to Juraj Simek (selected #167 overall), who is planning to come over and play in the Q this season. Look for his name to be among those called in Wednesday's import draft.

Colorado had only 6 picks in Saturday's draft and with every one of those selections, the team chose a North American. In the first round (#18), the Avalanche selected Kingston Frontenacs' right wing Chris Stewart. As everyone has heard by now, Stewart appeared at the Combine not looking very lean. Prior to the moment when he took his shirt off to be photographed and measured, every NHL team in the room was waiting with great anticipation for watch his test results. The GMs and scouts had all taken the time to come down to the ballroom to watch. There was almost a collective gasp in the room when Stewart removed his shirt. He went on to have very good results in the upper body tests, and good ones in the measurements of lower body strength. As expected, he did less well on the anaerobic and aerobic measures. That said, Stewart is a menace on the ice, with great hands and positioning. He can fight his way through checks and plants himself extremely well in front of opposing teams' nets. Plus he is a very good skater for a power forward. Had he not looked the way he did at the Combine, Colorado never would have had the chance to select him at number 18. Lucky for them, as absent injury, Stewart will have a fine NHL career. His fitness can be worked on; many of his other skills can't be taught. Colorado had 2 second round picks. With the first, the team chose another player who had dropped in the draft, US defenseman Nigel Williams. With their third selection, the Avalanche chose the Brandon Wheat Kings' center Cody Burki. Burki is another player who dropped somewhat in the draft order. Expected to be a early or mid round selection, Burki was the penultimate pick in the second round. A very talented chippy playmaker, Burki recorded 61 points (27 goals, 34 assists) in 70 games (plus/minus of +5 and 69 PIM). He really has not developed to his full potential yet, and the Avalanche are hoping that he will grow into a more complete player. He is a high risk high reward player, who has the offensive skills to really make a difference. If he develops a two-way game, Burki could be a steal for Colorado.

This was the second year in a row that the Avalanche have stuck with North American draftees. This year, one of the team's picks was from the OHL; last year all of the CHL players chosen by the Avalanche were from the WHL.

The Philadelphia Flyers have a history of drafting players with an edge. This year, for the first time in many years, the team turned toward more finesse players. I already discussed some of the virtues of the team's first round selection (Claude Giroux) yesterday. But let me reiterate that I think that Gatineau's Giroux, chosen at #22, is an excellent addition to the Flyers' stable of prospects. The winger has great hands, excellent skating skills and a creative hockey mind. He is exactly the kind of player that the Flyers need. In the 6th round, the team then took another player from the Q--goaltender Michael Dupont. Ranked 16th among North American goaltenders by Central Scouting, Dupont was a surprise pick. During the 2005-06 season, Dupont appeared in 48 games, going 19-24-0, with a GAA of 3.68 and a save percentage of .890. Not sure what Philadelphia is thinking with this pick, but maybe they know something we don't about this 6'0", 175 lb Swiss netminder.

This is the second straight year that the Dallas Stars chose 2 players from the CHL in their draft. With the 27th pick in the first round on Saturday, the Stars selected Ivan Vishnevskiy. The Russian defenseman is a very talented offensive defenseman, who this past season registered 48 points (13 goals, 35 assists) in 54 games with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. A great skater, with a wonderful shot, if Vishnevskiy improves his defensive skills, he will be an excellent player in the NHL. With their second pick of Saturday's draft, the Stars chose the Brampton Battalion's Aaron Snow. The gritty, two-way left winger was selected with the 90th pick overall, in the third round. Snow tallied 68 points in as many regular season games this season, while maintaining a +11 plus/minus and accumulating 107 PIM. Snow is a solid third-line NHL prospect, who is really starting to blossom.

Dallas only had 5 picks this draft and not very good position in the first round, no selection in the second round and last in the third (last year, the team had 7 picks). Given the drafting position of the Stars, one could not expect much this year. Vishnevskiy is a talent with high risk, and Snow only projects to be a third-liner. The other 3 selections, in later rounds, really do not appear to be much better. In all, not a very good draft for the team.

The final team with only 2 CHLers chosen is the Edmonton Oilers. The Oilers had no first round picks, and, in fact, did not select a player until mid way through the second round. That player was USHL defenseman Jeff Petry. With the Oilers' next pick (3rd Round, # 75), the team chose Owen Sound's defenseman Theo Peckham. Peckham had a very disappointing 2005-06 season and had dropped in the rankings as the season went along. After an excellent rookie season in 2004-05, Peckham, the large nasty blueliner, was on everyone's radar. He could take care of his own end and intimidate (in 04/05 Peckham had a +14 plus/minus and 209 PIM). But his own zone coverage was not as good this season, as his PIM went up even further (-11 plus/minus and 236 PIM). Peckham could use a little more discipline in his play. No one is going to worry that he can be intimidated, and no one expects that he will become the point on the power play, he just needs to play a little bit more of thinking man's game. If he can make those changes, he will be a steal for Edmonton. With the team's first fifth round selection, the Oilers selected goaltender Bryan Pitton. The Brampton Battalion's backup netminder this past season, Pitton went 16-4, with a GAA of 3.08 and a save percentage of .904.

With only 5 selections in this year's draft, the Oilers chose 2 players from the OHL. Last year the team selected 2 players from the CHL, 1 OHLer and one from the QMJHL. This is puzzling, as one would expect that there would be some WHL players in Edmonton's back yard that the team was willing to take a chance on, or even other junior players from the west that would interest the team, however, it appears that this is not the case. Surprising to say the least.

Fourteen teams down, 16 to go. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

78 CHLers Drafted in 2006 NHL Entry Draft

Congrats to each of the 78 draftees selected yesterday in the NHL entry draft. The CHL remains the biggest feeder to the NHL, as more than one third of the players drafted were from major junior hockey. Fifty percent of the players in the first round were from CHL teams, with 6 from the Ontario Hockey League, 5 from the Q, and 4 from the Western Hockey League. Of the 4 WHLers, 2 were from the Everett Silvertips. In total, 4 players were drafted from the young team, a fact not missed by the huge contingent of Silvertips fans that packed the hosting venue (Vancouver's GM Place).

The first round started out exactly as predicted, but once the New York Islanders chose non-CHLer Kyle Okposo at pick 7, everyone knew that there were going to be more than a few surprises. One of several in the first round was the fact that Owen Sound's Bobby Sanguinetti dropped to 21st place. Ranked 12th among North American skaters by the NHL's Central Scouting, it was astounding that he was available for the NY Rangers' to select him at number 21. Every scouting agency had Sanguinetti being chosen prior to Spokane's Michael Grabner. But Grabner was selected at number 14, ahead of Sanguinetti, Chris Stewart and Ondrej Fiala. Both of these selections, as well as the drafting of Kingston's Stewart at number 18, indicate to me the importance of the Combine. Stewart was considered a top 10 pick prior to the Combine, and the revelation that his body fat level was quite high. Sanguinetti began to be perceived as "soft", and so his stock dropped. Players who showed up and did well on the fitness tests and the interviews really benefited. Those that either skipped the Combine or made a mess of it (non-CHLers Patrick Berglund and Phil Kessel) really were hurt.

Gatineau Olympiques Claude Giroux was chosen immediately after Sanguinetti at #23. Giroux is an offensive dream, and the team that drafted Giroux, the Philadelphia Flyers, really loved him in the interviews. The Flyers have previously been drafting gritty, highly physical players, but this year the team changed course, selecting highly talented offensive players, of which Giroux was the first. Saginaw's Matthew Corrente, who was chosen by New Jersey with the last pick in the round, is a traditional Flyers'-type pick. The Devils went with the competitive, rather undisciplined defenseman (172 PIM in 2005-06), who was not expected to go in the first round. According to the NHL Draft Media Guide, Corrente is an admirer of John Gotti because of his rags to riches story. Hopefully, Corrente will put his admiration of organized crime aside and work into the player that New Jersey expects from a first round pick.

Several CHL players were drafted much lower than expected. Several factors can account for this. First, European players accounted for 11 second and 9 third round picks. Additionally, this draft had a larger number of American players ranked in the upper echelon than in the past. Players like Cory Emmerton, Ondrej Fiala, Cal Clutterbuck, Codey Burki were taken quite a bit below their rankings by the scouts. Others, such as Matt Beleskey, Ben Shutron and Ben Breault, dropped precipitously. Why some of this happened is hard to tell, but after the first two rounds of yesterday's draft, it was very hard to predict who each team would select.

All in all, an interesting draft. It was not considered to be an excellent year, with not as much talent available as last summer. That said, many players will return to the CHL to show that they were wrongly overlooked. Maybe more so this year than in the past, as there were so many Europeans and Americans taking the draft slots. This will only enhance the CHL game this coming season, as there will be even more pressure on players to show their stuff than in recent memory.