Thursday, August 17, 2006


Yesterday saw the beginning of the exhibition season in the Q, as well as a trade between the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and the Shawinigan Cataractes. Cape Breton sent their 17-year old goaltender Marc-Andre Perron to the Cataractes for the Screaming Eagles 4th round selection in the 2007 QMJHL entry draft. Last season, Perron appeared in 7 games, playing a total of 39 minutes. During that time, he had a GAA of 4.59 and a save percentage of .880.

In last night's opening exhibition game, the Quebec Remparts defeated the Chicoutimi Sagueneens by the score of 3-1. There was no scoring in the penalty-filled first period (13 penalties in the first 20 minutes), but things picked up for Quebec offensively in the second period. At 6:42, veteran Remparts' defenseman Guillaume Veilleux put the puck past Chicoutimi's rookie netminder Francois Levesque for the first goal. Quebec rookie Jean-Francois Rioux (5'11", 187), an 17-year old winger, added to the Remparts lead at 9:41 of the second period, with another Quebec goal. So Quebec was leading by a score of 2-0 at the start of the third period.

Chicoutimi came back in the third period on another even strength goal, this one by the Sagueneens' 18 year old defenseman Mathieu Bolduc. The blueliner had no goals in the regular season in 2005-06, so let's hope that this will be the start of a more offensive game for the tough defenseman. With less than a minute left in the game, Chicoutimi pulled Levesque and almost immediately, the Remparts scored. It was training camp invitee, 17-year old winger Ben Rubin (6'1", 185) who got the empty net goal.

Quebec Remparts' winger Christophe Poirier got an assist on both of the team's second period goals. In his rookie regular season last year, Poirier registered 11 points in 56 games. Other Remparts' assists were credited to the hot prospect center Felix Petit (who was selected in the 14th round in the 2005 QMJHL entry draft) and 18-year old defenseman Stephen Valente. On Chicoutimi's goal, Carolina Hurricanes' prospect 19-year old Nicolas Blanchard got the primary and rookie Marc-Andre Julien (2nd round 2006 QMJHL entry draft) the secondary assists. The 16-year old Sagueneen goaltender, Levesque, the Sagueneens' 4th round pick (68 overall) in the 2006 QMJHL entry draft, played the entire game for Chicoutimi, and Remparts' goaltending prospects Nicolas Barriere and Lucas Kane shared the netminding duties for Quebec.

The pre-season exhibition games continue tonight with Victoriaville playing Val-D'Or and Rimouski battling Baie-Comeau.

More "AA" Signings of CHLers

Some of the ECHL signings of CHL players has escaped attention of the press, so I thought I'd bring you up to date.

On August 3rd, QMJHL forward Danny Stewart signed with the Bakersfield Condors. Stewart had been selected in the 4th round (123 overall) by the Montreal Canadiens in the 2003 NHL entry draft, but was never signed. The 21-year old, just completed his overage season with the PEI Rocket. During the 2005-06 season, registered 67 points (29 G, 37 A) and 74 PIM in 58 games.

The same day, WHL goaltender Bryan Bridges was signed by the Victoria Salmon Kings. The 20-year old netminder spent the last 2 1/2 seasons with the Seattle Thunderbirds. In 2005-06, Bridges appeared in 42 games, and achieved a 2.59 GAA and a .916 save percentage. Bridges was signed as an emergency backup goaltender by the ECHL Reading Royals this past spring and appeared in one Kelly Cup Playoff game. Bridges allowed 2 goals, while playing 40:35 of the team's 5-4 loss on April 19th.

One day earlier, the OHL Guelph Storm forward Mark O'’Leary was inked to a contract with the ECHL Idaho Steelheads. In his 2005-06 overage season, O'Leary served as team captain, and scored 21 points (10 G, 11 A) and accumulated 114 PIM, while maintaining a +9 plus/minus in 66 games.

Another early 2005-06 member of the Guelph Storm signed an ECHL contract this summer. At the end of July, right winger Cory Konecny inked a deal with The Cincinnati Cyclones. The 20-year-old Konecny was traded from the Storm to the Kitchener Rangers last November, and in 58 total regular season games last season, Konecny registered 30 points (14 G, 16 A), 159 PIM and a +12 plus/minus. After his CHL season was completed, Konecny played for Odessa of the Central Hockey League, registering two points (1 G, 1 A) and 10 PIM in 5 playoff games. By signing with the Cyclones, Konecny has indicated that he will forgoe competing as an overager in the CHL.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday's News and Notes

The WHL Everett Silvertips obtained the rights to defenseman Max Nicastro from the Prince Albert Raiders for a conditional future 3rd round bantam draft selection last week. Nicastro (6'2", 175) was drafted by the Raiders in the 11th Round (208 Overall) of the 2005 WHL Bantam Draft. He played 35 games for the USA Midget Under-16 AAA California Wave last season and posted 6 goals and 26 assists. Nicastro will be eligible to play for the Silvertips in the 2006-07 season.

Last week, the WHL Moose Jaw Warriors traded Andrew Leslie, a 20-year old netminder that has played for 3 teams in 2 years, to his 4th team, the Saskatoon Blades. In return the Warriors will receive a conditional pick in the 2008 Bantam Draft. Leslie, who last season was a member of both the Red Deer Rebels and Warriors, is eligible for an overage season in 2006-07. In 2005-06, his combined stats were a 2.94 GAA and an .891 save percentage in 35 WHL regular season games.

In the QMJHL, the Drummondville Voltigeurs and the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles were involved in a trade yesterday. Cape Breton sent 20-year old defenseman Darrell Simich and 18-year old forward prospect, Takuma Kawai, to the Voltigeurs for their 7th round selection in the 2007 Entry Draft.

Last week, the OHL Plymouth Whalers announced the signing of the team's 2006 1st round priority draft selection (13th overall), center Vern Cooper. Cooper tallied 92 points(45 G, 47 A) and 50 PIM for the Sudbury Nickel Capitals in 2005-06. Additionally, over the last few weeks, the Whalers have signed their 7th round 2006 selection (132 overall) AJ Jenks, 2005 OHL Priority Draft picks Kyle Jendra and Frank Grzeszczak, and 2006 CHL Import Draft selections Michal Neuvirth and Jozef Sladok.

Also signed last week were 2 of the Sarnia Sting's 2006 OHL Priority Draft selections, defensemen Dalton Prout (2nd round, 21 overall) and goaltender Peter DiSalvo (2nd round, 23 overall). Also agreeing to terms were 2005 OHL priority draft selections defenseman Christian Steingraber (7th round) and forward Steven Reese (8th round).

On Friday, the Windsor Spitfires announced that the team signed forward Thomas Battani (2nd round, 27th overall in the 2006 OHL Priority Draft). Battani played with the Petrolia Jets of the Western Jr. B League in 2005-06, registering 37 points (18 G, 19 A) in 41 games.

Finally, today the Saginaw Spirit traded prospect forward Dustin Ekelman, a conditional 2007 OHL Priority Selection 14th round pick, and a 2008 Priority Selection 15th round pick to the Toronto St. Michael's Majors for overager Tyler Haskins. The Spirit also have the option to trade first round Import Draft picks with Toronto in 2007. Now as I give you a review of this trade, I have to say that I believe Haskins is one of the most underappreciated players in the OHL, and the Detroit Red Wings were foolish not to sign him (Haskins was the Red Wings 5th round selection in the 2004 NHL entry draft). A center who is a face-off specialist, Haskins served as the captain of the St. Mike's Majors last season, and had 75 points (24 G, 51 A) in 56 regular season games. During the 2006 OHL playoffs, he recorded 1 goal and 4 assists in 4 games. If he chooses to return to the OHL, he will get more attention with a new team, so this move favours him, but he would do better at this point making a name for himself in the AHL. The 16-year old Ekelman (6'1", 180) played with the Jr. A Bowmanville Eagles in 2005-06, recording 38 points and 24 PIM in 48 regular season games.

Recent CHL Signings

Yesterday the Atlanta Thrashers announced that the team signed 20-year old QMJHL left winger Jordan LaVallee to a 3-year NHL entry level contract. LaValle (whose last name is really Smotherman) was selected by the Thrashers in the 4th round (113 overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. LaValle (6'2", 220) was the Remparts' alternate captain, but had a back problem, which shortened his 2005-06 season. Despite injury problems, he had a very respectable regular season campaign, recording 37 points (19 G, 18 A) and 34 PIM, with a +5 plus/minus in 37 games last year. During the 2005-06 post-season, LaVallee registered 15 points (7 G, 8 A), 30 PIM, with a plus/minus of +1 in 23 playoff games. LaVallee was the Remparts' second round pick (23 overall) in the 2002 QMJHL entry draft.

In a signing I missed last month, 21-year old free agent Mike Angelidis signed a 3-year entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. A winger, Angelidis (6'1", 215) completed his fourth season with the OHL Owen Sound Attack in 2005-06, registering 78 points (53 G, 25 A) in 68 games, while accumulating 167 PIM. It is expected that Angelidis will play with the AHL Albany River Rats in 2006-07.

In other than NHL signings, the Brandon Wheat Kings' 21-year old defenseman Riley Day signed a contract with the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones last week. Day (6'2", 227) spent 4 years in the WHL, the first half of which was as a member of the Medicine Hat Tigers. In his 2005-06 overage season, Day tallied 25 points (6 G, 19 A) and 191 PIM, while maintaining a +9 plus/minus in 61 games. Riley received the Art Marshall Memorial Trophy (the team's top graduating player) at the end of the 2005-06 season, and will tryout with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs next month.

Also signed to an ECHL contract is former WHL winger Matt Robinson. Late last week, it was announced that Robinson signed a contract with the Alaska Aces. He spent the 2005-06 season with the Regina Pats, tallying 57 points (35 G, 22 A) in 69 games.

Earlier in the month, the Aces announced that the team had signed 21-year-old center Julian Talbot. Talbot played for 4 years with the OHL Ottawa 67's. During the 2005-06 season, Talbot produced career best 30 goals, 47 assists and 77 points in 65 regular season games. Talbot joins his older brother Joe, who has played with the Aces for three seasons.

Last month, QMJHL goaltender Cedrick Desjardins signed a two-year AHL contract with the Hamilton Bulldogs. The 20 year-old netminder recently completed his fourth season in the league, splitting his tenure between the Rimouski Oceanic (2002-2005) and the Quebec Remparts (2005-2006). In 2005-2006, Desjardins played in 41 regular season games for the Remparts, and posted a 28-10-0 record, with a 2.95 GAA and a .906 save percentage.

Earlier in the month, the Bulldogs signed Alexandre Dulac-Lemelin, the Montreal Canadiens 9th round (278 overall) selection in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, to an AHL contract. Dulac-Lemelin (6'4", 193) played on the blueline of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar from 2003-2005. On December 19th, 2005, he was traded to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. During the 2005-06 season, Dulac-Lemelin played in 65 games, scoring 21 points (8 G, 13 A) and accumulating 70 PIM.

The AHL Manitoba Moose have signed OHL Belleville Bulls' 21-year old defenseman Matt Kelly to an AHL contract. The 21-year old Kelly went undrafted, and played his entire OHL career with the Bulls. In 2005-06, Kelly registered 37 points in 63 games, with 61 PIM and a plus/minus of -19. In 3 games with the Moose last season, Kelly scored 1 assist.

Also joining the Manitoba Moose in 2006-07 will be 21-year old former QMJHLer Patrick Coulombe. The 21-year old defenseman played his overage season in both Rimouski and Chicoutimi, registering 77 points in 62 games, while serving 40 minutes in the sin bin. Coulombe achieved this remarkable point production while maintaining a +2 plus/minus. Coulombe, who was a late developer, deserves a chance at making an NHL team. Hopefully, he is well on his way.

Although QMJHL defenseman Justin Vienneau was not signed by the Blue Jackets by the June 1 deadline, early in August he signed an AHL contract with the Blue Jackets AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch. Vienneau had been drafted by Columbus in the 7th round (198 overall) in the 2004 NHL entry draft. In 2005-06, Vienneau played for the Shawinigan Cataractes, where the 20-year old 6'4", 215 blueliner accumulated 164 PIM. The Crunch had previously signed the undrafted QMJHL winger Olivier Labelle to an AHL contract. The 21-year old Labelle played his overage season with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, scoring 100 points (50 G, 50 A) in 67 games, while sitting in the penalty box for 185 minutes. He achieved all this scoring while maintaining a plus/minus of +18. This was Labelle's breakout season and he has been justly rewarded. If he continues to play this way, he will have a good chance of taking his skills to the NHL.

Finally, the AHL Springfield Falcons announced that they signed 2 CHLers last month to standard AHL contracts. 21 year old winger Maxime Boisclair, who played his overage year in 2005-06 with the QMJHL Chicoutimi Sagueneens, signed with Springfield prior to attending the Falcons' NHL affiliate Tampa Bay Lightning's development camp. Boisclair posted an amazing 130 points (70 G, 60 A) in 70 regular season games last season. The young winger is an excellent player and hopefully will use this year in Springfield as a showcase for his talents. Also signed to an AHL contract was WHL winger Ryan Gibbons. The 21-year old Gibbons (6'5", 212), who was drafted by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 6th round of the 2003 entry draft and unsigned, also attended Tampa Bay's development camp later in July. Gibbons tallied 29 points (20 G, 9 A) in 63 games with the Seattle Thunderbirds in 2005-06, while accumulating 110 PIM.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Canada Wins Summer U18 Junior World Cup

Brett Sonne, the 17 year old WHL Calgary Hitman center, scored 2 goals in yesterday's Championship game to provide the offense needed to defeat 3-0 the United States for the Summer U18 World Cup. It was Sonne's 5th and 6th point of the tournament, his 4th and 5th goals this week. Sonne's first goal, at 10:49 of the first period, was scored with a 2-man advantage on a feed from team captain Angelo Esposito (Quebec Remparts, QMJHL).

Esposito, whose first period assist was his third of the tournament, had been quite effective in the first two games of the World Cup, but not in the third game, was a force on the ice yesterday. Overall, the team captain had a very good tournament, but did not really stand out in the way that would be required to further talk of him being the number one pick in next summer's NHL draft.

The third goal in yesterday's game, by WHL Medicine Hat center Tyler Ennis, came at 10:38 of the final period. This tournament was a coming out party for Ennis, only 16 years old, who had 10 points in 43 regular season 2005-06 season. Ennis had an assist on Sonne's second goal yesterday, as well as an assist in each of Canada's second and third games.

Trevor Cann, the OHL Peterborough Petes goaltender, won his 3rd game of the tournament yesterday. Allowing only 2 goals in 3 full games, in my opinion, Cann should have been named the player of the tournament. During the 2005-06 season, Cann appeared in 20 games for the Petes, achieving a 2.65 GAA and a save percentage of .919.

In our review of the tournament, lets also not forget the play of Bryan Cameron, who scored 2 goals in each of the first and third games of the series. It was no surprise that the 17 year old OHL Bellevile Bulls center was a standout in the tournament, as he showed flashes of brilliance last season, when he had 20 goals and 9 assists in 64 regular season OHL games.