Thursday, March 08, 2007

The OHL's Unsung Rookies

Each year the teams add rookies who they hope will have a big impact on their season, not only for the first year, but in the years that follow. We all know about the impact that Pat Kane has had on the London Knights, but here are some of the other top freshman OHLers, many of whom have somewhat slipped under the radar.

Barrie Colts--No question that the Slovakian Tomas Marcinko (NY Islanders, 4th round, 2006) has the most points among rookies on the team, but he is almost 19 years old and was expected to perform really well as an import. A player who is also very impressive and is younger and starting to get deserved long looks by scouts is defenceman Brian Lashoff. The 2006 third round priority draft selection has played exceptionally well in his freshman season in the league. In 41 games, he has 9 points, 18 PIM, and has a +5 plus/minus rating. Quick and smart, Lashoff is a player to watch over the next year as he is a possible 1st round selection in the 2008 NHL draft.

There is another Barrie rookie that has caught the scouts' attention; he is netminder Michael Hutchinson. Barrie's fourth round selection in the priority draft in 2006, Hutchinson's play has been outstanding, particularly in the last 3 months. He has appeared in 13 games this season, including 8 since the first of the year. He has not lost any and has 5 wins. In the month of February, Hutchinson's stats were a 0.97 GAA and a .963 save percentage.

Belleville Bulls--A blueliner having an excellent year for the Bulls is Shawn Lalonde, who has been a part of a very productive blueline for Belleville this season. A power play specialist with a total of 26 points in 58 games on the season, Lalonde has often gotten secondary assists with the extra man on the ice. His vision and passing abilities are excellent, and he is also expected to go early in the 2008 NHL draft.

The unsung Bulls freshman player that attracts my attention the most is winger Eric Tangradi. Not quite scoring the way he needs to garner a huge amount of attention from scouts, Tangradi has all the tools to be a power forward. Watch for him to break out over the next season or two as he has the potential to be an excellent professional hockey player.

Brampton Battalion--When you say rookie and Brampton in the same sentence, it better also include the name, Cody Hodgson. No question that Hodgson will be an excellent player in this league and beyond. He is almost guaranteed to be a first rounder in the 2008 NHL entry draft, as he regularly shows rare poise and skill on the ice for a player of his age. But once again, I see another player, a diamond in the rough perhaps, that should be closely watched. Netminder Patrick Killeen has been sidelined with mono for the last month, however, Brampton's 5th round selection in this past year's priority draft was a great pickup for the Battalion. Killeen has the size (6'4", 207) and lateral movement to be a potential NHL netminder, and while he has been very shaky this season (7 games, 6.42 GAA, .825 sv %), look for him to really come on strong in 2007-08.

Erie Otters--Given that Erie lost all hope of a playoff berth early this season, it had no reason to hold back on playing its rookies, and play they have. The best of these without a doubt is defenceman Mitch Gaulton. A top pick in last spring's priority draft, Gaulton is a very good passer, who has good wheels. Unfortunately, he is playing on a weak team, where he does not get to play with another quality D-man to help him develop. However, he is a gem just the same, and is likely to be a late first round, early second round selection in the 2008 NHL entry draft.

Guelph Storm--No question that Drew Doughty is the best young player on the Storm, and is still more than a year away from his NHL draft. But this is his second year with Guelph and there is no question that he is on everyone's radar as a top 10 pick in the 2008 entry draft. My selection for best "rookie" is creating almost as much buzz among scouts. Netminder Tom McCollum is perhaps the best 1990 netminding prospect in the CHL. Named a league all-star this past January, McCollum is currently leading the OHL with a 2.30 GAA, and has a .924 save percentage and an excellent 24-15-3-7 record to go along with it. His prominence was apparent early in the season, when the Storm chose to trade away its older, more experienced netminder, Jason Guy, to Kingston.

Kingston Fronts--There has been a lot of focus on the fine young centre Nathan Moon in Kingston. After all, Moon is the leading rookie in points on the team, and been a real spark plug for the team. That said, it is still likely that the Fronts made the right choice when the team selected Josh Brittain in the first round of last year's priority draft. Brittain is big (6'4", 2004) and will be getting bigger over the next few years. Bigger guys take longer to develop, and Brittain will take a little longer than nifty puckhandlers like Moon. However, there is a very good likelihood that Brittain will develop into a very good power forward, and equal or surpass the career of Moon. If he continues to develop at this rate, Brittain will leap over many other players into the first round of the 2008 NHL entry draft.

Kitchener Rangers--The Rangers have a lot of excellent rookies, from the netminder John Murray (who is 20 years old) to the 18-year old import Yannick Weber, to the wonderful centre Nick Spaling, but I want to draw attention to 2 other rookies, both of whom have been having exemplary freshman years. First, the wonderfully talented Nazem Kadri. Chosen in the first round of last sprinig's priority draft, his stats are more than adequate for a freshman (56 games, 16 points, 26 PIM, +7), but should be considered remarkable when you realize that he has a late 1990 birthdate. This means that when he started the season with Kitchener, Kadri was still 15 years old; he is not eligible for the NHL draft until 2009. Kadri has hung in there, done well, and has just come back from the Winter Games in the Yukon. Hopefully, each experience will mature this youngster more and more, and he will be putting up big numbers during the 2007-08 season.

The other player who should be getting lots of attention, but is not with all the other talent on the team, is defenceman Dan Kelly. With 16 assists in 53 games, Kelly is a consistent contributor to the offense. However, this blueliner is not just interested in putting points on the board, he really knows how to take care of his own end. If he can be a little more careful about his penalty-taking, Kelly should grow into a very good professional player. NHL draft-eligible this spring, he is projected to be a third or fourth round selection.

London Knights--The accomplishments of both Pat Kane and Sam Gagner have gotten alot of publicity for most of the season, as well they should. Between Kane, Gagne and teammate Sergei Kostitsyn, the trio has more than 350 points. But lest we be too impressed, this sort of offensive output is not unusual in London. Last season, Rob Schremp, David Bolland, and Dylan Hunter had almost 400 points by season's end. The year before (2004-05), the top three, Corey Perry, Dylan Hunter and Rob Schremp, had about 325 points. My point here is that because London has its top 3 players on the ice for a lot of minutes, and then continues to play them when the game is no longer competitive, their point totals are somewhat inflated. Unfortunately, the result of this is that besides Kane and Gagner, very few young rookies get sufficient ice time to show their stuff. So there are no unsung hereoes here.

Mississauga Ice Dogs--Alex Pietrangelo is one of the leading defensemen in the league in all categories, but none is more impoprtant to his coach than his leadership in plus/minus. Currently, at +40, the 6'3", 195 lb blueliner is a big asset in his own end. This does not take away from his offensive abilities, which are hard to miss. Just a top notch prospect, Pietrangelo is a good candiate to be taken among the top 10 in the 2008 NHL entry draft.

But the defenceman is not the only impressive rookie on the club. The scouts have been watching netminder Andrew Loverock all season. While he has had an up and down 4 games in March, Loverock, who is eligible for this spring's NHL draft, had an eye-catching February. He won 6 of nine games during the month, and won 12 of 13 during a period in January/February. In all, Loverock has appeared in 43 games this season, with a 27-13-0-2 record, a 3.58 GAA and a .889 save percentage. These are not stellar stats, but he knows how to win and is expected to be a mid-round selection in Columbus.

Oshawa Generals--There is no question that Michael Del Zotto is an excellent defenceman at this level. He has 55 points in 57 games for the Generals, but one always wonders when you are on a team with a phenom like John Tavares, if you are as good as your numbers. Actually, if you analyze Del Zotto's numbers, you see right away that he is a very good producer. Most of Del Zotto's points have not involved Tavares, as it often is Brett MacLean that Del Zotto sets up. No question that the play of Tavares is inspirational, but Del Zotto himself is the real deal, and is expected to be a top 10 selection in the 2008 NHL entry draft.

Ottawa 67s--There are 3 rookies in Ottawa that are good, and perhaps very good (Cody Lindsay, Tyler Cuma, and Thomas Nesbitt), but each has some problems with his play that worry me going into the future. Of the three, defenceman Cuma has the most potential, but his play has cooled of late (3 points in the last 19 games, -2 plus/minus rating) and it remains to be seen if he turns out to be as talented as has projected.

Owen Sound Attack--When the Attack selected David Kolomatis in the 11th round of 2005 priority draft, it was a long-shot pick. Kolomatis was headed to the U-17 US NTDP in Michigan. Almost sure to take the college route and never to play major junior hockey, Kolomatis had fallen pretty far in the draft. But these things are never certain and Owen Sound has benefitted, especially recently. One would not call Kolomatis' season spectacular, but recently he has shown signs of being an excellent defencive prospect. He has points in 4 of the last 5 Attack games, with a +/- of +2. If he continues to perform at this level, scouts will be taking notice, as there is no question that the blueliner has the talent to play professional hockey.

Peterborough Petes--Just how good is Zach Bogosian? Certainly good enough to be a top 10 pick in next year's NHL draft. He has great on-ice vision, nice puck movement and good poise. There is some concern recently with him not taking care of his own end (manifested in his negatve plus/minus in almost every game since late January), but it is fixable and Bogosian remains a top prospect for the 2008 NHL draft.

Plymouth Whalers--Where to start? Both of the team's netminders are rookies (although Michal Neuvirth will be 19 later this month). Neuvirth has already been drafted by an NHL team (Washington, 2nd round, 2006) and Jeremy Smith will be the property of some NHL club in a little over 3 months. Both are doing outstanding jobs for Plymouth, and are the backbone of this team. However, 2 other rookies are making excellent contributions to the club. First, winger AJ Jenks, an American born player that was expected to take the college route. When the 16-year old Jenks decided to play with the Whalers and forego college, it was a boon to Plymouth. In 63 games, the 6'2", 205 left winger has recorded 22 points, 50 PIM, and a +6 rating. Already ranked among the top 30 prospects available in the 2008 NHL draft, Jenks is bound to move up further if he continues to play the way he has of late.

Not to be overlooked is the even younger Vern Cooper. Barely 16 years of age now (DOB 12/20/90), the small centre has played in 52 games and has 15 points. Currently, he is on the short side of 5'8" tall, but hopefully he will grow another couple of inches as he game continues to grow too.

Saginaw Spirit--A couple of excellent import rookies here, as well as a college refugee. In the younger set, Nick Crawford, the team's 2006 first round priority draft selection, has played quite steadily this season. Look for more in future from the young blueliner, but this season Crawford has 8 points in 57 games. More importantly, his solid play in his own zone is reflected in his excellent plus/minus (+15).

Sarnia Sting--No question here that there is only one rookie to talk about; in fact, he is the rookie everyone outside of London is talking about. Steve Stamkos. The 17-year old can do it all, as he recently showed in the Winter Games. And unlike other recent expected number ones in a draft year, Stamkos (the odds-on 2008 number 1), is likely to get better and better over time. This season, he has registered 88 points in 58 games, with not nearly the support of Kane and Gagner in London. An amazing player, who in my mind is currently the second best in the league (after Tavares).

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds--The Greyhounds best rookie by far this season has been the Czech-born Jiri Tlusty. The winger is an older player drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in last summer's draft in Vancouver, but he has without a doubt had the biggest impact among rookies on the team.

Sudbury Wolves--Eighteen year-old Slovakian-born Patrik Lusnak came over to play North American hockey this year and improve his chances in the 2007 NHL draft. And what a boon it has been for Sudbury. There is no question that Lusnak's offensive prowess has helped the team enormously, particularly early in the season. In the 62 games that the winger has played, he has 40 points, and while he has been very quiet since the end of January, there is little doubt that he has the ability to put the puck in the net. He must begin to do so in the playoffs or his lack of productiono will hurt not only Sudbury, but his chances of being drafted in Columbus this June will drop enormously.

Toronto St. Mike's Majors--The names Chris Carrozzi and Jesse Messier jump out when you mention rookies and the Majors in the same sentence. Carrozzi is the wonderful freshman netminder, who just earned kudos for his play in last week's Canada's Winter Games. Despite having an awful game this past Tuesday evening, his overall play recently has been excellent. In February, Carrozzi appeared in 3 games for Toronto St. Mike's, won 2 and allowed only 7 goals.

Messier was obtained in the trade that sent Justin Donati to Sudbury this past January. Since the trade, the winger has 22 points in as many games. Overlooked in last year's NHL draft, Messier is a sleeper as a late round selection this coming June. He deserves a long look by the NHL scouts; he has not gotten much attention, but he plays a big game and will easily be able to make the transition to professional hockey after the 2007-08 season.

Windsor Spitfires--Windsor has several 1990-born rookies that have made major contributions this season. Not the least of these is centre Adam Henrique. A playmaker, who also can finish, Henrique has 40 points in 56 games thus far this season.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Wednesday's CHL News

Yesterday the QMJHL released some preliminary information on its 2007-08 schedules. According to the league, each team will still play a 70 game regular season. However, for the teams in the East Division (those that play in Atlantic Canada) there will be some changes in the number of battles that will take place within the division. Specifically, there will be unbalanced number of home and away games. When the actual schedule is announced, we will be able to see how this will affect travel and rest between games. Over the course of next season, it will be interesting to watch how this affects the standings.

Also in the Q, this past weekend, the St. John Sea Dogs announced that head coach Jacques Beaulieu is now also the general manager of the club. He has been acting as such since early December, however, he just signed a three-year contract over the last week.

Yesterday, the OHL announced that 5 OHL teams will be in the final running to be the 2008 Memorial Cup sites. Each of the Kitchener Rangers, London Knights, Oshawa Generals, Saginaw Spirit and Sarnia Sting will make formal presentations to the Site Selection Committee on April 17th, with the announcement of the winner to be made on May 7th.

Also in the OHL, last night, the Oshawa Generals clinched a playoff spot last night by defeating the Toronto St. Mike's Majors by a score of 13-3. By this weekend, the playoff teams should be decided. Then in the last 2 weeks of the season, it just becomes a race to avoid being pitted against an unbeatable team in the first round. For others that are not worried about such things, it is a chance to give youngsters an opportunity to play. Hopefully, we will see some of the OHL's future more in the next 2 weeks.

Finally, in the OHL, Sarnia Sting winger Trevor Kell is the OHL Player of the Week for the week ending March 4, 2007. Kell, an overager who was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2004 and never signed, had 9 points (4 G, 5 A) in 3 games last week. Although most of those points were against weaker opponents (Windsor and Owen Sound), it is understandable that the league would want to shine a spotlight on a player whose development has taken a giant leap forward this season. Kell has always been a very good defencive forward, but had limited ice time with the London Knights for the last few seasons. This season, with Sarnia, he is a better fit with the club, and he has close to doubled his offensive production. After this successful overage year (70 points in 62 games, 74 PIM, +4), Kell will definitely be ready to move on to a professional career next fall.

In the WHL, yesterday the league announced that winger Devin Setoguchi of the Prince George Cougars has been named the Player of the Month for February. Setoguchi was San Jose's first round selection (8th overall) in the 2005 NHL draft. Setoguchi recorded 22 points (11 G, 11 A) in 14 games last month. In his fourth, and last, WHL season, Setoguchi had been a member of the Saskatoon Blades for most of his WHL career. Since his trade to Prince George at the start of this season, he has registered 57 points in 52 games, 51 PIM, and a +3 plus/minus. Setoguchi leads his team in total points, and has continued his scoring in the first 3 games in March; in 3 games, the right wing has 6 points (3 G, 3 A).

Also named yesterday was the WHL Goaltender of the Week. The Regina Pats netminder, Tommy Tartaglone, won 2 games last week (including a shutout), and while doing so, achieved a 0.50 GAA and a 0.980 save percentage. This season, Tartaglione, who was acquired by Regina from Vancouver in October, has a 9-5-1-0 record, a 2.75 GAA and a .903 save percentage.

Finally, on Monday, the CHL announced its Player of the Week. The WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings overage centre Jeff Topilko was chosen to receive the honour. A fifth-year member of the WHL team, Topilko has never really been offensively productive in his career. However, he finally seems to have put it all together this season, with 53 points in 62 games (32 PIM, +20 plus/minus). He definitely deserves accolades for his achievements this season, and is expected to make his professional hockey debut at the AA level next fall.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

2005 WHL Bantam Draftees--Where are they now? (TEAMS M-R)

Continuing with 7 of the 13 other WHL teams, all of which made selections in the 2005 bantam draft:

Medicine Hat Tigers:

Jordan Hickmott (C) (1st round, 18th overall) is a member of the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers this season. In 27 games, he has recorded 4 points, 4 PIM, and a +1 plus/minus.

Patrick Wiercioch (D) has played for the Burnaby Express of the British Columbia Hockey League during the 2006-07 season. A rookie on the Express, Wiercioch has appeared in 37 games, and registered 21 points and 34 PIM. His rights were traded to Portland at the end of December.

3rd round--no selection

Shayne Neigum (LW) (4th round, 78th overall) played in 3 games for the WHL team in December. With no points or penalty minutes, he was -2 in his WHL stint. He has also played in 8 games for the Kindersley Klippers of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (2 points, 18 PIM).

Kurtis Decker (D) (5th round, 98th overall) is a member of the Yorkton Harvest Midget AAA of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. In 22 games with the Harvest, Decker has 20 points and 41 PIM. In early October, Decker also appeared in 1 game for the WHL Tigers (with no stats).

Nathan Gelinas (G) (5th round, 99th overall) plays for the St. Albert Crusaders of the Rural and Edmonton Midget AA Hockey League. Gelinas has appeared in 24 regular games (9-3-1) and leads the league with a .942 save percentage and 1.80 GAA.

Josh Koper (C/RW) (6th round, 118th overall) has played for the Apruce Grove Saints of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for most of the 2006-07 season. In 48 games with the Saints, Koper has recorded 17 points and 52 PIM. He also appeared in 2 games for the WHL Tigers in January. He accumulated 2 PIM.

** Cody Carlson (D) (1st round, 21st overall, 2006) is a blueliner for the Juan de Fuca Grizzlies of the Kelowna International Major Midget Hockey League. In 46 games, he has 61 points and 148 PIM. Early in January, Carlson was given a chance to play 2 games with the WHL team, and he was -1, with 2 PIM.

Moose Jaw Warriors

Neal Prokop (C) (1st round, 5th overall) is a member of the WHL Warriors team this season. In 46 games, Prokop has 3 points, 10 PIM, and a -8 plus/minus.

Chad Suer (D) (2nd round, 22 overall) has also played for the WHL team during the 2006-07 season. In 35 games, Suer has registered 4 points, 20 PIM, and a -16 plus/minus.

Jason Grecica (D) (3rd round, 42nd overall) is a regular member of the WHL Warriors this season. In 37 games with the team, Grecica has 1 point, 15 PIM, and a -2 plus/minus.

Brian Sommers (LW) (4th round, 61st overall) plays for the Edmonton Canadians/Gregg Distributors. Statistics for him this season are incomplete.

Darcy Sideroff (D) (5th round, 82 overall) no information is available on him since he played for the North Country Stars last summer. Anyone with any info on Sideroff's play this season, please contact CHL News.

Mitch Labreche (RW) (6th round, 115th overall) plays for the Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. In 42 regular season games for the Leafs, Labreche recorded 25 points and 51 PIM.

** Justin Maylan (RW) (1st round, 17th overall, 2006) is a member of the UFA Bisons of the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League. In 35 games with the Bisons, Maylan has 33 points and 28 PIM.

Portland Winter Hawks

Thomas Frazee (C) (1st round, 11th overall) has played in 56 WHL games this season, has recorded 12 points, 38 PIM, while maintaining a -28 plus/minus. A typical rookie, making lots of rookie mistakes on a very weak team, Frazee is expected to make a large contribution next season.

Ty Ariss (D) (2nd round, 31st overall) has played in 30 games with the Winter Hawks, registering 1 point, while accumulating 56 PIM, and a -13 plus/minus. Injured in a mid-January game, Ariss is probably out for the rest of the season.

Colin Redden (C) (3rd round, 51st overall) is a member of the US U-17 NTDP this season. Redden was expected to sign a contract with Portland last summer, but chose to keep his NCAA options open, and joined the NTDP team last fall.

Devon Marshall (D) (4th round, 65th overall) has been a member of the Portland Winter Hawks this season. In 35 games with the Winter Hawks, Marshall has 0 points, 23 PIM, and a -26 plus/minus.

Tayler Jordan (RW) (5th round, 84th overall) is now 6'6" tall. The big winger has grown 3 inches in the 2 years since being drafted, and this season the aggressive forward has seen action with the WHL team. In 44 games, Jordan has 2 points, 123 PIM, and a -12 plus/minus.

Julien Laplante (G) (6th round, 105th overall) is missing in action. After being sent back to his junior team by the Winter Hawks last September, there is no word as to where he is playing. If you know where he has played during the 2006-07 season, please contact CHL News.

**Riley Boychuk (LW) (1st round, 10th overall, 2006) has played for the Fraser Valley Bruins of the British Columbia Major Midget Hockey League. Boychuk appeared in 29 regular season games and recorded 36 points and 72 PIM.

Prince Albert Raiders

Jordan Trach (LW) (1st round, 8th overall) has played in 36 games for the WHL Raiders this season. He has 4 points, 37 PIM and a -15 plus/minus rating while with the team. Trach's season has been shortened by a concussion that kept him out 15 games and his play in the Winter Games.

Blaine Tendler (D) (2nd round, 28th overall) is also a member of the WHL team. Tendler has had a very good season, registering 12 assists, 14 PIM, and a -8 plus/minus.

James Dobrowolski (LW) (3rd round, 48th overall) has played for the Okanagan Rocket Midgets of the British Columbia Major Midget League. Second overall in the league in points in the regular season, Dobrowolski had 61 points in 38 games with 34 PIM.

Tony Oak (LW) (4th round, 68th overall) is a member of the Moose Jaw Warriors AAA Midget team in the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League. In 24 regular season games, he had 10 points and 52 PIM.

5th round--no selection

Chase Brent (D) (6th round, 108th overall) is another missing player. Anyone with word on Brent, please let CHL News know.

**Cole Penner (LW) (1st round, 4th overall, 2006) plays for the Medicine Hat Tigers Midget AAA team of the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League. In 32 games in the AMHL, Penner recorded 32 points and 112 PIM, the highest number of penalty minutes among the top 50 scorers in the league.

Prince George Cougars

Dale Hunt (RW) (1st round, 3rd overall) is a member of the Prince George WHL team. In 49 games thus far this season, Hunt has 10 points, 19 PIM, and maintained a +3 plus/minus rating.

Matt Belich (RW) (2nd round, 24th overall) has played for the Red Deer Optimist Rebels of the Alberta AAA Midget Hockey League for most of this past season. He also appeared in a few games in February for the Olds Grizzlies of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. In addition to his shortlived appearance in the AJHL, Belich has also played in 2 games for the WHL Prince George team.

Trevor Bauer (D) (3rd round, 44th overall) is also a member of the Red Deer Optimist Rebels of the AMHL this season. No reliable statistics are available for either player.

Brad Anderson (G) (4th round, 64th overall) is a member of the Valley West Hawks of the British Columbia Major Midget Hockey League. The big blueliner has played in 40 regular season games, has 0 points, and 34 PIM.

5th round--no selection

Tayler Stefishen (LW) (6th round, 112th overall) plays for the Langley Chiefs of the British Columbia Hockey League. In 59 regular season games, the rookie Stefishen had 53 points (second on his team) and 73 PIM.

**Stefan Elliott (D) (1st round, 12th overall, 2006) is a member of the Vancouver NW Giants of the British Columbia Major Midget Hockey League. His rights were traded to Saskatoon last October, and has played in 1 game in a WHL Blades uniform this year (no stats). Elliott also played in 36 regular season games for the NW Giants and led all defencemen on the team with a total of 31 points.

Red Deer Rebels

Cass Mappin (C) (1st round, 12th overall) has played in 23 games for the WHL team this season. As a member of the Rebels for the first half of the season, Mappin recorded 1 point, 37 PIM, and a -3 plus/minus rating. He was reassigned to the Red Deer Optimist Rebels of the AMHL in January.

Zach Stebner (D) (2nd round, 32nd overall) is a member of the very talented Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan AAA Hockey League. Among the defencive league leaders during the regular season, Stebner appeared in 42 games and registered 34 points, and 146 PIM. Stebner also played in 2 games for the WHL team, but had no stats.

Round 3--no selection

Joel Kot (D) (4th round, 72nd overall) plays for the Moose Jaw Warriors AAA team in the Saskatchewan Midget Hockey League. In 40 regular season games, Kot had 25 points and 64 PIM.

Colin Archer (D) (5th round, 88th overall) is a member of the Red Deer Optimist Rebels of the AMHL this season. No stats are available for him.

Mike Scarborough (D) (5th round, 92nd overall) has played 16 games with the WHL team thus far this season (0 points, 10 PIM, -2).

6th round--no selection

**Landon Ferraro (RW) (1st round, 2nd overall, 2006) is one of the best WHL prospects of this past year. Already creating a lot of buzz, Ferraro is expected to be a star on the WHL next season. Ferraro did not score any points in his 4 underage games with the WHL Rebels this season, but he is a top player in the British Columbia Major Midget Hockey League, where he is a member of the Vancouver NW Giants. In 25 regular season games with the Giants, Ferraro has 34 points and 77 PIM.

Regina Pats

Colton Teubert (D) (1st round, 1st overall) has been a member of the WHL Pats or the entire season. In 58 games with Regina, Teubert has 11 points, 83 PIM, and a 0 plus/minus, one of 2 of the league's top rookies on the team.

Brayden Metz (RW) (2nd round, 21st overall) played in 2 games with the WHL team earlier this season with 2 PIM, but in January was traded to the Chilliwack Bruins. For most of the season, Metz has played for the Saskatoon Contacts AAA team of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. In 47 regular season games, Metz recorded 27 points and 104 PIM.

Jeff Bosch (G) (3rd round, 41st overall) has played 2 games for the WHL Pats this season. Although he lost both games, his stats were very good--2.57 GAA and .923 save percentage. During the rest of the season, he was between the pipes for the Saskatoon Blazers of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. In 30 games, he had a GAA of 2.89 and a save percentage of .919. His record was 15-8-6.

Dru Cotterill (LW) (4th round, 74 overall) plays for the St. Alberts Raiders Midget AAA of the Alberta Midget Hockey League. No stats are available.

Kyle St. Denis (RW) (5th round, 89th overall) is a diminutive forward who plays for the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League. One of the better players in the recent Canada Winter Games, it is likely that St. Denis will decide to go to college rather than play in the WHL, but he has not committed to a school as of yet. Last December, the Pats traded his rights to Kelowna. In 55 regular season games as a rookie with the Vipers, St. Denis has 61 points and 28 PIM.

6th round--no selection

**Brett Miller (RW) (1st round, 14th overall, 2006) has been a forward for the Saskatoon Blazers of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League during most of the 2006-07 season. In 42 regular season games, he had 19 points and 72 PIM. Miller also played in 2 games with the WHL Regina team, during which he ha a -1 plus/minus rating.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Monday OHL News

Today the OHL announced its 3 positional players of the month for February. In the category of offensive Player of the Month, the clear winner was London's Sergei Kostitsyn (Montreal, 7th round, 2005). One of my favourite players in this league, Kostitsyn recorded 35 points (9 G, 26 A) in 11 games. Granted some of those points were not what I consider real points (in that they were scored when the game was already far out of reach by the opponent), but his play has been more and more impressive as the season has gone along, and Kostitsyn should have no trouble making the transition to professional hockey next fall (I would say that he would make the transition this spring, however, it is likely that London will go very far in the playoffs and that by the time Kostitsyn is available to play in Hamilton, the AHL team's season will be over).

The league announced its Defenceman of the Month to be Drew Doughty. Doughty, a second-year Guelph Storm blueliner is a top prospect for the 2008 NHL draft, and it is easy to see why. This past month, the offensive defenceman registered 6 goals and 13 assists in the 11 games in which he participated. Currently leading the league in points for a defenceman (one point ahead of Ryan Wilson of the Sarnia Sting), Doughty has incredible on-ice vision and passing abilities. Look for Doughty and Mississauga's Alex Pietrangelo to be the top defencemen available in next year's NHL draft.

Ryan Daniels of the Saginaw Spirit was named the OHL Goaltender of the Month after posting an 8-2-0-1 record this past month, including 2 shutouts. Currently sixth overall among goaltenders in the league, Daniels had an outstanding 1.87 GAA and a .935 save percentage in February. 11 games. Chosen by Ottawa in the 5th round of last year's NHL draft, the Senators have to be extremely happy with how the 6'1", 200 lb netminder has developed this season.

Monday's QMJHL News

In the Q, it was a very active week in the accolades category, with Players of the Month named last Thursday, and Players of the Week named this morning.

The offensive Player of the Month for February was centre James Sheppard of the Cape Breton Eagles. Sheppard, a 2006 draft selection of Minnesota (1st round, 9th overall), played in 10 games last month, and recorded 23 points, (7 G, 16 A), 18 PIM, and a +16 plus/minus rating over the 4-week span. With Cape Breton fighting with Lewiston for the top spot in the East Division, Sheppard's prolific offensive output (which included 2 game-winning goals, was very important to his team's playoff picture.

According to the Q, the other top candidates for the offensive Player of the Month were Geoff Walker of the P.E.I. Rocket, Jonathan Duchesneau of the Drummondville Voltigeurs and Martin Bartos of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Walker is in his 3rd QMJHL season, and the winger is having his first offensively successful campaign in 2006-07. He too appeared in 10 games last month, registering 23 points (8 G, 15 A) during his entire month 10-game scoring streak. Walker accumulated 8 PIM during the month, while maintaining a +9 plus/minus rating.

Duchesneau is also in his third year in the league. A winger with Drummondville, Duchesneau played in 13 games during the month of February, and recorded 25 points (8 G, 17 A) and maintained a +9 plus/minus during that time.

Bartos, a Czech-born winger for the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, is in his second year in the Q. Passed over in last year's NHL draft, he is likely to be selected during this spring's draft in Columbus. Currently Bartos has 78 points in 56 games; in February, he appeared in 11 QMJHL games, with 21 points (8 goals, 13 assists) including a hat-trick against Lewiston.

The QMJHL's defensive player of the month is defenceman Kristopher Letang. Letang is having quite a year. After being selected by Pittsburgh in the 3rd round (62nd overall) of last summer's NHL draft, Letang stayed with the team until late October, playing in 7 NHL games (he had 2 assists). After his return to Val-d'’Or, Letang played only one month before he went on to play in the U-20 WJCs in Sweden (6 points in 6 games). The blueliner thus has played in only 35 QMJHL games this season, ten of which were in February. During that time, he scored 4 goals (including a shortie and 2 game-winners), and assisted on 11 others. With 14 PIM and a +7 plus/minus rating, Letang had an outstanding month.

Three other players were given honourable mentions for the award. Both netminder Ondrej Pavelec and blueliner Jean-Claude Sawyer of the Cape Breton Screaming Screaming Eagles were considered for the award. So was Chicoutimi's defenceman Mathieu Bolduc.

Pavelec was a Player of the Week during the month, and had 7 victories as part of Cape Breton's run up toward the playoffs. The Atlanta 2006 2nd round draft pick (41st overall) had a 1.79 GAA and .931 save percentage during the month.

Teammate Jean-Claude Sawyer (an overager, selected in the 2004 NHL draft but never signed by the NHL Minnesota Wild) appeared in 12 games last month. With 18 points (6 G, 12 A) during February, he had 8 PIM and a +9 plus/minus rating.

Bolduc is in his third season with the Sangueneens. In 9 games last month, Bolduc had 7 points, 10 PIM, and a +9 plus/minus rating.

This morning, the Players of the Week were announced. Jakub Voracek and Michael Dupont were named the offensive and defencive players of the week, respectively for the period extending from February 26 to March 4. Winger Voracek played in two games for his team, the Halifax Mooseheads, recording 6 points (3 G, 3 A), 2 PIM, and a +4 plus/minus in Halifax's 2 wins. Voracek is expected to be a top 10 draft selectionini this summer's NHL draft.

Monctono Wildcats winger, Matt Marquardt, top NHL prospect, centre Logan MacMillan of the Halifax Mooseheads and centre Toby Lafrance of the Victoriaville Tigres were also considered. Marquardt played in 2 games and registered 7 points (6 G, 1 A). MacMillan recorded 8 points (1 G, 7 A) in his three games, and Lafrance had a hat-trick in one of his three weekend games (5 G, 1 A over the week).

The defencive player of the week, Dupont, is a netminder for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and a 2006 NHL draft selection of the Philadelphia Flyers (6th round, 175th overall). Dupont appeared in 3 games this past week, and recorded 2 wins and one overtime loss. He posted a 1.55 GAA and a .929 save percentage.

Two of the 3 players considered for defencive player of the month, Pavelec and Sawyer, were also given an honourable mention for player of the week. The other player considered a top candidate for the accolade was blueliner Andrew McDonald. MacDonald, a NY Islanders 2006 6th round draft selection, was +2 on the week, and had 1 goal and 3 assists in the 3 games he played.