Saturday, March 17, 2007

OHL Playoff Picture Complete

Last night's games completed the playoff picture in the OHL, and it will be Peterborough, Toronto St. Mike's, Erie and Windsor that will not be in the post-season. Early this morning, the schedule of games for 2 of the quaterfinal series was announced, and is as follows:


Sat., March 24 at Barrie 7:30
Sun., March 25 at Brampton 2:00
Tues., March 27 at Barrie 7:30
Thurs., March 29 at Brampton 7:30
Sat., March 31 at Barrie 7:30 *
Sun., April 1 at Brampton 2:00 *
Tues., April 3 at Barrie 7:30 *


Fri., March 23 at Saginaw 7:11
Sat., March 24 at Saginaw 7:11
Tues., March 27 at Sault Ste. Marie 7:00
Wed., March 28 at Sault Ste. Marie 7:00
Fri., March 30 at Saginaw 7:11 *
Sun., April 1 at Sault Ste. Marie 7:00 *
Tues., April 3 at Saginaw 7:11 *

* if necessary.

The other series schedules are expected to be announced later this weekend.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Wednesday's OHL News

Yesterday the OHL announced that its Player of the Week is Bobby Ryan of the Owen Sound Attack. Ryan (ANA, 1st round, 2005), whose season was rather unexceptional until mid-February, had an amazinig week. In 2 games this past weekend, he recorded 9 points, including a hat-trick against London on Sunday. Finally beginning to look like the second overall pick he was in the 2005 draft, Ryan should have been dominating the league all season. Its great to see that he has finally started to perform up to his potential.

In tonight's games, Nazem Kadri looked like the future star he is in Kitchener's win over Guelph (4-1). Named the game's first star, Kadri was all over the ice, with 3 assists on the Rangers' frst 3 goals tonight. It was a bad night for the usually steady Guelph netminder Tom McCollum, who, after giving up 3 goals on 8 shots, was pulled in favour of backup Cody St. Jacques in the second period. The young St. Jacques looked very good in net, giving up only 1 goal on 18 shots.

Hunter Tremblay and Bryan Little were the heroes of Barrie's 8-2 victory over Peterborough. Most of Little's 5 points were what I call pile-it-on stats, but he had a goal and an assist in the first 3 goals. Overager Tremblay also had a goal and an assist early on in the scoring. Hopefully, he will get a very long look with a professional team this coming fall, as Tremblay should be playing AHL hockey during the 2007-08 season.

In another rout, Oshawa defeated Toronto St. Mike's 5-0. The diminutive centre Brett Parnham had a natural hat-trick tonight. While Parnham is unlikely to be drafted by an NHL team this coming June, a continued offensive showinig will get him more of a look by scouts next year.

Finally, Belleville's Eric Tangradi scored the team's first goal at 2:17 of the first period and the Bulls never looked back, defeating Ottawa by a score of 6-1. Winger Michael Neal had his best game of the season, scoring a goal and an assist (he was named the game's first star for his performance), and netminder Kevin Lalande (CAL, 5th round, 2005) was steady all the way.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

QMJHL and WHL Name Players of the Week

Yesterday both the Q and the WHL named their Players of the Week.

In the Q, amid more "tweaking" of the Eastern Division scheduling (how this works out will await the release of the actual schedules in a couple of months), the league named 2 blueliners the offensive and defencive honourees of the week.

D-man Chad Denny of the Lewiston MAINEiacs (ATL, 2nd round, 2005) received the offensive accolade. In 3 games, Denny had an impressive 9 points (3 goals, 6 assists), accumulated 4 PIM and had a +2 plus/minus rating. Yes, it was impressive, but I don't believe that he had as much effect on his team as one of the honourable mentions, so he probably would not have been my pick, but kudos to Denny for stepping up his offensive production this year, and for cutting dwon on his PIM.

The runners up for offensive Player of the Week were Alexandre Imbeault of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Morten Madsen of the Victoriaville Tigres and Denny's teammate Chris Tutalo.

Imbeault had 6 points, including a hat trick, in the 3 games in which the Sangueneens played. The overage centre was named first star for his performance on Friday night, and during the 3 game span had a plus/minus rating of +5 and had no PIMs.

Madsen (MINN, 4th round, 2005) also had 6 points (2 G, 4 A) this last week in his 3 games. The winger is having a superb season offensively (96 points in 59 games with 84 PIM, and a +19 rating). On Sunday, he was involved in 2 short-handed goals (one of which he scored unassisted), and on Friday night, he assisted on the game-winning goal against PEI. Added to this, on Wednesday, he assisted on Victoriaville's only goal in the game. In my opinion, it should have been Madsen who was named offensive Player of the Week, becauseas I say again and again, it is not always the numbers that should count; it is how those numbers are obtained and how they affect your team.

Tutalo, a winger, scored the game-winning goal on Sunday afternoon for the MAINEiacs, was named the first star for the game, and had a total of 6 points in Lewiston's 3 games last week (2 G, 4 A, +1, 2 PIM).

Ivan Vishnevskiy of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies was named the defencive Player of the Week. This choice I have less of a probem with. Vishnevskiy (DAL, 1st round, 2006) is a top blueliner, who just keeps getting better and better as the year goes along. Last week, he had 4 points, 0 PIM, and was +5 in 3 games, and plpayed well enough to earn himself a first star on Wednesday night. He was an integral part of the Huskies 3 wins last week, and will be a very important part of the team in post-season.

Honourable Mentions for the defencive honour went to goaltenders Marc-Andre Perron of the Shawinigan Cataractes (2-1-0, 2.33 GAA and .932 save %) and Mark Yetman (2-0-0, 1.50 GAA and a .942 save %) of the Halifax Mooseheads, as well as to defenceman Jean-Claude Sawyer of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.

Of these 3, it is Yetman whose play stands out to me. Overlooked last year by NHL teams, Yetman has been coming on over the last few months. Maturing in both poise and demeanor, scouts have started to notice a change in him. A good-sized player (6'0", 195), Yetman is 7-1 over his last 10 games, with a 2.82 GAA and .900 save percentage. Watch the buzz over him to rise over the next year.

Sawyer played 2 games last week and had 4 assists, a +5 rating and 0 PIM. The big blueliner was drafted by the Minnesota Wild in 2004, was released and is now having an excellent overage year. Currently +41 with 72 total points, if Sawyer continues to play this way, he will certainly get an invite to an NHL team's training camp next fall, and he should be able to achieve an NHL entry-level contract.

In the WHL, San Jose's prospect defenceman Ty Wishart has recieved the league's Player of the Week award. Wishart is in his third season on the blueline for the Prince George Cougars. The big defenceman (6'5", 203) recorded 1 goal and 6 assists, and a +4 plus/minus rating in 3 games last week. He is having an excellent season (61 games, 49 points, 59 PIM, +16) and has a real chance to make the San Jose lineup out of camp next fall.

Pyatt Signs NHL Contract With NY Rangers

The playoffs are almost upon us, as each league completes the final week of its season. Players of the week were named yesterday, and Tom Pyatt, the OHL Saginaw Spirit's leading scorer, was signed to a much expected NHL contract yesterday.

Let's take the last item first in this entry. More will come later today.

That Pyatt was signed by the Rangers is no surprise at all. Pyatt is having an outstanding season and deserved the contract. But even before this season, there was no question that the Rangers intended to sign him. When I spoke to coach Tom Renney last fall, he told me that signing Pyatt was almost a certainty. What no one was sure about was whether Pyatt was going to be able to move away from being mostly a defensive forward to more of an offensive threat. This is what the Rangers asked of him last fall, and how far he has come toward that goal this year is a testament to his work ethic, which is known to anyone who is close to the Spirit. Pyatt, lives, eats, and breathes hockey, and he has shown this season what that attitude can bring when a team asks more of a player. Now considered to be a potential second line NHL forward, the Rangers hope that Pyatt will join the AHL Hartford Wolf Pack in the next month or so (depending on playoff seasons).

Monday, March 12, 2007

2005 WHL Bantam Draftees--Where Are They Now? (TEAMS S-V)

I took the weekend off for family business, but CHL News is back. First, let's get to the final installment of CHL News' reports on the WHL 2005 Draft Selections:

Saskatoon Blades

Teigan Zahn (D) (1st round, 14th overall) has recorded 3 points in 33 games with the WHL team this season. The 6'2", 190 lb blueliner has accumulated 54 PIM and a plus/minus of -17. Out with 2 serious injuries thus far this season (back and jaw), it has been a rough start in major junior hockey for the defenceman; however, next year should be a better barometer of his skill set.

Travis Toomey(C) (2nd round, 34th overall) was a member of the WHL Blades for short time in December and early January. In 5 games with Saskatoon, Toomey scored 1 goal, had 2 PIM, and a -2 plus/minus. For the rest of the season he has been a member of the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League Leduc Oil Kings. In 35 games with the Oil Kings Toomey has recorded 27 points. and 54 PIM.

Gaelan Patterson (C) (3rd round, 54th overall) has played 47 games with the WHL Blades this season. Out for 9 games with a hip injury, Patterson has now recovered. He has registered 4 points and 24 PIM in the regular season thus far.

4th round--no selection

Jared Friesen (D) (5th round, 83rd overall) played in 3 WHL games in February with no stats. For the rest of the season, he has played with the Eastman Selects of the Manitoba AAA Midget League. In 38 games, he has 21 points and 107 PIM.

Spenser Lockert (D) (6th round, 114th overall) has spent the 2006-07 season as a member of the Abbotsford Midget AAA Hawks of the Abbotsford Minor Hockey Ass'n. Statistics are incomplete and unreliable for Lockert.

**Mitch Berg (D) (1st round, 15th overall, 2006) is a member of the Saskatoon Blazers AAA of the Saskatachewan Midget Hockey League. In 37 regular season games, the rookie had 5 points and 62 PIM.

Seattle Thunderbirds

Codey Hanson (C) (1st round, 16th overall) is a member of the Regina Pat Canadians of the Saskatchean Midget AAA Hockey League. Hanson recorded 42 points in as many regular season games this season, and accumulated 87 PIM.

Jeremy Boyer (C) (2nd round, 36th overall) is a member of the WHL team this season. While not very offensively productive yet (5 points in 53 games), Boyer is expected to bulk up for next season and make more of a contribution.

Jacob Deserres (G) (3rd round, 56 overall) has played in 17 games for the Thunderbirds this season and shows signs of being a future star. The rookie netminder recently returned from the Winter Games, where he had very good run, and while with the WHL team this season, Deserres has appeared in 17 games, with a record of 6-7-0-2. His 2.41 GAA and .913 save percentage is one of the best for rookies in the league.

Jared Prokopetz (RW) (4th round, 62nd overall, 2005) has spent the season with the Prince Albert Mintos of the Saskatchewan AAA Midget Hockey League. In 18 games, he has 7 points and 31 PIM.

5th round--no selection

Bryce Kakoske (C) (6th round, 116th overall) has been a member of the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Hockey League this season. As a rookie in the BCHL, Kakoske had 25 regular season points in 53 games, with 21 PIM.

** Steve Chaffin (D) (1st round, 11th overall, 2006) played in 2 games with the WHL team this season (-1 plus/minus). The rest of the season, the young bluleliner has played for the Calgary Buffaloes Midget AAA of the Alberta Midget Hockey League. His regular season stats are not available.

Spokane Chiefs

Mitch Wahl (C) (1st round, 4th overall) has had a very scuccessful year as a member of the WHL Chiefs. In 66 games, he has 43 points, 48 PIM, and a +6 plus/minus rating. His performance has been one of the best of the 2005 WHL draftees during the 2006-07 season.

Mike Reddington (D) (2nd round, 25th overall) has played for the Chiefs all season. In 61 games for the WHL tem, Reddington has recorded 3 points, 71 PIM, and is +1. Not particularly big, Reddington is tough, and has been known to engage in fights to energize his team.

Darcy Kuemper (G) (3rd round, 45th overall) appeared in 25 games for the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. With a record of 8-14-3, a GAA of 3.51 and a .900 save percentage, Kuemper was one of the leading netminders in GAA and save percentage in the league.

Rylan Schwartz (C) (4th round, 69th overall) is one of thee best young centers of the 1990-WHL-eligible players . Unfortunately for the Chiefs, Schwartz has committed to attend Colorado College in the fall of 2008. Had teams not been aware of his desire to go the college route, Schwartz would have been selected much sooner in the draft, but this was a strategic selection on Spokane's part. One never knows what can hapen, as many college-bound players do wind up in the CHL.

Andrew McGuire (LW) (5th round, 81st overall) plays for Alberta's Fort Saskatchewan Rangers' AA midget team. No stats are available.

Evan Renwick (D) (5th round, 90th overall) is a member of the Calgary Royals of the Alberta Midget Hockey League. No stats are available.

Derek Lee (C) (6th round, 110th overall) plays for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League. A small player (5'9", 145), Lee was very successful in his first year of play in the BCHL. During the regular season, Lee recorded 38 points in 45 games, with 26 PIM.

** Jared Cowen (D) (1st round, 1st overall, 2006) played 3 underage games with the WHL team this year. Expected to be a full-time WHLer next season, the bluleliner spent this season as a member of the Saskatoon Contacts of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. With teammates like prospects Jimmy Bubnick, Brayden Schenn, Carter Ashton, and Zach Stebner, Cowen was in good company, and the younger blueliner certainly held his own. In 41 regular season games, Cowen had 28 points and 103 PIM. A top prospect for the 2009 NHL draft, very big things are expected of Cowen over the next few years.

Swift Current Broncos

Geordie Wudrick (LW) (1st round, 2nd overall) has had a good year for the WHL Broncos during the 2006-07 season. In 65 games, he has 23 points, 58 PIM, and a -9 plus/minus. After a slow February (he played in the Winter Games and was out of WHL action for 2 weeks), Wudrick has started off fast in March. In 4 games, he has 3 points, with a +1 plus/minus. Expected to develop into a power forward, Wudrick will probably take a little longer to develop than some others his age, but it looks like he will be worth the wait.

Ian Curtis (G) (2nd round, 23rd overall) is a huge netminder, who plays for the Cowichan Valley Capitals of the British Columbia Hockey League. No stats are available for him this season.

Nicholas Navratil (D) (3rd round, 43rd overall) is not playing organized hockey during the 2006-07 season.

Philip Gervais (RW) (3rd round, 52 overall) is a member of the WHL team. In 51 games this season, Gervais has 4 points, 70 PIM, and has maintained a -17 plus/minus. No question that he is a highly talented prospect, and it is expected that next season Gervais' stats will improve substantially.

Eddie Friesen (D) (3rd round, 59th overall) plays for the Waywayseecappo Wolverines of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. A rookie with the Wolverines, Friesen recorded 14 points in 51 regular season games this year. Not afraid to rough it up, Friesen took 150 PIM, inclulding 6 fighting majors.

Jordan Mistlebacher (C) (4th round, 63rd overall) also plays in the MJHL. In his freshman year with the Winnipeg Saints, Mistlebacher had 31 points in 50 games. Recently returned from the Winter Games, Mistlebacher has really picked up his game since his return (in 5 games, he has 3 assists).

Darren Tarasoff (D) (4th round, 65th overall) plays for the Castlegar Rebels of the Kootenay International Hockey League. In 36 regular season games, the blueliner had 14 points and 45 PIM.

Kristopher Foucault (C) (5th round, 85th overall) played one game for the WHL team this season (-1 plus/minus), but has toiled for the Calgary Buffaloes of the Alberta Midget AAA Hockey League for the better part of the 2006-07 season.

Clayton Cumiskey (LW) (6th round, 111th overall) is in his first season with the Williams Lake Timberwolves of the British Columbia Hockey League. Cumiskey played in 60 regular season games with Willims Lake and registered 29 points and 41 PIM.

**Cody Eakin (C) (1st round, 6th overall, 2006) played in 3 games for the WHL team during his udnerage year (-1 plus/minus). Eakin spent the rest of the season with the Winnipeg Wild of the Manitoba AAA Midget Hockey League. Second on the team overall in points, Eakin recorded 63 total points in 38 games. He had 60 PIM and was +41 during the regular season. Thus far during the playoffs, he has 5 points in 4 games.

Tri-City Americans

Eric Mestery (D) (1st round, 7th overall) has spent the season with the WHL team, and thus far, in 41 games, Mestery has 6 points, 20 PIM, and a -3 plus/minus. Rccently returned from the Winter Games, Mestery missed almost the entire month of February with a shoulder injury.

Tyler Schmidt (D) (2nd round, 27th overall) has also played for the WHL Americans during the 206-07 season. An outstanding rookie, Schmidt has recorded 18 points in 43 games (64 PIM, +9). Additionally, the 6'1", 200 lb blueliner was one of the stars for his province at the recently completed Winter Games. Manitoba was the silver medal winner in the Games, and Schmidt was the team's leading scorer (10 points, 4 G, 6 A).

3rd round--no selection

4th round--no selection

Cody Wutzke (LW) (5th round, 85th overall) is a member of the Saskatoon Blazers of the Saskatoon Blazers of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League during the 2006-07 season. Wutzke played in 33 regular season games with the team and registered 33 points. He was second on the Blazers in PIM with 148 during the regular season. He continues to take a lot of penalties in the playoffs (18 PIM), but he also has continued his prolific offensive production (5 points in as many games).

Kyle Birch (G) (5th round, 91st overall) is another member of the Winnepeg Wild hockey team. A top netminder in the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League (20 games, 14-1-2, 1.91 GAA) Birch served as a backup netminder for Manitoba in the Winter Games, and played admirably in the gold medal game when he came in to relieve Mark Friesen.

Colin Phaneuf (RW) (6th round, 107th overall) has also just returned from the Winter Games, where he made quite an impression (5 points). Phaneuf had 30 points in 57 regular season games (72 PIM) for the Winnipeg South Blues of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.

** Jason Gardiner (C) (1st round, 8th overall, 2006) played 4 underage games with Tri-City this season (no stats). For the majority of the 2006-07 campaign, Gardiner has been a member of the Winnipeg Sharks of the Winnipeg AAA Hockey Ass'n. In 26 games there, Gardiner has 34 points and 83 PIM.

Vancouver Giants

James Wright (C) (1st round, 9th overall) is a member of the Vancouver Giants this season. In 46 games, he has 11 pints, 31 PIM, and a + 9 plus/minus. Wright also recently represented Saskatchewan in the recent Winter Games, and played well in the tournament (7 points).

Lance Bouma (LW) (2nd round, 29th overall) plays for the WH team too. Bouma has appeared in 47 games, registered 8 points, 29 PIM, and manitained a plus/minus of 0. The young winger represented Alberta in the Winter Games (2 goals).

Nathan Deck (D) (3rd round, 49 overall) plays for the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League. With 40 points in 39 regular season games (and ony 32 PIM), Deck was the league's second leading blueliner. He has continued his excellent play into the post-season, where he has 5 points in 4 games.

4th round--no selection

Mike Piluso (LW) (5th round, 95th overall) plays for the Ridge Meadow Flames of the Pacific International Junior Hockey League. Piluso had an excellent regular season in his first year with the Flames, scoring 53 points in 48 games (40 PIM). He continues to put the points on the board in the post-season (with 2 goals and 3 assists in 6 playoff games). During this season, Piluso also played in 7 games fro the WHL Giants. During those games, he scored no points, but had 4 PIM and a -1 plus/minus.

Warren Lees (D) (5th round, 96th overall) is a member of the Vancouver Canadians of the British Columbia Minor Midget Hockey League. He had 8 points in 37 games with 58 PIM.

6th round--no selection

**Evander Kane (C) (1st round, 19th overall) played in 7 games for the WHL team this season (+1, 9 PIM). Kane has a specialness about him that is obvious while on the ice, and even though he is very small in stature, he plays a big games. Like Lees, Kane is a regular member of the Vancouver Canadians of the BCMMHL. A league leader in total points, Kane recorded 54 points in 30 games in the regular season (150 PIM). Watch for Kane to join the WHL Giants lineup this fall and become an impact player on this team.