Monday, December 16th, 2013
World Junior camps are underway, a top Russian prospect gets booed by hometown KHL team, the CHL/NHL Top Prospects rosters are announced and the December edition of Youngblood is released are all highlighted in Monday's ramblings!
Before I dive into the meat and potatoes of this rambling, let me tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed my lazy Sunday night watching the NHL's 24/7 and Sportsnets' Quest for the Cup (centered around the London Knights Quest to the Memorial Cup). Both were entertaining but I actually think the Quest for the Cup is more interesting. Love these behind the scene feature series. Episode 3 for Quest for the Cup airs tonight on Sportsnet.
Washington Capitals prospect Evgeny Kuznetsov is pointless in his last five games causing hometown fans to boo his play and he has been left off the Russian camp roster for the Channel One Cup, a european tournament that is used as an evaluation platform for the National squad. In a connecting article, news leaks that Evgeny returned to play in the KHL only to improve his shot at making the Russian Olympic squad, otherwise he likely would've played in Washington. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds but it appears a Washington arrival may not be too far away.
Previously, Kuznetsov had explained that his decision to wait to come to the Capitals was to secure a spot on the Russian Olympic team this February. That decision is looking a bit less wise right now.
The 21-year-old Kuznetsov has 14 points through 21 games with Traktor (KHL)
Notable Russian players named to the above mentioned Channel One Cup include Alexander Burmistrov (Jets), Viktor Tikhonov (Coyotes), Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Perezhogin, Nikolas Prokhorkin (Kings), Alexander Radulov
The Canadian Hockey League announced the rosters for the January 15th CHL/NHL Top Prospects game in Calgary, an event pitting 2014 NHL Draft eligible players against each other in a showcase game.
TEAM CHERRY ROSTER:
Ty Edmonds (Prince George Cougars), Alex Nedeljkovic (Plymouth Whalers)
Anthony DeAngelo (Sarnia Sting), Haydn Fleury (Red Deer Rebels), Aaron Irving (Edmonton Oil Kings), Roland McKeown (Kingston Frontenacs), Nelson Nogier (Saskatoon Blades), Alexis Vanier (Baie-Comeau Drakkar)
Daniel Audette (Sherbrooke Phoenix), Ivan Barbashev (Moncton Wildcats), Conner Bleackley (Red Deer Rebels), Michael Dal Colle (Oshawa Generals), Chase De Leo (Portland Winterhawks), Robby Fabbri (Guelph Storm), Nikolay Goldobin (Sarnia Sting), Ryan MacInnis (Kitchener Rangers), Matt Mistele (Plymouth Whalers), Sam Reinhart (Kootenay Ice), Nick Ritchie (Peterborough Petes), Nikita Scherbak (Saskatoon Blades)
Behind the bench for Team Cherry will be former Flames captain Jim Peplinski, Paul Reinhart (the former NHL Flame will coach his son) and Tim Hunter.
TEAM ORR ROSTER:
Julio Billia (Chicoutimi Sagueneens), Mason McDonald (Acadie-Bathurst Titan)
Aaron Ekblad (Barrie Colts), Aaron Haydon (Niagara IceDogs), Julius Honka (Swift Current Broncos), Brycen Martin (Swift Current Broncos)
Alex Peters (Plymouth Whalers), Ben Thomas (Calgary Hitmen)
Sam Bennett (Kingston Frontenacs), Clark Bishop (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles), Blake Clarke (North Bay Battalion), Eric Cornel (Peterborough Petes), Leon Draisaitl (Prince Albert Raiders), Nikolaj Ehlers (Halifax Mooseheads), Josh Ho-Sang (Windsor Spitfires)
Brendan Lemieux (Barrie Colts), Jared McCann (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds), Brendan Perlini (Niagara IceDogs), Jake Virtanen (Calgary Hitmen), Spencer Watson (Kingston Frontenacs)
Former Flames Lanny McDonald (best stache in hockey history), Joel Otto and Mike Vernon will serve as coaches for Team Orr....ah man, those were the fun days in Calgary.
As an OHL guy, I was slightly surprised to see Blake Clarke make the squad given his poor draft season to date. Nick Magyar (23 points in 32 games), Andrew Mangiapane (21 points in 33), Cristiano DiGiacintos (17 points in 24 games), defenseman Blake Siebenaler (17 points in 34 games) and Kevin Lebanc (15 points in 30 games) are lilkely all more deserving but Blake Clarke comes with more hype after a strong 51-point season last year. Additionally, defenseman Jacob Middleton and forward Jaden Lindo are probably next in line if injuries strike.
Please give my recent Youngblood newsletter a read. It's full of OHL storylines, draft rankings (2014 NHL Draft and OHL Draft), scouting reports and other pertinent news. The feature story centres in on Erie Otters' scoring star Dane Fox, an undrafted fifth year OHLer who is the first OHLer to reach 40 goals this season and is on pace to set scoring records. He was a phenomenal interviewee too. As always, it's all free.
Thanks to one of the best bloggers out there, Brock Otten, on having me participate in the annual Media/Scout Top 10 for the 2014 NHL Draft feature. Included contributors include David Burnstyn (McKeen's Director of Scouting), Ross MacLean (ISS Head Scout), Dan Stewart (FC Director of Scouting), Sean Lafortune (TheScout.ca), Ryan Kennedy (THN), Craig Button (TSN Scout/Analyst), myself and many other great talents. Read it here.
Keeping my eye on Ryan Strome's play after he was recalled last week and made his NHL debut with the Islanders. Strome was named the AHL Rookie of the Month for November and is looking to make an impression with the big club. The 5th overall selection of the 2011 NHL Draft played 14:55 minutes in his debut on Saturday night versus the Montreal Canadiens going pointless with two shots on goal. In my 20-team keeper league, several managers scrambled Thursday night after Strome's recall to add the young pivot but it was all for nothing as he didn't draw into the lineup until Saturday. I like Ryan Strome but I have never been as high on his upside as most are so I am watching him closey. The Islanders play next versus the Lightning on Tuesday.
After fellow Lightning prospect Adam Erne hammered Jonathan Drouin from behind, we are now on official "Drouin Watch" as the Team Canada World Junior camp continues with the team heading to Europe for exhibition play.
Jonathan Drouin (concussion) symptom free today (so far). Rode exercise bike, following protocols, if all goes well may skate by Tuesday.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 13, 2013
It appears Drouin is getting better with each passing day but Hockey Canada won't be rushing their star forward and we shouldn't expect him in any of the exhibition games. All signs point to Drouin be able to return for the World Juniors which is great news for Canada.
There’s even a chance Drouin won’t skate at all during camp, since they don’t really need him until Canada opens the 2014 tournament in Malmo, Sweden, against Germany on Dec. 26. When asked whether he expected Drouin on the ice at camp in Toronto, Sutter’s response was, “no, I’m not expecting that, but let’s just see what happens.” Yahoo Sports
Team CAN is taking all 25 players to Europe. No cuts will be made here. Team leaves tomorrow.— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) December 14, 2013
Final cuts for Team Canada will be a tough call, and it's expected that three players will be cut after the first exhibition game.
Head coach Brent Sutter told reporters on Sunday morning that he’s hoping to cut his 25-player roster down to 22 by the time they play host Sweden in an exhibition game on Dec. 22. They play Finland on Dec. 20, which could be the last chance for players to make their case to stay on the team.
Prior to camp starting , there was lots of chatter that Anthony Mantha (Red Wings) and Hunter Shinkaruk (Canucks) could be cut which is surprising to me considering Mantha is tearing up the CHL. They both had a strong camp in Toronto over the weekend and I think it's imperative that they are included on the roster....and 16-year-old Connor McDavid (2015) too. Canada is deep with valuable two-way forwards that Brent Sutter will certainly love (Bo Horvat, Scott Laughton, Sam Reinhart, Frederik Gauthier, etc.) and it's critical that Canada adds some skilled players that play with creativity.
Speaking of creative skilled players.....
The hype on Connor McDavid is for real folks. Now is the time to start stockpiling 2015 1st round draft picks if you want any chance at adding this phenom to your fantasy lineups. Dane Fox even mentioned how impressed he is with Connor McDavid's work ethic and passion for the game in my latest Youngblood One Timer interview (see link above).
McDavid is looking to become the first 16-year old to make the World Juniors since Sidney Crosby.
"Should he make the team – and he should – McDavid will find himself in rarified company. Only five players have suited up for Team Canada at age 16: forwards Wayne Gretzky, Eric Lindros, Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza and defenceman Jay Bouwmeester." - Sunaya Sapurji
“I wish I was that good when I was 16 – I still I wish I was that good,” said fellow Canadian forward Curtis Lazar, 18, a first round pick of the Ottawa Senators. “You wouldn’t even know he was 16 the way he fits in with us – we’re definitely glad to have him here.
“You can’t really describe his skill. He’s amazing.”
Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha had 35 goals and 73 points (32 games) prior to leaving the QMJHL for Team Canada Camp....
The Detroit Red Wings traded DOWN & landed Anthony Mantha ... just think about that for a minute.— Sunaya Sapurji (@sunayas) December 15, 2013
The Carolina Hurricanes will load top 2013 pick Elias Lindholm to Team Sweden for the WJHC. Sweden is going to be tough to beat...
Eligible for #2014NHLDraft is Robby Fabbri....
FABBRI EFFECT: Storm record w/Fabbri in lineup: 18-5-0-0 (18-5); w/o Fabbri in lineup: 5-2-2-1 (5-5).— Brian Taylor (@stormtrackerguy) December 16, 2013
On USA World Junior Squad....
2014 Olympics: Team USA's toughest roster decisions come on defense -- David Poile shared some thoughts on building D http://t.co/OQq4jgtI2J— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) December 13, 2013
Love this, Alex Galchenyuk Olympic Watch....
PHT Morning Skate: Galchenyuk getting noticed by Team USA http://t.co/3Ru7xUO0Dh— Joe Yerdon (@JoeYerdonPHT) December 13, 2013
One of my favourite tweets of all time. Cody Ceci made his NHL debut last week and his mom tweeted this picture of Cody as a child lined up alongside Mike Fisher. Awesome memento!
Ceci has since played two games skating 17:57 minutes versus the Buffalo Sabres going plus-two with one shot on goal and then again Saturday against the Los Angeles Kings going minus-3 with one shot.
Beauty goal from Canuck's prospect Bo Horvat, showing that he's not just a defensive forward...
Gotta love hockey players. Stick tap to Charlie Coyle for small but impactful gesture.
I am counting the days until the Winter Classic festivities begin. I was lucky enough to attend the memorable inaugural Winter Classic game in Buffalo when Sidney Crosby won the shinny match in a snow-filled shootout and I will be attending the OHL Double Header (December 29th) at Comerica Field and the Red Wings-Leafs outdoor game at Michigan Stadium. CANNOT WAIT!
Here is a good piece on the evolution of the Winter Classic.
Thanks for reading,