Monday, June 25, 2012

Crazy 2012 NHL Draft Trade Rumour

As I'm sure many of you have already heard, the Islanders apparently were hard after Ryan Murray at the 2012 NHL Draft. Murray ended up getting selected 2nd overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets, but that's only after the Jackets declined a rumoured massive trade from the Islanders.

The rumour is:

2nd overall pick

For

4th overall pick
34th overall pick
65th overall pick
103rd overall pick
125th overall pick
155th overall pick
185th overall pick


So, the Islanders apparently offered Columbus their entire draft, just to move up two spots to take Murray.  How did Islanders GM Garth Snow justify the rumoured offer?  And how did Jackets GM Scott Howson not take that deal?

Just for reference, here are the players that were taken in those spots offered:

Griffin Reinhart D
Ville Pokka D
Adam Pelech D
Loic Leduc D
Doyle Somerby D
Jesse Graham D
Jake Bischoff D

For:

Ryan Murray D


I like Ryan Murray. He was my top ranked WHL player for the draft for a reason.  But that deal is pretty hard to not only offer up, but to pass on as well.  With that being said, I would have picked different players in the spots available.  So, below I will offer up what I would have done if I was the Columbus GM and had pulled the trigger on the rumoured proposed deal:


4th overall pick - Griffin Reinhart - D - He was my 2nd ranked WHL player and the Jackets still needed a defender in this spot, in my opinion.

34th overall pick - Pontus Aberg - LW - Arguably a top 10 player in the draft in regards to offensive potential. Would have been a great player to add to the Jackets prospect pool.

65th overall pick - Matt Murray  - G - Jackets need to refill their G pipeline and I'm a big fan of Matt Murray. Big kid with a bright future.

103rd overall pick - Brett Kulak - D - Not the flashiest guy around, but I'm a big fan of his versatility and all-round ability for the Vancouver Giants.

125th overall pick - Branden Troock - RW - Big kid who's battled injury problems in the past, but I've compared him to Blake Wheeler for a reason.

155th overall pick - Coda Gordon - LW - Had him ranked in my top 10 from the WHL for the draft. The kid can flat out score goals.

185th overall pick - Nick Ebert - D - Boom or bust kid who fell off the draft map after being considered a potential top 10 pick two years ago.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

2012 NHL Draft Recap

The NHL draft came and went like a whirlwind.  It's a pretty odd feeling to have the 1st round drag on so much on Friday night and have the 2nd day wrapped up before noon on the Saturday.  Makes it tough to process all the activity on day two.

Either way, when it was all said and done a total of 32 WHL players had been selected in the 2012 Draft.  That number was one fewer than the 33 that were taken in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Things got started off on the right foot, to say the least, for the WHL on day one.  The WHL's 'big five' blueliners were all gone off the board in the first 8 picks.  That pace wasn't kept up throughout the draft, but in the end I think the league can be pretty proud with the crop from 2012.  Below I will list the WHL picks who went in the draft, then provide a breakdown of some thoughts from the two days.

1st Round
#2. Columbus Blue Jackets - Ryan Murray; White City, SK; Everett Silvertips
#4. New York Islanders - Griffin Reinhart; North Vancouver, BC; Edmonton Oil Kings
#5. Toronto Maple Leafs - Morgan Rielly; Vancouver, BC; Moose Jaw Warriors
#7. Minnesota Wild - Mathew Dumba; Calgary, AB; Red Deer Rebels
#8. Pittsburgh Penguins - Derrick Pouliot; Weyburn, SJ; Portland Winterhawks
#27. Phoenix Coyotes - Henrik Samuelsson; Scottsdale, AZ; Edmonton Oil Kings

2nd Round
#32. Edmonton Oilers - Mitchell Moroz; Calgary, AB; Edmonton Oil Kings
#39. Winnipeg Jets - Lukas Sutter; Lethbridge, AB; Saskatoon Blades
#50. Nashville Predators - Colton Sissons; North Vancouver, BC; Kelowna Rockets
#51. Montreal Canadiens - Dalton Thrower; North Vancouver, BC; Saskatoon Blades
#54. Dallas Stars - Mike Winther; Trochu, AB; Prince Albert Raiders
#58. Phoenix Coyotes - Jordan Martinook; Leduc, AB; Vancouver Giants
#60. New Jersey Devils - Damon Severson; Melville, SK; Kelowna Rockets

3rd Round
#64. Montreal Canadiens - Tim Bozon; Lugano, SUI; Kamloops Blazers
#72. Colorado Avalanche - Troy Bourke; Onoway, AB; Prince George Cougars
#76. Ottawa Senators - Chris Driedger; Winnipeg, MB; Calgary Hitmen
#77. Washington Capitals - Chandler Stephenson; Saskatoon, SK; Regina Pats
#84. Florida Panthers - Steven Hodges; Delta, BC; Victoria Royals
#89. Nashville Predators - Brendan Leipsic; Winnipeg, MB; Portland Winterhawks

4th Round
#105. Calgary Flames - Brett Kulak; Stony Plain, AB; Vancouver Giants
#116. St. Louis Blues - Nicholas Walters; St. Albert, AB; Everett Silvertips
#117. Philadelphia Flyers - Taylor Leier; Saskatoon, SK; Portland Winterhawks

5th Round
#133. Buffalo Sabres - Logan Nelson; Rogers, MN; Victoria Royals
#134. Dallas Stars - Branden Troock; Edmonton, AB; Seattle Thunderbirds
#135. New Jersey Devils - Graham Black; Regina, SK; Swift Current Broncos
#149. Chicago Blackhawks - Travis Brown; Winnipeg, MB; Moose Jaw Warriors

6th Round
#160. Winnipeg Jets - Ryan Olsen; Tsawwassen, BC; Kelowna Rockets
#165. Calgary Flames - Coda Gordon; Cochrane, AB; Swift Current Broncos

7th Round
#187. Anaheim Ducks - Kenton Helgesen; Fairview, AB; Calgary Hitmen
#192. Colorado Avalanche - Colin Smith; Edmonton, AB; Kamloops Blazers
#197. Washington Capitals - Jaynen Rissling; Edmonton, AB; Calgary Hitmen
#206. St. Louis Blues - Tyrel Seaman; Choiceland, SK; Brandon Wheat Kings


Thoughts:

 - I wasn't shocked to see Nail Yakupov go first overall to the Oilers. He was simply the best player available. The Oilers couldn't pass on him, regardless of how much they wanted Murray, which was a lot.  Feel a bit bad for Murray as he's in a tough spot to step in and be successful.  Lots of turmoil with the Jackets, lets just hope his calm demeanor will help that organization going forward.

- I loved to see Reinhart go 4th overall.  I've been hard on his bandwagon for months now and his play down the stretch and in the playoffs really elevated his ranking in many people's eyes.  Kind of cool as yesterday I found a post I made in January of 2011 saying that the 2012 NHL Draft had three locks for the top five, in my mind.  Those three were Yakupov, Murray and Reinhart.  Good for him, I knew he had it in him.

- I was very interested to hear Brian Burke say that Morgan Rielly was 1st overall on their entire list. Not Murray, not Yakupov, but Morgan Rielly. He's a fantastic player and Leafs fans will enjoy seeing him on their blueline in a few years.  I will also get to see him live a ton next year as he plays in Moose Jaw and I live in Saskatoon.

- Some people were shocked to see Derrick Pouliot go as high as he did.  I wasn't one of those people. I've called him the best playmaking D in the draft and that he might end up as the most offensively gifted WHL D of the draft. Obviously Pittsburgh thinks along those lines, too.

- Mitchell Moroz coming off the board at 32 caught everyone by surprise, even myself.  I like the kid more than most, or so I thought. He was 17th on my WHL ranking and was the 7th off the board.  But we'll see how it shapes up.  He could end up as a Scott Hartnell type for the Oilers.

- As far as Blades go, it was very interesting to see Lukas Sutter get picked ahead of Dalton Thrower.  The Blades teammates are the best of friends and it was nice to see them both go to Canadian clubs in the 2nd round.  I had Thrower to go around 35th and Sutter to go around 52nd, so it's funny that their spots were pretty much reversed.

- I think Colton Sissons going 50th overall was a bit of a steal. His mid-season concussion definitely didn't help his cause as he missed a few months of key game action.  Personally, I would have loved to see my Avalanche snap him up at 41st.

- NJ and Montreal got great value grabbing Severson and Bozon at 60th and 64th overall.

- Very happy for Travis Brown of the Moose Jaw Warriors. He was taken 149th by the Chicago Blackhawks.  I first saw Brown in the pre-season before this past year and was blown away by his raw ability.  He's been on all of my lists since then and it's really nice to see a good kid like him get rewarded.

- The biggest surprise of the WHL-storylines in the draft for me was Coda Gordon falling to the 6th round.  I've called him a late 2nd, early 3rd round kind of guy and still think he is.  His hands are fantastic and he scored 30 goals as a 17 year old rookie on a bad club this year.  The Flames were lucky enough to get him and they won't regret it.

- My Colorado Avalanche grabbed a pair of WHL guys and I like them both.  Troy Bourke has been a favorite of mine all year and Colin Smith has an unrelenting motor.

- The Capitals got a great value pick at 197 with Jaynen Rissling.  Jaynen was a guy I saw last year as a 16 year old and thought he might be able to sneak into the top 2 rounds in 2012.  Didn't turn out that way, but he's a great project to have your hands on.

- I had several guys in my top 30 go undrafted.  Guys like Cody Corbett (20th), Carter Rigby (23rd), Logan McVeigh (24th), Dominik Volek (25th), Cain Franson (26th), Andrey Makarov (28th) all deserved a shot, in my opinion.  But hey, I'm not an NHL scout, so we'll see how it unfolds.

- Special shoutout to Saskatoon-product Corbin Boes. The Brandon tender had a fantastic end to the year, but unfortunately it wasn't in the cards this time around.  I did a feature on him late in the year and gave him some good pub, hopefully he has another good year next year on a rebuilding team.

- The 2013 Draft is going to be flat out amazing, especially for WHL talent.

- To all the guys that went unpicked.  Keep your head up and use it as motivation going forward in your hockey career.  People are wrong in this business at every minute of every day.  Prove that they are wrong.

Thanks for reading everyone and have a great rest of the weekend.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Fantasy Hockey: To Keep Or Trade Yakupov?

 As some of my followers know, I'm a fantasy hockey guy.  Mix that with my passion for scouting and prospects and that equals me being involved in NHL keeper leagues.  As it stands, in my league I own the 1st overall pick in our Entry Draft, with the right to pick Nail Yakupov.  I have been fielding offers on the pick for weeks, just to see how it's valued.

I have finally picked up some offers that I feel are worth weighing against each other. With that being said, I will gladly keep the pick if these offers aren't worth it. I am a rebuilding team and finished 2nd last this past season, last the year before and now feel as if I can be a top 8 playoff team this coming year.

I'm not in a win now situation, per say.

The league includes goals, assists, points, +/-, shots, PP points and PIMs. Goaltending stats take up 5 of the 12 categories, with wins, SO, GAA, sv%, saves...so that's something that's very important. It's a deep league, with each of the 14 teams having roughly 100 players, with prospects included.

The offers I have received:

1. James Neal for 1st overall


2. Matt Read, Matt Fraser, Tyson Barrie, 12th overall pick for 1st overall


3. Derek Stepan, Ty Rattie, 15th overall pick, 29th overall pick for 1st overall


4. John Carlson, Devan Dubnyk, 28th overall for 1st overall


Those are the offers. Which one is best? Are any of them good enough to pull the trigger? I am leaning towards two of them, but can't decide which one is the best.

If Yakupov ends up in Edmonton, I wouldn't mind keeping him, unless one of these offers is mind blowing. If he ends up in Columbus, I don't really want him.

Please hit me up with some advice here and/or on Twitter as to what I should do!!




My full team is below...

===============================================

I have a fairly young squad, especially up front, with my pro roster looking like this:

Jeff Skinner (.900) - David Backes (3.75) - Jordan Eberle (.788)
Gabriel Landeskog (.925) - Matt Duchene (RFA) - Paul Stastny (6.60)
Colin Greening (.800) - Ryan O'Reilly (RFA) - Jamie McGinn (RFA)
Brooks Laich (4.00) - Antoine Vermette (3.75) - Devante Smith-Pelly (.760)

Dion Phaneuf (6.50) - Erik Johnson (RFA)
Mark Giordano (4.02) - Carlo Colaiacovo (UFA)
Brian Campbell (7.14) - Nikita Nikitin (RFA)

Semyon Varlamov (3.00)
Jose Theodore (1.50)
Jacob Markstrom (.875)


Bench
Zac Rinaldo (.525)
Todd Bertuzzi (1.975)
Braydon Coburn (4.00)
Tomas Kopecky (3.00)

My prospects/minor leagues is as follows:

C (24)
Andrew Cogliano - Anaheim Ducks
Matt Stajan - Calgary Flames
Scott Gomez - Montreal Canadiens
Jim Slater - Winnipeg Jets
Mark Letestu - Columbus Blue Jackets
Nick Bonino - Anaheim Ducks
Jordan Nolan - Los Angeles Kings
Joey Hishon - Colorado Avalanche
Tyler Pitlick - Edmonton Oilers
Oscar Lindberg - New York Rangers
Freddie Hamilton - San Jose Sharks
Teemu Hartikainanen - Edmonton Oilers
Anders Lee - New York Islanders
Tyler Johnson - Tampa Bay Lightning
David Pacan - Florida Panthers
Derek Grant - Ottawa Senators
Maxime Sauve - Boston Bruins
Brendan Shinnimin - Phoenix Coyotes
Gilbert Brule - Phoenix Coyotes
Joe Vitale - Pittsburgh Penguins
Anton Lander - Edmonton Oilers
Jim O'Brien - Ottawa Senators
Kaspars Daugavins - Ottawa Senators
Roman Horak - Calgary Flames

W (16)
Joakim Lindstrom - Colorado Avalanche
Stephane Da Costa - Ottawa Senators
Curtis Hamilton - Edmonton Oilers
Josh Nicholls - Toronto Maple Leafs
Sondre Olden - Toronto Maple Leafs
Nick Petersen - Pittsburgh Penguins
Eric Wellwood - Philadelphia Flyers
Corey Tropp - Buffalo Sabres
Garrett Wilson - Florida Panthers
Craig Cunningham - Boston Bruins
Cody Beach - St. Louis Blues
Kristians Pelss - Edmonton Oilers
Austen Brassard - Winnipeg Jets
Matej Stransky - Dallas Stars
Brandon McMillan - Anaheim Ducks
Erik Condra - Ottawa Senators

D (13)
Alexander Sulzer - Buffalo Sabres
Keith Ballard - Vancouver Canucks
Stefan Elliott - Colorado Avalanche
Thomas Hickey - Los Angeles Kings
Brayden McNabb - Buffalo Sabres
Joel Chouinard - Colorado Avalanche
Matt Donovan - New York Islanders
Mark Cundari - St. Louis Blues
Sebastian Erixon - Vancouver Canucks
Brandon Davidson - Edmonton Oilers
Brenden Dillon - Dallas Stars
Aaron Johnson - Columbus Blue Jackets
Derek Smith - Calgary Flames

G (11)
Martin Biron - New York Rangers
Calvin Pickard - Colorado Avalanche
Matt Hackett - Minnesota Wild
Zane Gothberg - Boston Bruins
Jaroslav Janus - Tampa Bay Lightning
Anders Nilsson - New York Islanders
Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault - Columbus Blue Jackets
Magnus Hellberg - Nashville Predators
Nathan Lieuwen - Buffalo Sabres
Iiro Tarkki - Anaheim Ducks
Joacim Eriksson - Free Agent

2011 Draft Picks
Mark McNeill - Chicago Blackhawks
Matt Puempel - Ottawa Senators
John Gibson - Anaheim Ducks
Oscar Klefbom - Edmonton Oilers
Adam Lowry - Winnipeg Jets
Duncan Siemens - Colorado Avalanche
Shane McColgan - New York Rangers
Reid Boucher - New Jersey Devils
Jamie Oleksiak - Dallas Stars
William Karlsson - Anaheim Ducks
Colin Jacobs - Buffalo Sabres
Tobias Rieder - Edmonton Oilers
Alan Quine - Detroit Red Wings
Alexei Marchenko - Detroit Red Wings
Keegan Lowe - Carolina Hurricanes
Garrett Meurs - Colorado Avalanche

Thursday, June 21, 2012

NHL Draft Profile: Dalton Thrower

Name:  Dalton Thrower
Hometown: North Vancouver, BC
Birthdate: December 20th, 1993
Height: 6'0
Weight: 185
Position: Defence

The Facts: 
The Saskatoon Blades were going to need to see big growth from some of their younger players as they entered the 2011-2012 season and that's exactly what they got from defenceman Dalton Thrower.  Thrower went from playing 2nd or even 3rd pairing minutes in 2010-2011 to playing on the top defensive pairing with Duncan Siemens this past year.  He was one of the league's top breakout defenders, but it's not like he was rolling right off the bat.

Thrower's confidence and success on the ice grew as the season went along.  Through October, he had registered 8 points on the year. That number was matched in November, but December is when people really started to take notice of his growth as a player.

He scored 3 goals and posted 10 points in the Christmas break-shortened month, good enough to be named the Blades player of the month. He was also named the WHL player of the week at the end of December because of a 2 goal, 6 point performance on December 30th against the Raiders.

Dalton's offensive production continued to grow down the stretch, just like his on-ice duties.  Injuries to some of the teams top defenceman, including Captain Duncan Siemens, meant that Thrower would be thrust into the spotlight even further as the team battled to make the playoffs.  On several occasions, Thrower was on the ice for 35 minutes a night, matched up against the league's top opponents on a game to game basis.  But, he met the challenges head on and excelled in both the offensive and defensive zone.

When the season finally wrapped up, Thrower had scored 18 goals.  That number was three times more than the 6 he had scored in the previous year.  Those 18 goals were also the 4th most among WHL defenceman.  His 54 points were also good enough to be ranked tied for 8th among defensive scorers in the WHL.  He also brought an edge to the table, registering 103 penalty minutes.  That tally was the highest of any of the top 14 defensive scorers in the WHL.

The big year for Thrower was good enough to have him named as the Saskatoon Blades defenceman of the year. 

Thrower ended the season being ranked 26th among North American skaters in Central Scouting's rankings and he also took part in the 2012 NHL Draft Combine in Toronto at the start of June where he interviewed with 19 teams.

The Scouting Report: 
Dalton Thrower brings a very unique combination of skill and physicality to the table.  He's a great skater, enjoys rushing the puck and makes a strong outlet pass.  Offensively, Thrower's best asset is his slapshot, which regularly beat goaltenders this past season.  Thrower also saw growth defensively this past season and is also known as one of the better open ice hitters in the WHL.  Thrower also isn't afraid to drop the gloves as he posted 9 fights this year, up from the 7 he took part in two years ago. Many NHL teams will be looking to add his mix of skill and grit at the NHL draft as Thrower has proven that he can play offensively, defensively and be a key piece on a team's penalty kill and powerplay unit.

The Numbers:
Goals:  18 (6th on Blades)
Assists: 36 (T-4th on Blades)
Points: 54 (6th on Blades)
+/-:  -4 (T-17th on Blades)
PIM: 103 (4th on Blades)
PPG: 9 (T-2nd on Blades)
SHG: 1 (T-3rd on Blades)

The Video:
http://www.saskatoonblades.com/video/index/id/30a4c57a730d868d81940ea78b9c76af

Find out if and where Dalton Thrower gets picked in the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft, which kicks off this Friday night from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The draft continues with rounds 2 through 7 on Saturday.

NHL Draft Profile: Lukas Sutter


Name:  Lukas Sutter
Hometown: Lethbridge, AB
Birthdate: October 4th, 1993
Height: 6'1
Weight: 202
Position: Centre

The facts: 
After spending much of the 2010-2011 season on the 3rd and 4th lines, Lukas Sutter took his game to a new level this past season.  After hard work in the offseason, Sutter started the year in the Blades top 6 forward group and saw his totals shoot up from 4 goals and 19 points two years ago, to 28 goals and 59 points this past season.

Not only was Sutter counted on for offence, but he also took steps in his defensive game.  He spent much of the year playing with veterans Michael Burns and Jesse Paradis on what was considered the Blades shutdown line.  Sutter excelled so much on the defensive side of the puck that he was often the main guy taking key faceoffs at important moments of the game.  He also finished 3rd on the team with a +15 plus/minus rating.

But, Sutter didn't let his offensive production or defensive responsibilities get in the way of his tenacity and physical play.  He was second on the Blades in fighting majors with 10 and finished 1st on the team in penalty minutes with a total of 165.

His big year culminated with Sutter being ranked 39th overall among North American Skaters by NHL Central Scouting.  That was a big improvement from the 86th spot that he held in their mid-term ranks.  His performance also earned him an invite to the NHL Combine in Toronto at the start of June where he interviewed with 21 different NHL teams.

The Scouting Report: 
Lukas Sutter is a hard-nosed and physical centre for the Saskatoon Blades.  His game grew leaps and bounds in the 2011-2012 season, where he saw his offensive totals jump from 19 points to 59.  A big reason for the increased production was due to an improvement in his skating stride and in his ability to handle the puck at top speed.  He has a quick release on his shot and isn't afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice.  He plays physical, hits hard and isn't afraid to drop the gloves.  He's defensively responsibly and was counted on to play in key defensive situations all season long, including as one of the teams top penalty killers.

The Numbers:
Goals:  28 (3rd on Blades)
Assists: 31 (8th on Blades)
Points: 59 (T-3rd on Blades)
+/-:  +15 (3rd on Blades)
PIM: 165 (1st on Blades)
PPG: 9 (T-2nd on Blades)
SHG: 1 (T-3rd on Blades)

The video:
http://www.saskatoonblades.com/video/index/id/95862cb66815abc570bb3895c7424504

Find out if and where Lukas Sutter gets picked in the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft, which kicks off this Friday night from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The draft continues with rounds 2 through 7 on Saturday.

NHL Draft Profile: Andrey Makarov

Name:  Andrey Makarov
Hometown: Kazan, Russia
Birthdate: April 20th, 1993
Height: 6'1
Weight: 178
Position: Goaltender

The Facts: 
It's been a big year for Andrey Makarov.

Makarov was selected in the 1st round, 30th overall in the 2011 CHL Import Draft by the Blades.  Makarov had spent the 2010-2011 season with the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the QMJHL, before the franchise was folded.  Makarov went unclaimed by any of the other QMJHL clubs before being promptly picked up by the Blades in the import draft.

The Russian's first year in the WHL was a solid one.  He posted 8 wins in his first 11 games with the Blades, registering a 2.63 GAA and a .922 save percentage through September and October.  He kept that play up into November, where he won 8 more games and was named as the Blades Player Of The Month.
The solid start to the year earned Andrey a spot on the Russian squad for the World Junior Hockey Championships.  Makarov played the role as backup to start the event, before getting the call late in the tournament and eventually stopping 57 shots in a Gold Medal game defeat.

A concussion in his return to the Blades in early January slowed Makarov's  performance in the second half of the year, but his first full season in the WHL was still a remarkable one.  He ended up posting 29 wins, a 3.01 goals against average, a .913 save percentage, a pair of shutouts and 1640 saves (7th overall in the WHL).

The strong year overall earned Makarov the 7th spot overall when it comes to Central Scouting's North American goalie ranking.  It also earned Makarov a trip to the 2012 NHL Draft Combine in Toronto at the start of June. At the combine he interviewed with NHL teams and finished tied for 8th in the hand-eye co-ordination drill and 1st overall in the 4 jump (mat) mode, ground time, drill.

The Scouting Report: 
Andrey Makarov is an athletic goaltender with good size.  He's very quick in the crease, battles hard and has a very impressive glove hand.  Makarov handles the puck well and isn't afraid to act as a 3rd defenceman when handling the puck.  He's proven to be very mentally tough, handling pressure situations and big games.  Still considered to be a very raw goaltender in his movement and positioning.  Has been compared to fellow Russian goaltender Evgeni Nabokov in terms of playing style.

The Numbers:
Wins: 29 (9th in WHL)
Goals Against Average: 3.01 (15th in WHL)
Save Percentage:  .913 (7th in WHL)
Shutouts:  2 (T-12th in WHL)
Minutes: 3107 (13th in WHL)
Saves: 1796 (7th in WHL)

The Video:
http://www.saskatoonblades.com/video/index/id/7839e6950d5e742dc2af5f55e4f9156f

Find out if and where Andrey Makarov gets picked in the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft, which kicks off this Friday night from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The draft continues with rounds 2 through 7 on Saturday.

NHL Draft Profile: Josh Nicholls

Name:  Josh Nicholls
Hometown: Tsawwassen, BC
Birthdate: April 27th, 1992
Height: 6'2
Weight: 192
Position: Right winger

The facts: 
Josh Nicholls is entering his 5th full season with the Saskatoon Blades after being selected 27th overall in the 2007 WHL Bantam Draft.  He's coming off his 2nd straight 30+ goal season for Saskatoon, after posting 30 goals in an injury-shortened year.  He finished 2nd overall in team scoring, but led the team in points per game, averaging 1.21 points per contest.

He got off to a great start in the 2011-2012 year, putting up 18 points in his first 14 games through September and October.  Nicholls was up to 20 goals on the year in early December, but that's when his season hit a snag.  A serious knee injury against Lethbridge on December 3rd forced him out of the lineup until late in February.  Despite the tough injury, Nicholls had a strong final stretch of the season for the Blades, posting 13 points in March including scoring 4 goals and 10 points in the last 6 games prior to the playoffs.  In the playoffs, Nicholls continued to put up points as he led the team with 2 goals and 3 points in their 4 game defeat to the Medicine Hat Tigers.

Despite his solid offensive performance during the year and his perseverance  through injury, Nicholls was not offered a contract by the Toronto Maple Leafs.  The 19 year old was previously drafted by the Leafs in 2010 and had until June 1st to sign with them.  That never happened for him and therefore he goes back into the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

The Scouting Report: 
Josh Nicholls is a big, rangy forward for the Saskatoon Blades.  Despite his size at 6'2 and over 190 pounds, he has an excellent skating stride and has the ability to pull away from others in races for the puck.  He's got a very hard and accurate wrist shot and his offensively abilities are considered to be the strength of his game.  Along with that offence comes an ability to play on the defensive side of the puck, being one of the Blades regular penalty killers over the last number of seasons, including leading the team in shorthanded goals in 2011-2012.

The Numbers:
Goals:  30 (2nd on Blades)
Assists: 38 (T-2nd on Blades)
Points: 68 (2nd on Blades)
+/-:  +6 (T-8th on Blades)
PIM: 24 (18th on Blades)
PPG: 3 (10th on Blades)
SHG: 5 (1st on Blades)

The video:
http://www.saskatoonblades.com/video/index/id/96f8cf8be20209319656062e4d753d7e

Find out if and where Josh Nicholls gets picked in the upcoming 2012 NHL Entry Draft, which kicks off this Friday night from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  The draft continues with rounds 2 through 7 on Saturday.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

13 WHL Players Named To Ivan Hlinka Tryout Camp

The future is bright in the Western Hockey League.

Atleast that's how it looks right now as Hockey Canada today unveiled the list of 40 players invited to take part in the tryout camp prior to the Ivan Hlinka tournament later this summer.  13 WHL players were included on that list as they will tryout for the team in Toronto from August 3rd to 6th.

After that, the team will be cut down to 22 and shipped to Europe to take part in the event that runs from August 13th to 18th in Slovakia and the Czech Republic.  Last year at the event, Canada won the Gold, knocking off Sweden 4-1 in the final game after finishing 2nd in their pool behind the Swedes.

It's a bright list of players from the Western Hockey League, with a ton of players representing each position.  Two goalies, five defenceman and six forwards have been chosen to take part from the WHL.

Looking ahead to the 2013 NHL draft, it also looks very promising for the WHL.  While the 2012 draft is all about the defender from the WHL, the league is much better represented up front for 2013.  Names like Needham, Klimchuk, Lazar lead the way on this list, while a guy like Hunter Shinkaruk will also make major noise, despite being too old for the Ivan Hlinka this time around.

It should be a fun tournament to follow as it's a big stepping stone for these players before they enter their draft year.

The roster for the 2012 Ivan Hlinka tryout camp is as follows:

#

Name

S/C

Ht.

Wt.

Born

Hometown

Club Team

Pro Status

No

Nom

T/C

Gr.

Pds

DDN

Ville d’origine

Équipe de club

Statut prof.

Goaltenders/Gardiens de but

-

Eric Comrie

L/G

6’0”

175

07/06/95

Edmonton, Alta./Alb.

Tri-City (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Zachary Fucale

L/G

6’0”

166

05/28/95

Rosemère, Que./Qc

Halifax (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Tristan Jarry

L/G

6’1”

175

04/29/95

Delta, B.C./C.-B.

Edmonton (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Spencer Martin

L/G

6’2”

186

06/08/95

Oakville, Ont.

Mississauga (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

Defence/Défense

-

Chris Bigras

L/G

6’0”

176

02/22/95

Woodland Beach, Ont.

Owen Sound (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Madison Bowey

R/D

6’1”

194

04/22/95

Winnipeg, Man.

Kelowna (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Nikolas Brouillard

L/G

5’10”

147

02/07/95

St-Hilaire, Que./Qc

Drummondville (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Kayle Doetzel

R/D

6’2”

186

06/19/95

Rosetown, Sask.

Red Deer (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Aaron Ekblad

R/D

6’3”

207

02/07/96

Belle River, Ont.

Barrie (OHL)

2014 Dft/Rep.

-

Dillon Heatherington

L/G

6’2”

185

05/09/95

Calgary, Alta./Alb.

Swift Current (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Samuel Morin

L/G

6’5”

184

07/12/95

St-Henri, Que./Qc

Rimouski (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Josh Morrissey

L/G

6’0”

184

03/28/95

Calgary, Alta./Alb.

Prince Albert (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Matt Murphy

L/G

6’1”

185

05/01/95

Fredericton, N.B./N.-B.

Val-d’Or (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Darnell Nurse

L/G

6’4”

180

02/04/95

Hamilton, Ont.

Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Jordan Subban

R/D

5’9”

170

03/03/95

Toronto, Ont.

Belleville (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Shea Theodore

L/G

6’0”

170

08/03/95

Aldergrove, B.C./C.-B.

Seattle (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

Forwards/Avants

-

Nick Baptiste

R/D

6’2”

200

08/04/95

Ottawa, Ont.

Sudbury (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Jason Dickinson

L/G

6’1”

165

07/04/95

Georgetown, Ont.

Guelph (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Max Domi

L/G

5’10”

184

03/02/95

Toronto, Ont.

London (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Jonathan Drouin

L/G

5’11”

176

03/27/95

Ste-Agathe, Que./Qc

Halifax (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Anthony Duclair

R/D

5’11”

159

08/26/95

Pointe-Claire, Que./Qc

Quebec (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Hunter Garlent

R/D

5’9”

159

02/04/95

Thorold, Ont.

Guelph (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Jérémy Grégoire

R/D

6’0”

191

09/05/95

Sherbrooke, Que./Qc

Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Carter Hansen

R/D

6’2”

178

07/04/95

Craven, Sask.

Moose Jaw (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Stephen Harper

L/G

6’1”

195

03/25/95

Burlington, Ont.

Erie (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Bo Horvat

L/G

6’0”

198

04/05/95

Rodney, Ont.

London (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Morgan Klimchuk

L/G

5’11”

180

03/02/95

Calgary, Alta./Alb.

Regina (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Ryan Kujawinski

L/G

6’2”

195

03/30/95

Iroquois Falls, Ont.

Kingston (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Yan-Pavel Laplante

L/G

6’0”

172

04/23/95

Châteauguay, Que./Qc

P.E.I. (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Curtis Lazar

R/D

6’0”

189

02/02/95

Vernon, B.C./C.-B.

Edmonton (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Nathan MacKinnon

R/D

5’11”

179

09/01/95

Cole Harbour, N.S./N.-É.

Halifax (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Zach Nastasiuk

R/D

6’1”

174

03/30/95

Barrie, Ont.

Owen Sound (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Matthew Needham

R/D

5’10”

187

04/17/95

Penticton, B.C./C.-B.

Kamloops (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Stephen Nosad

R/D

5’11”

173

01/25/95

Tottenham, Ont.

Peterborough (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Brent Pedersen

L/G

6’1”

197

07/05/95

Arthur, Ont.

Kitchener (OHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Nic Petan

L/G

5’9”

153

03/22/95

Delta, B.C./C.-B.

Portland (WHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.

-

Sam Reinhart

R/D

6’1”

177

11/06/95

West Vancouver, B.C./C.-B.

Kootenay (WHL)

2014 Dft/Rep.

-

Nick Ritchie

L/G

6’2”

207

12/05/95

Orangeville, Ont.

Peterborough (OHL)

2014 Dft/Rep.

-

Brandon Robinson

L/G

6’2”

195

10/13/95

Pickering, Ont.

Brampton (OHL)

2014 Dft/Rep.

-

Tommy Veilleux

L/G

5’11”

183

05/07/95

St-Odilon, Que./Qc

Victoriaville (QMJHL)

2013 Dft/Rep.