Saturday, September 24, 2011

Regina Pats 5 Swift Current Broncos 1

Game Notes: The first period was dominated by the Swift Current Broncos, even though the scoreboard did not show it. There certainly appeared to be a disconnect between the Pats defencemen and forwards, in the early going especially, This resulted in errant passes, a generally disorganized breakout system, and several icing calls. However, led by the line of Chandler Stephenson, Lane Scheidl, and Jack Rodewald, the Pats took the play to the Broncos in the second and third periods to earn the victory. It is worth noting that both teams were missing an impact player, Reece Scarlett for Swift Current and Jordan Weal for Regina.

Prospect Notes: Early in the season it is important to identify and concentrate on the prospects available for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. The most obvious prospect in this game was Chandler Stephenson. He was the best player in the game and led his team with 2 goals and 2 assists. Based on this performance I would identify him as a priority prospect, and tentatively slot him in as a possible 2nd or 3rd round draft choice. After a couple more viewings of Chandler I will compose a detailed prospect report.
Another draft Regina Pat's prospect who played in this game was Dominik Volek. Although Dominik's overall impact on the game was not substantial, he did demonstrate the skill set and work ethic necessary to merit attention from NHL scouts this season. It is too early to call him a priority prospect, but at first glance he certainly could be a consideration in later rounds.

As for the Swift Current Broncos, the only draft eligible prospect I watched was forward Coda Gordon. After my next viewing of him I will provide a prospect report. Based on this game, however Coda will need to have a bigger impact on the game to be considered a priority prospect. His skill set is adequate, and he did play on the second power-play unit -- so the coach had some faith in his offensive capabilities. Looking forward to watching Chandler, Dominik, and Coda this season and monitoring their development.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Brandon Wheat Kings 4 Moose Jaw Warriors 1

The first regular season game in Mosaic Place turned out to be a disappointing one for the home side. Unfortunately, I was not at the game but I did watch it on TV. The new facility looked like an ideal venue for a junior hockey team. There is no doubt that the intimidating atmosphere in the "Crushed Can" will be nearly impossible to duplicate in the new rink. The old rink had incredible energy and an absolutely electric atmosphere, especially in the Regina-Moose Jaw rivalry. As far as the game yesterday, I just wanted to make a few general observations. It is early in the season, but it looked to me like both of these teams will be very good this year as the pace of the game was quite frenetic. For the Wheat Kings, the first line tandem of Mark Stone and Alessio Bertaggia appeared lethal. The combination of Stone's size and playmaking ability with Bertaggia's speed and finish around the net will be difficult for opposing defences to contain. Another Wheat King that caught my attention was Ryan Pulock. If this young defenseman keeps progressing he will be a priority prospect for the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. With regards to the Warriors, the marquee prospect is defenceman Morgan Reilly. I will not provide a detailed prospect report on Morgan until I see him playin person. At first glance, Morgan is a talented and mobile defenceman who will attract alot of attention from scouts this year. Last nights game was a great start for another intriguing season of WHL hockey.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Tyler Johnson/Spokane Chiefs: "The Kid Can Play"

As the new season dawns for NHL teams, one of the young players I will be following is former Spokane Chief forward Tyler Johnson. Tyler is the type of player that is easy to cheer for, for both his on ice play and his character off the ice. At last summer's Western Hockey League Awards Banquet, I had the opportunity to spend some time with Tyler and his parents. Despite his many accomplishments in junior hockey(Memorial Cup Championship, for example), I found Tyler to be an extremely humble, down-to-earth, and polite individual. As for his play on the ice, there are many reasons to like him. I must confess to having an affinity for smallish right-handed center men. His doubters will say things like, "He is too small to compete at the NHL level," and, "He needs to find another gear, needs more speed." However, sooner or later his doubters will have to answer this question, "Why do good things keep happening for his team when he is on the ice?" Tyler has an elite level of hockey sense, leadership qualities, and is a winner. There is no doubt in my mind that he will be an asset to the Tampa Bay Lightning organization before long. It is a cliche in the scouting community, but I will say it anyway, "The kid can play"!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

When Bobby Clarke was a Stickboy...

One of the highlights of my summer was attending the Western Hockey League Awards banquet in Calgary. The WHL requested my attendance in order to present the Most Sportsmanlike Player award. This year I was honored to present the award to Tyler Johnson of the Spokane Chiefs. He is a great young man with a great future. During the course of events, I was fortunate to have a visit from NHL Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke. Mr. Clarke certainly did not have to come and talk to me. We discussed many things; we talked about our mutual friend Mike Smith, we talked about the NHL playoffs, and we discussed his team-- the Philidelphia Flyers. However, Mr. Clarke had a short story to tell me. Over 40 years ago, when Bobby was a kid growing up in Flin Flon, Manitoba he was a stick boy for the Bombers when my father played for the team. That Bobby Clarke would remember that, considering his multitude of accomplishments in the game of hockey, is a testament of his character. Thank you for sharing this story with me, Mr. Clarke.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Young Stars Tournament: Penticton BC

Been fortunate enough to watch two of the young star games being held in Penticton BC. I have seen prospects from the Vancouver Canucks, Edmonton Oilers, and the Calgary Flames. At first glance, it appears that the Oilers have the deepest collection of prospects in this tournament. I would just like to make a few observations on the Oiler prospects that I found particularly interesting. Obviously, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the first overall pick in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, has tremendous upside and is the marquee attraction. However, in this game Anton Lander displayed the skill level and confidence to show me that he is a top-level prospect. Lander doesn't have explosive speed or a smooth skating style. It's a cliché, but this young Swede place a "North American" style game. A good two-way player, who appears to be very strong on the puck. Generally speaking, Anton is the type of player who coaches appreciate because they are responsible in all three zones.

It was also interesting to see former Regina Pat Colten Teubert skate for the Oilers prospects team. He was wearing the captain "C”, and the Sportsnet commentators said that the Oiler organization was happy with his leadership skills. Overall, he played a quiet game and did not make mistakes -- something that he has been prone to in the past. When his team had a large lead in the third period, he got in a fight and took a direct hit -- it looked to me like his nose was broken, and I hope that he didn't suffer a concussion. Why NHL teams allow fighting in these games is a complete mystery to me. This is a very important time in the development for Colten, an injury would be a major setback.

Monday, September 12, 2011

About This Blog: Part 2

This has been an especially difficult summer for the entire hockey community. With the loss of Derek Boogaard, Rick Rypien, Wade Belak, and Brad McCrimmon the province of Saskatchewan has been particularly hard hit. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families, friends, and former teammates of these individuals.

For readers of this blog who are interested in prospects for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, or in Western Hockey League players who have already been drafted by NHL teams, check back on this blog regularly for detailed prospect profiles.