Kelly Friesen

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Kelly Friesen is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports

  • Previewing the 2015 NHL draft’s top 10 prospects

    Connor McDavid will officially become an Edmonton Oiler on Friday at the NHL draft. (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)Connor McDavid will officially become an Edmonton Oiler on Friday at the NHL draft. (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    With the 2015 NHL draft set to get underway on Friday, BTN teamed up with some scouts to preview the top 10 prospects of the draft class.

    It goes without saying that Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel are the top two talents in the draft, but there's room for debate beyond the two phenoms. Dylan Strome and Mitchell Marner seem to be the draft’s next best forwards while Noah Hanifin and Ivan Provorv are neck and neck for the top defenceman honour.

    Here’s a look at BTN’s top 10 prospects of the 2015 draft class.

    1. Connor McDavid, centre, Erie Otters (OHL) – The Newmarket, Ont., native needs no introduction, as he’s been hyped as the NHL’s next big superstar since he was in junior high. He has undoubtedly lived up to the heavy expectations laid on his shoulders throughout his three seasons in the OHL. He went out with a bang this past year, tallying 44 goals and 120 points in 47 games, helping the Otters make it to the league finals and capturing a gold medal with Team Canada at the world

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  • NHL draft tracker: Adin Hill, Portland Winterhawks

    Portland's Adin Hill is one of the top goalies in the 2015 NHL draft class. (Winterhawks)Portland's Adin Hill is one of the top goalies in the 2015 NHL draft class. (Winterhawks)

    Adin Hill was by no means on any NHL team’s radar last year this time. He spent the majority of his 2013-14 season on the AJHL’s Calgary Canucks, posting a 3.92 average and .897 save percentage throughout 19 games.

    Twelve months later, the Calgary, Alta., native is pegged as the top North American goaltender in the 2015 draft class according to International Scouting Services. He has earned this high praise by asserting himself as one of the top goalies in the WHL, using his size (6-foot-4, 198 pounds), excellent rebound control, quickness and instincts to post a 2.81 average and .921 save percentage in 46 contests.

    “I think I’ve matured a lot since then,” says Hill on the difference between him this year and last season. “I do a lot more physically to prepare for games and have grown a lot over the past year. I’m also on a better team this year, so that has helped, too.”

    The draft attention is something Hill couldn’t have predicted early on in the season, let alone a year ago. His

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  • NHL draft tracker: Ryan Pilon, Brandon Wheat Kings

    Brandon blueliner Ryan Pilon is one of the WHL's top prospects in the 2015 draft. (Wheat Kings)Brandon blueliner Ryan Pilon is one of the WHL's top prospects in the 2015 draft. (Wheat Kings)

    Brandon Wheat Kings rearguard Ryan Pilon has deep hockey bloodlines. The game is ultimately a part of his family’s identity, as his uncle, Rich Pilon, spent 14 seasons in the NHL and his cousin, Garrett Pilon, is a prized prospect of the Kamloops Blazers.

    “Hockey is something we take pride in as a family,” says Pilon, who is ranked 24th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service. “We’re into sports and love to play them, especially hockey. I’ve loved the game ever since I was a kid and it’s a part of our family. With my uncle and Garrett, it shows I’m not the only one in my family who loves the game.”

    Pilon, 18, developed into a more polished player this year by taking the next step forward in his game. He used his mobility, good positioning and strength to keep opponents to the outside and limit their time and space on the defensive side of the puck. Offensively, he showcased his quick and accurate shot and superb passing abilities, especially when making outlet

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  • NHL draft tracker: Giorgio Estephan, Lethbridge Hurricanes

    Giorgio Estephan is ranked 144th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service. (Hurricanes)Giorgio Estephan is ranked 144th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service. (Hurricanes)

    Early on in the season, it didn’t’ seem Giorgio Estephan would hear his name called at the 2015 NHL entry draft. He only managed to muster one goal and four points throughout 21 games in the first two months of the year. But in the second half of the season, the Lethbridge Hurricanes centre hit his offensive stride, averaging 1.09 points per game with 19 goals and 37 points in 34 contests.

    “In the second half I wanted to come back and make a statement,” says Estephan, who finished the year with 23 goals and 51 points in 64 matches. “I also had more confidence going into the second half and felt more comfortable out there.”

    Lethbridge’s coaching change appeared to play a role in the 6-foot, 184-pound Estephan boosting his stats sheet. He started to truly take off when Peter Anholt went behind the bench following the firing of Drake Berehowsky just 29 games into the year.

    “It gave us a fresh start when that happened,” he says. “We started over and focused on what was in front of us and

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  • Curtis Hunt returns to Prince Albert, and other WHL news and notes

    Former Pats coach Curtis Hunt (left) is Prince Albert's new general manager. (Raiders)Former Pats coach Curtis Hunt (left) is Prince Albert's new general manager. (Raiders)

    The Prince Albert Raiders have found their man after parting ways with longtime general manager Bruno Campese about a month ago. They named Curtis Hunt the 10th architect of the storied organization’s history today.

    “It is exciting to be able to come to the Raiders,” Hunt said in the release. “There has been a lot of good work done already and there is a solid foundation both in hockey and the business operations. I am eager to get to know the people and sink my teeth into the task at hand.”

    In a sense, Hunt is returning to Prince Albert as he spent three seasons with the club as a player in the ‘80s. He began making headway in coaching when he became the bench boss of the Moose Jaw Warriors in 2002. He went on to spend six seasons as the head coach of the Regina Pats (2004-2008, 2009-2011) and split time between the Ottawa Senators and their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators, in 2008-09. He was the GM and head coach of AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons this past season.

    Albeit the

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  • Lethbridge Hurricanes take two steps forward, but remain community owned

    The Lethbridge Hurricanes have named Brent Kisio as their next head coach. (Hitmen)The Lethbridge Hurricanes have named Brent Kisio as their next head coach. (Hitmen)

    The Lethbridge Hurricanes took two major steps forward as a franchise today after a disastrous past couple of seasons. They announced the hiring of new head coach Brent Kisio and the signing of top 2014 bantam pick Jordy Bellerive.

    Kisio, who is the son of longtime Calgary Hitmen president of hockey operations Kelly Kisio, takes over from general manager Peter Anholt, who became Lethbridge’s interim head coach after Drake Berehowsky was canned 29 games into the 2014-15 season. He is on the younger side at the age of 32, but he’s well beyond his years when it comes to experience. He has held various coaching roles with the Hitmen over the last eight seasons. This past year, he was the cub’s associate coach and held the assistant general manager duties. In addition, he played the game at a high level as he spent four seasons at the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the CCHA.

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  • Kelowna’s Nick Merkley tops Memorial Cup’s best 2015 NHL draft prospects

    Nick Merkley has been on fire for the Rcokets in the Memorial Cup. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)Nick Merkley has been on fire for the Rcokets in the Memorial Cup. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

    Kelowna Rockets sophomore Nick Merkley has lived up to the hype as the Memorial Cup’s top 2015 NHL draft prospect. He has used his elite playmaking abilities, incredible work ethic and high-tempo style of play to rack up three goals and five points in his first two matches in Quebec. He put it all on display yesterday against the Rimouski Oceanic when he grabbed a pass down the middle, went through three opponents and backhanded the puck blocker side past Louis-Philip Guindon.

    The Calgary, Alta., native has ultimately picked up in the Memorial Cup right where he left off in the WHL playoffs. He was on fire in Kelowna’s 19-game post-season run, notching five markers and 27 points. Moreover, he put his name on the score sheet in all but three contests.

    That said, the 5-foot-10, 187-pound Merkley’s draft stock hasn’t always appeared

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  • Top 10 players to watch in 2015 Memorial Cup

    Kelowna's Leon Draisaitl is a player to watch at the 2015 Memorial Cup. (CP / Don Denton)Kelowna's Leon Draisaitl is a player to watch at the 2015 Memorial Cup. (CP / Don Denton)

    From high NHL draft picks to unsung heroes, Quebec will see some of the CHL’s top talents in the 2015 Memorial Cup. It’s a fitting way to bid farewell to the Colisée Pepsi.

    For various reasons, here is a look at the top 10 players to watch in the tourney, which kicks off tonight in a game between the Kelowna Rockets and Quebec Remparts.

    10. Alexis Loiseau, centre, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)

    Loiseau is easily one of the top overagers in the tournament. The 6-foot-1, 179-pound centre, who scored 35 goals and 96 points in 68 games, along with Anthony DeLuca, led Rimouski’s offense this season. On top of his goal-scoring abilities, he has developed a reputation for being a shifty player that has the ability to adapt to any role that is laid upon him.

    9. Michael McCarron, wing, Oshawa Generals (OHL)

    After a disappointing 18-year-old season with the London Knights, the 6-foot-6, 225-pound McCarron elevated his game this year. He netted 28 goals and 68 points in 57 contests while

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  • Memorial Cup preview: Top 10 Kelowna Rockets observations

    Nick Merkley and the Rockets will represent the WHL in the Memorial Cup. (Getty Images)Nick Merkley and the Rockets will represent the WHL in the Memorial Cup. (Getty Images)

    With the King of Late Night signing off, Buzzing The Net is borrowing the Top Ten trope to profile the Memorial Cup teams. It's an homage. Or as David Letterman would say to someone who tried to slip a fancy word by him, "you mean stealing."

    Presenting the Kelowna Rockets, who are hoping to be the second WHL team in as many years (Edmonton Oil Kings won it in 2014) to win the Memorial Cup. 

    10. “Lambert forgot to lose first.”

    Someone forgot to tell Rockets head coach Dan Lambert that he isn’t supposed to be here. He was supposed to struggle as a rookie coach because of how he lacks “experience.” This is the time of the year where he should be phoning his predecessor Ryan Huska for advice on how to better prepare for next season.

    That said, it did help that Lambert had an all-star team in his arsenal, but what he’s accomplished is impressive nonetheless. He’s on the fast-track to the pros, especially if he leaves Quebec with a nice trophy.

    9. “Rally around Goulbourne?”

    The Rockets

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  • Prince Albert Raiders, Bruno Campese part ways after 8 seasons

    The Prince Albert Raiders and GM Bruno Campese have parted ways after eight seasons. (Raiders)The Prince Albert Raiders and GM Bruno Campese have parted ways after eight seasons. (Raiders)

    The Bruno Campese era has come to an end in Prince Albert as the Raiders announced today that the long-time general manager won’t be returning for a ninth season.

    Frankly, this announcement seemed inevitable. The Raiders won a total of two playoff games and didn’t muster a single post-season victory with Winnipeg Jets first-rounder Josh Morrissey and Edmonton Oilers prized pick Leon Draisaitl in their lineup in Campese’s eight years with the team. On top of that, Campese used up his two lifelines when he fired head coaches Steve Young (2013) and Cory Clouston (2014) after he relinquished his bench boss duties in his fifth year with the club.

    In the GM chair, Campese had his good and bad days. He drafted and recruited a handful of high-end stars such as Draisaitl, Morrissey and Chicago Blackhawks first-rounder Mark McNeill. He did make some questionable moves, though, like sending top 2013 bantam pick Jake Kryski to the Kamloops Blazers for then-overage goalie Cole Cheveldave two

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