Kelly Friesen

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Kelly Friesen is a blogger for Yahoo! Sports

  • Lethbridge’s Brayden Burke uses draft disappointment as extra motivation

    Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Brayden Burke notched 109 points in 72 games last year. (Cindy Adachi)Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Brayden Burke notched 109 points in 72 games last year. (Cindy Adachi)

    Lethbridge Hurricanes winger Brayden Burke didn’t expect to don a sweater on the 2015 NHL draft floor. He only suited up in 42 games as a WHL freshman that season with eight goals and 34 points on his stats sheet.

    The 2016 NHL draft was a different story. He broke out in 2015-16 as one of the WHL’s most prolific playmakers on a resurged Hurricanes club. A testament to his success is how he led the league in assists with 82 while adding 27 goals in a 72-game season.

    “I tried to keep it simple and play my game,” Burke says on his breakout year. “I played with some great linemates and had the confidence of my coach and team behind me. We had a lot of success on the power play and came together as a team.”

    Nonetheless, despite his phenomenal numbers and elite playmaking abilities, the 5-foot-10, 163-pound Burke found himself in a familiar spot on draft day. He was passed over for the second straight year by 30 NHL clubs.

    “I didn’t know how the draft would shakeup,” says Burke. “I didn’t

    Read More »from Lethbridge’s Brayden Burke uses draft disappointment as extra motivation
  • Boston Bilous explains decision to join WHL’s Oil Kings over Denver

    Langley, B.C., native Boston Bilous signed with the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings last week. (Oil Kings)Langley, B.C., native Boston Bilous signed with the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings last week. (Oil Kings)

    At just 15 years old, Boston Bilous has garnered interest from here, there and everywhere in the hockey world.

    It all started when he verbally committed to the NCAA’s Denver Pioneers last September at the start of his Grade 9 year. The move turned its fair share of heads, as it was unheard of for a Canadian goaltender to receive a commitment from a prestigious Division 1 program out of bantam hockey.

    “Denver came about through my parents and advisors (Shane Corston and Allain Roy),” says Bilous, who played for the Delta Bantam Prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League in 2015-16. “The decision was left with me and at the time I thought it was the right decision to make. No one made me go the college route or was pushing it on me. We went down to Denver and checked everything out and it felt right to me at that time.”

    Despite his college commitment, the Edmonton Oil Kings went on to draft the Langley, B.C., native in the fourth round of the 2016 WHL bantam draft. The move

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  • Early look at 2017 NHL draft’s top 10 prospects

    Nolan Patrick is considered the 2017 draft's top prospect.(Brandon Wheat Kings)Nolan Patrick is considered the 2017 draft's top prospect.(Brandon Wheat Kings)

    With the 2016 NHL draft in the rearview mirror, there’s no time like the present to look ahead at the 2017 NHL draft class. The draft has the makings of a quality group of high-end prospects.

    Unlike the 2016 draft, Canada has no shortage of elite talents at the top of the upcoming draft class. The likes of Brandon Wheat Kings centre Nolan Patrick, Windsor Spitfires playmaker Gabriel Vilardi, Mississauga Steelheads sniper Owen Tippett and Victoriaville Tigres star Maxime Comtois are regarded as four of the top five prospects in the draft.

    Here is a look at an early take on the top prospects of the 2017 draft. The order of the list and scouting reports are courtesy of Future Considerations.

    1. Nolan Patrick, centre, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) – Thick hockey bloodlines run through Patrick’s veins. The 6-foot-3, 194-pound centre, who notched 41 goals and 102 points in 72 games last year as a WHL sophomore, is the son of NHL alumnus Steve Patrick and nephew of NHL alumnus and Dallas Stars

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  • NHL scout: “I give (Auston) Matthews around 65 points (next season)”

    Auston Matthews is expected to be the No. 1 pick of the 2016 draft. (Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva via AP) Auston Matthews is expected to be the No. 1 pick of the 2016 draft. (Roni Rekomaa / Lehtikuva via AP)

    It seems it is only a matter of time before Auston Matthews dons a Toronto Maple Leafs jersey on the 2016 NHL draft floor. Even though Patrik Laine is hot on his heels, the combination of his elite skill set and strong all-around game has solidified him as the top prospect of his draft class.

    With his destination nearly set in stone, the type of impact the Scottsdale, AZ., native will make in the NHL next season has become a hot topic of discussion. Some scouts feel he will be Toronto’s No. 1 centre as a rookie, unless, of course, they sign Steven Stamkos.

    “In my eyes he will be Toronto's No.1 centre right away, but maybe they have a more conservative plan with him,” says NHL Central Scouting’s Thomas Roost. “But still, I stand to my opinion that Matthews is already a bit better than (Nazem) Kadri and (Tyler) Bozak.”

    On the stats sheet, it seems the 6-foot-2, 216-pound Matthews has the potential to produce 60 or more points, especially when considering he should receive no shortage of

    Read More »from NHL scout: “I give (Auston) Matthews around 65 points (next season)”
  • Scouts preview 2016 NHL draft’s top 10 prospects

    The Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to draft Auston Matthews first overall in Buffalo. (Reuters)The Toronto Maple Leafs are expected to draft Auston Matthews first overall in Buffalo. (Reuters)

     

    Led by Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine, the 2016 NHL draft class is full of elite talents from across the globe. The combination of the draft’s high-end skill and depth make it one of the top draft classes in the past decade.

    One major theme in this year’s draft is the high number of prolific big-bodied forwards. Look no further than how the top five picks in the draft may all end up being forwards who stand 6-foot-1 or taller. It’s clearly a good year for NHL teams to bulk up their offenses.

    Without further ado, here’s a look at the top 10 prospects of the draft. Yahoo! Sports teamed up with Future Considerations to put together BTN’s official draft list.

    1. Auston Matthews, centre, ZS Lions (NLA) – The Scottsdale, AZ., native is set to become the NHL’s next big superstar. He’s a prolific goal scorer who possesses an imposing 6-foot-2, 216-pound stature, soft hands and quick feet. Moreover, he’s already proven himself in a prestigious professional league, as he scored 24 goals and

    Read More »from Scouts preview 2016 NHL draft’s top 10 prospects
  • Mitch Marner’s dominant season opens up debate on NHL-CHL agreement

    London Knights forward Mitchell Marner was drafted third overall by the Leafs in the 2015 NHL draft. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL ImagesLondon Knights forward Mitchell Marner was drafted third overall by the Leafs in the 2015 NHL draft. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images

    The dominant season of Toronto Maple Leafs prized pick Mitch Marner has opened up the debate of the CHL-NHL agreement. More specifically, the part of the agreement that prohibits players from opting out of their 19-year-old seasons in the CHL to play pro hockey in the AHL.

    Marner, who turned 19 in May, clearly has nothing left to prove in the CHL. On top of scoring 242 points throughout his last two seasons with the OHL’s London Knights, he managed to net 14 points in four contests at the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup.

    Nonetheless, Marner doesn’t seem to be a lock to move onto the NHL next season. In addition to possessing a smaller 5-foot-11, 163-pound frame, he is in an organization full of hockey minds such as general manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Mike Babcock who tend to be patient with younger players. The combination of the two could lead to the Thornhill, Ont., native spending one more season in London.

    The ideal situation for the Leafs would be if they could send Marner

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  • Meet the main men of 2016 Memorial Cup and future NHL stars

    There is no shortage of elite talents set to take part in the 2016 MasterCard Memorial Cup. The tournament includes some of the NHL’s top prospects such as Toronto Maple Leafs prized pick Mitch Marner, Philadelphia Flyers draft choice Ivan Provorov and San Jose Sharks first-rounder Timo Meier.

    Beyond NHL-drafted players, Red Deer will see some of the 2016 NHL draft’s top prospects. London Knights forward Matthew Tkachuk and defender Olli Juolevi are the top two prospects in the tourney. Brandon Wheat Kings blueliner Kale Clague is another high-end prospect while teammate Nolan Patrick is a 2017 draft phenom.

    Without further ado, here’s a look at the tournament's top 10 future NHL stars. The puck drops on the tournament Friday night in a matchup between the host Red Deer Rebels and London Knights.

    1. Mitch Marner, centre, London Knights – The Thornhill, Ont., native is the hottest scorer set to lace up the skates in the Memorial Cup. He led the OHL in playoff points and averaged 2.44

    Read More »from Meet the main men of 2016 Memorial Cup and future NHL stars
  • Scouts preview 2016 NHL draft’s top goaltenders

    Carter Hart has asserted himself as one of the top goalies in the 2016 NHL draft class. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Everett Silvertips)Carter Hart has asserted himself as one of the top goalies in the 2016 NHL draft class. (Photo by Christopher Mast/Everett Silvertips)

    Unlike the 2015 NHL draft, which saw the Washington Capitals pick Russian netminder Ilya Samsonov with the 21st overall selection, it appears a goaltender won’t don a sweater in the first round of the 2016 draft.

    “We don't believe that there are any early selections (in this year’s draft class),” says International Scouting Services head U.S. scout Phil Myre.

    Nonetheless, the 2016 draft class doesn’t lack potential No. 1 goalies just because there aren’t any first-round locks. After all, New York Rangers star Henrik Lundqvist and Nashville Predators veteran Pekka Rinne weren’t selected until the seventh and eighth rounds respectively in their draft years. It goes to show that predicting the future of an 18-year-old goalie is easier said than done.

    Everett Silvertips sophomore Carter Hart and Swedish product Filip Gustavsson are regarded as two of the top netminders in the draft. Hart asserted himself as an elite goalie in the WHL this season, posting a .918 save percentage and 2.14

    Read More »from Scouts preview 2016 NHL draft’s top goaltenders
  • WHL final preview: Experience gives Wheat Kings edge on Thunderbirds

    Matthew Barzal and the Thunderbirds take on the Wheat Kings in the WHL final. (Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)Matthew Barzal and the Thunderbirds take on the Wheat Kings in the WHL final. (Brian Liesse/Seattle Thunderbirds)

    The Brandon Wheat Kings and Seattle Thunderbirds are set to square off for the Ed Chynoweth Cup. The series kicks off on Friday at Brandon's Keystone Centre.

    Even though the Thunderbirds have dominated all three of their series, the Wheat Kings are favoured to win the WHL championship. The odds swing in Brandon’s favour because of their notable edge in experience and desire for redemption. They made it to the championship series last year, but the Kelowna Rockets embarrassed them in a four-game sweep.

    The Wheat Kings knocked the Memorial Cup hosts, the Red Deer Rebels, out of the playoffs in five contests in Round 3. They defeated the Moose Jaw Warriors in five and Edmonton Oil Kings in six in their previous two series.

    The Thunderbirds, meanwhile, swept the Rockets in their conference final matchup. They bounced the Everett Silvertips in five and the Prince George Cougars in four in the first two rounds.

    Despite only facing each other once in the regular-season, Brandon and Seattle

    Read More »from WHL final preview: Experience gives Wheat Kings edge on Thunderbirds
  • WHL bantam draft: Kootenay Ice pick Alberta native Peyton Krebs 1st overall

    The Kootenay Ice picked Alberta product Peyton Krebs first overall in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. (Greg Krebs)The Kootenay Ice picked Alberta product Peyton Krebs first overall in the 2016 WHL bantam draft. (Greg Krebs)

    At a time when the province is under the duress of wildfires, the 2016 WHL bantam draft brought smiles to the faces of many Albertans. The Energy Province saw the top three selections in the draft plucked out of its own backyard.

    The Kootenay Ice kicked off the draft by choosing Okotoks, Alta., product Peyton Krebs first overall. The 5-foot-11, 163-pound forward lit up the Alberta Major Bantam Hockey League this season with 46 goals and 102 points in 27 games for the Rocky Mountain Raiders.

    “Our scouting staff has been watching Peyton Krebs compete at a high level for two years,” said Kootenay’s director of scouting Garnet Kazuik. “He possesses an element of speed and pace that is unparalleled in his draft class. He is a passionate player whose vision on the ice allows the players around him to be better as well. We are excited to welcome Peyton and his family to the Kootenay Ice organization.”

    The Saskatoon Blades pulled off a trade with the Vancouver Giants in order to move up one

    Read More »from WHL bantam draft: Kootenay Ice pick Alberta native Peyton Krebs 1st overall

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