Buzzing The Net

  • Ryan Hartman is one of the few returning players for USA's WJ squad. (Rena Laverty, Plymouth Whalers)To say Team USA will have their work cut out for them to repeat as gold medalists at the world junior championship this year would be an understatement.

    Without Anaheim Ducks prospect John Gibson in between the pipes, Nashville Predators star Seth Jones and Winnipeg Jets defender Jacob Trouba on the blueline and Montreal Canadiens sniper Alex Galchenyuk up front, they have ultimately lost their gold medal-winning foundation from last year. Not to mention, they only have three returning players: Providence College puck-stopper Jon Gillies, Miami University winger Riley Barber and Plymouth Whalers agitator Ryan Hartman.

    Nevertheless, they still seem have a strong enough squad to be in the running for gold in Malmo, Sweden. Of the 26 players named to their preliminary roster today, Hartman (Chicago Blackhawks, 2013), Edmonton Oil Kings forward Henrik Samuelsson (Phoenix Coyotes, 2012), Albany Devils winger Stefan Matteau (New Jersey Devils, 2012) and University of Minnesota blueliner

    Read More »from News and notes from Team USA’s preliminary world junior roster
  • Koekkoek was a first round pick, 10th-overall, of the Tampa Bay Lightning (Getty Images)

    These are crazy times in the Ontario Hockey League. With the OHL's London Knights hosting the Memorial Cup this year, it seems both the trade market and rumour mill have spun out of control.

    The latest bit of speculation came on the heels of Tuesday's blockbuster deal which saw the Windsor Spitfires move star forward Kerby Rychel and defenceman Nick Ebert within the conference to the Guelph Storm in exchange for Brody Milne and a long list of draft picks.

    Tony Saxon of the Guelph Mercury, a veteran OHL reporter, had originally reported the deal as involving Windsor defenceman Slater Koekkoek — a Tampa Bay Lightning prospect. When the Koekkoek portion of the report failed to materialize, the assumption was the 19-year-old blueliner had used his no-trade clause. And that's where the rumours of Koekkoek holding the Spits hostage for a deal to the London Knights kicked in because:

    1. How could he be happy playing in Windsor?

    2. The London Knights are hosting the Memorial Cup

    3. Everyone

    Read More »from Koekkoek’s camp denies Knights or nothing demand
  • Grigorenko, 19, has dressed for only 3 games since Ted Nolan took over in Buffalo (Gary Wiepert, AP)

    Something has to give very soon with former Quebec Remparts star Mikhail Grigorenko's predicament with the Buffalo Sabres and it might happen this week, really. The 19-year-old Russian centre has been a ghostly presence since the return of Ted Nolan in mid-November, dressing for only three games and seeing limited ice in each.

    Is a loan to Team Russia, whom Grigorenko helped win silver in 2012 and bronze in '13, in order? The Sabres were denied in their attempt to send their former first-rounder to the American Hockey League on a conditioning stint, as the Los Angeles Kings did with Brayden Schenn during his age-19 year in 2010-11 before being forced to return him to the Western league. It sounds like a loan might be the remedy.

    Read More »from Buffalo Sabres mull loaning Mikhail Grigorenko to Team Russia for world junior
  • Blue Jackets pick Kerby Rychel is accepting another new jersey after his trade to Guelph (Bill Kostroun, AP)

    The one ingredient of the Guelph Storm's big trade with the Windsor Spitfires that might not digest well is the timing.

    It's understandable that the Spitfires did "what was right for the franchise" by moving captain Kerby Rychel to the contending Guelph Storm on Tuesday. It is evident that Windsor wasn't going to be in three-team arms race in the Western Conference, so cashing out was prudent.

    One can quibble with the timing of pulling this off on Dec. 3 instead of waiting a month to see what plays out
    — a winning streak or Rychel having a big world junior championship that could have led to increasing his trade value even further. A team punting on the season while only seven points out of the division draws some suspense out of the next three months. That's not entirely a consequence of rules the OHL adopted after Steve Mason's trade from London to 2008 Memorial Cup champion Kitchener was announced while the goalie was away at the world junior. No one's being forced to trade a Team Canada player before Christmas Day, as the Oshawa Generals showed by waiting until after the WJC to move John Tavares the first year after the rule came into effect.

    [Related: Guelph Storm add Kerby Rychel, Nick Ebert,
    while filling Windsor Spitfires’ craving for draft choices
    ]

    In the big picture, having a team that is fifth in its conference do its fact-facing this early doesn't speak well for the competitive structure of the OHL, not that anyone will listen to this editorializing. That's a good segue into the new Double D, where Erie, London and Guelph are high up while one has to tunnel down pretty deep to find the next mention of an OHL team.

    Read More »from Erie Otters, London Knights trade places at top, 4 new teams move into BTN Dynamic Dozen
  • Kerby Rychel was named to Team Canada's training camp roster on Monday (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)

    Warren Rychel wanted his son, Kerby Rychel, to have a shot at the Memorial Cup in his final year of junior hockey, but it won't come while enriching the team that won the host bid over the Windsor Spitfires.

    The Guelph Storm, after 24-plus hours of being in a holding pattern on a blockbuster trade, have delivered the boatload of priority selection choices that the elder Rychel was craving to get the Team Canada forward from Windsor. Los Angeles Kings prospect Nick Ebert — it's the second time he and Kerby Rychel have been moved on the same day — will also head to the Midwest Division, instead of his Spitfires' D partner, Tampa Bay Lightning first-rounder Slater Koekkoek.

    Officially, Guelph parts with 18-year-old Brody Milne, its second-round picks from 2014 through '18 and three later choices: Windsor's original fourth in this spring's draft, Guelph's four in 2015, a third in '16 that was originally the Kitchener Rangers' and a conditional 15th-rounder in 2017 (if Ebert returns to the OHL as an overage player). Bet the latter beats the most fruit, kidding.

    From Tony Saxon (@SaxonOnTheStorm):

    One has to admit it does paint a picture, though. The Spitfires were fined and stripped of picks in 2012 after OHL commissioner David Branch found they had paid players "improper benefits." They stayed in the bidding process for the 2014 MasterCard Memorial Cup that ultimately proved a "slam dunk" for the London Knights.

    Now the deal — and while there might be blockbuster-trade fatigue across the OHL, two high NHL first-round picks changing uniforms is huge — sets up Guelph for a shot at the big post-season prize.

    Read More »from Guelph Storm add Kerby Rychel, Nick Ebert, while filling Windsor Spitfires’ craving for draft choices
  • Liam Stewart is in his 3rd year with Spokane (Don Denton, The Canadian Press)Yes, we can assure you that one of the players on a major junior hockey team based in Spokane, Washington happens to be the son of a Scottish pop star from the 1970s and a model from New Zealand. We can also assure you, after it had been suggested in the summer, that Liam Stewart will indeed play for Team Great Britain at the International Ice Hockey Federation U-20 World Championship.

    No, Great Britain will not be icing a team to skate with junior hockey powerhouses Canada, the United States, and Sweden in Malmö, Sweden starting Boxing Day, but the British do ice a team in the Division I Group B, the third tier of world competition. That tournament is scheduled to be played from December 9 to 15 in Dumfries, Scotland, with the winner being promoted to Group A for next year's tournament. Stewart, the son of Rod Stewart (yes, that Rod Stewart) and Rachel Hunter, is also a member of the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League and was officially named to the roster Tuesday.

    Per a press release from the team:

    “The opportunity to represent your country in international competition is always special and the Spokane Chiefs are supportive and proud for Liam to have this chance,” Chiefs General Manager Tim Speltz said. “The tournament being held in Great Britain magnifies the experience for Liam and his family.”

    Read More »from Liam Stewart, son of celebrity couple, to play for Great Britain at World Juniors
  • The Plymouth Whalers' annual Christmas photo (from defenceman Gianluca Curcuruto's Instagram account)

    It takes all 20 players working together to win a hockey game, but it takes 21 to raise the bar for an ugly Christmas sweater photo.

    Two years ago, the Ontario Hockey League club started a minor trend when 10 players, rocking side parts, Christmas sweaters and ironic hipster mustaches went to a mall for a picture with Santa. It has since become a thing for junior players to indulge their inner child.

    Read More »from Plymouth Whalers take ugly Christmas sweater team photos up a notch
  • Nic Petan has 60 points in 28 games for Portland (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)Whether Team Canada lacks experience is all in how one asks the question.

    Jonathan Drouin is the lone holdover from the 2013 squad who doesn't have an asterisk next to his name from either having been injured before the tournament (Charles Hudon), having a suspension to sit out (Griffin Reinhart) or having been the emergency third-string goalie (Jake Paterson). Focusing there ignores that eight players on the squad were frontline players on league championship teams who went on the Memorial Cup in either of the past two years. The year-end tournament isn't as high-profile as the world junior but might be equally intense.

    That group includes Nic Petan, who only had to score 120 points last season in Portland to warrant being a mid-second-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets. Petan, who tallied 23 points in his last eight games to nail down his selection camp spot, is already halfway to that total. One could consider him an X factor, since there was a time when Hockey Canada would have found a reason not to bank so much on an diminutive 18-year-old who just does nothing but score.

    Petan's far from the only 2013 Jets pick enjoying a good run. Here's a look at who is ebbing and who is flowing heading into the week.

    Read More »from Jets pick Nic Petan rolling as Team Canada camp nears: CHL Hot & Cold
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Former NHLer Nevin Markwart leads a group that wants to buy the Regina Pats, like really, really badly. (Regina Leader-Post)

    Take a few to learn a little more about Red Deer's Connor Bleackley, since he is leading the Rebels in scoring at the ripe old age of 17. (The Pipeline Show)

    Take it from Ottawa Senators goaltending prospect Chris Driedger. It's great to be the home team goalie during a Teddy Bear Toss game. The visitors' goalie kind of get a raw deal. (Calgary Sun)

    New York Islanders first-rounder Ryan Pulock being left off the selection camp roster is a surprise, writes Jess Rubenstein. (The Prospect Park, Brandon Sun)

    When only two Spokane Chiefs players score in an entire weekend, well, that is problematic. (Spokane Spokesman-Review)

    The Lethbridge Hurricanes have bid adieu to defenceman Joel Topping, who has opted to begin pursuing a career in education. (WHL)

    OHL

    That Twitter-breaking trade that would send NHL first-rounders Kerby Rychel and Slater Koekkoek from Windsor to Guelph apparently isn't happening (yet). Storm GM Mike Kelly: "It’s just ongoing discussion with Windsor and other teams, but there’s nothing imminent at this time." (Windsor Star)

    Wouldn't you know, the two most notable omissions from Canada's camp roster, London's Max Domi and Sault Ste. Marie's Darnell Nurse, meet up on Wednesday. Quoth Nurse, on playing left out instead of defence for Canada: "It's something that's in my past now and not something that's going to carry on and be a bother for me from this point on." (London Free Press, Sault Star)

    Read More »from Domi, Nurse can work out frustrations going head-to-head: the coast-to-coast
  • Darnell Nurse didn't crack Canada's invite list. (Terry Wilson, OHL Images)

    Team Canada’s world junior tryout was a tough cookie to crack this year. Unlike past years where 40 skaters and four goaltenders received invitations, they only handed out 25 invites in total this year. With that, there was no shortage of high-profile NHL prospects left off the list.

    Ultimately, it makes more sense for Canada to go about their tryout process this way. This gives the coaches more time to focus on the players that they have handpicked to represent their country in Sweden. In addition, although the experience of the tryout means something, this strategy won’t waste the handful of players’ time who never really had a shot at making the team at the tryout because they were clearly on the outside looking in.

    Here is a look at 10 players who were snubbed from taking part in Team Canada’s tryout camp, which takes place from Dec. 12-15 in Toronto.

    Darnell Nurse, defence, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL) – It was surprising to see the Edmonton Oilers’ seventh overall pick of the 2013 NHL draft left off the invite list. On paper, he seemed to be one of Canada's best options as a top-four defenceman. He not only possesses an imposing 6-foot-4, 185-pound stature, but he is also a strong skater with top-notch offensive talent. However, he has been caught out of position at times while in the offensive zone. It seems his odd blunders where he gets away from defence-first hockey and the possibility he may struggle a bit on the big ice surface could have been why Hockey Canada chose other defenders over him.

    Read More »from Darnell Nurse, Max Domi lead Team Canada’s surprising world junior tryout snubs
  • Brent Sutter guided Canada to WJC golds in 2005 and '06 (The Associated Press)

    Team Canada has until Dec. 25 to get from from 25 to 22 players, thus bringing an end to the early-morning procession of future NHLers with tear-streaked teenage faces being paraded in front of the media when the final cuts are made.

    In terms of keeping the horse in front of the cart, eschewing the traditional 40-player camp for a compact group is purely a hockey decision. It does somewhat reflect on how big the world junior championship has become in Canada. It was one thing for released players to face a small media throng 10 or 15 years ago. It's quite another to face a throng of reporters a young athlete isn't used to facing, aside from on his NHL draft day.

    It's a business deal, but Hockey Canada appears to be mindful that it could come off as cold.

    "That's certainly something that the management group has discussed," Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada senior director of men’s national teams and hockey operations, said on a Monday conference call. "Since Day 1 of [Kelowna Rockets general manager] Bruce Hamilton being involved in this process [as part of the Program of Excellence management group], he's always been very concerned and put a lot of thought into how we're going to release players and making sure we do that properly. That certainly is a consideration. But at the end of the day it's a decision made by our coaches, managements and scouts that these are the best players that give us the best opportunity to be successful."

    Read More »from Why Team Canada cut camp down to 25 players
  • Connor McDavid is the sixth 16-year-old named to Team Canada (OHL Images)

    Hockey Canada is aiming that being leaner at camp equals meaner when it counts.

    On Monday, the 25-player roster for Team Canada's national junior team selection camp was released, with head coach Brent Sutter and head scout Ryan Jankowski deciding the camp will be more for making the final decisions on the makeup of the roster. Canada has often invited 40-plus skaters and goaltenders to the camp, but after four consecutive years without a gold medal and a humbling fourth-place finish in 2013, it was clearly time for a change in tactics.

    The camp runs Dec. 12-15 in Toronto. Canada does not have to set its final roster until Christmas Day, the eve of its Boxing Day opener against Germany in Malmo, Sweden. Canada also faces the Czech Republic, Slovakia and reigning gold medalist Team USA during the round-robin.

    Yahoo! Junior Hockey will have further coverage of the announcement throughout the day Monday. Sources have told Yahoo! that this roster will be announced at 1 p.m. ET on Monday:

    Read More »from Team Canada’s 2014 world junior championship roster nearly set; 25-player camp roster named
  • Griffin Reinhart of the Edmonton Oil Kings

    Griffin Reinhart will be among the 25 players named to Canada's 2014 world junior selection camp today, Yahoo Sports has learned.

    There was question as to whether Hockey Canada would take the fourth-overall pick of the New York Islanders after he was given a four game suspension by the International Ice Hockey Federation during last year's tournament in Ufa, Russia.

    The 19-year-old was assessed a two-minute penalty for a high stick to the head of American forward Vincent Trocheck during Canada's semifinal with the U.S. last year. It wasn't until after that the IIHF's disciplinary panel decided to suspend him.

    The IIHF's panel was made up of former NHL referee Dan Marouelli, a Canadian, and former NCAA hockey coach Jeff Sauer, an American.

    Reinhart has only served one game of the suspension - missing the bronze medal game against Russia - which means he'll have three games left to sit out at the 2014 tournament in Malmo, Sweden. He would be eligible to return for the final game of the

    Read More »from Source: Griffin Reinhart earns invite to world junior camp
  • Moffat attended the Nashville Predators training camp this season (Aaron Bell, OHL Images)The Hunter became the hunted on Sunday, in one the most devastating yet totally clean checks delivered so far this season in the Ontario Hockey League.

    Normally a heavy collision in the OHL sparks up a parlour game about whether there was a check to the head and how long the player might be suspended. Since Oshawa Generals right wing Hunter Smith is one of the league's tallest players at 6-foot-6, it might be almost impossible to head check him. On Sunday, Kingston Frontenacs captain Michael Moffat lined up Smith perfectly with a shoulder-to-chest check just inside the blueline.

    [Portland's Petan, Val-d'Or's Mantha and
    Moncton's Dubeau lead Sunday's 3 Stars
    ]

    The 20-year-old Moffat, who is 6-foot-1 and 220, nearly put Smith into the General Motors Centre rafters. The impact was so great that the General's helmet popped right off of his head. The frame-by-frame shows how Moffat's check was as perfectly timed as it was perfectly clean.

    Read More »from Watch Kingston Frontenacs’ Michael Moffat throw perfect, clean check on Oshawa Generals’ Hunter Smith (VIDEO)
  • Nicolas Petan led the Winterhawks over the Blades. (Marissa Baecker, Getty Images)No. 1 star: Nicolas Petan, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

    Down 4-1 with just over 25 minutes left in the game, it seemed the Winterhawks were going to fall to the Saskatoon Blades in their own barn, but Petan had other plans. The Winnipeg Jets prospect closed out the second period with two quick goals and completed his natural hat trick with a marker early in the third to knot the game up at four. He went onto to tie the game up again with his fourth on the night at the 13:48 mark before Oliver Bjorkstrand scored the Winterhawks’ game-winner in the 6-5 affair. It is safe to assume Petan’s budget for Brendan Leipsic’s Christmas gift went up after the contest as he assisted all four of his goals.

    Petan’s five-point night, which included a first-period assist on Bjorkstrand’s first goal, gives him 19 goals and 60 points in 28 games on the year. A combination of his outstanding point production, a strong showing in the Subway Super Series and another valiant effort at the tryout camp, assuming he receives an invite, should give him a quality case to represent Canada at the world junior championship in Sweden.

    Read More »from Portland Winterhawks’ Nicolas Petan notches 5-point night in comeback win: Sunday’s 3 Stars
  • Once again, Southern Alberta hockey fans outdid themselves during the Calgary Hitmen's annual Teddy Bear Toss game.

    Playing at the Scotiabank Saddledome gives the Hitmen a big-arena advantage, which they have used to their full advantage since the birth of the Teddy Bear Toss custom in the 1990s. The origin story is unclear, with some attributing the invention to fans of either the Kamloops Blazers or Portland Winterhawks. The Ontario Hockey League's Kitchener Rangers have also held one for 19 seasons, the same span as Calgary.

    It's pretty straightforward: fans throw stuffed animals on the ice after the home team's first goal of the game, which the team then collects and distributes to various charities. On Sunday, the crowd of 17,199 in Calgary, many of whom brought multiple stuffed toys, had to hold on through a scoreless opening period. At the 3:42 mark of the second, forward Pavel Padakin did the honours for the second year in a row. That is an unofficial Western Hockey League record.

    If you watch closely, Padakin did a snow angel as the stuffed toys rained down. Livin' the dream.

    More than 50 charities in the Calgary area have partnered in this year's 19th annual toss, with the official count coming in at 25,921. That would top 2012's count, which was in the 25,000 range.

    Read More »from Calgary Hitmen fans throw nearly 26,000 stuffed toys on ice at Teddy Bear Toss game (VIDEO)
  • Top NHL draft prospect Leon Draisaitl has 11 points in his past 3 games (The Canadian Press)

    No. 1 star: Leon Draisaitl, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

    Him again? 'Fraid so. Draisaitl, one night removed from scoring an overtime winner on the road, led the Raiders to another comeback win on the road, 5-4 over the Brandon Wheat Kings.

    The Wheat Kings held a 4-2 edge when the 18-year-old projected NHL first-rounder ripped in a goal from the slot with 6:53 to play to halve the margin. With 15 seconds left, the puck was in the corner to the right of Brandon's net when the Raiders' Jayden Hart jimmied it loose. Draisaitl centred to Chance Braid, who whipped in the tying goal. The rest before overtime did little to settle Brandon, since just 18 seconds in, Draistail weaved from his own end into the high slot and sent a between-the-legs drop pass to Sawyer Lange (1G, +2), who scored the winner.

    Read More »from P.A. Raiders’ Leon Draisaitl caps 4-point night with drop pass on OT winner: Saturday’s 3 Stars
  • Carrick leads OHL defencemen with 13 goals (OHL Images)

    For defencemen, putting the puck in your net should be like a badge of honour — it's never intended and it's usually the result of trying to make the correct play. Take what happened to Carolina Hurricanes fourth-round pick Trevor Carrick while he was defending The Phenom, Connor McDavid, during the Mississauga Steelheads-Erie Otters OHL contest on Saturday night.

    Midway through the second period, on a day where one might have wondered how sadistic it was to have rebuilding Mississauga face league-leading Erie on consecutive nights, the Otters went on the power play. McDavid, who had already set up the Otters' Teddy Bear Toss goal, got a pass from André Burakovsky at the left of the Steelheads' net. The combination of McDavid pivoting and Carrick's seemingly perfectly timed pokecheck sent the puck directly into the net, for the weirdest goal McDavid will score all season.

    Carrick leads OHL defencemen with 13 goals, obviously not counting that one.

    Read More »from Connor McDavid gets pokechecked, puck still goes in (VIDEO)
  • The Maple Leafs aren't going to loan Morgan Rielly to the world juniors. (Getty Images)

    It seems Brent Sutter can cross off Morgan Rielly on Team Canada’s projected blueline for the world junior championship.

    A report from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun states the Toronto Maple Leafs have no intention of loaning Rielly to Team Canada for a second crack at gold in the U20 tournament which takes place in Malmo, Sweden this year.

    Instead, the Sun has learned that when the selection camp roster is announced on Monday, the 19-year-old defenceman, a first-round pick in 2012, will not be released by the Leafs to represent Canada for a second consecutive season.

    "I'd say he's a big part of this group right here, right now and we don't see that changing at this point," Leafs vice-president of hockey operations Dave Poulin said on Friday. "That's the way we're looking at it."

    Poulin wouldn't confirm that Rielly will not be made available to coach Brent Sutter and the Canadian team, but his comments are revealing.

    Even though Rielly has been a healthy scratch here and there in

    Read More »from Maple Leafs choose to hold onto Morgan Rielly over world junior loan
  • via Youtube

    This is grainy video of a fight between Portland's Adam De Champlain and Spokane's Carter Proft. It looks to be a pretty routine bout, between Proft, who is as close to a dedicated facepuncher as you can get (10 points, 61 PIMs, 7 fighting majors) and De Champlain, who was a much more active fighter last season with 17 scraps per hockeyfights.net, but he just has 3 a quarter of the way through the campaign this season.

    Nothing is out of the ordinary during the tussle, which is just your standard bout between players in similar weight classes and fighting experience. Afterwards though, De Champlain tries to take an extra shot at Proft, and in the penalty box, attempts to show the referee some evidence that Proft bit him during the scrap.

    The video isn't exactly clear, and details from the game are scarce, so it is difficult to tell. If you watch the video up to the 29 second mark, you'd probably agree that De Champlain is getting the better of Proft in the scrap. At that point, though, Proft connects with a surprise left handed jab and De Champlain is knocked down, and Proft gets control and "wins" the fight.

    Read More »from Did Spokane’s Carter Proft bite Portland’s Adam De Champlain?