Buzzing The Net

  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Chris Stevenson looks at who might be unavailable for Team Canada come mid-December. Sam Reinhart would be at the top of that list, eh. (NHL.com)

    With respect to Kamloops Blazers owner Tom Gagliardi being found guilty of two counts of harmful alteration of fish habitat, the real shocker is Canada actually still has any environmental laws. (Castanet, Vancouver Sun)

    Don Hay is no longer coaching in Vancouver but overage Matt Bellerive is back playing with the Giants, where he started in the Dub. (Vancouver Province)

    Travis Crickard, 26, is the new goaltending coach/assistant coach of the Kelowna Rockets. Not many people have that job title. (Vernon Morning Star)

    Red Deer Rebels standout Haydn Fleury has signed his entry-level contract with the Carolina Hurricanes. (Charlotte Observer)

    Fleury's blueline mate, Adam Musil, on choosing to represent Canada instead of the Czech Republic internationally: "I was born here in Canada and I just want to represent my country where I was born." The D-man's brother, David Musil, played for the Czechs in two world juniors. (The Canadian Press)

    Rod Pedersen examines the Regina Pats' hiring of John Paddock. (The Pipeline Show)

    OHL

    The big takeaway from Connor McDavid's game Friday was how the top NHL draft prospect stayed level-headed while "it was getting pretty stupid" on the ice in the third period. Well, he was named the league's most sportsmanslike player after incurring only 20 penalty minutes in '13-14. (NHL.com)

    The Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds are about a week away from commencing interviews for Kyle Dubas' replacement as general manager. (Sault Star)

    Read More »from Connor McDavid keeps his dry, cool wits about him: the coast-to-coast
  • Nurse, a top 10 NHL pick in 2013, was not on Canada's smaller than usual selection camp roster for the 2014 WJC (Kenneth Armstrong, CP)

    MONTREAL — In order to lead, Darnell Nurse might have to move to the right.

    One takeaway at the end of Team Canada's summer development camp is that the biggest question will be about the composition of the blue line. Aaron Ekblad, depending on how quickly he comes back from the brain injury on Tuesday, stands a chance at breaking camp with the NHL's Florida Panthers. The box labelled 'shutdown defenceman' is unmarked, plus there were only three right-handers in camp this week.

    Nurse, the Edmonton Oilers prospect, played on his off, or right side, exclusively on Thursday during the second exhibition game against Russia. Canada isn't going to compromise on quality to satisfy some arbitrary left/right balance, so it was time to gauge how Nurse could adapt to it.

    "I've dabbled in it," the 19-year-old Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds captain says. "I've spent some time there in the A when I was in Oklahoma City. I played with Oscar Klefbom [who will be Nurse's competition for a job in Edmonton next month] and we would kind of switch. I've had a little bit of experience.

    "It's something I'm not uncomfortable with. I can play either side; we have a lot of lefts in the Soo. It's always good to show what you've got. I hope that helps me."

    Read More »from Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse eager to lead if Team Canada needs it: ‘It’s part of who I am’
  • Fucale could be playing in his NHL team's home arena at the world junior (Graham Hughes, CP)

    MONTREAL — In the long run, that bump in the road last spring might have been the best for Zach Fucale.

    Accolades and acclaim have piled up so steady as rent over the goalie's junior hockey tenure that it has become easy to take the Montreal Canadiens hopeful for granted. Quebec League record for wins as a 16-year-old starter for the Halifax Mooseheads. Memorial Cup champion and first goalie to hear his name at the NHL draft in 2013, going to his hometown Habs, no pressure there at all. He won Canada's starting job during the 2014 world junior championship, albeit on a team that came home medal-less after losing the semifinal and bronze games to Finland and Russia.

    But the goalie's most valuable experience in the past few months might have been faltering. The Mooseheads had to make a mid-series goal switch away from Fucale during the semifinal vs. the Val-d'Or Foreurs, parking the goalie who had played in 80 per cent of the regular season games and 100 per cent of the playoff tilts across three seasons. Fucale needed the reminder it's not necessarily surprising to get yanked.

    "Was it surprise? Yes and no because I had some rough ones," Fucale said Friday, when Canada's national junior team wrapped up its summer development camp with a penalty-tilled 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic. "I'll be honest. I wasn't playing my best hockey then. Maybe I needed that little break, maybe a little slap in the face. Maybe that's what you need. Take a step back to move a couple forward.

    "The fact that it didn't go the way I wanted, sometimes it happens," added Fucale, who looked strong during two half-game appearances this week. "You have those rough patches. I'm telling you, I really learned a lot. It's helped me in my preparation for this camp, also, and the next two camps — the Mooseheads' and the Canadiens'."

    Read More »from For Zach Fucale, ‘little slap in the face’ critical as Habs prospect girds for Team Canada spotlight
  • McDavid will be a main focus throughout this season (The Canadian Press)

    MONTREAL — Since Canada's national junior team does not have individual name bars on its jerseys, it's really hard to distinguish Connor McDavid from the other players.

    Except for the incongruous combo of wearing an alternate captain's A and full facial protection, because he's 17 years old. And then there was the goal that the projected NHL No. 1 overall choice added to his highlight reel during Canada's exhibition game against the Czech Republic in Montreal. In the second period, McDavid slalomed through the defence pair of Robert Cerny and David Klok, then turned goalie Miroslav Svoboda inside-out as he tucked the puck into the corner.

    Read More »from Connor McDavid scores amazing goal at Team Canada summer development camp (VIDEO)
  • In 2013, Baptiste helped Canada win the world under-18 title (Associated Press)

    SHERBROOKE, Que. — Make it two forwards with the same name and Ottawa ties showing why they warrant a long look from Team Canada.

    Ottawa Senators prospect Nick Paul, early on, was the who's-he? revelation of Hockey Canada's summer development camp in the Montreal area. His namesake, Sudbury Wolves wing Nick Baptiste, also shone during Canada's 6-3 win over Russia on Thursday. The Buffalo Sabres third-rounder who has next-level speed formed an effective line with Curtis Lazar and Michael Dal Colle as they tallied four goals.

    Baptiste tallied in the second, moving out from the half-wall to wrist a shot by goalie Ilya Sorokin. Coach Benoît Groulx used Baptiste in all situations.

    "I think it's him [Groulx] knowing I can play in every single role," says Baptiste, who hails from Barrhaven, Ont., just south of the nation's capital. "I think it's him knowing I can play with highly skilled guys or I can bang and crash and be physical. That's the biggest part so far and I think that's given him the trust in me.

    "My line with Lazar and Dal Colle was pretty effective," added Baptiste, who turned 19 on Monday (as did Sorokin, the goalie he victimized). "Being able to play with guys of that speed and that skill makes it easier for me. I tried to get pucks deep. Walk off the wall and get a good shot."

    Read More »from Buffalo Sabres pick Nick Baptiste shines in Canada’s win over Russia
  • Bennett went No. 4 overall to Calgary in June (Matt Slocum, Associated Press)

    SHERBROOKE, Que. — Sam Bennett illustrated the concept of a double-edged sword on Thursday.

    The Calgary Flames' No. 4 overall pick often seems to find another gear when he's being abrasive and chippy. That need to have the puck, become a focal point on the ice, is why the 18-year-old became a top NHL prospect over the past two seasons with the Kingston Frontenacs. Thursday, when Canada doubled Russia 6-3 in a ragged world junior summer exhibition game, Bennett was at both ends of the spectrum: two first-period penalties on stick infractions, then two points during a decisive second period.

    "I was just a little too aggressive on my stick, I should know better and I wasn't happy with those two penalties in the first," said Bennett, who variously with on left wing alongside Buffalo Sabres top pick Sam Reinhart and also worked in at centre. "Personally I think I came out a little slow, I was upset with myself after taking those penalties. I got my confidence back and the team found a way to win."

    Read More »from Calgary Flames top pick Sam Bennett makes statement after early penalties in Canada’s exhibition win over Russia
  • Nick Ritchie's brother, Dallas prospect Brett Ritchie, played for Canada at the 2013 WJC (The Canadian Press)

    BROSSARD, Que. — Being big and Ritch can have its drawbacks.

    Nick Ritchie, who signed his first pro contract with the Anaheim Ducks right before heading to Team Canada's summer development camp, is feeling very good. This is also the point in the cycle of the world junior where every bit of minutia is magnified. Ritchie went No. 10 in the draft to Anaheim by virtue of having faster-twitch hands and on-ice vision than typically possessed by a 6-foot-3, 235-pound left wing. Team Canada is sizing up the Orangeville, Ont., native to be a forechecker and finisher on a top line at the world junior championship. The risk is that at his size, he could run up against the International Ice Hockey Federation's officiating standards. Ritchie had two minor penalties during Tuesday's exhibition game vs. the Czech Republic. Both came as he was trying to delivering a bodycheck; hello, harbinger harnessed for narrative purposes.

    "I don't think I'm going to be trying to be careful," said the

    Read More »from For Team Canada, Anaheim Ducks top pick Nick Ritchie poses a big hypothetical
  • Domi is vying to make the Coyotes after playing in 3 consecutive Memorial Cups with London (The Canadian Press)

    BROSSARD, Que. — For Maxi Domi, stiff-upper-lipping it last fall was the best move he could have made in the context of Team Canada.

    The national junior team took the novel route last season of only inviting 25 players to its December selection camp, which left high NHL first-rounders with Toronto-area ties such as Domi and Edmonton Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse on the outside looking in. There was really no how-to for how to handle it. Not too long ago, the world junior championship wasn't such a big deal that an uninvited Canadian junior star was compelled to offer public comment, but a smaller camp roster and more media demands dictated. Nurse spoke to reporters who cover his Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. Domi and his London Knights opted to issue a statement, which is a statement in itself about how big this world junior deal has become.

    In the hockey world, doing it that way counts as defusing a situation.

    "It's not like you can change what happens," the 19-year-old Arizona Coyotes prospect said Wednesday before Canada's second summer camp exhibition game vs. Russia in Sherbrooke, Que. "Me talking to the media or not talking to the media isn't all of sudden going to put me on the team. That's just the way I decided to handle it and the London Knights were great. They guided me through that whole situation and process. Hopefully it will be a little different this time.

    "At the end of the day, people can think what they want," Domi added when asked about public response to doing it by press release. "People are going to try find ways to put you down or something like that. That's just how I chose to handle it and that's how the London Knights chose to handle it. It worked out for the best."

    Read More »from Max Domi revisits 2014 Team Canada snub, has no regrets
  • Ekblad is one of three defencemen at camp who played for Canada at the 2014 WJC (Graham Hughes, The Canadian Press)

    BROSSARD, Que. — The best worst news for Aaron Ekblad is that the NHL's first overall pick is not showing signs of a severe brain injury.

    The 18-year-old defenceman wobbled off the ice late in Team Canada's 6-2 exhibition win over the Czech Republic after being checked at his offensive blueline by defenceman Lukas Klok. With Ekblad's focus being more on making the Florida Panthers next month, Hockey Canada has opted to hold the NHL's first overall pick out of the rest of its summer development camp.

    "We had a discussion with Florida last night; Aaron was re-evaluated this morning," said Scott Salmond, Hockey Canada's vice-president of hockey operations and national teams. "He's got a concussion and will miss the remainder of the camp. We worked with the Panthers. We expect a full recovery.

    "He tested low," Salmond added when asked if there was any hints about the severity of Ekblad's injury. "When he did his [baseline] test last night his scores were low which was a good thing. When he came in this morning [the grogginess] hadn't cleared. He still felt foggy. In discussions, we still felt, at this time of year, take every precaution and make sure he's healthy and ready to go to his camp."

    Read More »from Top NHL pick Aaron Ekblad sustains concussion; out for Team Canada’s camp
  • Duclair had a 50-goal campaign in '13-14 for the Remparts (The Canadian Press)

    MONTREAL — At least one Montrealer put on a show on Tuesday night. Anthony Duclair has also waited a long time to give it.

    The New York Rangers prospect's run of injuries across the past two seasons might mean he is high risk for Team Canada, but there's is no denying the high-reward part after his highlight-reel goal. In the second period, after gaining the zone with four Czech Republic defenders back and no linemate in sight, Duclair put the puck through his feet, cut around the last defender and jammed the puck under goalie Vitek Vanecek. It was a dazzling dangle, worth the price of admission for the few hundred fans who presciently picked live hockey over flicking on the TV to see Genie Bouchard (meet her) match. Duclair finished with a goal and an assist in Canada's 6-2 win.

     

    "I had a little nerves tonight in the first period but after that I felt better," Duclair, who last season joined Detroit Red Wings prospect Anthony Mantha as the Quebec league's lone 50-goal scorers. It's the kind of move where if it doesn't work, you'll look like a fool. It worked in my favour. I had some speed. I knew I was alone and I tried that move and cut back in and it worked."

    Read More »from Anthony Duclair dazzles in Team Canada’s first summer exhibition
  • Paul became a Senators prospect through the Jason Spezza trade this summer (Kenneth Armstrong, The Canadian Press)

    MONTREAL — Buoyed by playing into May, Nick Paul has put himself right on Team Canada's radar.

    The 19-year-old who was part of the Ottawa Senators' return in the Jason Spezza trade — moved to the NHL team in the nation's capital on Canada Day, yeah, that's right — made a strong impression during Canada's 6-2 exhibition win over the Czech Republic on Tuesday at Ed Meagher Arena. In a penalty-filled game (""that's summer hockey," coach Benoît Groulx surmised), the line of Paul flanking Toronto Maple Leafs first-rounder Frédérik Gauthier shone in penalty-killing duty and frequently took away the Czechs' time and space. Paul, not typically a big-time scorer, also tallied in the third period.

    It all stems back to Paul having helped his North Bay Battalion win their conference in the OHL this spring. Groulx, tasked with ending Canada's half-decade gold-medal drought, is hoping

    "I've been driving the puck more and been calmer with the puck," said Paul, who was passed over in the OHL priority selection draft three years ago but emerged as a two-way wing after breaking in with the Battalion in 2012-13. "I'm a little more comfortable with the puck and I see that carrying over here [at Canada's camp this week]. I'm not making dumb plays with the puck and I'm not holding on it. I'm relaxed with it and my nerves aren't getting the best of me.

    Read More »from Senators prospect Nick Paul makes strong impression in Team Canada exhibition opener
  • Barrie Colts defenceman and top NHL pick Aaron Ekblad (Larry MacDougall, The Canadian Press)

    MONTREAL — An exhibition game in the dog days of summer was anything but friendly for star defenceman Aaron Ekblad.

    Ekblad, the Panthers first-overall pick in the June NHL draft, suffered an injury during Canada's 6-2 victory over the Czech Republic. The game was part of Canada's under-20 summer camp taking place in Montreal, Brossard, Que., and Sherbrooke, Que.

    With roughly six minutes remaining in the third period, the 6-foot-3, 216-pound defenceman carried the puck up to the Czech blueline when he was hit by 5-foot-11, 161-pound defenceman Lukas Klok. The contact dropped Ekblad and the 18-year-old was wobbly leaving the ice. (gif via @JamesonCoop)

    At this point, head coach Benoit Groulx, said the team isn't going to be taking any chances with Ekblad, who was one of the team's most dependable blueliners at last year's tournament in Malmo, Sweden.

    "We know that he'll be re-evaluated (Wednesday)," said head coach Benoit Groulx. "Obviously it's upper body, but I don't know any more

    Read More »from Top NHL draft pick Aaron Ekblad suffers ‘upper body’ injury
  • BROSSARD, QUE. — While the other players at Team Canada's summer camp skate are talking to the media after practice, Jake Virtanen is alone on the ice putting a few pucks in the net.

    The 17-year-old figured it was only the fifth time skating out on the ice this summer since undergoing a successful shoulder surgery some two months ago. The operation meant he couldn't participate in the NHL combine, but that didn't prevent him from being selected sixth-overall at the June draft by the Vancouver Canucks.

    It's also prevented him from taking part in any drills here at camp with Team Canada. The good news, however, is that Virtanen's recovery is going much better than expected.

    "Right now I'm ahead of schedule," said the winger, who plays with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen. "So that's good news. I know the doctor here said I'll be biting the bone just wanting to get on the ice playing because I'm ahead of schedule quite a bit - so it's good news."

    Virtanen figures he's at least two or three

    Read More »from Canucks prospect Virtanen ahead of schedule with shoulder rehab
  • Zacha could be the first top-10 NHL pick from the Czech Republic since 2007 (AP)There was quite the kerfuffle last month when the Sarnia Sting had the audacity to take the best player available by selecting Czech goal scorer Pavel Zacha first overall in the Canadian Hockey League import draft.

    The 17-year-old forward's adviser, Allan Walsh, blasted the rebuilding OHL team for wasting its pick. Such bluster is nothing new and, seemingly more often than not, the junior team is enriched for calling the bluff. On Tuesday, Michal Sivek, one of Zacha's other handlers, tweeted the youngster is bound for Sarnia.

    Read More »from 2015 NHL draft prospect Pavel Zacha joining OHL’s Sarnia Sting
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    Saskatoon Blades star Nikita Scherbak is unavailable at the moment, but the way-too-early read is that Russia will be very deep in this world junior cycle. (Le Tribune)

    The Regina Pats are going to give new coach John Paddock "management control on the hockey operations side," writes Greg Harder. Where does that leave GM Chad Lang? (Regina Leader-Post)

    Please: another year in Portland is not going set Winnipeg Jets prospect Nic Petan back. (Arctic Ice Hockey, ProHockeyTalk)

    Want a synopsis of Team USA's summer camp, which includes Portland goalie Brendan Burke? Chris Peters to the rescue. (The Pipeline Show)

    Condolences: long-time Winnipeg hockey organizer Dale Hughesman, father of former Tri-City standout Adam Hughesman, died of cancer last week. He was just 51. (Winnipeg Free Press)

    OHL

    Could Edmonton Oilers first-rounder Darnell Nurse go from left out in 2014 to being Canada's designated shutdown defenceman for the world junior? (The Hockey News)

    Columbus Blue Jackets first-rounder Sonny Milano is affirming his commitment to Boston College. What, you expected him to say something else in the middle of a USA Hockey camp? (SB Nation College Hockey)

    Trades, Jerry, trades! Saginaw and Ottawa swapped third-year forwards, with Jeremiah Addison going east for Connor Brown and picks.

    Is it better than even money that Washington Capitals first-rounder Andre Burakovsky will be a one-and-done Erie Otter? (CSN Washington)

    Read More »from Pietroniro steering Drakkar’s ship: the coast-to-coast
  • John Paddock will take over in Regina, reports state (The Canadian Press file photo)

    The Regina Pats looked to experience to fill their head coaching vacancy as they have reportedly hired ex-Ottawa Senators bench boss John Paddock.

    The report leaked today by Greg Harder of the Leader-Post that the Pats finally found their man. It’s believed the Pats organization will make an official announcement later this week.

    Paddock joins the Queen City Kids with a thick coaching resume. The 60-year-old Brandon, MB., native has 13 years of AHL and five years of NHL head coaching experience. His 589-438-98 record and three Calder Cup titles in the AHL earned him a seat in the Hall of Fame in 2010. He spent this past season as the assistant coach of the Philadelphia Flyers before being let go in June.

    Similar to Moose Jaw Warriors new bench boss Tim Hunter, Paddock is an old school coach. He demands a lot out of his players, but knows the value of developing strong relationships with them. He also likes his team to play with an edge.

    Paddock is the Pats’ fifth new coach in the last

    Read More »from Regina Pats to hire John Paddock, ex-Ottawa Senators coach – report
  • Milano, Columbus' No. 16 overall pick, is committed to Boston College (Matt Slocum, Associated Press)

    At the NHL draft in June, there was talk of Columbus Blue Jackets first-round pick Sonny Milano passing on joining Boston College to play in the OHL.

    Now there is a bona fide Milano Watch, with one apparent domino that, should it topple, could influence how this is handled. On Sunday, Rogers Sportsnet's Jeff Marek tweeted that Milano, a supple-handed speedster who could be a big contributor for Team USA at the next two world junior championships, is set to commit to the Plymouth Whalers. A possible sweetener is the Whalers completing a trade with the Sudbury Wolves for overage centre Mathew Campagna, who certainly does not want to give off the wrong impression about his intentions for this season.

    Aaron Portzline, the Blue Jackets beat writer for the Columbus Dispatch, corroborated that the two developments are related.

    Read More »from Blue Jackets top pick Sonny Milano may join Plymouth Whalers, not Boston College — report
  • Combing all corners of the country and the blogosphere for your junior hockey headlines ...

    WHL

    The Regina Pats maintain they have not offered anyone their head coaching post, but Lorne Molleken has been spotted in the area. (rodpedersen.com)

    The Lethbridge Hurricanes and Brad Lukowich have settled the former assistant coach's wrongful dismissal lawsuit out of court. The 'Canes admitted Lukowich's "departure was not for cause." (Global News)

    The encyclopedic and always edifying Alan Caldwell looks at who Kelowna and Swift Current have in the hopper. And Seattle, too! (Small Thoughts At Large)

    Ethan O'Rourke, a forward taken with a 2014 bantam draft pick the Prince George Cougars received in the Alex Forsberg trade, has signed. (Prince George Citizen)

    What will happen first: Seattle building a NHL-suitable arena or Nanaimo, B.C., building a WHL-suitable arena? (Nanaimo Daily News)

    OHL

    Reaching into the wayback machine: four-time Stanley Cup winner Ab McDonald, now 78, recalls playing in OHA (the forerunner to the OHL) in the 1950s: "Before I got there, they said they got to stop paying the guys so much money so they set a limit."

    Not awkward at all; the newest Windsor Spitfire, Luke Kirwan, will reside at Oshawa Generals owner Rocco Tullio's home. (Windsor Star)

    Read More »from A new Lorne-ing in Regina? The coast-to-coast
  • Kirwan misses the cutoff for the next NHL draft by eight days (Twitter)Luke Kirwan has long had his sights set on the OHL, but it was a matter of the time being right.

    The promising power winger, who officially signed the Windsor Spitfires on Friday seven weeks after it anted two second-round picks to get his rights from the Guelph Storm, is invariably referred to as a man-child on skates. At 6-foot-1 and 225 pounds, the DeWitt, N.Y., native has the skill and strength to carry pucks into the offensive zone and overpower defenders. At the same time, Kirwan acknowledges there is some rawness to his game, which is why the 16-year-old who's an early fave to be a high pick in the 2016 NHL draft waited a year before committing to the OHL. He's confident he will better off for coming in now after spending last season with the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based U.S. under-17 team, where he was a point-a-game player while often facing older competition.

    "Playing for my country was a privilege — winning a gold medal [at the world under-17 challenge] and playing overseas was a really good experience," Kirwan said in a phone interview with Buzzing The Net. "Playing for coach [Donny] Granato was a really good experience. I just really wanted to play in the OHL since I was young.

    "He taught me a lot about how to analyze the game. I read the ice a lot better as time went on and I got to read what my linemates were doing. He just went through a lot of systems and watched a lot of video... when I first went in, I just played and now I understand what I need to do in order to score and where I need to go to position myself. My hockey IQ increased playing for him.

    "I went to the [U.S. national team development] program and I liked it there and here am I now going to Windsor," added Kirwan, who tallied 13 points in six games while leading Team USA to the gold medal in last winter's World Under-17 Challenge. "I'm really excited, I've been waiting for this for a while."

    Read More »from Highly touted 2016 NHL draft prospect Luke Kirwan joins Windsor Spitfires
  • Masin was taken No. 35 overall by Tampa Bay in the 2014 draft (AP)When a success-starved team finally has a breakthrough that boosts expectations, the drawback is that it often comes when major contributors are aging out of major junior hockey.

    The Peterborough Petes winning their first playoff round, in dramatic, down-to-their-last-out fashion last spring was a feel-good story in the OHL. (Any time "surmount" can be used cromulently in a headline is a feel-good story.) The club's complement of overages, goalie Andrew D'Agostini and defencemen Nelson Armstrong and Clark Seymour, were all on the preventing-goals side of it. It appears the Petes are partway to filling those big skates on the back end, with Tampa Bay Lightning second-round choice Dominik Masin, Peterborough's import draft selection, prepared to come aboard.

    Read More »from Lightning pick Dominik Masin close to Peterborough Petes commitment — agent