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  • Gatineau's Emile Poirier is a possible late first-round selection (Francis Vachon, The Canadian Press)Following the end of the his season, Émile Poirier witnessed firsthand what could out there for him in the wider world of pro hockey.

    The explosive left wing came to count on then-Gatineau Olympiques star Jean-Gabriel Pageau when their tenures at the Robert Guertin Arena overlapped in 2011. During the Stanley Cup playoffs, Poirier ended up being in the stands when Pageau, now an Ottawa Senators rookie, was contributing to a first-round series victory over the Montreal Canadiens.

    "The first year I was there he was really good to me," Poirier, who was 39th among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking, says of Pageau. "We're not exactly similar on the ice, but we're both skilled forwards ... when I went to Montreal to watch him there, It was unbelievable to watch him against my team. It was amazing to see him against the Habs, my [favourite NHL] team."

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Emile Poirier, Gatineau Olympiques
  • Remi Elie is ranked 71st among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting (OHL Images)

    Remi Elie had an early inkling of where he fit into hockey, which is why he could be a steal at next week's NHL draft.

    The London Knights, of course, have their troika of surefire high first-rounders with Max Domi, Bo Horvat and Nikita Zadorov. But London also helped the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Elie marinate slowly as a utility forward — starting games on the fourth line, moving up in event of an injury — across their second consecutive championship season. The native of tiny Green Valley, Ont., showed a excellent potential as a rugged defensive forward, but lest one label him as such, he was versatile enough to take point duties on power plays by times.

    "Since I was young I always liked to hit and go into the corner and win puck battles," says Elie, who was 71st among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final rankings but could hear his name in the second or third round next Sunday in Newark. " I was a skilled guy when I was young but when I got bigger and got stronger, I thought I could be a power forward.

    "It's important to just be bringing energy to the team," adds Elie, who had seven goals and 17 points in 65 regular-season games as a Knights rookie. "Go out there and hit, cycle the puck, getting puck to the net."

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Remi Elie, London Knights
  • Six months later, Alex Forsberg is still waiting on a trade from the Cougars (The Canadian Press)When the Prince George Cougars drafted Alex Forsberg with the first pick of the 2010 WHL bantam draft, the hockey world expected him to turn the northern B.C. franchise back into a contender while developing into one of the top prospects of the 2013 NHL draft class.

    Three years later, the Cougars aren't a playoff team, let alone a contender, and Forsberg isn’t even listed by NHL Central Scouting Service. Instead, the 18-year-old is waiting on Prince George to deal him after walking out on the team in late December.

    “It is tough that things didn’t work out as I hoped them to,” says Forsberg. “I can’t focus on it, though. It won’t help me at all by thinking about it. If I’m drafted, that’s great. But if I’m not, it’s not the end of the world. I’ll have more opportunities in the future.”

    Forsberg decided to ask for a trade from the Cougars after the Christmas break because he ‘stopped having fun in Prince George.’

    “I felt I needed a change and I had to ask for a trade to get that,” says

    Read More »from Alex Forsberg waits on a trade from Prince George
  • Valentin Zykov captured Canadian Hockey League rookie of the years honours (The Canadian Press)

    Valentin Zykov has given himself a tough act to follow.

    As a Russian who was assimilating to new culture and style of play, the Baie-Comeau Drakkar right wing became one of just three 17-year-olds across the Canadian Hockey League to join the 40-goal club, hitting the mark on the nose. In doing so, the 6-foot-1, 215-pounder established himself as a premier finisher among the NHL's draft class and made a case to be — and this is probably a conservative guesstimate — a top 15 to top 20 pick in the June 30 draft. Zykov ended up being named top rookie for the entire CHL, ahead of the top yearlings in the WHL and OHL, who happened to be Central Scouting's top-ranked skater Seth Jones and Erie Otters wunderkind Connor McDavid.

    "It was much better than my previous season," says Zykov, who is rated seventh among North American-based skaters by NHL Central Scouting. "I improved myself and a lot more scouts saw me here."

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Valentin Zykov, Baie-Comeau Drakkar
  • Calgary has four high-end prospects set to hit the NHL draft floor. (image credit to Fan960's Andrew Walker)

    The kids are alright in Calgary.

    Cowtown is the hotspot for 2013 NHL draft talent with four prospects in the first-round mix: Medicine Hat Tigers captain Hunter Shinkaruk, Prince Albert Raiders puck-moving defenceman Josh Morrissey, Swift Current Broncos shutdown blueliner Dillon Heatherington, and Regina Pats skilled winger Morgan Klimchuk.

    Ranked sixth among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service, it seems Shinkaruk leads the way among the Calgary quartet. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound forward gained hype in his second season in Medicine Hat, tallying 49 goals and 91 points in 66 games in a 1-2 punch with Anaheim Ducks prospect Emerson Etem. This year, without Etem by his side, Shinkaruk couldn’t quite match his sophomore season’s point total with 37 goals and 86 points in 64 games. To his defence, he did have to overcome nagging minor injuries throughout the season, though.

    “It seemed as soon as I started going on a roll, I’d have to deal with an injury,” says

    Read More »from Calgary quartet set to stampede NHL draft floor
  • Rimouski's 6-foot-6 Samuel Morin helped Canada win the world under-18 title in April (Francis Vachon, The Canadian Press)

    It has been all about steady growth for hulking defenceman Samuel Morin across two seasons with the Rimouski Océanic.

    The 6-foot-6¼, 202-pound rearguard stands out for obvious reasons, but steadily improved his agility and footwork in order to better contain and constrict opposing forwards during his sophomore season. While still a work in a progress, as is usually the case with an exceptionally tall teenager, Morin moved up from 76th in NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking to 23rd in its final evaluation. The upcoming draft is hardly bereft of big, punishing D-men such as London Knights' Nikita Zadorov or the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds' Darnell Nurse. Morin could fill that niche for a team picking later.

    Morin, along with Océanic mates Philippe Desrosiers and Frédérik Gauthier, capped off his season by helping Canada win the world under-18 championship in April. Buoyed by that accomplishment, the St-Henri, Que., native is hopeful he will further emerge as a leader and all-around defenceman, in the Chris Pronger mould.

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Samuel Morin, Rimouski Oceanic
  • McCarron is committed to join the Western Michigan Broncos (Tom Sorensen photo)Michael McCarron, like many grads of the U.S. national team development program, is at a rather vexing crossroads.

    The towering 6-foot-5, 228-pound winger signed a letter of intent last November with the Western Michigan Broncos, where he would play for former NHL bench boss Andy Murray. But his major junior rights are held by the Memorial Cup-host London Knights and well, there is a tendency of big-bodied bruising forwards, following the draft to opt for the NHL-style schedule of major junior hockey. During the recent NHL combine, McCarron was candid about the difficulty of his decision, which he will not make until after the June 30 entry draft in Newark.

    "I think it basically comes down to, 'where am I going to get better and where is going to get me to the NHL?' " says McCarron, who is NHL Central Scouting's 35th-ranked North American skater. "I'll talk to my family adviser and parents about that.

    "More and more guys are coming out of college, but it's kind of hard to pass up how good of an opportunity I have in London with the Memorial Cup being there and [Knights GM] Mark Hunter passing on all those NHL guys."

    Read More »from NHL draft tracker: Michael McCarron, U.S. under-18 team
  • Anthony Brodeur and father Martin BrodeurAnthony Brodeur, son of Marty, is ready to move on to bigger and better things after graduating from Shattuck-St. Mary’s in Minnesota. He will find out if an NHL team will come calling this summer at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft at home in Newark, N.J.

    No matter what, he’ll have a new team next year, and it’s not the one his head coach expected. Shattuck coach Tom Ward told he thought that Brodeur would go to college next season, but instead he’s going to the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL.

    Brodeur is not listed in NHL’s Central Scouting list, but is eligible for the draft. He went 21-5-2 in his senior year at Shattuck, with a GAA of 2.48 and a .923 save percentage.

    Brodeur will battle with three-year veteran Robert Steeves and sophomore Eric Brassard for the starting job with the Olympiques. Steeves, an overager next season, will likely get the lion’s share of the starts at the beginning of the year, while Brodeur gets used to bigger and faster players. He describes himself as a

    Read More »from Gatineau hoping Brodeur family line cashes in for son Anthony
  • Canada last hosted the WJC in 2012, winning the bronze medal in Calgary (Jeff McIntosh, The Canadian Press)

    If you stop maintaining the world junior championship is a hockey tournament, it's easier to accept how big a cashcow it has become. On Thursday, Hockey Canada will roll out its ambitious plans for the next two tournaments that will be in this country in 2015 and '17, with Montreal and Toronto sharing the hosting. So that scenario of phenom Connor McDavid, during his NHL draft year, perhaps leading Team Canada during a WJC in his hometown is more in play, not that you can ever predict anything in the junior game.

    The event felt more intimate when it was either held in one city with two sufficiently sized arenas, or when three games per day were held in the big rink with one shuffled off to the second venue. The Calgary/Edmonton effort in 2012 produced a $22-million profit, so that's where we are in this country.

    Read More »from 2015, ’17 world junior championships in Montreal, Toronto confirmed
  • Molleken is one of just two WHL coaches with 600 regular-season wins (Liam Richards, The Canadian Press)

    Since getting out while the getting is good is always advisable, it's not unusual for a team coming off a turn as the Memorial Cup host team to switch it up behind the bench. Lorne Molleken and the Saskatoon Blades have affirmed what was pretty much assumed toward the later stages of the season, that the 24-year veteran coach is relinquishing the Blades' coaching reins to assistant coach Dave Struch. It makes it five times in six seasons that the host team made a coaching change immediately following the season. In this case, the legacy is difficult to assess since Molleken's last team happened to record its only post-season win over the eventual MasterCard Memorial Cup champion Halifax Mooseheads, which was an all-time anomaly.

    Read More »from Lorne Molleken relinquishes Saskatoon Blades coaching duty to Dave Struch


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