Leader-Post article (Pats prospects go camping at annual camp)June 3 2012 at 7:39 AM
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|N. W. Bruin (Login NW_Bruin_GM)|
Pats prospects go camping at annual camp
By Greg Harder, Leader-Post
June 2, 2012
The Regina Pats' future has arrived.
A group of 20-plus youngsters was in Regina on Friday to participate in the WHL club's annual summer prospects camp. The three-day gathering - for players selected in the past two bantam drafts - includes on-ice and off-ice sessions which are designed to acclimate and educate the players on life in the WHL.
"It's an opportunity for these kids to come in and experience a little bit of what junior hockey is all about," said GM Chad Lang. "Being able to meet the coaching staff and see our facilities and see the areas where the kids billet and the school, I think it's a real good opportunity for them and it's in a relaxed environment. It's about building some relationships with potential teammates and learning a little bit more about what our organization can offer them."
The camp also has value as a means of evaluating the players and setting the tone as they work toward training camp in the fall.
"What we want to see is how they come together as a group," added Lang. "The '96s (1996-born players who were drafted in 2011) all experienced it last year so it's an opportunity for us to get a little bit of a headstart on fall training camp and see how these young guys have developed and matured over the last year and see who has an opportunity to maybe compete for one of those roster spots. For the '97 group (from this year's draft) it's an opportunity to see them a little closer and give them a taste of what it takes to play at this level and start to implement some of our ideas, philosophies, workout programs, all those things.
"It's a good first opportunity for us to steer them in what we feel is the right direction."
Practices are open to the public today and Sunday, slated for 10: 30 a.m. to noon at the Co-operators Centre.
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The Pats have added veteran WHL forward Locke Muller to their 50-player protected list in anticipation of him competing for a roster spot in training camp.
"He's a guy who has intrigued us," explained Lang. "I know (head scout) Dale (McMullin) has more familiarity with him because he went through the Red Deer system (when McMullin was the Rebels' senior scout). We actually tried to make a move on him last year and just came up short. Saskatoon was able to get him. He's a big strong power forward. We feel if he does the right things in the offseason and we put him in the right position that he's a guy who could contribute to our hockey club."
Muller, 19, split last season between the Rebels and Blades, recording two goals, 10 points and 87 penalty minutes in 58 games. The 6-foot-2, 192-pounder was a healthy scratch on a few occasions due to discipline issues, apparently working his way into the doghouse of Blades head coach/GM Lorne Molleken, who elected to drop him in the spring.
Lang was quick to pounce, noting he's not concerned about any perceived baggage.
"There's kids that are leaders, there's kids that are followers," noted the Pats' GM. "It's about putting kids in an environment where they know the rules and the limitations. You hope they abide by them and if they don't there's consequences. From our standpoint it's about giving kids the opportunity. I can't comment on what was done in Saskatoon. We've brought in players before and people thought maybe they had some issues with other organizations and we haven't had issues when they were here. We'll see how it goes. I don't think it'll be an issue."
In fact, Lang believes the Pats have nothing to lose by picking Muller off the scrap heap - and potentially everything to gain.
"When you look at our team last year it was probably something that we lacked, that big power forward," he said. "Those guys don't always get the recognition they deserve in those roles, but they can change the tempo of the game. They can create space for players. I think he can be a real effective player. For us it was a free opportunity to bring in a guy who has experience in our league. He's an older guy. Maybe in the right situation and given a fresh start he can take a step forward in his career and at the same time help us out."
© Copyright (c) The Regina Leader-Post
|N. W. Bruin|
StarPhoenix article (Prospects feel the pressure)No score for this post
|June 3 2012, 7:42 AM |
Prospects feel the pressure
By Daniel Nugent-bowman, The StarPhoenix
June 2, 2012
June has long been perceived as the most stressful month for many NHL prospects. And some of the Saskatoon Blades' best players are probably coming to understand that for different reasons. Right now, Blades defenceman Dalton Thrower, centre Lukas Sutter and goaltender Andrey Makarov are finishing off a gruelling week of physical testing and interviews at the NHL combine in Toronto.
It's an event meant to give the top dogs on each of the 30 NHL clubs one last chance to analyze - and one last chance to nitpick - the players available for the 2012 draft, which goes June 22 and 23 in Pittsburgh.
On the other side of the coin is Saskatoon rightwinger Josh Nicholls.
Nicholls has already been drafted once before with the Toronto Maple Leafs nabbing him as a seventh-round pick in 2010. However, the Tsawwassen, B.C., native didn't sign a contract with the Leafs before the league's June 1 deadline for teams to sign their 2010 draft choices.
He is now eligible to be picked in the draft for a second time. But given that amateur scouts and general managers have been monitoring this year's draft class throughout the season, Nicholls won't be at the front of their minds later this month.
Instead, it's players like Thrower who will be getting most of the attention.
The North Vancouver product rocketed up the draft rankings at the midway point of the season. After a slow start, Thrower was named CHL player of the week on Jan. 3 following a stretch that saw him record 11 points in four games.
While it took several injuries for Thrower to get an invitation to the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospect Game in February, he wound up finishing eighth in scoring among WHL defenceman with 54 points. He was also paired with captain Duncan Siemens in a shutdown role.
Thrower is now a consensus late first-round pick, but could slide down to the second round. Players selected in that range are usually quickly signed by the teams that draft them. For instance, all five WHL players that were selected in the first round last year have been inked to NHL contracts - including Siemens.
For players like Sutter and Makarov, the draft is much more of a wild card.
Sutter was pegged as a second-round pick in the NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, released April 9, but other reports have been going in the middle of the draft. Makarov, who at 19 years old could have been selected last year, is seventh best goaltender available - according to NHL Central Scouting - but likely will have to wait a while to hear his name called.
Of course, as Nicholls experienced, a late-draft selection doesn't guarantee a NHL contract.
But, as Nicholls could soon find out too, it doesn't necessarily close the door either.
The 20-year-old winger saw former teammate Darian Dziurzynski get selected by the Phoenix Coyotes in the fifth round of last year's draft at the same age.
He also likely noticed good friend Adam Morrison ink a deal with the Boston Bruins in February while in the midst of a solid campaign with the Vancouver Giants.
All seemed lost for the former Blades netminder when he was released by the Philadelphia Flyers two years after they picked him in the third round of the 2009 draft.
So while June seems like a tense time for many junior hockey players, it doesn't have to be.
A lot can be gained at this time of year as pre-draft interviews often led to draft-day jerseys and baseball caps, which can turn into eventual lucrative contracts and promising futures.
But for those that don't get much attention, fear not. The opportunity is still there for them to do their talking on the ice.
© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix
|N. W. Bruin|
Edmonton Journal article (Oilers have to seriously consider Murray for No. 1 pick)No score for this post
|June 5 2012, 7:34 AM |
Oilers have to seriously consider Murray for No. 1 pick
Young defenceman impressed Canada coaching staff at world hockey championship in Finland
By Jim Matheson, edmontonjournal.com
June 2, 2012
Ryan Murray defends during day 2 of Canadian National Junior team summer development Camp at Rexall Place, Camp runs from Aug. 3-6 in Edmonton August 4, 2011.
Photograph by: Jason Franson
EDMONTON - Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Scott Howson is understandably nervous heading into the NHL entry draft later this month.
Howson wants Everett Silvertips defenceman Ryan Murray — who was good enough to get minutes for Canada at the recent world hockey championship in Helsinki, Finland, at the age of 18 — but the Blue Jackets pick second.
All the scouting services say the charismatic Nail Yakupov of the Sarnia Sting in the Ontario Hockey League is the best player. But the starry Russian-born winger with explosive Pavel Bure-type skill is not the best player by a country mile, like Steve Stamkos or Alex Ovechkin or Ilya Kovalchuk were in their draft years.
The Edmonton Oilers have the No. 1 pick but need a defenceman considerably more than a forward and may have to draft by need, not by talent alone, this one time.
“I think you have to draft a defenceman because nobody’s going to give you one,” said Hockey Canada chief scout Kevin Prendergast.
Prendergast acknowledged that defencemen take longer to develop into NHL talents, “but Murray has a special knack. He could play for 15 years. He’s tough, he’ll fight, he’s got good hands, he adapts quickly. Nothing fazes him.
“He didn’t get a lot of points in Everett, but they had a bad team this year. The first couple of games at the worlds, he hardly played, but against the Americans (Canadian assistant coach) Kirk Muller didn’t like the way (Luke) Schenn was playing, so he put Murray in for the last five or six minutes, playing a regular shift. Next game, he played a regular shift the last two periods. Muller, who was looking after the defence, fell in love with Murray,” said Prendergast.
“He’s got a quiet presence to him. I think Yakupov and Murray are the only players from this draft who can play right now. (Swedish forward Filip) Forsberg is a big, strong guy with great hands, but his skating at the under-18s scared me a little bit. He takes a little bit of time to get going.”
The Oilers drafted a defenceman in the first round in each of their first two years in the NHL, with current club president Kevin Lowe going 21st overall in 1979 and Paul Coffey sixth in 1980. Lowe was a defensive D-man, while Coffey got the offence going and made it to the Hockey Hall of Fame, but both players were integral to the Oilers’ Stanley Cup championships in the 1980s.
Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland’s longtime mantra has been to build from the back end.
“Defence and centres,” said Holland, who has made few missteps with the Red Wings.
Coffey was talking to Lowe about blue-liners at the Memorial Cup. Never shy with an opinion, Coffey feels the Oilers have to go for a D-man in the draft. In his opinion, the Taylor Halls and Jordan Eberles and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins need somebody to get them the puck, like Drew Doughty gets it up to Anze Kopitar and the rest of the Kings’ men in Los Angeles.
The Oilers have Martin Marancin, Martin Gernat, David Musil, Oscar Klefbom and Dillon Simpson in the pipeline, but there hasn’t been a draft with so many high-end defencemen since 2008 (Doughty, Zach Bogosian, Alex Pietrangelo, Tyler Myers, Erik Karlsson, John Carlson, Michael Del Zotto).
If the Oilers were to trade back a few spots, they could easily get Edmonton Oil Kings defenceman Griffin Reinhart, the son of former Calgary Flames defenceman Paul Reinhart and a favourite of Lowe’s because he’s still growing into an NHL-sized body and has untapped talent, even if he is maybe a few years away from prime time.
“At the Ivan Hlinka (a summer under-18 tournament) last year, as the tournament wore on and we had to go against the Russian and Swedish big lines, Griffin shut them down. He understands the game. He doesn’t have a lot of movement to his game, but when he moves, he moves to the right spot,” said Prendergast.
Lowe has also seen Reinhart play more than any other defenceman because his son, Keegan, was also on the Oil Kings.
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal
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