Tuesday, September 27, 2011

F Lance Monych (Brandon, 1999-2005) signed a one-year contract with the Ratinger Ice Aliens (Germany, Oberliga). He had 18 goals and 21 assists in 40 games with Pontebba (Italy, Serie A) last season.
By now you’re aware that Brendan Shanahan, the NHL’s chief disciplinarian, is changing the way suspensions are handed out in that league.
So far, he is using a big hammer with the promise of more to come, perhaps a sledge hammer.
In the WHL, meanwhile, Richard Doerksen, who handles the discipline, has taken a somewhat more cautious approach.
He handed out three four-game suspensions during the exhibition season, perhaps signalling that the stakes were going to be higher this season. Then, after an opening night indiscretion, Doerksen hit Moose Jaw Warriors F Cody Beach with a seven-game sentence.
“Seven games is a large amount to sit out in a season,” Beach told Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald. “I’m going to sit it out and I don’t expect to be suspended again.”
It is perhaps interesting that a number of WHL insiders actually expected Beach to get 10, 11 or 12 games. It could be, however, that Doerksen would rather move up the bar in gradual increments, rather than find the top end right off the bat.
Still, if what is happening in the NHL is any indication, Doerksen is going to be heard from again and again and again . . .
Beach, who had 47 points and 236 penalty minutes last season, also told Gourlie:
“It’s really hard to change the way you play. My game is hard-nosed. I play hard and go hard all of the time. This suspension kind of opens my eyes to maybe look to take the puck off of the guy instead of making a statement to the other team and putting the guy on the ice instead.
“I’m going to look more at creating opportunities to score instead of just being a physical presence.”
Ahh, yes, the puck. If more players can focus on angling the opponent off the puck, rather than trying to put him into the third row of the stands, Doerksen may sleep a lot better this season.
Following his freshman WHL season, D Alex Roach of the Calgary Hitmen wasn’t selected in the NHL draft. He later agreed to a free-agent tryout with the Los Angeles Kings and showed well enough in camp that he has signed a three-year NHL contract. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Roach, an 18-year-old from Quesnel, B.C., is represented by Carlos Sosa and Darcy Tucker of Turning Point Sports Management. Roach was an 11th-round selection by the Hitmen in the 2008 bantam draft. Last season, his first in the WHL, he had 16 points and 77 penalty minutes in 61 games.
The Prince George Cougars got a big boost Monday when the Edmonton Oilers returned D Martin Marincin, 19. From Slovakia, Marincin was drafted by the Oilers out of Europe so could play anywhere in their organization. He arrived in Prince George prior to last season as a somewhat unheralded defenceman. But he quickly proved he is the real deal. The 6-foot-4, 190-pounder finished with 56 points and 65 penalty minutes in 67 games.
It is doubtful that there has been a more surprising story — other than the suspensions — this NHL preseason than F Brendan Gallagher and his stint with the Montreal Canadiens.
Gallagher, a veteran with the Vancouver Giants, was a fifth-round selection by the Canadiens in the 2010 NHL draft. He has yet to sign an NHL contract.
However, he has played in four exhibition games, the most recent last night’s 2-1 loss to the visiting Boston Bruins. Gallagher, who has one assist in the four games, played 14:14 last night.
The Habs made some cuts yesterday and now are down to 40 players, including the 19-year-old Gallagher.
In fact, Montreal head coach Jacques Martin said last night that the 5-foot-8 Gallagher “deserves to continue.”
Sean Gordon of The Globe and Mail has more on Gallagher right here.
Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazettes has even more right here.
Also heading back to the WHL on Monday was F Max Reinhart, who was returned to the defending champion Kootenay Ice by the Calgary Flames.
By my count, that leaves eight WHLers with NHL teams who are 18 or 19 years of age, meaning they must play in the NHL or be returned to their WHL team.
The eight are:
F Brett Bulmer (Kelowna/Minnesota), D Dylan McIlrath (Moose Jaw/N.Y. Rangers), F Ryan Johansen (Portland/Columbus), D Joe Morrow (Portland/Pittsburgh), F Nino Niederreiter (Portland/N.Y. Islanders), F Brett Connolly (Prince George/Tampa Bay), F Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer/Edmonton), and F Brendan Gallagher (Vancouver/Montreal).
Of those eight, only Nugent-Hopkins is 18; the rest are 19.
Only Gallagher hasn’t signed an NHL contract.
JUST NOTES: The Edmonton Oilers have assigned F Curtis Hamilton and F Tyler Pitlick to the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons. Both players are 20 and still could be returned to the Saskatoon Blades or Medicine Hat Tigers, respectively. . . . The Buffalo Sabres assigned F Jonathan Parker (Prince Albert) and D Brayden McNabb (Kootenay) to the AHL’s Rochester Americans. Both are 20 years of age. . . . The Tampa Bay Lightning has assigned F Carter Ashton, 20, to the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals. . . . The Lightning is carrying 27 players, including F Brett Connolly, 19, of the Prince George Cougars. Connolly was the sixth overall selection in the 2010 NHL draft. The Lightning has two preseason games left, both against the Montreal Canadiens. They’ll play Thursday in Montreal and Saturday in Quebec City. . . . One of the other forwards battling for a spot in Tampa Bay is Dana Tyrell. He and Connolly once were linemates in Prince George. . . . .
F Adam Hughesman of the Tri-City Americans is the WHL’s player of the week. He had seven points in two games. . . . Drew Owsley of the Prince George Cougars is the WHL’s nominee as CHL goaltender of the week. He stopped 32 shots in a 1-0 victory over the host Kamloops Blazers on Saturday night. . . . The Victoria Royals have released D Emerson Hrynyk, 19, who has seven points in 86 WHL regular-season games. A native of Okanagan Falls, B.C., he started with the Prince Albert Raiders in 2009-10. Early last season, the Raiders dealt him to the Chillwack Bruins. . . . The Royals now are carrying 25 players, including three goaltenders and eight defencemen. . . . The Royals will travel to Prince George this week for Friday and Saturday engagements with the Cougars who, of course, once were located in Victoria.
You will recall that the Portland Winterhawks had 15 players in NHL camps when they began. They remain without seven of those players after the Calgary Flames returned F Sven Bartschi on Monday. . . . Three of them remain in the NHL — F Ryan Johansen (Columbus), D Joe Morrow (Pittsburgh) and F Nino Niederreiter (New York Islanders). Four others are 20 years of age and have been assigned to AHL teams — D Taylor Aronson (Nashville to Milwaukee), F Riley Boychuk (Buffalo to Rochester), F Oliver Gabriel (Columbus to Springfield) and D Brett Ponich (St. Louis to Peoria).
How about the schedule kept by Portland F Taylor Peters late last week? In camp with the Minnesota Wild as a free-agent invitee, he played an NHL exhibition game against the Blues in St. Louis on Thursday then hustled to Portland in time to play there on Friday. On Saturday night, he was in the Winterhawks’ lineup in Seattle and he finished things off Sunday by playing against the Tri-City Americans in Kennewick, Wash. . . . Four nights, four games, four cities. . . . Presumably, Portland GM/head coach Mike Johnston gave him at least Monday as a day off!
Judging by a late Monday night tweet from F John Odgers, the Prince George Cougars did some roster pruning:
“Gonna miss all the boys here in the George. A special shout out to my roomies @gordmister & @tmakes22 couple of great guys. Gonna miss you boys.”
A reader of this blog had some time on his hands Monday so he did some surfing and some counting.
He found that the BCHL’s 16 teams, with 21-man rosters, were carrying 61 American players, which works out to 3.75 per team. Or, as he put it, “18 per cent of the BCHL is American kids.”
Penticton (9), Langley (8), Coquitlam (6) and Chilliwack (5) lead the way, with Trail (2) and Merritt (1) at the bottom end.
Meanwhile, the USHL’s 16 teams are carrying only 25 Canadian players. That works out to 1.5 per team, or five per cent.
I don’t know what any of that means, so discuss among yourselves.

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