Monday, December 22, 2014

Might Draisaitl end up with Rockets? . . . New arena looking good in The Hat

D Cam Barker (Medicine Hat, 2001-06) signed a contract for the rest of this season with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL). Last season, with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan, KHL), he had two goals and 10 assists in 26 games.

The hills were alive with the sound of Leon Draisaitl rumours on Monday.
Draisaitl, a 19-year-old forward, played the last two seasons with the WHL’s Prince Albert Raiders. He now is on the roster of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
From Koln, Germany, the 6-foot-1, 210-pound Draisaitl, who is best suited to play centre, was the third overall pick in the NHL’s 2014 draft. He has signed a three-year entry-level contract with a cap hit of US$925,000 this season.
In his first WHL season (2012-13), Draisaitl put up 58 points, including 21 goals, in 64 games. Last season, he had 105 points, 38 of them goals, in 64 games.
With the Oilers this season, he has seven points, including two goals, while averaging 12 minutes 42 seconds in 33 games.  He is minus-15.
After playing 17:32 against the host San Jose Sharks on Dec. 9, Draisaitl, in the Oilers’ next five games, played 11:41, 9:43, 11:16, 12:35 and 10:39. He was a healthy scratch on Sunday when the Oilers blew a 5-2 lead and dropped a 6-5 shootout decision to the visiting Dallas Stars. He is scheduled to be back in the lineup tonight when the Arizona Coyotes visit Edmonton.
Late last week, the Oilers revealed that they wouldn’t be loaning Draisaitl to the German national team that will play in the World Junior Championship that opens Friday in Montreal and Toronto.
With the Oilers en route to a ninth straight non-playoff season, there are many observers who are of the opinion that Draisaitl should be playing elsewhere. At this moment, because of his age and the fact he was drafted while on Prince Albert’s roster, he has to play with the Oilers or Raiders.
Which brings us to Monday’s noise.
At one point, Jim Matheson, who has covered the Oilers for the Edmonton Journal for a long while and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame, tweeted: “I can absolutely see Oilers sending Draisaitl back to jr if he's traded from Prince Albert to a Memorial Cup contender in Kelowna.”
Were Draisaitl to end up with Kelowna, the Rockets would have to make another move, because their roster includes two Europeans -- Czech F Tomas Soustal, 18, and Swiss F Kris Schmidli, 19. One of them would have to go to make room for Draisaitl.
Soustal, a freshman, has five goals and seven assists in 36 games. Schmidli, a sophomore, has 17 points, including five goals, in 33 games. Last season, he put up 35 points, nine of them goals, in 68 games.
Meanwhile, the Raiders also are carrying two Europeans -- Czech F Simon Stransky, who turned 17 on Sunday, and Czech D Tomas Andrlik, 19.
Stransky, in his first season, has 23 points, including seven goals, in 34 games. He is the younger brother of former Saskatoon Blades F Matej Stransky. Andrlik is in his second season with the Raiders. He has two goals and five assists in 35 games this season, after recording 20 points, two of them goals, in 71 games in 2013-14.
So if the Rockets were to include Soustal or Schmidli in the deal, the Raiders would have to move Stransky or Andrlik.
The thing that makes a deal involving Draisaitl and the Rockets a real possibility is the relationship between Bruce Hamilton, their president and general manager, and the Oilers’ brass.
Hamilton is tight with Bob Nicholson, the former Hockey Canada president who now is vice-chairman of the Oilers Entertainment Group. Hamilton, who is the WHL’s chairman of the board, has long been a Hockey Canada insider and of late has been instrumental in helping put together the national junior team.
Hamilton also has long-standing relationships with Kevin Lowe, the Oilers’ president of hockey operations, and general manager Craig MacTavish.
As well, Hamilton’s son Curtis, a former Saskatoon Blades forward (2006-11), is an Oilers draft pick and plays for their AHL affiliate, the Oklahoma City Barons. He will play for Canada in the Spengler Cup that opens Friday in Davos, Switzerland.
Let’s not forget, too, that the Rockets and Raiders got together earlier this month and swung a deal that included four players and two bantam draft picks.
In that exchange, the Rockets acquired D Josh Morrissey, 19, a first-round selection by the Winnipeg Jets in the 2013 NHL draft, and G Gage Quinney, 19, for D Jesse Lees, 19, F Austin Glover, 18, and two draft picks, a second-round pick in 2016 and a third-rounder in 2017.
Who knows? Maybe a Draisaitl transaction was written into that trade.
Of course, with the WHL trade moratorium running through Friday, we may have to wait a few days to find out if there is smoke out there, or if it’s just fog.
MJHLThe MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders took advantage of the Christmas season to sign two key members of their front office to contracts that run through 2016-17. . . . Erik Petersen, the general manager and head coach, and Landon Kroeker, who is the assistant coach, goaltending consultant and director of marketing, signed new deals on Monday. . . . Petersen is in his second season with the Stampeders, who are 42-44-7 over that stretch. . . . Kroeker is in his first season with the Stampeders. . . . There’s more right here, from the team’s website.
Joe Cocker, whose career took off after an appearance at Woodstock in 1970, died Monday in Crawford, Colo. He was 70. The New York Times’ obit of the raspy-voiced singer is right here.

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