Saturday, July 25, 2015

Goaltender heads for Austria . . . Blades add a scout . . . Portland lands defenceman from Preds

F David Hájek (Spokane, 1998-99) signed a one-year contract with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2), he had two goals and five assists in 12 games, and in 16 games with Löwen Frankfurt (Germany, DEL2), he had two goals and six assists. . . .
F Igor Baček (Tri-City, 2005-06) signed a one-year contract with the Hannover Scorpions (Germany, Oberliga). Last season, with Rostock (Germany, Oberliga), he put up 14 goals and 56 assists in 30 games. He led his team and division (Oberliga North) in assists. . . .
F Grant Toulmin (Swift Current, 2005-07, 2008-09) signed a one-year contract with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite). Last season, with Heilbronner Falken (Germany, DEL2), he had nine goals and 15 assists in 45 games.
F Jerred Smithson (Calgary, 1995-2000) signed a one-year contract with Herning (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). Smithson didn’t play last season. In 2013-14, with the Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL), he was pointless in 19 games. He had two goals and nine assists in 51 games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL).

Another American-born player is headed for Austria and the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization.
On Friday, G Nick Vilardo tweeted: “Excited to announce I've signed with EC Red Bull Salzburg Aus-HLorganization in Austria. Thankful for the opportunity. All glory to Jesus #RedBull”
Vilardo is an 18-year-old from Clarence, N.Y., who played last season with the U-18 Buffalo Jr. Sabres. In 50 games, he was 1.93 and .923. He also was 2.30 and .901 with the U-18 Jr. Sabres. This season, he appeared ticketed for the NAHL’s Topeka Roadrunners, until choosing to head for Austria.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that F Ryan Savage and F Carson Dimoff, both of Scottsdale, Ariz., had agreed to join the Red Bulls organization.
Meanwhile, F Riley Stotts of Winnipeg, a first-round-selection by the Swift Current Broncos in the 2015 bantam draft, is pondering an offer to join Red Bull but apparently has yet to make a decision.
The Saskatoon Blades have added Cody Nickolet to their scouting staff. This is an excellent more for the Blades and, of course, for Nickolet, but likely not for WHL fans.
Nickolet, whose Twitter handle is @CodyNickolet, had a banner 2014-15 hockey season. An avid WHL follower, he took it upon himself to make available line combinations and defence pairings for both teams in every regular-season game. He also has tweeted all kinds of WHL-related.
And anyone who took a look at his 2015 NHL draft rankings, well, was there anything available to the general public that was more comprehensive?
One day, Nickolet will be working for an NHL team. Bet on it being sooner than later.
In the meantime, the Blades will be the beneficiaries of his expertise.
The Portland Winterhawks received an enormous boost on Friday with the news that D Jack Dougherty, 19, had signed with the NHL’s Nashville Predators. Dougherty, a second-round pick by Nashville in the NHL’s 2014 draft, played last season with the U of Wisconsin Badgers.
Upon signing Dougherty, the Predators announced that he is expected to start the season in Portland. Because he was drafted off an NCAA team’s roster, and not a major junior team, Dougherty is eligible to play in the AHL at 19.
Dougherty, from St. Paul, Minn., had nine points, two of them goals, in 33 games during his freshman season with the Badgers.
In 2013-14, he was in the U.S. National Team Development Program. In 23 USHL games, he had 12 points, including four goals, in 23 games. In 55 games with the U-18 national team, he had 22 points, including six goals, in 55 games. He is a candidate to play for the U.S. national junior team this time around.
Here’s Future Considerations on Dougherty: “Dougherty is an intelligent defenseman who tries to blend strong positioning while trying to inflict a physical dimension on his opponent. He isn't the fleetest of foot, but does get where he needs to go. He also makes a strong first pass and has solid offensive instincts.”
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Dave Dupas, 53, has signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons. Dupas, who is from Burnaby, B.C., was the head coach of the BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings for the previous four-plus seasons. . . . In Fort McMurray, he will work with GM/head coach Tom Keca.

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