Thursday, August 25, 2016

Chynoweth blows whistle on import draft . . . Royals make front-office move . . . Chiefs goaltender retires



F Grant Toulmin (Swift Current, 2005-07, 2008-09) has signed a one-year contract with Katowice (Poland, PHL). Last season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had 53 points, including 35 assists, in 61 games. This summer, he played with the Sydney Ice Dogs (Australia, AIHL), putting up 15 goals and 16 assists in 21 games. The AIHL regular season ended on Sunday; the Ice Dogs missed the playoffs. . . .
F Adam Courchaine (Medicine Hat, Vancouver, 2001-05) has signed a one-year contract with Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with Hradec Králové (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had 17 goals and 13 assists in 48 games. He tied for the team lead in goals. Courchaine signed a two-year extension with Hradec Králové in January, but terminated the contract prior to signing with Székesfehérvár.
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Jeff Chynoweth, the president and general manager of the Kootenay Ice, has had enough of the CHL import draft as it presently exists. Chynoweth, the son of the late Ed Chynoweth, the long-time head of the CHL and WHL, told Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Townsman on Thursday that too many
CHL teams cut deals with player agents before the draft is even held.
“Until the CHL changes the rules of the import draft, nothing is going to change,” Chynoweth told Rocca. “I know when my dad was in charge of the CHL, he would recognize and strive to address the issues. Right now, to me, it looks like the commissioners of the OHL and QMJHL look the other way and are ignoring a serious problem when it comes to the import draft. It's broken.
“It’s the haves and the have-nots. It’s not a level playing field. Something has to be done about it.”
Chynoweth claims that “the Western Hockey League polices itself against the backdoor deals that go on with the import draft.”
The Ice had the first selection in this year’s import draft and took Russian F Klim Kostin, a 17-year-old who is projected as an early selection in the NHL’s 2017 draft. Originally, Chynoweth had high hopes for landing Kostin, but he has signed with the KHL’s Moscow Dynamo.
(The Ice’s other import pick, Russian D Nikita Radzivilyuk, 17, is expected to arrived in Cranbrook this weekend, in time to take part in training camp.)
It long has been known that player agents drive the annual import draft, oftentimes picking and choosing to which teams clients will report. It has been suggested at times that the CHL needs to go to a system in which a player has to opt into the draft and, in doing so, agrees to play for the team that selects him.
Chynoweth has come around to agree with that line of thinking.
“Critics will say an opt-in doesn't guarantee a player is coming,” he told Rocca. “Absolutely it doesn't. But at least you know that Kootenay or London have the same list of players to choose from.
“Until we do that, it's not a level playing field.”
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Enio Sacilotto has moved from the bench to the front office with the Victoria Royals, Sacilotto, a veteran coach, had been a Royals’ assistant coach for  six seasons, going back to their days as the Chilliwack Bruins (remember them?). . . . Sacilotto, 58, has been named the Royals’ director of prospect development and also will work as a scout. . . . A vacancy was created earlier in the week when Grant Armstrong, the Royals’ assistant GM, player personnel, signed on with the Brandon Wheat Kings as general manager. . . . The Royals now are looking for a head coach to work alongside Dave Lowry. . . . Sacilotto ran the Royals’ bench at times last season, going 5-6-2 while Lowry was tending to duties as the head coach of Canada’s national junior team.
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If you were wondering why Tim Speltz, then the Spokane Chiefs’ general manager, acquired G Jayden Sittler, 20, from the Lethbridge Hurricanes earlier this summer, well, you have your answer. . .


. Tyson Verhelst, a 19-year-old native of Brandon, has chosen to retire. Verhelst played in 81 games for the Chiefs over the past two seasons, including 55 in 2015-16 when he was 23-22-5, 3.16, .892. . . . “It’s a tough one,” Speltz told Thomas Clouse of the Spokane Spokesman-Review. “(Verhelst) had an injury. He suddenly lost his passion. When we traded for Sittler, I knew we were in trouble.” . . . . As things now stand, Sittler will open the season as the Chiefs’ starter. The backup is expected to be either Matthew Berlin or Donovan Buskey. Berlin, 18, is from Edmonton and was a seventh-round pick in the 2013 bantam draft. Buskey, 16, is from North Vancouver. He was a third-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Speltz stepped down as GM earlier this month in order to join the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs as head western scout. However, he continues to help the Chiefs through the transition.
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F Massimo Rizzo hasn’t signed with the Kamloops Blazers, who selected him 15th overall in the WHL’s 2016 bantam draft, but he will be in their rookie camp when it opens (today) Friday at the Sandman Centre. . . . Rizzo, from Burnaby, B.C., played for the Penticton Vees as they beat the West Kelowna Warriors 2-0 in a BCHL exhibition game on Wednesday night, then left for Kamloops on Thursday. . . . During an appearance on Radio NL’s Jim Harrison Show earlier this month, Blazers majority owner Tom Gaglardi indicated that he didn’t foresee a problem in signing Rizzo but acknowledged that the family had said it wanted time to consider the options. . . . One WHL insider told Taking Note on Thursday that the family “told everyone they were thinking college” prior to the draft. . . . After watching Rizzo on the ice and then in Wednesday’s game, Penticton assistant coach Jason Becker, a former WHL player and assistant coach, told Taking Note: “He looked pretty good . . . he’s a special player.” . . . Last season, with the bantam AAA Burnaby Winter Club Bruins, Rizzo had 137 points, including 60 goals, in 61 games.
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F Nick Merkley, who had his 2015-16 season short-circuited by a knee injury that required surgery, won’t attend the Kelowna Rockets’ training camp. Merkley, 19, is skating but hasn’t been cleared for contact. He was a first-round selection by Arizona in the 2015 NHL draft and is expected to rejoin the Rockets at some point. . . . Larry Fisher of the Kelowna Daily Courier also reports right here that the Rockets are expected to begin with F Rod Southam, their captain, G Michael Herringer and F Riley Stadel, a former defenceman, as their 20-year-olds.
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In an intriguing move, the Regina Pats have offered F Nick Henry, 17, a roster spot if he signs a WHL contract. Henry was the MJHL’s rookie of the year last season after putting up 61 points, including 26 goals, in 50 games with his hometown Portage Terriers. . . . Henry, whose rights the Pats acquired from the Everett Silvertips, has made a verbal commitment to attend Western Michigan U, but has agreed to attend the Pats’ training camp. . . . Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post has that and more right here.
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According to Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun, F Bradly Goethals is expected to be in the Brandon Wheat Kings’ training camp when it opens on Wednesday. Goethals, 18, won the Manitoba Midget AAA League scoring title with 74 points, including 41 goals, in 43 games with the Eastman Selects. He is from Iles-des-Chenes, Man., and had made a commitment to Bemidji State. . . . Bergson also reported that F Tak Anholt also is expected in camp. Anholt, 18, reported to the Wheat Kings last season but didn’t get into any games, then left for what the team said was personal reasons. He was a second-round selection by the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the 2013 bantam draft. The Wheat Kings acquired Anholt, along with F Reid Duke and D Macoy Erkamps, from the Hurricanes for D Kord Pankewicz, F Brett Kitt and F Ryley Lindgren on Sept. 30, 2014.
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NHLFormer WHLer Jared Bednar is the new head coach of the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche. He replaces Patrick Roy, who quit earlier this month. . . . According to Mike Chambers of the Denver Post, Bednar and the Avs agreed to a three-year contract. . . . Bednar had been head coach of the Cleveland Monsters, who won the AHL championship last season as the Lake Erie Monsters. Interestingly, Bednar has never played or coached in the NHL. . . . The other finalist was Lane Lambert, a former WHL player and coach, who now is an assistant coach with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. . . . Colorado general manager Joe Sakic made the final decision while in Seattle where his son, Chase, is in the training camp of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds. Chase, a forward, will turn 16 on Oct. 14. . . . Bednar, 44, played three seasons (1990-93) in the WHL, with the Saskatoon Blades, Spokane Chiefs, Medicine Hat Tigers and Prince Albert Raiders. . . . A native of Yorkton, Sask., Bednar has been in the coaching game since 2002-03. . . . Reports that Travis Green, the head coach of the AHL’s Utica Comets, was in the running for the Colorado position weren’t accurate. A source has told Taking Note that Green, a former Portland Winterhawks assistant GM and assistant coach, doesn’t have an out-clause in his contract that would allow him to leave at this time. The Comets are the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks.
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The NHL’s Las Vegas franchise, which is to begin play in 2017-18, has added yet another WHLer to its front office. Erin Ginnell, who played for five teams (New Westminster Bruins, Calgary Wranglers, Seattle Thunderbirds, Regina Pats and Swift Current Broncos) over two seasons (1985-87), has joined Las Vegas as an amateur scout. . . . Ginnell, the son of the late Pat Ginnell, has been an NHL scout since 2000-01, working with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Colorado Avalanche and Florida Panthers. He spent 14 seasons with the Panthers, the last five as their director of amateur scouting. . . . Ginnell’s son, Brad, is in camp with the Portland Winterhawks.  He was a fifth-round pick in the 2015 bantam draft. . . . Las Vegas also has added Scott Luce as its director of amateur scouting. He had been Florida’s director of player personnel. . . . Luce and Ginnell both found themselves unemployed when Florida shuffled GM Dale Tallon upstairs and put Tom Rowe in charge. . . . In recent days, Las Vegas has signed at least four other people with WHL experience — Murray Craven (senior vice-president), Kelly McCrimmon (assistant GM), Vaughn Karpan (director of player personnel) and Bruno Campese (amateur scout).
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The Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) announced this week that — wait for it! — each of its regular-season games will be worth three points. . . . Here’s how it will work. . . . If a team wins in regulation time, it gets three points. . . . If a team wins during a five-minute sudden-death OT period, it gets three points. The loser doesn’t get a thing. . . . If a game is decided in 3-on-3 OT, which occurs if the five-minute period doesn’t settle things, the winner gets two points, with the loser getting one. . . . If the game needs a shootout, the winner gets two points and the loser gets one. . . . It is going to be interesting to watch the in-season reaction to see if teams push harder to win in regulation or the first OT period.
There also was this paragraph in the news release: “The 3-on-3 overtime and shootouts will only affect the WCHA standings, while any game that is tied after the 5-on-5 overtime remains officially a tie for NCAA purposes. Thus, the WCHA standings will show Wins, Losses, Ties and 3-on-3/Shootout Wins (W-L-T-3/SW). In this format, W-L-T will add up to games played, with the Tie column signifying how many times a team has been to a 3-on-3 overtime or shootout; and, the 3/SW column representing how many games a team has won in that fashion.”
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Got a tip or some information you feel could be useful to me, feel free to email me at greggdrinnan@gmail.com.
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