Friday, August 26, 2016

NHL camps to cut into opening night WHL rosters . . . Blades lose two vets . . . Brandon d-man retires


Fans of the WHL should be prepared to have some of their favourite players missing for the first couple weeks of the regular season, or perhaps even longer. . . . Because of the World Cup of Hockey, the NHL’s regular season won’t begin until Oct. 12, five days later than a season ago. With so many
players involved with the WCOH, NHL teams are going to need bodies to fill out training camp rosters, which could mean major junior players will get longer looks. . . . NHL rookie camps open in mid-September, about when WHL teams are wrapping up the exhibition season. . . . As Matthew Gourlie of the Moose Jaw Times-Herald reports, the top two goaltenders on the Warriors’ depth chart — Zach Sawchenko (Nashville Predators) and Brody Willms (Los Angeles Kings) — will attend NHL rookie camps as free-agent invitees. . . . As Warriors GM Alan Millar told Gourlie: “We're going to have to expect that we're going to be missing guys opening weekend. We're going to be have to be on our toes in terms of what is going on with Willms and Sawchenko and managing our goaltending situation if it gets to be the start of the season.” . . . The Warriors also will have four of their top skaters — F Brett Howden (Tampa Bay Lightning), F Noah Gregor (San Jose Sharks), D Dimitri Zaitsev (Washington Capitals) and F Tanner Jeannot (Minnesota Wild) — at NHL camps. . . . Of course, every one of the WHL’s 22 teams and their fans will be in the same boat as opening night approaches — watching and waiting to see who will be back from the NHL.
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If you haven’t yet seen the story from Taylor Rocca of the Cranbrook Townsman in which Kootenay Ice president and general manager Jeff Chynoweth points an accusing finger at many of those involved with the CHL import draft, it is right here. . . . Among other things, Chynoweth told Rocca: “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.” . . . This is serious stuff.
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Taylor Rocca is one of the best young sports reporters to surface in Western Canada in a while. Unfortunately, he won’t be plying his trade in the newspaper business for much longer. The WHL has hired him as its communications co-ordinator. Rocca will spend most of his time on content creation and keeping new material, much of which he no doubt will produce, flowing to the WHL website.
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The Saskatoon Blades were without a couple of veteran players as training camp opened. . . . F Terrell Draude, 19, apparently will go to school. From Warman, Sask., the 6-foot-3, 220-pounder
played two seasons with the Calgary Hitmen before being dealt to the Blades early last season. He had 15 points, including nine goals, in 47 games with the Blades. In 167 career regular-season games, Draude put up 54 points, 24 of them goals. . . . D Duane Perillat, 19, chose to retire. Perillat, from Saskatoon, played 53 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors in 2014-15 and 11 last season. He finished the season by playing 31 games with the Blades, recording 16 points, including 11 assists. In 95 career games, he had 46 points, including 13 goals. . . . Meanwhile, Darren Zary of the Saskatoon StarPhoenix also reports that D Chance Patterson, 19, is with the Blades after being released by the Edmonton Oil Kings. Patterson is from Foam Lake, Sask., and played midget AAA with the Saskatoon Blazers. With the Oil Kings, the 6-foot-3, 190-pounder played in 28 games in 2014-15 and 30 games last season. He was pointless as a freshman and had a goal and an assist in his sophomore season.
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After playing in 237 regular-season games with four teams, D Jordan Thomson has chosen to retire rather than return as a 20-year-old. He would have been one of five 20s in camp with the defending-champion Brandon Wheat Kings, the others being G Jordan Papirny, F Duncan Campbell, F Tyler Coulter and F Reid Duke. . . . A native of nearby Wawanesa, Thomson now is working for Brandon Maintenance Services while deciding whether to go to school at Assiniboine Community College. . . . “I think of the situation I had with Brandon and ending it off on such a positive note,” Thomson told Perry Bergson of the Brandon Sun. “There are so many 20-year-olds coming back, high-calibre players, I might as well end my career off on an absolute high.” . . . The Kamloops Blazers selected Thomson with the fourth overall selection in the 2011 bantam draft. They later traded him to the Saskatoon Blades, who moved him to the Swift Current Broncos. Brandon acquired him from Swift Current on Nov. 25. . . . In 237 regular-season games, he totalled 69 points, including 16 goals.
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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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Coaching

The SJHL’s Notre Dame Hounds have hired Taras McEwen as their new assistant coach. He will work alongside Clint Mylymok, the Hounds’ general manager and head coach. . . . McEwen takes over from Bear Trapp, who left after two seasons. Trapp is the son of former WHL F Doug Trapp and the grandson of Barry Trapp, a former WHL GM, assistant coach and head coach, and a long-time scout. . . . In the same vein, McEwen is the son of Brad McEwen, who is a scout with the NHL’s Calgary Flames after working for the Medicine Hat Tigers and Swift Current Broncos in various roles for a number of years. . . . Taras, from Whitewood, Sask., most recently was head coach of the junior B Fort Knox entry in the Prairie Junior Hockey League. He also will be the hockey operations assistant in Notre Dame’s hockey office. . . . The Hounds’ main camp opens Aug. 30 and is open to the public.
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