Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Silvertips lose import to HPK ... Ferguson cancels fishing trip ... Royals sign assistant coach


F Josh Nicholls (Saskatoon, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with Litvínov (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with the Colorado Eagles (ECHL), he had 11 goals and 21 assists in 30 games. He also had a goal and three assists in six games with the Straubing Tigers (Germany, DEL). . . .
G Kevin Nastiuk (Medicine Hat, 2001-05) has signed a one-year contract with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). Last season, with Dresden (Germany, DEL2), he was 16-6-0, 1.99, .938 with one shutout in 25 games. He led the league in GAA and save percentage. . . . Nastiuk will attend Coventry University Business School while playing for the Blaze. . . .
F Petr Vala (Seattle, 1997-98) has signed a one-year contract with Zell am See (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, with Lustenau (Austria, Alps HL), he had 17 goals and 25 assists in 38 games. He led his team in goals and points. . . .
D Vladimír Mihalik (Red Deer, Prince George, 2005-07) has signed a one-year extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, he had two goals and nine assists in 52 games.
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The WHL released its 2017-18 regular-season schedule on Tuesday. Check your favourite team’s website for more info.
As usual, there are some quirks . . . 
For example, the Portland Winterhawks will play four straight games against the Kelowna Rockets in a span of eight days (Oct. 14-21). Those are the only times the teams, who are projected as two of the
Western Conference’s top clubs, will play each other during the regular season. . . . They’ll play in Portland on Oct. 14 and 15, before heading for Kelowna and games on Oct. 20 and 21. In between, the Rockets will stop in Kennewick, Wash., for a single with the Tri-City Americans on Oct. 17.
Later, the Winterhawks and Kamloops Blazers will play three of their four games on consecutive nights (Jan. 26-28). They will play in Kamloops on Friday and Saturday nights, then head for Portland and a Sunday game.
That nifty bit of scheduling brought this response from a Portland follower:
“I give up — it is so evident that common sense left the scheduling process years ago. . . . As far as the three-game set against the Blazers . . . does the league know this is hockey and not baseball where three-game series are common? . . . It’s obvious that the league doesn’t care two cents about their customer base . . . and more importantly doesn’t care two cents about the quality of play that those customers are going to be watching.”
The Regina Pats, the host team for the 2018 Memorial Cup, are looking at two eight-game road swings, one from Nov. 18 through Dec. 6 when the Canadian Western Agribition takes over the Brandt Centre in late November, and the other from Feb. 19 through March 8 when the Canadian men’s curling championship is in the house. The Pats will play three games in three days on two occasions, which is nine fewer than the Everett Silvertips.
The Silvertips’ schedule calls for them to play three games in three nights on 11 occasions. That includes three in January, three in February and one in March.
One fan from the Pacific Northwest tells me that Everett will play three games in three nights in three different cities on three occasions, while the Seattle Thunderbirds, the reigning champions, do that four times.
“That produces bad hockey,” the fan wrote. “It’s not good for the players or the fans.”
Keep in mind that three games in three nights actually means three games in fewer than 48 hours.
The Saskatoon Blades will open the season with four straight home games — in 15 days. Les Lazaruk, the veteran radio voice of the Blades, tweeted that the only other time Saskatoon played its first four games at home was 1972. The Blades will open on Sept. 22 against the Swift Current Broncos, but then won’t play again until Sept. 29 when they entertain the Medicine Hat Tigers.
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F Eetu Tuulola won’t be back for a second season with the Everett Silvertips. Instead, he will be playing for HPK in his native Finland.
Last season, as an 18-year-old freshman, Tuulola had 18 goals and 13 assists in 62 games while on loan
EETU TUULOLA
to the Silvertips from HPK with whom he had signed a three-year contract.
The Calgary Flames selected Tuulola in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2016 draft. The Flames have yet to sign Tuulola, but because they drafted him out of Europe — and not off a CHL team’s roster — they hold his rights for four seasons.
With two seasons left on that HPK contract, Tuulola will return to Finland and play there. For him to remain in Everett, the Flames would have had to buy out the deal with HPK and then sign him. With Calgary choosing not to do that, HPK has brought him home.
This means that the Silvertips will select two players in today’s CHL import draft. F Dominic Zwerger, their other import last season, has played out his junior eligibility.
The draft is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. PT, with the OHL’s Barrie Colts making the first selection. They are expected to take Russian F Andrei Svechnikov, who is seen by observers as a possible No. 1 selection in the NHL’s 2018 draft.
From Barnaul, Russia, the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Svechnikov had 29 goals and 29 assists in 48 games with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks last season.
The Kootenay Ice, the first WHL team on the board, hold the third selection.
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Here are a few more WHL players who are in NHL development camps as undrafted free agents:
D Jonathan Smart, 18, of the Regina Pats has been invited to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ camp, as has F Ethan McIndoe of the Spokane Chiefs. McIndoe will turn 18 on July 22.
D Aaron Irving, who completed his junior eligibility with the Everett Silvertips last season, is with the Vancouver Canucks. He was selected by the Nashville Predators in the sixth round of the 2014 NHL draft but went unsigned.
F Giorgio Estephan of the Lethbridge Hurricanes will skate with the Minnesota Wild. Estephan, 20, was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the sixth round of the NHL’s 2015 draft. The Sabres didn’t sign him, then he went undrafted last weekend.
D Nolan Kneen, 18, of the Kamloops Blazers was invited to camp by the Florida Panthers.
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So much for the fishing trip! Instead of going fishing with his family, G Dylan Ferguson of the Kamloops Blazers found himself in Las Vegas on Tuesday. That’s because the NHL’s expansion Las Vegas franchise picked him up from the Dallas Stars in a trade on Monday and now he’s at the Golden Knights’ development camp. . . . There’s more right here.
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The Vancouver Giants have signed G Todd Scott to a WHL contract. Scott, 17, was a 10th-round selection in the WHL’s 2015 bantam draft. From Albertville, Minn., he played last season with the NAHL’s Coulee Region Chill and the USHL’s Sioux City Musketeers. He was 3.56, .904 in 15 appearances with the Chill, and 2.51, .903 in seven games with the Musketeers. He also was 2.00, .912 in three games with the U-16 Omaha AAA Lancers. . . . The Giants finished last season with two goaltenders on their roster — Ryan Kubic, now 19, and David Tendeck, who won’t turn 18 until Nov. 25. Also on their depth chart: Trent Miner, 16, of Souris, Man., who was a first-round selection in the 2016 bantam draft; and Jacob Wassermann, 17, of Humboldt, Sask., who was taken in the eighth round of the 2015 bantam draft.
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Trevor Redden is the new play-by-play man for the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Redden had been the business manager and radio voice of the AJHL’s Lloydminster Bobcats. . . . Drew Wilson, the team’s radio voice on CKBI, moved to Saskatoon following last season and now is part of the sports department of the Saskatoon Media Group, which is headed up by Les Lazaruk, who does the Saskatoon Blades’ games.
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There was a time when F Kyle Beach may have been the most-despised player in the WHL. Beach played for the Everett Silvertips, Lethbridge Hurricanes and Spokane Chiefs. He could score and scrap and stick and all of that stuff. Oh, he was disliked. The complete package was enough for the Chicago Blackhawks to select him 11th overall in the 2008 NHL draft. Now playing in Austria, Beach has yet to get into even one NHL game. With last weekend’s draft in Chicago, David Haugh spoke with Beach filed this piece right here to the Chicago Tribune.
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A tip of the cap to Bobby Pillote of Awful Announcing for this piece on the silliness of ranking drafts immediately after they are held. . . . He writes: “Draft grades are also almost entirely meaningless; a single set of draft grades is about as likely to predict the future as Stephen A. Smith is likely to correctly pick the winner of the NBA Finals.” . . . He also provides a number of NBA- and NFL-related examples. No, he doesn’t mention the NHL, but the tweet above is self-explanatory.
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I’m also on Twitter (@gdrinnan).
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Coaching Game


The Victoria Royals have signed J.F. Best, 33, as an assistant coach. Last season, the Ottawa native was an assistant coach with the CCHL’s Kanata Lasers and their U-18 AAA affiliate. . . . On the Royals’ staff, he will fill the vacancy created when Dan Price moved up to head coach after Dave Lowry signed on as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles Kings. . . . Best has worked in performance analysis with the Danish Ice Hockey Federation since 2015, including at the 2017 World Junior Championship in Montreal and Toronto, and at the 2017 Worlds in Cologne and Paris. . . . He spent one season (2015-16) as director of performance analysis with the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s. In 2013-14, he was on staff with the Tri-City Americans as performance analyst and hockey operations assistant.
Meanwhile, the Vancouver Canucks revealed Tuesday that Ben Cooper, their video assistant coach, no longer is with the team. Cooper is a former Royals assistant coach.
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Rod Aldoff has left the Pensacola Ice Flyers after a second stint as the SPHL team’s head coach. Aldoff, who is from Lethbridge, began last season as the head coach of the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, but was fired on Nov. 29 after a 2-11-4 start. He was hired to coach the Ice Flyers on Feb. 14 -- there were 20 games left in the regular season -- after Kevin Hasselberg was fired. The Ice Flyers went on to lose out in the second round of the playoffs. . . . Through all of this, Aldoff has been under contract to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers. . . . Earlier in his coaching career, Aldoff guided the Ice Flyers to a pair of SPHL titles.
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