Friday, June 23, 2017

2017 NHL Draft begins tonight

The first round of the 2017 NHL Draft takes place tonight in Chicago. It won't be an overly exciting night for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League - but it could start off with a bang.

There is a chance the New Jersey Devils select Halifax Mooseheads forward Nico Hischier with the first overall pick. Hischier had been ranked second in most draft rankings - behind Brandon Wheat Kings forward Nolan Patrick, who was injured much of the season - but has been ranked first more and more over the past couple weeks. But is this media hype or the real deal? We'll find out tonight.

There's a chance Hischier is the only QMJHL player taken in the first round. Victoriaville's Maxime Comtois and/or Charlottetown's Pierre-Olivier Joseph could be selected tonight, but they are on the bubble.

Shane Bowers, a Halifax native and Saint John Sea Dogs draft pick, could also be selected tonight, but that is not a sure thing. Most draft rankings have him going late in tonight's opening round or early tomorrow.

Unless something extremely unexpected happens, there won't be any current Sea Dogs players taken tonight. In NHL Central Scouting's final rankings, Sea Dogs forward Cedric Pare was ranked 146th amongst North American skaters - an improvement from his midterm rank (203rd). Alex D'Orio was ranked 13th amongst North American goaltenders, a slide from his No. 8 position at the midterm.

Where D'Orio goes this weekend - if at all - will be interesting because he has been ranked all over the map (which isn't overly surprising given his limited amount of major junior playing experience). He has been ranked 48th by Sports Illustrated, 69th by Sportsnet's Jeff Marek, 122nd by TheScout.ca, 134th by Future Considerations and 196th by HockeyProspect.com.

Pare was ranked 176th by ISS Hockey and 202nd by HockeyProspect.com

Along with Bowers, Sea Dogs draft picks Ben Mirageas (ranked 63rd by Central Scouting) and Morgan Barron (98th) could also be selected this weekend.

The NHL Draft begins tonight at 8 p.m. on Sportsnet and will continue Saturday morning.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Will Shane Bowers be a first round pick?

As the 2016-17 hockey season moved along, Shane Bowers' draft ranking, for the most, either stayed relatively the same or lowered slightly.

That's not to say Bowers underperformed this season as other players may have simply moved passed him. In his second year with the USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks, the 17-year-old registered 22 goals and 51 points in 60 games. He added two goals and three points in six playoff games.

Bowers was also named to the USHL's third all-star team, which is apparently a thing.

A Halifax native, Bowers was a second-round pick of the Saint John Sea Dogs in the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft. He is committed to Boston University for the 2017-18 season (of note, BU will host UPEI in an exhibition game on Oct. 1).

If an NHL team the Sea Dogs have had a relationship with in the past selects Bowers, it could certainly increase the odds of him reporting to Saint John at some point. But it also might have no impact at all... but it might... but it might not... but it...

Long story short: seeing where Bowers lands this weekend gives us Sea Dogs followers something intriguing to watch in what is not a terrific draft for the QMJHL.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Boutilier joins Ottawa's AHL team

Saint John Sea Dogs assistant coach Paul Boutilier is bound for the American Hockey League.

The Belleville Senators, the new AHL affiliate of the Ottawa Senators, officially named Boutilier one of the team's assistant coaches this afternoon.

"The players’ development and performance is what I am accountable for, so I’m looking forward to working closely with each player in accomplishing their development, performance and team objectives,” Boutilier said a Senators press release. “I am also proud and excited to get the chance to coach and live in Belleville, Ontario.”

Boutilier had been an assistant coach with the Sea Dogs since the 2014-15 season, working primarily with the team's defencemen.

“Saint John was a great experience for the last three years, we had a lot of wins which is great, but leaving the people in the community that’s really difficult,” Boutilier told Rogers TV's Craig Eagles (check out his entire post, which includes some player reaction, on today's announcement here).

“The Port City was like home for me, kind of like where I’m from in Cape Breton. It was like being at home with some good honest people that know the game and got to witness some great hockey through the years.”

The move isn't overly surprisingly as Boutilier is certainly qualified to make the jump to the AHL, working in a variety of capacities with teams at all levels over the years. He also has NHL playing experience, playing in 329 games.

Former Sea Dogs forward Chris DiDomenico will likely play in Belleville this coming season. Other Sea Dogs connections in the Sens organization include Mike Hoffman and Thomas Chabot.

It's unclear when the Sea Dogs will announce a replacement for Boutilier, but it should happen relatively quickly with training camp just two months away.

Photo: Vincent Ethier/QMJHL

Veleno invited to Canada's U-18 camp


Joe Veleno was the only Saint John Sea Dogs player to receive an invitation to Hockey Canada's Summer Showcase.

Veleno was invited to attend Canada's Under-18 Selection Camp, which will feature 44 players. The five-day selection camp will be used to determine Canada's roster for the 2017 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup tournament.

The 17-year-old Veleno was on Canada's U-18 squad last year, recording four assists in four games at the Hlinka.

10 QMJHL players will attend the camp, including four from the Halifax Mooseheads.

Veleno recorded 13 goals and 40 points in 45 games with Saint John last season. He added eight goals and 11 points in 18 playoff contests and another three goals and four points at the Memorial Cup.

While making the world junior team as an underage player is never easy, you have to think Veleno has a shot this year. Most consider Veleno to be a top prospect for the 2018 NHL Draft and, if he can have a strong first half with the Sea Dogs, he's got a chance, at least.

Of the 42 players invited to the world junior development camp, only two are from the QMJHL: defenceman Samuel Girard (Shawinigan) and forward Pierre-Luc Dubois (Blainville-Boisbriand). No 2018 NHL Draft prospects were invited.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Midgley named Mooseheads head coach

At long last, Jim Midgley is a head coach in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Midgley, who has been an assistant coach in the league for what feels like forever, was officially named head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads on Tuesday.

“I am honoured and excited to take over behind the bench of the Mooseheads franchise. I can’t wait to get started in August,” Midgley said in a press release.

Midgley was an assistant coach with the Saint John Sea Dogs from 2007 to 2009, working with Jacques Beaulieu. It was his first coaching gig in the QMJHL after working as an assistant with the Acadia Axemen.

Midgley has been an assistant coach with the Mooseheads since 2011.

The Halifax coaching vacancy became available when Andre Tourigny surprisingly left to join the OHL's Ottawa 67's last week.

Midgley takes over a Mooseheads team that is built to be one of the best in junior hockey over the next few seasons. The team is stockpiled with highly talented players at every position. With the Moose aiming to host the 2019 Memorial Cup, their roster will likely only get better as this coming season moves along.

The Sea Dogs open up pre-season play against the Mooseheads on Aug. 18 at the Hub City Showcase tournament in Moncton.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Former Dogs left protected and unprotected for Las Vegas Expansion Draft


The NHL released the list of players that will and won't be available for Wednesday's Las Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft.

A handful of former Sea Dogs have been made available for the Golden Knights. Here's who was left unprotected, via TSN:

Alex Grant - Boston Bruins
Eric Gelinas - Colorado Avalanche
Brett Gallant - Columbus Blue Jackets
Chris DiDomenico - Ottawa Senators
Stanislav Galiev - Washington Capitals

With Gerard Gallant and Mike Kelly on the Golden Knights coaching staff, you have to think the team will think favourably of Sea Dogs alumni. However, the above players aren't exactly NHL all-stars with most spending much of last season in the AHL. Given the way the expansion draft rules work, it's certainly likely Vegas won't select any of these players - but you never know, I guess.

Nathan Beaulieu (Buffalo Sabres), Tomas Jurco (Chicago Blackhawks), Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers), Charlie Coyle (Minnesota Wild) and Mike Hoffman (Ottawa Senators) were all protected by their respective teams. The only real surprise on that list was Jurco.

The NHL Awards and Expansion Draft take place on Wednesday at 9 p.m. in Las Vegas. The NHL Draft takes place on Friday and Saturday in Chicago.