Monday, June 18, 2018

Observations from development camp

By Lorne Webster | SN Staff
QUISPAMSIS - The Saint John Sea Dogs did something a bit different this year, holding a development camp for their new draftees and prospects.

All of the Sea Dogs' 2018 draft choices were present with the exception of two of the six players invited to Team Canada's under-17 camp – Mathias Savoie (fourth round, 62nd overall) and Dawson Stairs (seventh round, 109th overall) as well as second round US draftee – Cade DeStefani. Saint John Vito’s standout defenceman Kale McCullum was originally listed but did not scrimmage Saturday afternoon at the qplex.

The group was supplemented by second year players Nathan Larose, Luke Wilson, Aiden MacIntosh and Jeremie Jacob along with goaltenders Tommy DaSilva and Stewart Bagnell.

While it is early and caution from one practice is required - it was readily apparent that the team’s excitement and the draft pundits’ accolades are warranted. This draft class could be as good as – possibly even better than - that of 2013, when the Sea Dogs drafted the likes of Nathan Noel, Thomas Chabot, Mathieu Joseph and Samuel Dove-McFalls.
Here are some takeaways from Saturday's on-ice action in Quispamsis:

Jeremie Poirier – who draws comparisons to Chabot or Nathan Beaulieu - is a dynamic skater and puck handler who is prepared to push the pace at all times.

William Villeneuve – who draws comparisons to Noah Dobson – is an extremely strong skater who oozes poise and skill.

Charlie DesRoches - another defenceman with lots of skill and poise. He is likely to remind a number of Sea Dogs faithful of Pierre Durepos.

Nathan Larose - looked to be bigger and stronger. The returnee made a couple of spectacular end-to-end rushes with ‘bar down’ finishes. Following a strong second half of last season, Larose appears ready to take his game to another level next year.

Huberdeau inducted into Sea Dogs Hall of Fame

SAINT JOHN - Jonathan Huberdeau became the first inductee into the Saint John Sea Dogs Hall of Fame on Saturday at the Trade and Convention Centre.

The induction capped off a two-and-a-half hour ceremony that featured several speeches, hot stoves and a ring ceremony for the 2016-17 Sea Dogs team.

The most notable part of the evening - other than Huberdeau's induction - was probably the fact that Mike Thomas was announced as the second inductee into the Hall. There will presumably be some kind of ceremony for Thomas in the future.

Here are a few other news and notes from the evening:

  • According to a Sea Dogs release, 14 former players were in attendance: Jonathan Huberdeau, Mike Thomas, Zack Phillips, Bailey Webster, Thomas Chabot, Bokondji Imama, Simon Bourque, Phil Richer, Alex Leduc, Dave Comeau, Kyle Ward, Mathieu Joseph, Chase Stewart, and Samuel Dove-McFalls.
  • Current players and prospects greeted fans as they entered the venue on a red carpet.
  • The Sea Dogs held a development camp at the qplex over the weekend, and those players were in attendance. Many speeches made mention of them, and there were moments where the event felt like a recruitment tool.
  • The event had a cool feel to it with the 2018 draft class in attendance. It really felt like the franchise's culture of success was being handed off to them.
  • The videos created for the evening were excellent. Also played was the QMJHL's 50th anniversary video, which was played at the Draft. If you haven't seen it, you'll probably be fired up enough to run through a wall after watching it.
  • Memorial Cup champions Mike Thomas, Zack Phillips and Jonathan Huberdeau were on one stove while the other featured members of the 2016-17 QMJHL championship team: Mathieu Joseph, Kyle Ward and Thomas Chabot. Tara Slone form Hometown Hockey hosted the discussions.
  • Chabot, as expected, did not go into great detail when asked about how this past season went for him. His current team, the Ottawa Senators, is on fire.
  • One of the better (and perhaps cheesiest) videos of the night came from Mike Kelly and Gerard Gallant, who coached Huberdeau during his Sea Dogs days and again with the Florida Panthers.
  • Sea Dogs CEO and majority owner Scott McCain said during his speech that the Sea Dogs will again bid to host the Memorial Cup - but only if the team is ready. The next time the QMJHL will host (following Halifax in 2019) is 2022.
  • Former Sea Dogs assistant coach Greg Leland, who was Huberdeau's billet dad, had the longest and most emotional speech of the night.
  • A Sea Dogs release stated that over 500 people attended the event.
  • There still haven't been many details released about the Hall itself.
  • I don't know if this format will be a yearly event, but it was very well done. Very few teams (if any) in the CHL hold events like this.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Huberdeau to be inducted into Sea Dogs Hall of Fame tonight

SAINT JOHN - Florida Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau will become the first player inducted into the Saint John Sea Dogs Hall of Fame tonight.

A ceremony will be held this evening at the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre to induct Huberdeau into the club's Hall. The 24-year-old was selected for induction by an esteemed panel of Sea Dogs stakeholders, according to a team press release.

The Sea Dogs announced last summer the creation of a Hall of Fame. Not many details have been announced about the Hall itself, though.

The 2016-17 President Cup winning Sea Dogs team will also be honoured this evening. Players in attendance will receive their championship rings.

Players expected to be in attendance tonight include Thomas Chabot, Mathieu Joseph, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Simon Bourque, Bailey Webster, Cole Reginato, Kyle Ward, David Comeau, Chase Stewart, Mike Thomas, Zack Phillips, Spencer Smallman, Boko Imama and more.

The event will be hosted by Tara Slone of Sportsnet's Hometown Hockey.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Report: Salda traded to Rimouski

SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs have traded defenceman Radim Salda to the Rimouski Oceanic.

The deal, which has not been made official by the league yet, will see the Sea Dogs receive a second and third round pick in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft for the offensive defensemen.
The Sea Dogs were expected to trade Salda as the team had no choice but to move him or forward Ostap Safin. Teams can carry only two imports, and with Saint John picking first in the CHL Import Draft, the Dogs had to make a deal.

Salda was one of the biggest surprises in the league last season, putting up 10 goals and 31 assists in 62 games. He was held pointless in seven games with the Czech Republic at the World Junior Hockey Championship. The 19-year-old, selected 113th overall in last year's Import Draft, was a relative unknown entering the 2017-18 season but could now hear his name called at the NHL Draft.

While the return isn't massive, it's pretty decent. Saint John was in a tough spot as teams knew they had to deal one of their imports.

Salda's loss is definitely a big loss for Saint John's defence - but there will be plenty of promising new faces filling his shoes on the blue line (faces that could use the experience and ice time in a rebuilding year like the one coming up).

The Sea Dogs will pick first in the June 28 CHL Import Draft, followed by the Edmonton Oil Kings, Sudbury Wolves and Shawinigan Cataractes.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

MHL holds annual draft

The Maritime Hockey League held its annual draft on Saturday in Berwick.

Three players selected by the Sea Dogs in this year's QMJHL Entry Draft heard their names selected. Defenceman Brendan Sibley and goaltender Stewart Bagnell, selected by Saint John last year, were also picked in the territorial portion of the draft.

Here's who went where, according to the MHL website:

Round 2: Kale McCallum (Edmundston Blizzard)
Round 6: Mathias Savoie (Campbellton Tigers)
Territorials 2: Brady Burns (Valley Wildcats)
Territorials 2: Stewart Bagnell (Miramichi Timberwolves)
Territorials 2: Brendon Sibley (Yarmouth Mariners)

The Valley Wildcats also selected four Sea Dogs in the QMJHL supplemental draft.
The St. Stephen Aces, meanwhile, had the first three overall picks in the draft. They selected Zachary Alchorn (forward - Saint John Vito's) first, Jack Morris (defenceman - Cape Breton West Islanders) second and Ethan Stuckless (forward - East Coast Blizzard) third.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

A look at who the Sea Dogs drafted

By Kevin Chambers | SN Staff

The 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft took place last weekend, so let's give a brief summary of each of the picks chosen by the Saint John Sea Dogs.

The reviews are based off the scouting reports provided by HockeyPropect.com in their annual QMJHL Draft Guide and are only a small portion of what they have to offer.

Round 1 - No. 2 overall: William Villeneuve
RD - 6’1” and 154lbs
With their top pick in the draft the Sea Dogs went with William Villeneuve of the Magog Cantonniers. Villeneuve is a right handed shooting defenceman and is considered to be very intelligent, offensive defenceman that is very reliable in all three zones. His passing is considered to be excellent both on the power play and breaking out of his own zone. Villeneuve also likes to carry the puck up ice and does so very efficiently. He also kills penalties and is often trusted by his coaches in difficult situations playing against top level players in all situations. Villeneuve’s potential sees him as a first pairing defender and a power play quarterback.

Round 1 - No. 8 overall: Jeremie Poirier
LD - 6’0” and 177lbs
With their second selection in the opening round, the Sea Dogs went with another defender in Jeremie Poirier. Poirier can read the play very well and makes a strong first pass. Much like Villeneuve, this defender is also a quarterback on the power play - with the difference being that he shoots left handed. He has high-end puck skills and has a hard, accurate shot. Poirier, like many young defenders, will look to get stronger and continue to improve his defensive play in his own zone.

Round 1 - No. 15 overall: Joshua Lawrence
C - 5’ 9” and 163lbs
With the 15th overall selection, the Sea Dogs rolled the dice a little bit by selecting centre Joshua Lawrence, who spent last season with the Selects Hockey Academy U-16 program. Lawrence had verbally committed to Boston University for 2020-21. Lawrence has very quick hands and can score goals using his quick release and above average puck skills. Lawrence showed that he is ready to play against older players as he did this past season - which did not hamper his offensive production.

Round 2 - No. 29 overall: Brady Burns
C/LW - 5’8” and 139lbs
Brady Burns is an intelligent player with a very high compete level. Unfortunately for Burns, his season was cut short by injury, only getting in 26 games - but he was still able to pick up 39 points. Burns has very good edges and an outstanding work ethic that fans will enjoy. Burns projects to be more of a playmaking forward and will need to get a little bit stronger in the off-season as he does have a slender frame. Burns is the son of Acadia Axemen head coach Darren Burns.