Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Cajkovic brings hype to Dogs camp

SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs will have no shortage of hype at this year's training camp.

The Sea Dogs are coming off what appears to be - on paper, anyways - one of the best off-seasons in club history, landing several highly touted and hyped players.

Perhaps the most hyped up player coming to camp is Slovakian forward Maxim Cajkovic, who was the first overall pick in this year's CHL Import Draft. Scott Wheeler of The Athletic recently listed Cajkovic, 17, as a contender to be selected in the top five of the 2019 NHL Draft.

"Cajkovic now joins a young, rebuilding Saint John’s team in the QMJHL, where he should be afforded a big offensive role and the chance to really establish himself near the top of this class," writes Wheeler. "His impressive play continued at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, where he posted three points in as many games on a weak Slovakian team. Cajkovic is an athletic scorer who can flat out shoot the puck and make plays."

Cajkovic finished second on Team Slovakia in scoring at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, recording two goals and two assists in four games. Guillaume Lepage of NHL.com writes that Cajkovic raised his draft stock during the tournament.

"I'm fast, but I need to improve my skating every day," Cajkovic told NHL.com. "There's a lot of room for me to improve right now. I think I'm getting bigger and better, that's important for me."

Listed at 5'11" and 185 lbs, it will be interesting to see what Cajkovic can do with Saint John this season after putting up excellent numbers in the Swedish junior circuit a year ago. He'll be joining a young team that will likely struggle to score on some nights. Despite this, he definitely seems excited too be joining the Dogs, posting on Instagram throughout the summer about playing in Saint John.

Cajkovic will play on Team Blue at Sea Dogs training camp, the same squad as Josh Lawrence and Charlie DesRoches. The team hits the ice first, playing on Friday at 10 a.m. at Harbour Station.

Saint John's other pick in this year's Import Draft, 17-year-old Czech forward Filip Prikryl, also appeared at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, recording a goal and an assist in four games. He'll play on Team White at training camp.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Training camp roster observations

By Lorne Webster | SN Staff

SAINT JOHN - Here are a few observations on the Saint John Sea Dogs' 2018 training camp roster, which was released on Tuesday afternoon.

  • All but two players drafted this summer will be in Saint John to start Sea Dogs training camp. Only Jack Williams (US Draft 1st round, 1st overall) and Riley Bezeau (12th, 199th) are not reporting at this time. Williams, who has a verbal commitment to go to Northeastern University (NCAA) is currently playing in the under-17 5-Nations Cup in Slovakia with Team USA. The Sea Dogs remain hopeful that Williams will agree to join former South Kent Selects teammates Josh Lawrence and Charlie DesRoches in Saint John.
  • Both of the Sea Dogs’ 2018 CHL import draft selections – Maxim Cajkovic (Slovakia) and Filip Prikryl (Czech Republic) – have arrived in Saint John after having played in the recent Hlinka-Gretzky tournament in Alberta.
  • Seven of 15 players drafted in 2017 are reporting: Brendan Sibley (3, 52), Aiden MacIntosh (4, 63), Jeremie Jacob (6, 104), Stewart Bagnell (8, 145), Luke Wilson (9, 163), Josh MacDonald (10, 164) and Daniel Surette (12, 201). Of the eight not reporting – Max-Antoine Melancon (4, 73 - who was traded to Shawinigan for a 2019 second round pick), Lynden Breen (5, 83), Tim Noble (5, 87), Justin Hryckowian (11-, 83), Patrick Moynihan (12, 210) and Robby Griffin (12, 217) all appear to be maintaining their NCAA eligibility.
  • Only one player from the 2016 draft class is reporting – Kevin Mason (7, 123). Players from the 2016 draft listed on the pre-season roster but not reporting include: Shane Bowers (2, 32 - Boston University), Matt Gould (6, 105 - NCAA) and Matthew Steinburg (10, 177 – NCAA).
  • Only two players from the 2015 draft class are reporting – Alex D’Orio (1, 9) and Ben Reid (7, 119). Players from the 2015 draft listed on pre-season roster but not reporting are: Morgan Barron (4, 57 - Cornell) and Ben Mirageas (9, 154 - Providence).
  • Only four 20 year-olds (1998 born) are listed on the training camp roster – Anthony Boucher (W/C), Matt Green (C), Michael Campoli (D) and Tyler Higgins (D). Pending any further roster moves, they will be battling for the three available overage spots.
  • Six players who played for the Sea Dogs in 2017-18 - and were listed on the pre-season roster – are not listed on the current training camp roster: RW Ostap Safin (on import protected list), D Thomas Ashe, D Tyler Hungerbuhler, D Zachary Leclerc (loaned to Victoriaville), D Tyler Smith and G Matt Williams.
  • In light of the Sea Dogs youth movement – and having missed the playoffs last season – all other returning players are expected to be on top of their game in order to earn a place on the 2018-19 regular season roster.
  • Free agents listed on the training camp roster include:
    • Tuomas Bowland (G – 2001-05-10 – 6’5” 196 lbs. – Chamcook NB)
    • Christian Clark (C - 2000-02-08 – 5’10” 180 lbs. – Oshawa ON)
    • Ryan Decker (LW – 2001-01-25 – 6’2” 190 lbs. – Cambridge MA USA)
    • Christopher Duchesne (RW – 2001-06-23 – 5’5” 145 lbs. – Lasalle QC)
    • Patrick Musico (D – 2000-03-16 – 6’2’ 187 lbs. – Newmarket ON)
    • Zack Pilon (D – 2000-11-28 – 6’4” 203 lbs. – Ottawa ON)
    • Zac Sirota (C – 2000-09-12 – 5’8’ 165 lbs. – Richmond Hill ON)
    • James White (LW – 2000-09-25 – 6’4” 220 lbs – Vernon BC)

The Sea Dogs will hold scrimmages on Friday and Saturday at Harbour Station before facing the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in a pre-season tilt on Sunday night. The schedule can be found here.

Sea Dogs release training camp details

SAINT JOHN - The Saint John Sea Dogs released details about their 2018 training camp on Tuesday.

Scrimmages will take place on Friday and Saturday at Harbour Station and, as always, are open to the public. Here's the schedule:

Friday, Aug. 17
10 a.m. – Black vs. Blue
2 p.m. – White vs. Black
7 p.m. – Blue vs. White

Saturday, Aug. 18 
10 a.m. – Black vs. Blue
2 p.m. – White vs. Black
7:30 p.m. – Blue vs. White and Best of 7 Team Challenge

Saturday's "Best of 7 Team Challenge" will include 5-on-5, 4-on-4, 3-on-3, shootouts and more, according to a press release.

Saint John's training camp has been broken into three different teams. The full roster can be seen on the team's website.

The Sea Dogs' first pre-season game is on Sunday night at Harbour Station when the team hosts the reigning Memorial Cup champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan at 7 p.m. The game is free to attend but fans must pick up tickets.

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Sea Dogs make two picks in Import Draft

For a second straight year, the Saint John Sea Dogs made two selections in the CHL Import Draft.

Saint John had the first overall pick in this year's draft and selected highly touted Slovakian forward Maxim Cajkovic. Then, with the 61st selection, the Sea Dogs added another forward, picking Filip Prikryl of the Czech Republic.

“Our team philosophy with import spots is that they are used for elite goal scoring and point producing top six forwards,” said Sea Dogs president and general manager Trevor Georgie. “That is going to be the composition we strive for year after year, especially as we build for our next championship.”

Both are 17 and are eligible for the 2019 NHL Draft. Cajkovic is projected to be a first round pick.

“He has a great toolbox, he’s a smart player, and he will grow with our young talented nucleus,” said Georgie about Cajkovic. “He is excited to be a Sea Dog. He can’t wait to get here and will be very motivated in his NHL Draft year. He is very proud to wear our jersey and wants to be part of what is happening here in Saint John.”
Cajkovic comes to Saint John after spending this past season with the Malmo Redhawks junior program in Sweden (this is a feat in itself as very few players from Sweden make the switch to the CHL). He put up exceptional numbers last year, recording 24 goals in 38 games between the under-18 and under-20 teams.
Cajkovic was dominant at the World Under-18 Hockey Championship this year, finishing second in tournament scoring with four goals and seven assists in five games. American Jack Hughes, considered the top prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft, finished with one more point.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Sea Dogs to pick first in Import Draft

The Saint John Sea Dogs will pick first overall in Thursday's CHL Import Draft.

This will mark the second time in franchise history that Saint John has selected first. In 2009, the Sea Dogs picked Stanislav Galiev with the top pick.

Thursday's draft begins at noon Atlantic time and will be conducted online. Fans can follow along on the CHL website.

Saint John also has the 61st pick in the draft (it will be much higher with many teams passing on picks) but it appears the team will make one selection. The Dogs traded defenceman Radim Salda to Rimouski recently, making Ostap Safin the lone import remaining on the squad.

As rumoured, goaltenders will be eligible to be selected in the Import Draft for the first time since 2013, which puts an end to a dumb rule. Logic says the Sea Dogs will select a forward on Thursday given their influx on young defenceman and need for scoring help.

Saint John hasn't picked higher than fifth overall in the Import Draft since 2014 when they took Jakub Zboril. The team hasn't had great luck in the Draft since the Galiev/Jurco picks in 2009. Their Draft last year - where they took Safin and Salda - was probably the team's best since '09.

The WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings will select second on Thursday followed by the OHL's Sudbury Wolves.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Veleno, Salda drafted into NHL

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Two former Saint John Sea Dogs had their names called at this weekend's NHL Draft in Dallas.

Former captain Joe Veleno was selected 30th overall by the Detroit Red Wings on Friday while defenceman Radim Salda was selected 206th overall by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday.

Veleno was traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs at Christmas while Salda was recently moved to the Rimouski Oceanic to free up an import spot.

Veleno, the first overall pick in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft and the first player to be granted exceptional player status in league history, slid down the draft rankings much of the season and slid further than many expected on Friday.

A post shared by Joseph Veleno (@__jv90__) on
“We had him extremely high on the board,” Red Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright told the Detroit Free Press. “I don’t want to do a lot of comparisons but he skates a lot like Dylan Larkin. He plays the game kind of like Dylan Larkin. I don’t want to compare him to Larkin, but he fits the mold of what we’re trying to accomplish. We want to be fast, we want to be competitive, and we want to produce more offense.”

Three of Detroit's top four picks in this year's draft came from the QMJHL: Halifax's Filip Zadina at No. 6, Veleno at No. 30 and Halifax's Jared McIsaac at No. 36.

Salda went around where most had projected him to go. The Lightning have been drafting a lot of QMJHL talent in recent years, so it wasn't shocking to see them use a seventh round pick on the offensive defenseman.

78 players from the CHL were selected in this year's draft - which included 23 from the QMJHL. Drummondville and Halifax each had four players selected.