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.

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.