Friday, September 30, 2011
The Florida Panthers top draft choice in June’s draft netted a power play marker in the second period. The goal would be the only one the Panthers would get as the Dallas Stars dropped them 7-1 at American Airlines Center.
Along with scoring his third of the pre-season, the Saint John Sea Dogs forward was a -1, had one shot and was on the ice for a total of 15 minutes and 20 seconds.
Along with three pre-season goals, Huberdeau also had an assist.
Florida finished exhibition play with a record of 1-4-1. Now the waiting begins.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie tweeted the other day that the deadline to sign first, second, and third round picks is this Tuesday at 6pm AST (Edit: most of the newspapers are saying he has to be signed by Monday). If they are not signed by that deadline, they are unable to play in the National Hockey League this season.
“We spoke [with agent] briefly on Monday,” said Panthers general manager Dale Tallon to George Richards of the Miami Herald about Huberdeau’s contract situation. “We're really going to wait until Friday. If he makes our team, we're going to try and get something done.''
Panthers centre Mike Santorelli injured his shoulder this past week and could miss most of October which would open up space for Huberdeau to start the year with the club. The Memorial Cup’s Most Valuable Player can play a maximum of nine games in the NHL without his contract kicking in.
"A nine-game audition while Santorelli recovers would be the perfect opportunity for Huberdeau to get a taste of the size and speed of NHL players, as well as getting a taste of the expectations of being a professional athlete," writes Matt Reitz of NBC Sports' hockey blog. "There’s no substitute for a young player to see what professionals go through on a daily basis—from eating and health habits to on-ice preparation."
“He has done a very good job of showing everything he can at camp to make a statement for his case,'' Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said to the Miami Herald. “He's showing his skill set, his work ethic. He's very respectful of the veterans. He has a real quiet confidence and we think the world of him as a player and a person. The business will take care of itself. He's doing his part. He's a skilled player. You always get excited about a skilled player in your lineup.''
Florida’s season opener is on October 8 in Long Island.
Photo Credit: AP
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
1. Saint John Sea Dogs (3-3-0-0)
2. London Knights (2-0-0-0)
3. Red Deer Rebels (2-0-0-0)
4. Victoriaville Tigres (5-2-0-0)
5. Portland Winterhawks (2-1-0-0)
6. Baie-Comeau Drakkar (6-1-0-0)
7. Shawinigan Cataractes (5-2-0-0)
8. Ottawa 67's (2-0-0-0)
9. Kelowna Rockets (1-0-0-0)
10. Mississauga St. Michael's Majors (2-0-0-0)
Regina Pats (2-0-0-0)
Sarnia Sting (1-1-0-0)
Quebec Remparts (3-2-1-0)
This is the first game of a three-game road trek for Saint John. The Sea Dogs are still winless on the road this year.
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
Sunday, September 25, 2011
After icing depleted lineups for the past few weeks, only two members of the Saint John Sea Dogs active roster remain at National Hockey League training camps – Florida Panthers prospect Jonathan Huberdeau and Montreal Canadiens draft choice Nathan Beaulieu.
Both are having impressive training camps and are getting plenty of playing time in pre-season games.
Beaulieu played for the Habs last night in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators. He led all Montreal skaters in ice time with a total of 22 minutes and 54 seconds. He was a -1 in the contest.
According to the Canadiens website, his 9:04 minutes of ice time in the first period was the most of any player on either team.
Beaulieu, along with former Sea Dogs netminder Robert Mayer, will be in the Canadiens lineup tonight when they take on the Boston Bruins at the Halifax Metro Centre. Game time is 7pm AST.
Huberdeau meanwhile skated in a 5-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning last night. The third overall pick in June’s NHL Entry Draft was held pointless and recorded two shots in his 15 minutes and 28 seconds on the ice.
“I can't say enough good things about him,” writes John Beatty of The Litter Box Cats about Huberdeau following last night’s game. “Whether he makes the team this year or next, he's going to be huge for the Panthers.”
The Panthers play the Dallas Stars on Tuesday.
Most seem to be expecting them both back in Saint John at some point. Because of their age, they can play in either the NHL or the CHL this season - the AHL is not an option.
If you missed it yesterday, SN's Cameron MacEachern had a great piece on which QMJHL players could get a taste of the NHL this year.
Stephen MacAulay and Ryan Tesink (both St. Louis), Danick Gauthier (Phoenix), Mathieu Corbeil (Columbus), Stanislav Galiev (Washington), Tomas Jurco (Detroit), Scott Oke (Dallas), Pierre Durepos (Los Angeles), Ian Saab (Vancouver) and Zack Phillips (Minnesota) all took part either an NHL rookie or training camp but have since returned to Saint John.
Photo Credit: ESPN
Saturday, September 24, 2011
NHL training camps and the pre-season are well underway, as is the QMJHL regular season. Many teams, particularly the Saint John Sea Dogs, have been playing with skeleton rosters as their heavy hitters are away at NHL camps. Some of the later draft picks have begun returning to their junior clubs, but there are still a few impact juniors with NHL aspirations who have yet to get the snip. Many would-be overagers will be turning pro, if not in the NHL then in the AHL, so I won’t look at them, but here are some big name under-20s in the QMJHL, and their chances of sticking in the show:
There’s been a big question mark about whether or not Gormley would be sent back to the Moncton Wildcats. Looking at the situation in Phoenix, I can’t imagine him sticking in the desert this season. The Coyotes have seven defensemen signed to one-way NHL contracts currently. Unless they make a trade to free up space for Gormley, they’d have to bury one of those contracts in the AHL (or carry eight defensemen). Given their current ownership situation, it’s unlikely they’d be willing to pay an NHL salary to an AHLer. The one thing working in Gormley’s favour is his entry-level contract, which would make him attractive to a cash-strapped team like Phoenix. With the CBA set to expire, all bonuses count towards the cap this season, even if they aren’t reached. That means that Phoenix may only pay Gormley something like $1 million if he doesn’t reach his bonuses, but he still counts as $1.345 million against the cap which would help them reach the salary floor should they need to. But given that they’re currently above that floor, his contract doesn’t offer much benefit. With three UFAs-to-be on the blueline next summer, expect Gormley to crack the lineup next season, but not this one.
The 8th overall pick in June has just cashed in with his first contract from the Philadelphia Flyers, thanks in no small part to the impressive pre-season he’s had. He has a share of the league scoring lead through Friday’s action (yes, yes, preseason, I know) and certainly hasn’t looked out of place. On a weaker team, he’s probably a lock for a spot on the big club. With the Flyers, Couturier is going to be in tough. There are a few factors working against him; aside from the strength of the team, their contract situation doesn’t do him any favours either. The Flyers are tight to the cap, and, as Travis at Broad Street Hockey explains, they’re also at (or possibly above) the 50-contract limit imposed on NHL teams. The only way to keep Couturier off that count is to send him back to junior. The team is deep down the middle, so I’d say if he does crack the team, it’s as a winger in the bottom-six, but the odds are stacked against him. Expect him back in Drummondville, and expect him somewhere else at the trade deadline.
Opinion probably not shared by many: Nathan Beaulieu is more NHL-ready than Jonathan Huberdeau. Beaulieu already has the size to handle NHL forwards, he skates remarkably well and, obviously, has skill. His strength will need some work but I think he’s more prepared to stick in the NHL than his Sea Dogs teammate. Having said that, he’s got some work to do in order to crack the Canadiens’ lineup. They currently have eight defensemen signed, but Andrei Markov is, shockingly, injured. That leaves a little bit of daylight for Beaulieu to step in and perhaps play at least nine games, filling an offensive role and forcing the Habs to make a decision on whether to send him back to Saint John, or burn a year of his entry-level deal. I’d expect it doesn’t materialize this season, but with only two defensemen signed through next year, Beaulieu could be a full-timer before long.
Big things are expected from the highest draft pick out of the Quebec league since Sidney Crosby, although not necessarily this year. There’s no doubt that Huberdeau is going to be a big-time player in the NHL, but he has some hurdles to clear if he wants to make the Panthers this season. They went on a signing spree this summer, bringing in four or five forwards who they’ll expect to play on scoring lines. That hurts Huberdeau’s chances right off the hop, as one would think he’ll need to play an offensive role to make the club. Huberdeau hasn’t been signed yet, but once he is he’ll be in a similar position to Gormley, where his contract would likely be more expensive in cap dollars than real dollars, thus helping Florida reach the floor. However, like Phoenix, the Panthers are already
above the floor. One can also look at last season’s kerfuffle with another 3rd overall pick, Erik Gudbranson, where Florida wouldn’t meet his contract demands, despite him essentially making the team, and sent him back to junior. Whatever the circumstances, I’d expect Huberdeau to end up back in Saint John. He dominated as a 17-year old, and there may not be much left for him in the Q, but another Memorial Cup run and a starring role with Canada’s World Junior entry should be reason enough to give him at least one more season in junior.
I’m not expecting a Jeff Skinner-esque arrival from any of these four. I wouldn’t be shocked to see some, or all, of them end up playing the up-to-nine games permitted before a year of their entry-level contract is burned. It’s something of an extended tryout, but a player has to really impress and show they belong for the NHL club to choose to keep them around, since doing so will send that player to unrestricted free agency earlier. In the end, I figure all four of those guys will end up playing the bulk of their season in the Q, which is great news for fans around the league.
Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation
Friday, September 23, 2011
Is it a step back? Not necessarily- a lot of fan reports said Despres didn't look like an NHL defenseman in early camp, and that's natural. He's a 20 year old playing arguably the toughest position in defense to make a transition from junior to pros.
And that aside, the Pens defensive depth is absolutely stacked. The top four players are set and , , and Alex Picard are battling out to join the lineup and roster. That doesn't include and , currently injured and also . All of the above have an incredible amount more of experience than the young and green Despres.
So this isn't the worst thing in the world- Despres will get a full AHL camp in, learn the ropes there and work on his game.Despres had 13 goals and 28 assists in 47 games with Saint John last year. He also won a silver medal with Team Canada at the World Junior Hockey Championships, was named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s top defenseman, and don’t forget about the shorthanded goal he scored in the Memorial Cup final.
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Tonight’s schedule is highlighted by the Minnesota Wild taking on the St. Louis Blues at 9pm AST which will feature Zack Phillips going up against Ryan Tesink.
According to the Wild website, Phillips will centre the second line between wingers Brett Bulmer and Kris Foucault.
“The headliner in the Wild lineup tonight has to be Phillips, the Wild's first rounder with the pick gained in the Brent Burns-Devin Setoguchi trade,” writes the Wild’s website. “While Phillips is a long shot to stick around with the club past the preseason, he wowed Yeo during the Prospects Tournament in Traverse City with his skills. With the absence of a lot of veterans, Phillips will be counted on to provide an offensive spark tonight.”
Tesink is scheduled to play for the Blues this evening. Their lineup features the likes of Jonathan Cheechoo, Jamie Langenbrunner, TJ Oshie and Jaroslav Halak.
In other pre-season action, the Detroit Red Wings take on the Philadelphia Flyers tonight in London, Ont at 8pm AST. According to the Wings website, Jurco will play on the fourth line with Brent Raedeke and Francis Pare. The Flyers lineup is expected to feature Bathurst native and Drummondville Voltigeurs forward Sean Couturier.
The Vancouver Canucks take on the Edmonton Oilers tonight at 10pm AST in a game that can be seen on TSN. Yann Sauve is expected to be on the Canucks blue line.
The Pittsburgh Penguins host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight at 8pm AST. Simon Despres and Alex Grant were both cut from Pens camp toady and assigned to AHL Wilkes-Barre Scranton. It was a bit of a surprise to see Despres sent down so soon given that many scouting organizations list him as the team’s top prospect.
On the other side, Chris DiDomenico is expected to play for the Blackhawks tonight.
The other exhibition contest this evening sees the Colorado Avalanche take on the Dallas Stars.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation
At the time of this post, the Sea Dogs had not made any kind of announcement.