Wednesday, June 29, 2011

DOGS PASS ON IMPORT DRAFT

As expected, the Saint John Sea Dogs passed on the 2011 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft.

The Sea Dogs held picks No. 53 and No. 110 entering the draft but did not use either pick. The Dogs were not expected to select with both Stanislav Galiev and Tomas Jurco likely to return next season.

It was a busy day for several Quebec Major Junior Hockey League clubs, though. Even Strength has a full QMJHL breakdown.

With the second overall pick the Quebec Remparts selected forward Mikhail Grigorenko. The highly touted Russian went to the Remparts after the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights took Olli Maatta with the top pick in the draft.

Grigorenko “may be the best Russian since Ovechkin, Malkin” tweeted Dmitry Chesnokov of Puck Daddy fame.

He could challenge for the first overall pick in next year’s NHL Entry Draft. From Puck Agency:

Many consider the 6’2″, 191-pound forward to be the best Russian player born in 1994 (17 years old). Grigorenko is so good that he is the captain of the 1993-born Russian national team. He is also projected to be a Top 5 pick in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft considering he is great on his skates, has great hands, can see the ice very well, and has tremendous scoring ability with and without the puck.


It’s always nice to see a big time prospect land in the QMJHL. The Remparts will play at least once at Harbour Station next year.

IMPORT DRAFT HELD TODAY

The 2011 Canadian Hockey League Import Draft begins this morning at 10:00 am.

This year’s draft should provide a bit more drama than in previous year’s as three of the biggest markets in the CHL make the first trio of picks. The Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights pick first, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Quebec Remparts second, and the Western Hockey League’s Calgary Hitmen third.

The Knights acquired the first overall pick in a trade with the Barrie Colts ealer this week while the Remparts made a trade with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies yesterday to move up to No. 2.

The London Free Press has more on who the Knights may select.

Each team in the CHL is permitted to carry two European Import players each season. These players are selected annually at the Import Draft, with the order of selection rotating through each of the three leagues in the CHL using an inverse order of their final regular season standings from the 2010-11 season.

The Saint John Sea Dogs aren’t expected to pick today. Russian Stanislav Galiev, a third round pick of the Washington Capitals in 2010, and Tomas Jurco, a second round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2011, are both expected to be back with the Sea Dogs next season.

Saint John has not been active in the Import Draft since 2009 where they held both the first and fourth overall picks. They would select Galiev with their top pick and Jurco with their fourth pick.

The only way to follow the draft is online and you can do so by clicking here.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

SEVERAL DOGS EARN CAMP INVITES

Five Saint John Sea Dogs were drafted into the National Hockey League this past weekend and now several others have received camp invites.

Current Sea Dogs Scott Oke, Alexandre Beauregard, Danick Gauthier, Pierre Durepos, and Ian Saab have all received invites to either summer or fall camps. Former Sea Dog Jacob DeSerres also received a camp invite while fellow graduating players Mike Thomas and Michael Kirkpatrick have both signed American Hockey League contracts.

Oke, ranked 44th by Central Scouting entering the draft, did not hear his name called on Saturday. But, the 18-year old forward will be attending Dallas Stars rookie camp next week.

"The fact that he had to sit out every second game or so because he played for a team that had drafted players and older players needing to play kind of limited his development," Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau told NHL.com. "But we could see he has potential as a very good skater with size, good puck skills and playmaking ability."

Oke recorded five goals and five assists in 54 regular season games and added a goal and five helpers in 18 playoff games.

Although Oke wasn’t selected, the Sea Dogs were still strongly represented at the draft in Minnesota. Jonathan Huberdeau, Nathan Beaulieu, and Zack Phillips were all selected in Friday’s first round while Tomas Jurco and Ryan Tesink had to wait until Saturday to hear their names called.

Beauregard and Gauthier both received invites to Phoenix Coyotes rookie camp in September. Gauthier had 11 goals and 19 assists in the regular season and three markers and an assist in the playoffs. Beauregard, acquired by the Sea Dogs during the holiday trading period, had seven goals and six assists in 28 games with Saint John in the second half. He had another goal and a pair of assists in the post-season.

DeSerres, an overage goaltender with Saint John last year, will be attending Coyotes development camp next week. DeSerres set team records with a 2.22 goals-against average and four shutouts, winning the Jacques Plante Trophy as the league's best puckstopper.

“They want to meet me and get to know me and I’ll work with Sean Burke a bit, the goaltending coach,” said DeSerres in a team release. “There’s lots of opportunity in the system. Hopefully something happens when I’m down there.”

Of note, the Portland Pirates were named the Coyotes AHL affiliate just a few days ago.

Rock solid defenseman Pierre Durepos will attend summer and fall camps with the Los Angeles Kings. Durepos, one of the most underrated defenders in the QMJHL, had three goals and 27 assists in the regular season and a goal and four helpers in the playoffs.

Lastly, defenseman Ian Saab received an invite to Vancouver Canucks camp in September. Saab, who the Sea Dogs acquired in the Lewiston Maineiacs (RIP) dispersal draft, had three goals and five assists in the regular season and another two assists in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Thomas signed with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons a few weeks ago and Kirkpatrick signed with the Winnipeg Jets’ new farm team in St. John’s.

Then of course there is Steven Anthony, Mathieu Corbeil, Stephen MacAulay, Eric Gelinas, Simon Despres, and Stanislav Galiev from last year’s squad who were all previously drafted.

Source: Sea Dogs website; Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

KIRKPATRICK SIGNS WITH ST. JOHN'S

SAINT JOHN – After spending four years in Saint John, Michael Kirkpatrick is moving to St. John’s.

The Saint John Sea Dogs website reported today that the forward has signed a two-year deal with St. John’s of the American Hockey League.

“I’m pretty excited, it’s what I’ve worked for,” said Kirkpatrick in a Sea Dogs release. “It’s the next step. I have a busy summer ahead of me, getting stronger and getting faster. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to making the best of this opportunity.”

The St. John’s franchise has yet to be named but it will be the affiliate of the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets for this upcoming season. According to the Sea Dogs, Kirkpatrick’s deal also includes an invitation to Jets rookie camp in September.

Kirkpatrick recorded 31 goals and 51 assists in 63 regular season games in his overage season. In 12 post-season games he registered three goals and 10 assists, helping Saint John win the President’s Cup. His solid play in the Memorial Cup no doubt helped his chances of getting a pro-contract.

The North Sydney native is the Sea Dogs franchise leader in goals with 108, assists with 143, and points with 251.

Over his four-year career with the Dogs, Kirkpatrick played just about every roll. He was a goal scorer, a play maker, and a penalty killer. He was nominated for the Guy Carbonneau Trophy as the best defensive forward in the QMJHL in 2011.

Mike Thomas and Jacob DeSerres, who were both overagers with the Memorial Cup Champions last year along with Kirkpatrick, are both getting pro chances as well. Thomas signed a one-year deal with AHL’s Springfield Falcons a few weeks ago and DeSerres got an invite to Phoenix Coyotes development camp.

Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

FHFF A HUGE SUCCESS

SAINT JOHN – Five Hole for Food’s Saint John tour stop was a huge success.

“After our first three cities we’d raised a total of 2,320 lbs of food and Halifax had set the 2011 standard to beat at 795 lbs of food raised,” states the FHFF website. “The challenge every year is for each city to top the city before it and Saint John wasted no time doing so as the day yielded 4,210 lbs of food! The effort from Saint John not only set the new benchmark for 2011, but it topped our previous single city high dating back to last summer when Vancouverites came out to support the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society with 3,000 lbs of food!”

Mayor Ivan Court, Saint John Sea Dogs president Wayne Long and other members of the Sea Dogs front office took part in some of the road hockey games held yesterday afternoon on Long Wharf.

The food raised was donated to Community Food Basket of Saint John.

After stops in St. John’s, Charlottetown, and Halifax, Five Hole for Food has raised 6,530 lbs of food for local food banks. Their goal is to reach 20,000 lbs by the end of their cross Canada trek.

The Telegraph-Journal has more on yesterday festivities.

The Five Hole for Food crew is now heading to Montreal. For more on the tour, visit their website.

SEA DOGS NOTEBOOK

THE FACE OF THE WEBSITE


He may not be the face of the franchise just yet, but Jonathan Huberdeau is the face of the Florida Panthers website.

CBJ CAMP BEGINS
They’ve been the talk of the hockey world after their blockbuster trade with the Philadelphia Flyers. This week though, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospects will be put into focus as the team hosts their 2011 development camp.

The camp begins today and wraps up this Saturday. According to the team’s website, “camp will begin with medicals and fitness testing as well as an on-ice session on Tuesday, June 28, following four more days of on and off-ice workouts.”

An on-ice session will be held today from 3:30-5:30 pm local time at the Ice Haus, the club's practice rink at Nationwide Arena.

Invited to the camp were Sea Dogs goaltender and 2010 Jackets draftee Mathieu Corbeil and former team captain Mike Thomas, a camp invite who recently signed with the clubs AHL affiliate. Also invited was defenseman Steven Delisle who the Sea Dogs acquired rights to last season but stayed in the pro-ranks.

CANUCKS HAVE A NEW FARM TEAM
With the NHL returning to Winnipeg, the Manitoba Moose moved to St. John’s where they will become the Jets American Hockey League affiliate. That has left the Vancouver Canucks without an affiliate.

Yesterday, the Canucks announced that the Chicago Wolves, the Atlanta Thrashers’ old farm team, will be the Canucks’ AHL affiliate through 2012-13.

“We look forward to this new venture with the Chicago Wolves,” said Canucks general manager Mike Gillis in a release. “The Canucks have placed great importance and resources in developing prospects and have seen positive results to date, including the likes of Alex Burrows, Ryan Kesler and Chris Tanev. The two organizations will work closely to ensure our goals are one in the same and continue to work on developing a strong relationship with our prospects.”

Former Sea Dog Yann Sauve played in 39 games with Manitoba last year and another 13 in the playoffs.

Speaking of new affiliates, the closest AHL team to the Saint John region, the Portland Pirates, will be part of the Phoenix Coyotes organization this year.

TSN TV RATINGS
A record audience of 1.5 million Canadians watched the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday night.

According to a TSN, the audience peaked at 2.1 million when the Winnipeg Jets made their historic seventh overall selection.

TV TROUBLE
A reader sent this strange story to us. In Monday’s Cape Breton Post, writer Rannie Gillis writes about his TV troubles during the Memorial Cup final. The problem – the final was on at the same time as a PBS show on atomic bombs.

For the first hour I watched the Oppenheimer show, which was a fascinating look at his early life, his advanced education and early career, and his leadership of the Manhattan Project. This hour also included some previously top secret photos and film of the project, which I had never seen before. Every now and then I would switch to Sportsnet to see how the game was going.
A story for the ages.

HIGH PRAISE
The Detroit Red Wings are receiving high praise for their 2011 Draft. After trading down, the Red Wings made Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco their top pick with the 35th overall selection.

"The trade down still allowed them to draft a first-round talent, Tomas Jurco — the player I had them pegged to take (in the first round)," ESPN blogger Gare Joyce wrote, via The Detroit News.

Detroit, Chicago, Colorado, Edmonton and Minnesota were the only teams to receive an A or A- in ESPN’s ratings. The Wild selected Zack Phillips 28th overall.

Monday, June 27, 2011

TURK SPEAKS ABOUT HIS FUTURE

Saint John Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant spoke about his coaching future with Brendan Elliot of CBC Radio at the National Hockey League Draft this past weekend. (click the link to listen)

Having won the MasterCard Memorial Cup and back-to-back Canadian Hockey League coach of the year awards, Gallant was viewed as a candidate to make the jump to the NHL ranks for this upcoming season. But for the time being, it looks like the Summerside native will be back for a third year in Saint John.

“I’ve had a couple little feelers but nothing serious,” said Gallant in the interview.

The former head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets has said several times that he enjoys coaching in Saint John. But, like his players, he wants to be in the NHL eventually.

“If something comes up, would I want to be back in the National Hockey League? Of course I would.”

Gallant also stated that the Toronto Sun’s report of him being interviewed for the Ottawa Senators coaching job were false.

Another interesting tidbit from the interview was that he mentioned the Sea Dogs have their eye on a few free agents in the US.

“We’re going to be a top, top team again next year,” said Gallant.

OKE, DeSERRES GET INVITES

The Telegraph-Journal confirmed today that Saint John Sea Dogs forward Scott Oke has indeed been invited to Dallas Stars rookie camp.

"They told me the reason I hadn't been drafted was mainly because it was a numbers thing, and that they hadn't seen me play much, but they wanted to give me a look," Oke said to the T-J. "That felt good."

Oke, ranked 44th by NHL Central Scouting, was not selected on Saturday as the final rounds of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft took place. Fortunately for Oke, he will get a chance show off his talents to an NHL team thanks to this invite.

Drafted in the third round of the 2009 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft, Oke recorded five goals and five assists in 54 regular season games with Saint John last year. In 18 playoff games he added a goal and a five assists.

Forwards Aidan Kelly and Jason Cameron were also ranked by Central Scouting but were not selected.

In other NHL camp invitation news, the Brandon Sun is reporting that former Sea Dogs goaltender Jacob DeSerres has earned an invite to Phoenix Coyotes prospects development camp next month.

DeSerres was drafted by the Philadelphia Flyers in the third round of the 2008 NHL Draft but never signed with the club, making him a free agent. After helping the Brandon Wheat Kings reach the 2010 Memorial Cup final, the Calgary native signed with the Sea Dogs and moved east for the 2010-11 campaign.

In his final year of junior hockey eligibility, DeSerres had a record of 27-3 in the regular season to go along with a 0.916 save percentage and a 2.22 goals against average. In the playoffs he helped Saint John win their first President’s Cup by going 12-3 and producing a 2.00 GAA and a 0.916 save percentage. He was excellent in the Memorial Cup and redeemed himself (he allowed nine goals in the 2010 final) with a brilliant performance in the final against Mississauga.

The Coyotes, of course, feature a former member of the Sea Dogs staff in Norm Gosselin who is currently a scout for the Arizona franchise.

It’s going to be a busy summer with so many members of last year’s squad attending development camps.

Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

FIVE HOLE FOR FOOD VISITS SJ TODAY


SAINT JOHN – Five Hole for Food visits the city this afternoon.

The group of hockey enthusiasts make their only New Brunswick appearance from 12-6 pm today at Long Wharf. Bring a can food. Bring a hockey stick. Support the Community Food Basket of Saint John and play some ball hockey. That’s how it works.

From their website:

Five Hole for Food is an annual coast to coast tour playing hockey to support food banks across Canada.

We set up a rink in the heart of each city and invite anyone and everyone to come out to play hockey to fight hunger. Bring your stick, bring a can of food, and have fun. 100% of the proceeds go to the local food bank in each city.
This is the fourth stop on their cross Canada tour. So far they have played in St. John’s, Halifax, and Charlottetown. They will head to Montreal after their game in Saint John today.

You can visit the Saint John section of their website for more info. According to that section, “the Memorial Cup Winning Saint John Sea Dogs will have a presence at our game! Come down to see just what!”

If you can’t make it out today, you can still make a donation via the internet.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

SEA DOGS NOTEBOOK

JURCO ON THE RED WINGS
Tomas Jurco, a skilled European forward, was drafted by a team on Saturday that knows a thing or two about skilled European forwards.

“He’s a similar player to me,” Jurco said of Detroit Red Wings star Pavel Datsyuk to the team’s website. “It’s going to be great to see what he can do on the ice and I’m just going to learn some of his moves.”

Jurco was the fifth pick of the second round and was Detroit’s first pick at the draft. Many pegged him to go in the first round, but after an up-and-down season with Saint John, he slid into the second.

“He had to take a backseat a little bit, because they had about six go-to guys,” assistant general manager Jim Nill said to the Detroit Free Press. “He kind of came in and was going to be the go-to guy, and they had a very good team, so he had to learn the team concept, which is important. And he still put up a lot of points.

“He’s been on our radar screen even last year. We kind of track under-agers, you want to see how good were they the year before, and then you keep track of them. You want to make sure they’re developing.”

The Free Press also mentions that Sea Dogs head coach Gerard Gallant – a former Red Wing – endorsed Jurco. The Slovak credited his coach for Saint John’s successful season.

“He was a great player and he’s an even better coach,” said Jurco, of playing for the former Wing. “That’s why we were so successful, because he knew what to do with the team.”

TESINK TO THE BLUES
The Telegraph-Journal joined the 21st century this weekend by actually posting some updated news on their website. They spoke with Ryan Tesink about being selected in the sixth round by the St. Louis Blues.

“It’s awesome, I can’t describe it in words,’’ Tesink said about being drafted. “I’m very happy to be picked by them. It’s a great honour and a great opportunity.”

“It’s definitely encouraging,’’ Tesink said about going to St. Louis. “They pride themselves in getting character players.’’
It’s interesting to note that last year Sea Dogs forward Stephen MacAulay, who plays a similar style to Tesink, was selected by the Blues with the 164th overall pick. Tesink was picked by St. Louis with the 162nd pick.

NOT DRAFTED
Unfortunately for Sea Dogs forward Scott Oke, “he has the distinction of being the highest-ranked skater on NHL Central Scouting's North American list (44th) who was not selected,” reports Buzzing The Net.

From BTN:

Oke has a championship ring from the MasterCard Memorial Cup and the unwanted distinction of being the highest-ranked skater on NHL Central Scouting's North American list (44th) who was not selected. The St. Lambert, Que., native played out of position in his first full major junior season since Saint John's depth pushed him to the fourth line. That didn't help his profile any, but many players get drafted even if their ice time is limited.
Other Saint John skaters that were ranked but not selected include forwards Aidan Kelly (94) and Jason Cameron (124) as well as former Sea Dogs defensemen Gabriel Bourret (92) and Guillaume Cloutier (137).

CAMP INVITES
The good news for Scott Oke is that it appears he has been invited to Dallas Stars rookie/development camp. Sea Dogs equipment manager David Kelly tweeted that, per their Facebook pages, Oke and defenseman Ian Saab had both earned camp invites. Saab received an invitation from the Vancouver Canucks.

Oke played in 54 games with the Dogs last season, recording five goals and five assists. He added a goal and five assists in 18 playoff games.

Saab, who was picked up by Saint John in the Lewiston Maineiacs dispersal draft, registered three goals and five assists in 46 games with the Maineiacs last year. He had two assists in 11 playoff games.

VIDEO: Jurco Press Conference

Tomas Jurco speaks to the media after being selected 35th overall by the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday afternoon at the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft.



TAKING HIS TALENTS TO SOUTH BEACH


ST. PUAL, Minn. – He may not be heading to a hockey bed and his selection may have been overshadowed a bit by a trade, but Jonathan Huberdeau is happy to be a member of the Florida Panthers.

“It’s a great feeling to be called for Florida. It’s a great team,’’ said Huberdeau, the Saint John Sea Dogs’ leading scorer, to the Miami Herald.

“It’s a dream since you’re young, and now to get called it’s a foot in the door to make the NHL. I can’t ask for anything more this season. I did everything on the ice I had to do for the Memorial Cup, so that was great, and I’m happy that Florida took me. I’ve always had that dream to be drafted in the NHL and to go to the rink and always have fun. You need to have fun if you want to play hockey, and that’s what I’m doing right now.’’

Huberdeau certainly couldn’t have done more this season. He led the top team in the nation in scoring, was named the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s playoff and Memorial Cup MVP. His incredible season capped off Friday night when the Panthers used the third overall pick to select the 18-year old forward.

“I think I had a good season,’’ Huberdeau said. “I’m going to work very hard to get stronger this summer and everything to get ready for Florida training camp.”

Miami isn’t a hockey hotbed by any means but Huberdeau seemed very happy with the selection. The Panthers’ draft picks were taken off the microscope a bit after they made a big trade to acquire Brian Campbell from Chicago Blackhawks.

After months of debating where Huberdeau would go in the draft, the debate now becomes whether or not the St. Jerome, Quebec product will start the season in the National Hockey League.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

'FIVE HOLE FOR FOOD' VISITS SAINT JOHN THIS MONDAY

SAINT JOHN – This Monday on Long Wharf you can help support a great cause and spend the afternoon playing the greatest game on earth.

Bring a can of food. Bring a stick. Play some hockey and support the Community Food Basket of Saint John. That’s how Five Hole for Food works.

“Five Hole for Food is an annual coast to coast tour playing hockey to support food banks across Canada,” states their website.

“We set up a rink in the heart of each city and invite anyone and everyone to come out to play hockey to fight hunger. Bring your stick, bring a can of food, and have fun. 100% of the proceeds go to the local food bank in each city.”

Here is an educational video on what they are all about:



They began their cross country tour Thursday in St. John’s, played in Halifax Saturday, and will visit Charlottetown Sunday.

On Monday from 12-6 pm on Long Wharf, the group of hockey enthusiasts will make their only Saint John tour stop. So bring a food/money donation, a hockey stick, help support a great cause, and play some street hockey. More information on their Saint John stop can be found here.

TESINK FINAL SEA DOG SELECTED

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Ryan Tesink was the final Saint John Sea Dog selected in the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft, going 162nd overall to the St. Louis Blues.

With the selection, Tesink became the fifth Saint John player to be selected at the draft as he joined Jonathan Huberdeau, Nathan Beaulieu, Zack Phillips, and Tomas Jurco. The trio of Huberdeau, Beaulieu, and Phillips were all selected in last night’s opening round. Jurco was taken 35th overall today.

It was the best showing at the NHL Draft in Sea Dogs franchise history. Two players were chosen in the 2010, 2009, and 2007 drafts while in both the 2008 and 2006 drafts only one was picked.

Tesink had a solid rookie season with the Memorial Cup Champion Sea Dogs. Selected with the final pick of the 2010 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft's first round, the Saint John native recorded eight goals and 27 assists 59 games. He got off to a hot start but slowly cooled down as the year progressed.

He had a good playoff run, playing in 19 games and registering three goals and two assists. Tesink will always be remembered in Sea Dogs history for his double-overtime goal in Game Four of the President’s Cup Final in Gatineau.

In Central Scouting’s final rankings, Tesink was ranked 47th. Most draft experts had the gritty forward going a bit earlier in the draft.

Sea Dogs forward Stephen MacAulay was drafted in the sixth round – 164th overall – by the Blues last year.

VIDEO: Canadiens Draft Beaulieu

The Montreal Canadiens selected Saint John Sea Dogs defenseman Nathan Beaulieu 17th overall last night at the National Hockey League Entry Draft.

The selection being made:



RED WINGS SELECT JURCO

ST. PAUL, Minn. – The Detroit Red Wings didn’t shock many with their second round pick.

With the 35th overall selection, the Red Wings drafted Saint John Sea Dogs forward Tomas Jurco. A super skilled European forward, Jurco is a Red Wing type player.

Jurco became the fourth Sea Dog to be taken in this year’s draft as Jonathan Huberdeau, Nathan Beaulieu, and Zack Phillips were all selected in last night’s first round.

Many had the Slovak going in the first round. Jurco was ranked 20th by Central Scouting, 25th by International Scouting Services, 28th by The Hockey News, 29th by TSN, and 35th by Puck Prospects.

Jurco was taken fourth overall by Saint John in the 2009 Canadian Hockey League Entry Draft. The only real buzz surrounding Jurco back then was a video of him flipping pucks with a stick on some playground.

In his rookie season, the Slovak would score 26 goals and 25 assists in 64 games. In the playoffs he added seven goals and 10 assists in 21 games.

Last season Jurco struggled with consistency at times and only increased his point total slightly by scoring 31 goals and 25 assists in 60 games. In 19 post-season games Jurco recorded six goals and 12 assists as he helped the Sea Dogs capture the President’s Cup. He played very well in the Memorial Cup, something that surely helped solidify his draft ranking.

He also played with Slovakia at the World Juniors last year and participated in the 2011 CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Toronto.

Tomas Jurco: What The Scouts Don't See

By Tyler Cavanaugh

Day one of the 2011 NHL entry draft proved to be very successful for the Saint John Sea Dogs as three of their players were selected in the first round. Forwards Jonathan Huberdeau(3rd overall, Florida), Zach Phillips(28th, Minnesota) and defenseman Nathan Beaulieu(17th, Montreal) all heard their names called Friday evening. One notable Sea Dog however, did not: Tomas Jurco.

Jurco, the 24th rated North American skater, was expected by many to join his Sea Dogs teammates on the podium Friday night. Nobody questions Jurco's hands and skill level. The YouTube sensation has been publicized all over the world for his slick puck work and flashy moves. That alone however does not warrant a first round selection, obviously. One of the major knocks on Jurco is consistency, many point to that as the reason he was left behind friday night.

Whenever Tomas has been interviewed he has said things like, “I'm more than just the flash,” “I want to be a complete player,” or “I'm not a clown.” I don't blame him at all. Having seen him play on numerous occasions this year I've been able to see what Jurco can bring to the table.

The World Junior Hockey Championship has a huge effect on a player's draft stock. The tournament can make or break a player in the rankings, especially one who plays in the shadow of bigger names on their regular team. The tournament last winter was an opportunity for Jurco to breakout and prove his worth. He did less than expected on a poor Slovakian team. Jurco, and his teammates, were fortunate enough to have another chance to prove themselves on the big stage at last month's Mastercard Memorial Cup. Jurco was arguably the Dogs best player.

This season I was fortunate enough to spend four days with the Sea Dogs as an athletic training student. The opportunity to work with dogs athletic therapist Jeff Kelly gave me an internal view of the team that most people don't see. In my time there I noticed several things that scouts watching the game don't see. Jurco was always one of the last guys at the rink. He was doing whatever he could to improve his game. He was working hand in hand with Jeff Kelly to try and improve his size in the Sea Dogs weight room, asking about supplements and vitamins that would be beneficial, and doing whatever he could to be better. He wants to add to his size and strength. From the time I was with the team in February until the Memorial Cup in May I noticed huge improvements in his game. I wouldn't be surprised if this was credited to all the work he put in.

I'll be the first to admit that the time I spent with the team was limited and my evaluation may not be completely accurate. Thirty picks have passed already and he is still on the board, so perhaps the scouts are seeing something I did not. I am by no means a professional.

Still however, I feel Jurco could have been very beneficial to a team last night, and will be an excellent pick today.

His numbers show inconsistency, but in all honesty how many draft eligible players do not? The answer is very few. If Jurco continues with the hard work and dedication I saw in my limited time with the team there is nowhere for him to go but up. That being said, another year in Saint John will probably show that. The Dogs are an excellent coached team dedicated to all around solid hockey. I feel he is growing tired of all the hype over his stick work and I think his play at the Memorial Cup showed that. Tomas Jurco wants to be a complete player and has the dedication to be exactly that.

With a good summer, and continued dedication, Jurco is likely to be a big player for next season's edition of the Sea Dogs. It wouldn't surprise me in the least to see a lot of teams wondering why they passed on this guy in the first round, while one lucky team will be left smiling.

(Ed. Note: This is a guest post written by Tyler Cavanaugh. You can follow him on Twitter)

NHL DRAFT CONTINUES TODAY


ST. PAUL, Minn. – Rounds two through seven of the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft begin today at noon at the Xcel Energy Center in Minnesota.

It was a busy time for the Saint John Sea Dogs last night as three players were selected in the first round. Jonathan Huberdeau went to the Florida Panthers third overall, Nathan Beaulieu to the Montreal Canadiens at No. 17, and Zack Phillips to the Minnesota Wild 28th overall. While last night saw plenty of Sea Dogs content taken, there could be plenty taken today as well.

One Sea Dog is a lock to be taken early in today’s proceedings. Tomas Jurco, who some had pegged as a first round pick, will likely go early in today’s festivities. The Slovakian forward was ranked 20th by Central Scouting, 25th by International Scouting Services, 28th by The Hockey News, 29th by TSN, and 35th by Puck Prospects.

Three other Sea Dogs were ranked in Central Scouting’s final rankings. Scott Oke was ranked 44th, Ryan Tesink 47th, Aidan Kelly 94th and Jason Cameron 124th. Two former Saint John defensemen were also listed in Gabriel Bourret (92) and Guillaume Cloutier (137).

It’s been a solid draft for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League so far and there will be even more drafted today. You can check out SN’s draft preview for more.

All of today’s action can been seen live on the NHL Network.

FIRST ROUND NEWS & NOTES

ST. PAUL, Minn. – For the first time in Quebec Major Junior Hockey League history, three players from the same team were selected in the first round of the National Hockey League Entry Draft.

Jonathan Huberdeau, Nathan Beaulieu, and Zack Phillips made up the trio of Saint John Sea Dogs who were picked on Friday night at the Xcel Energy Center. Huberdeau was the highest of the three taken, going third overall to the Florida Panthers. Beaulieu was next, going 17th to the Montreal Canadiens. Phillips closed it out by going 28th to the hometown team of the draft – the Minnesota Wild.

Friday’s first round was the icing on the cake of the Sea Dogs’ remarkable season. Winning the Memorial Cup and then having three players selected in the top 28 of the NHL Draft is definitely going to help your team’s reputation.

It was a good draft for Saint John, but it was also a good draft for the QMJHL in general. Along with Huberdeau, Beaulieu, and Jurco, Drummondville’s Sean Couturier was taken eighth overall by the Philadelphia Flyers and Victoriaville’s Phillip Danault was selected 26th overall by the Chicago Blackhawks.

As expected, the Edmonton Oilers took Red Deer Rebel Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first overall. Gabriel Landeskog of the Kitchener Rangers was selected second overall by the Colorado Avalanche.

The list of all 30 first round picks can be found here.

Some notes from the first round:

  • Before the draft kicked off, there was a tribute for EJ McGuire who passed away a few months ago. McGuire was the director of NHL Central Scouting.
  • All three leagues were represented in the top three as Nugent-Hopkins of the WHL went first overall, Landeskog of the OHL second overall, and Huberdeau of the QMJHL went third.
  • The Jets are back, baby.
  • There were plenty of New Brunswick connections in the first round. Landeskog is a graduate of the UNB Varsity Reds Prospects Program, Couturier and Phillips are both New Brunswick natives, and Huberdeau and Beaulieu both player junior hockey in the province.
  • The Panthers just recently redesigned their jersey, making Huberdeau their first pick to wear it.
  • The Panthers misspelled Saint John on their Facebook page when announcing the pick.
  • Before the pick was announced, TSN showed Nathan Beaulieu taking some gum out of his month.
  • Shortly after being selected, Nathan Beaulieu was the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter in Canada. Welcome to the show Mr. Beaulieu.
  • Montreal’s PK Subban tweeted: “Congrats Nathan! Welcome to habsland!”
  • The Montreal Gazette has some Beaulieu audio.
  • From Hockey Canada’s Twitter: “First round selections from Canada at NHL Draft included 13 players who will be at NJT camp in Edmonton from August 3-8.”
  • Entering the draft, Simon Despres was the highest ever drafted Sea Dog after he went 30th overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009. That record was broken three times Friday.
  • Beaulieu tweeted: “Thanks MTL best fans in the world, can't wait to get this thing started” and “To all MTL fans, my name in Beaulieu, but I can't speak french, but my plan is to learn asap”


PHILLIPS DRAFTED BY MINNESOTA


ST. PAUL, Minn. – Zack Phillips became the third Saint John Sea Dog to be selected in the first round of the National Hockey League Entry Draft on Friday night as the host Minnesota Wild selected the Fredericton native 28th overall.

Phillips' teammates Jonathan Huberdeau and Nathan Beaulieu were both selected earlier in the draft. He also became the second New Brunswicker taken as Drummondville’s Sean Couturier was taken eight overall.

This was where a lot of draft experts had Phillips going roughly. He was ranked ninth by The Hockey News, 15th by Central Scouting, 24th by Puck Prospectus, 28th by TSN, and 34th by International Scouting Services.

Phillips’ rights were acquired by Saint John during the 2009 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League from the Lewiston Maineiacs. The Fredericton native would sign with the Sea Dogs later that summer.

In his rookie year, Phillips tallied 16 goals and 28 assists in 65 regular season games. He scored another two goals and four assists 21 playoff games.

Last season, like his teammate Jonathan Huberdeau, Phillips more than doubled his offensive totals by recording 38 goals and 57 assists in 67 games. In the post-season he added nine goals and 15 assists in 17 games. He played well at the Memorial Cup despite battling a shoulder injury and will always be remembered as the player who scored the Cup winning goal.

The Wild finished last season with a record 39-35-8, finishing 12th in the Western Conference.

More on the draft later…

Photo Credit: CBC

Friday, June 24, 2011

HABS SELECT BEAULIEU

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Nathan Beaulieu is now a member of the Montreal Canadiens.

The Habs selected the Saint John Sea Dogs defenseman 17th overall in the first round of the National Hockey League Entry Draft Friday night. He became the second Sea Dog to be selected this evening as Jonathan Huberdeau was picked third overall by the Florida Panthers.

This is the first time two Sea Dogs have been drafted in the first round.

The 18-year old will join former Sea Dogs netminder Robert Mayer as Canadiens prospects who played junior hockey with Saint John.

Beaulieu was ranked fifth by Central Scouting, eighth by Puck Prospectus, 11th by TSN, 14th by International Scouting Services, and 18th by The Hockey News.

Selected by his father, Jacques, in the fourth round of the 2008 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft, Beaulieu has three seasons of junior hockey under his belt already because of a late birthday. He played in 49 games in his rookie season, recording two goals and eight assists.

Even though his father was fired as general manager and head coach of the Sea Dogs, Beaulieu stuck around for the 2009-10 season. He would play in 66 games that season, compiling 12 goals and 33 assists. In the playoffs he added four goals and 12 helpers in the Sea Dogs’ march to the league finals.

Last season, the offensive defenseman had the exact same regular season numbers while playing in 65 games. He scored four goals and 13 assists in 19 playoff games as the Dogs went on to win the President’s Cup. He was solid in the Memorial Cup and was named to the tournament all-star team.

Beaulieu participated in Team Canada’s summer evaluation camp last year and also played in the Subway Super Series and CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game.

The Habs finished the regular season with a record of 44-30-8 and were eliminated from the playoffs in the first round by the Boston Bruins.

More on the draft later…

VIDEO: Panthers Pick Huberdeau

HUBERDEAU DRAFTED BY PANTHERS

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Jonathan Huberdeau became the highest ever drafted Saint John Sea Dog on Friday night at the National Hockey League Entry Draft, going third overall to the Florida Panthers.

The Panthers were able to select the Sea Dogs sniper third overall after the Edmonton Oilers drafted Ryan Nugent-Hopkins first and the Colorado Avalanche took Gabriel Landeskog second.

Simon Despres was previously the highest Sea Dog ever selected by going 30th overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.

The Panthers finished dead last in the Eastern Conference last year and had a record of 30-40-12.

Entering the draft, Huberdeau was ranked third by Central Scouting, International Scouting Services, and TSN. He was ranked fourth by Puck Prospectus and fifth by The Hockey News.

Huberdeau was selected by the Sea Dogs with the final pick (18th overall) of the 2009 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft. He was rumored to be taking the college hockey route but eventually joined the Sea Dogs.

He arrived in Saint John without much fanfare, playing in 61 games in his rookie season and recorded 15 goals and 20 assists. It wasn’t until the 2010 post-season that he started to turn some heads with his exceptional play. In 21 playoff games Huberdeau registered 11 goals and seven assists as Saint John fell to the Moncton Wildcats in a six game President’s Cup final.

In his second season, Huberdeau got off to a hot start and never stopped, rocketing up the draft rankings as the season progressed. He finished the year with 43 goals and 62 assists in 67 regular season games and added another 16 goals and 14 assists in 19 playoff games.

Along with playing in the Subway Super Series and CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game this past season, he helped Saint John win the President’s Cup and the Memorial Cup and was named the Most Valuable Player in each.

More on the selection following the draft…

SEA DOGS NOTEBOOK


HUBERDEAU PLAYS HIS WAY UP
As The Associated Press reports, it been quite a rise for Jonathan Huberdeau who went from borderline first round pick to an almost guaranteed spot in the top six of tonight’s draft.

"I gained confidence last year in the playoffs when I ended the season good," Huberdeau said Thursday to the AP as the top prospects met with the media at a downtown art museum. "I took that into this season and started playing good.

"I tried to improve my weaknesses [speed, muscle] and my strengths [vision, playmaking] and I think that's why I had a good season."

"It started last year in the playoffs when he really took off," Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant said of Huberdeau. "He was a good player as a 16-year-old last season but when he came into the playoffs he was an outstanding player.

The Sea Dogs’ top scorer had just 35 points in his rookie season in 61 games before breaking out in the 2010 post-season with 18 points in 21 games.

ALLENS DRAFT RANKINGS
Kevin Allen of USA Today released his top 30 draft rankings yesterday. Four Sea Dogs made the list with Huberdeau being the highest at No. 3. Nathan Beaulieu was ranked 11th overall, Zack Phillips 28th, and Tomas Jurco 30th.

The only other Quebec leaguer on the list was Sean Couturier at No. 6.

WHAT ABOUT WINNIPEG?
The Winnipeg Jets (!) have the seventh overall pick in today’s draft, meaning they could get a crack at drafting Nathan Beaulieu.

“It’s obviously a possibility, they’re right in my area,” said Beaulieu to the Winnipeg Sun. “I’m pretty excited to see what happens (Friday) and maybe it will be Winnipeg.”

“I can’t wait for the process. Hopefully, I’m not waiting too long.”

Most mock drafts have Beaulieu going anywhere from 9-14. The Bruins have the No. 9 pick and there has been plenty of folks who believe the Stanley Cup champs may select the offensive defenseman.

Speaking of Beaulieu, Corey Pronman of Puck Prospects tweeted that he is “hearing over 5 teams in the top 15 hope Beaulieu gets to their pick.”

PHILLIPS TO CALGARY
The Calgary Flames have the 13th overall pick tonight and are in good position if they hope to select Zack Phillips. The Calgary Sun names Phillips as a candidate for the Flames’ pick.

His second season with the Sea Dogs was a dynamic one. Phillips netted 38 goals this season, putting up 95 points in 67 games with the Memorial Cup champs. The big knock on the Maritimes product is his skating — but that might be the only thing keeping him out of the top 10 selections this weekend. Once he gets a little stronger in that area, he’ll boast all the characteristics teams want up the middle.
What would Phillips look like in a Flames jersey? @SJSDhockeyfan has the answer:


DRAFT DAY HAS ARRIVED


ST. PAUL, Minn. – After a remarkable 2010-11 season, this weekend marks one of the biggest few days in Saint John Sea Dogs franchise history.

The National Hockey League’s Entry Draft begins this evening at 8:00 pm AST with the first round being shown live on TSN. The following rounds begin tomorrow morning and can be seen on NHL Network.



Jonathan Huberdeau and Nathan Beaulieu appear to be locks for the first round tonight. Huberdeau looks poised to be a top six pick tonight while Beaulieu is likely to go somewhere in the top half of the first round. Then there is Zack Phillips and Tomas Jurco who are both projected to be selected later on in the round.

In the six-year history of the Sea Dogs, only once have they had a first round pick. That came in 2009 when the then Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins selected Simon Despres with the 30th overall pick. If this year’s draft projections prove true, there could be four Sea Dogs selected before the 30th pick.

Other Sea Dogs drafted into the NHL in the past include Felix Schutz, Alex Grant, Chris DiDomenico, Yann Sauve, Steven Anthony, Stanislav Galiev, and Stephen MacAulay. You could also throw Nick Petersen and Mike Hoffman into that mix who were both Sea Dogs property at the time they were drafted.

A few things to note:

  • Huberdeau was ranked third by Central Scouting, International Scouting Services, and TSN. He was ranked fourth by Puck Prospectus and fifth by The Hockey News.
  • Beaulieu was ranked fifth by Central Scouting, eighth by Puck Prospectus, 11th by TSN, 14th by ISS, and 18th by THN.
  • Phillips was ranked ninth by THN, 15th by Central Scouting, 24th by Puck Prospectus, 28th by TSN, and 34th by ISS.
  • Jurco was ranked 20th by Central Scouting, 25th by ISS, 28th by THN, 29th by TSN, and 35th by Puck Prospects.
  • Jurco will be just the third European Sea Dog to be drafted into the NHL. Schutz and Galiev were the others.
  • According to Bodog, Huberdeau has a 20/1 chance of going first overall to the Oilers.
  • It’s a big draft for the province of New Brunswick. Along with all of the Sea Dogs, there is also Drummondville Voltigeurs forward Sean Couturier who will be taken early tonight.
  • Huberdeau’s agent, Allan Walsh, tweeted that he would not look at or touch the Stanley Cup last night. "Allan, I don't want to look at the Cup, I want to win the Cup," said the Sea Dogs forward.

In the later rounds which begin tomorrow at the Xcel Energy Center, Aidan Kelly, Scott Oke, and Ryan Tesink are all possibilities to be selected. Joining them are former Sea Dogs defensemen Gabriel Bourret and Guillaume Cloutier.

With all of the Sea Dogs and the likes of Couturier, Phillip Danault, David Honzik, and Xavier Ouellet, this has the makings of a solid draft for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Photo Credits: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

QMJHL & Sea Dogs Draft Preview

It’s the day that many Saint John Sea Dogs, and their fans, have been waiting for. The NHL Entry Draft kicks off tonight, and by the end of the weekend, likely as many as seven of the Sea Dogs’ first-time draft-eligible players will be donning NHL jerseys. Leading the pack is Jonathan Huberdeau, the team’s leading scorer and playoff/Memorial Cup MVP. His stock has soared in the second half of the season, to the point where it wouldn’t be surprising if his name were one of the first two or three called. Here’s a look at the Sea Dogs who could be drafted this weekend, along with some other players from around the QMJHL.

Jonathan Huberdeau – F – Saint John (Central Scouting Ranking: 3)

Huberdeau is exactly the type of talent that teams try to acquire at the top of the draft. I don’t consider him to be a better prospect than a guy like Sean Couturier, from and all-around, complete game perspective, but there’s no denying the upside this kid has. Huberdeau has an uncanny ability to make something from nothing with his creativity, cooking up a pretty play when it looks like there’s none to be made. He’s worth the price of admission. If his development continues the way it did this year and he reaches his ceiling, he’s going to be a superstar in the NHL.

How high is high enough?: 2nd overall

How low can you go?: 6th overall

Prediction: 3rd overall to the Florida Panthers

Nathan Beaulieu – D – Saint John (CSR: 5)

Beaulieu is one of the top defensive prospects available. This is a guy who has so many great tools at his disposal, and you can see the potential he has with some of the remarkable plays he can make. He struggled early in the season with forcing the play and making mental errors, but once he settled in you could see the improvement. I personally believe that we could be talking about him as the best defenseman to come out of this draft a few years down the road, and I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him jumping straight to the NHL next season.

How high is high enough?: 9th overall

How low can you go?: 18th overall

Prediction: 12th overall to the Carolina Hurricanes

Sean Couturier – F – Drummondville (CSR: 6)

I still consider him one of the best prospects in the draft, even if his stock seems to have slipped nearly everywhere else. I simply can’t hold it against the guy for not tripling his point totals for a third year in a row. His expectations were sky high, and it would seem he needed to perform miracles to impress some pundits. He’s a two-way forward who played upwards of 30 minutes a night for Drummondville in all situations, taking key faceoffs, and still putting up a ton of points. He doesn’t have the high-end upside to be a dynamic offensive player like Huberdeau, but he bottoms out as a shutdown center who can still put up good offensive numbers.

How high is high enough?: 3rd overall

How low can you go?: 8th overall

Prediction: 4th overall to the New Jersey Devils

Zack Phillips – F – Saint John (CSR: 15)

Phillips is another player whose significant offensive upside could see his name called early. There are questions about his skating and physical play, but his talent is clear to see. He has more tools than Batman’s utility belt on the offensive side of the game; when you’re considered a playmaker and still score 38 goals in a season, you’ve got some talent. He has great vision and can finish a play just as easily as he can set one up. His speed could hold him back, but I would expect him to be a scoring line player in the NHL.

How high is high enough?: 13th overall

How low can you go?: 25th overall

Prediction: 18th overall to the Chicago Blackhawks

Tomas Jurco – F – Saint John (CSR: 20)

This should be an interesting one. Jurco’s stock is all over the map, from just outside the top-10 to early in the second round. He impressed at the Memorial Cup, but there are still some questions about his consistency. His hands are obviously the stuff of legend, and he has tremendous offensive upside, but he also has a tendency to disappear for long stretches before resurfacing and wowing the crowd. If he can put it together, he could be a great offensive player in the NHL… if he can’t, he may not even be in the league.

How high is high enough?: 13th overall

How low can you go?: 34th overall

Prediction: 29th overall to the Vancouver Canucks

Beyond the 1st round:

Phillip Danault – F – Victoriaville (CSR: 27)

Tigres captain is a good character guy who works hard, the type of guy a winning team needs. He’ll likely find his niche as a checking or energy line player, and his lack of offensive upside will keep him out of the first round.

Draft range: Early/mid-2nd round

Christoper Gibson – G – Chicoutimi (CSR: 2 [goalies])

Could be the first goalie selected. Many are of the philosophy that you don’t select a goalie early in the draft, but I don’t expect him to slip very far.

Draft range: Mid-2nd round

Logan Shaw – F – Cape Breton (CSR: 42)

A project if there ever was one. Shaw is a big kid who can skate and has a hard shot. I haven’t been overly impressed with him from what I’ve seen, but then he does play for the Screaming Eagles. I’d expect a team to take a flyer on him and hope they can develop him into a 3rd liner with some offensive ability.

Draft range: 4th round

Scott Oke – F – Saint John (CSR: 44)

Earned his keep at the bottom of a stacked Sea Dogs lineup, the scouts still got to see plenty of him while checking out the Big Four. He has shown some offensive flashes, and a willingness to crash and bang using his size.

Draft range: 4th round

Ryan Tesink – F – Saint John (CSR: 47)

Tesink had a fairly impressive rookie season, even with a huge stretch mid-season where he didn’t score. He works hard and has some offensive ability, and likely impressed with his showing in playoffs and the Memorial Cup.

Draft range: Late-3rd/Early-4th round

Xavier Ouellet – D – Montreal (CSR: 60)

Didn’t have a very good draft season after coming into the year with the question being asked whether he or Beaulieu would be the first QMJHL defenseman selected. Has some ability as an offensive defenseman but questions remain if he will be able to put it together.

Draft range: 3rd round

David Honzik – G – Victoriaville (CSR: 13 [goalies])

Was lights-out in the Tigres’ short playoff run, which no doubt helped to raise his stock. Would make a solid pick in the middle rounds.

Draft range: 4th round

Maximilien Le Sieur – F – Shawinigan (CSR: 62)

Solid two-way player with some offensive ability, remains to be seen whether he will ever be as good a hockey player as he is a Tweeter. May not be possible.

Draft range: 4th round

Olivier Archambault – F – Drummondville (CSR: 65)

The former 1st overall pick in the QMJHL has great offensive ability, but hasn’t even been a particularly productive junior player to date, so it’s a legitimate question mark whether he’ll ever be able to play in the NHL.

Draft range: 5th round

Gabriel Bourret – D – Chicoutimi (CSR: 92)

Had a strong rookie season with Saint John before being dealt at the draft. Given the bump players like Oke and Tesink got from the constant scouting presence, I’m surprised he isn’t rated higher.

Draft range: 5th round

Aidan Kelly – F – Saint John (CSR: 94)

Another player who carved out a living on Saint John’s bottom lines, a team who likes his energy game will take him with a late round pick.

Draft range: 6th round

Guillaume Cloutier – D – Chicoutimi (CSR: 137)

At one point was ranked 46th among North American skaters. That’s what you get for being traded from Saint John you big jerk, how dare you. Hard to imagine any reason that he would drop so significantly other than scouts simply not seeing him anywhere near as often.

Draft range: 5th round

Garrett Clarke – D – Acadie-Bathurst (CSR: 167)

Is a much more talented player than the ranking gives him credit for. Character issues, though seemingly cleared up towards the end of this season, have been his burden throughout his career in the Q. They hurt him in this ranking, but I would expect a team to take a flyer on him as he would be a potential high reward pick.

Draft range: 5th round

Jean-Gabriel Pageau – F – Gatineau (unranked)

For some stupid reason was left unranked, yet somehow a guy like Blake Millman made it. He’ll be drafted, that much is for sure, and likely much higher than many on this list. Had a tremendous playoff, possesses great speed and some offensive ability as well.

Draft range: 3rd round

---

Those are just some of the names that I’m more familiar with. This is poised to be one of the better drafts for the QMJHL in some time; five first round picks from the league would be the most since 2006. Good luck to all of the players hoping to hear their names called this weekend.

Photo credits: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

VIDEO: On The Eve Of The Draft

NHL.com has posted some interviews of several top prospects on the eve of the draft.

Here is Nathan Beaulieu:



And Jonathan Huberdeau:

Thursday, June 23, 2011

REEBOK SIGNS HUBERDEAU

First came the awards and now come the rewards for Jonathan Huberdeau.

It was announced today that the Saint John Sea Dogs star forward signed “a multi-year six figure endorsement and marketing deal with Reebok,” according to his agent Allan Walsh of Octagon Hockey.

Reebok-CCM signed a number of top prospects to deals today as they prepare for the first round of the National Hockey League Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minnesota tomorrow. NHL.com reports that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Sean Couturier and Gabriel Landeskog will use CCM gear, while Huberdeau and Adam Larsson will be using Reebok.

"Every single one of these athletes are both promising players as well as outstanding people and will be fantastic additions to the Reebok-CCM Hockey family," said glen Thornborough to NHL.com, Vice President, Sports Marketing, Reebok-CCM Hockey. "We believe these five prospects will develop into stars."

SportsMedia.com says that the last time Reebok-CCM gambled with unsigned players was in 2009 when they signed John Taveres, Victor Hedman and Matt Duchene.

“It’s definitely a risk worth taking,” said Thornborough. “You go back through the draft and see the players in the top 10, a high percentage of these kids will play in the NHL.”

Huberdeau, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s playoff and Memorial Cup Most Valuable Player, is expected to be selected somewhere in the top six of tomorrow’s draft.

MIDGLEY JOINS MOOSEHEADS

Former Saint John Sea Dogs assistant coach Jim Midgley is now a member of the Halifax Mooseheads.

Mooseheads Head Coach Dominique Ducharme announced today that Midgley would be joining the team as an assistant coach for the next two seasons. According to the Chronicle Herald's Willy Palov, the signing "would've been announced yesterday but had to sort out his departure from RNS."
From the Mooseheads:

Midgley, 33, joins the Mooseheads with a solid track record of coaching and developing young players at the midget and junior ranks. For the past 2 seasons he has been the Director of Hockey Operations for Rothesay Netherwood Prep School in New Brunswick. He was also Head Coach for Team New Brunswick at the 2011 Canada Games in Halifax. Prior to that Midgley was assistant coach for the Saint John Sea Dogs from 2007 to 2009 and held the same position at Acadia University from 2003 to 2007. He also has coaching experience with Hockey Canada, as assistant coach for Team Atlantic Under 17 in 2009, followed by head coach in 2010.

“Jim brings tremendous communication and team development skills to our Club,” stated Ducharme. “He has a great reputation for growing players at this level and we look forward to him joining us behind the bench in Halifax next season.”

As a player, Midgley played 4 seasons in the Ontario Hockey League with the North Bay Centennials and Belleville Bulls. He moved to Halifax following his junior career and starred 4 years at St. Mary’s University, where he captained the Huskies for three of those seasons while being named All-Canadian twice.

“I am excited to be joining an organization with as rich a history and tradition as the Halifax Mooseheads”, stated Midgley, originally from Townsend, Ontario. “The organization has been very committed to building their program the right way, and as a coach I’m looking forward to working with the club's talented young prospects. I am very thankful for my time at Rothesay Netherwood School and look forward to working with Dominique and the rest of the coaching staff. “
Midgley will join Steve Hartley as Moosehead assistant coaches.

SEA DOGS NOTEBOOK

BOURRET VISITS CHICOUTIMI


Last Saturday, former Sea Dog Gabriel Bourret visited his new team – the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. Bourret was traded to Chicoutimi for a second round pick during draft weekend.

Also visiting the Sags organization were √Čtienne Brodeur, Alexandre Michaud, Simon Desbiens and Laurent Dauphin.

Bourret recorded eight goals and 25 assists in 63 regular season games and added another three helpers in 19 playoff games. He was ranked 92nd for this weekend’s NHL Draft by Central Scouting.

MALL OF AMERICA TRIP
NHL.com has more on the top prospect’s visit to the Mall of America yesterday where they went on some roller coasters and visited an aquarium.

"All in all, we weren't talking too much about the draft and instead just having fun," Sea Dogs forward Jonathan Huberdeau said. "We can't determine where we're going to go so it won't change anything. It just didn't matter, at least for this day."



In the same article it was revealed that four teams invited Huberdeau back for an interview following the scouting combine - the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens.

HUBERDEAU NEWS TODAY
An interesting tweet from Jonathan Huberdeau’s agent, Allan Walsh:

Look for some big news regarding Jonathan Huberdeau to be announced on Thursday.
Exciting stuff.

T-J PROFILES
More draft profiles from the Telegraph-Journal have been released. Tomas Jurco was featured on Tuesday, Zack Phillips yesterday, and Nathan Beaulieu today. Jonathan Huberdeau will be featured in tomorrow’s paper.

THN MOCK DRAFT
Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News released his mock draft on Tuesday and had some interesting results. Adam Larsson, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Sean Couturier went 1-2-3-4 while Jonathan Huberdeau went fifth overall to the New York Islanders.

THN also has Zack Phillips going ahead of Nathan Beaulieu. Phillips is predicted to go 13th overall to the Calgary Flames and Beaulieu 14th overall to the Dallas Stars. Lastly, the mock draft has Tomas Jurco going 28th overall to the San Jose Sharks.

Read the full mock draft for explanations on each pick.

Simon Despres is currently the highest ever drafted Sea Dog, going 30th overall to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 2009 NHL Draft. If this mock draft proves true, all four will make Sea Dogs history.

SEA DOGS DOMINATION
NHL.com, via Fox News, had an article on the Sea Dogs' expected domination of the 2011 NHL Draft on Tuesday. Four Dogs could go in the first round while several others could be selected in the later rounds.

"It's something that has never happened since I've been here, where a team has had this much talent," Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau told NHL.com. "It's just been an exceptional year and kind of an exceptional team coached by a real good person in Gerard Gallant."

"The fourth line on that team is as good as some second lines on a lot of other teams in the CHL," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards added. "They're really deep and very well coached."

Eight members of the Portland Winterhawks were selected in last year’s draft.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

TOP PROSPECTS RIDE A ROLLER COASTER


The Minnesota Wild tweeted the above picture today featuring NHL draft prospects Seth Ambroz, Dougie Hamilton, Jonathan Huberdeau, Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Larsson and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins riding a roller coaster at the Mall of America’s Nickelodeon Amusement Park.

According to NHL.com’s draft blog, Huberdeau sat out the “Last Airbender Ride” after riding the SpongeBob Plunge and the Brain Surge roller coaster.

"They were good but I'm afraid of heights," Huberdeau said of the first two rides. "But it was great to hang out with the guys."

They later went to the Sea Life Aquarium.

WHO WILL PICK HUBERDEAU?

Jonathan Huberdeau will be sporting a National Hockey League jersey early in Friday’s Entry Draft in St. Paul, Minnesota. Where the Memorial Cup’s Most Valuable Player will land is the big question.

Draft rankings have Huberdeau going anywhere from second to sixth overall. There have even been rumblings that the 18-year old could go first overall but that seems like a bit of a stretch at the moment.

Pending trades, here are the teams that will make up the top 10:

Edmonton Oilers
Colorado Avalanche
Florida Panthers
New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders
Ottawa Senators
Winnipeg Whatevers
Columbus Blue Jackets
Boston Bruins
Minnesota Wild
There have been published reports that Huberdeau has visited the Islanders, Senators, and Bruins. The Avalanche, who currently hold the No. 2 overall pick, have also been rumored to be interested in the Sea Dogs’ top scorer.

From the Denver Post last Friday:

There has been a good deal of speculation the Avs are high on Huberdeau and could take him at No. 2. Teams aren't allowed to comment on players directly before they are drafted, but several Avs scouts were in attendance at the recent Memorial Cup tournament, which crowns the major junior hockey league champion.
 Then on Monday, Adrian Datar of the Post’s Avalanche blog “All Things Avs” posted this:

So who is No. 1 on the Avs’ list? Well, I’m still trying to find out for sure. But I’ve had more than one high-level hockey person tell me that it’ll be Jonathan Huberdeau, whom I profiled a couple days ago in a story here. I am only repeating what they’re telling me, and not “reporting” that’s who it will be.
So how high do you think Huberdeau will go? Will he be a riser or a faller on Friday night?

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

DOGS NAME TEAM AWARD WINNERS

SAINT JOHN – The Saint John Sea Dogs have finally named their team award winners for the 2010-11 season, a campaign that saw them capture their first national championship.

The awards have been handed out annually since the Sea Dogs’ first season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Usually handed out after the regular season ends and before the playoffs begin, the team chose to wait until after their post-season run ended to hand out their hardware this year.

Here are the award winners:

Bell Aliant Most Valuable Player Award – Jonathan Huberdeau
Alpine Three Stars Award – Jonathan Huberdeau
Children’s Wish Foundation Fan Choice Award - Jonathan Huberdeau
Pepsi Top Scorer Award – Jonathan Huberdeau
Investors Group Top Defenseman – Simon Despres
Grant Thornton Rookie of the Year – Ryan Tesink
Scotiabank Community Service Award – Mike Thomas
Irving Oil Team Player Award – Stephen MacAulay
Tim Hortons Most Improved Player – Zack Phillips
Saint John Airport Academic Player of the Year Award – Steven Anthony
It’s not a surprise to see Huberdeau pick up the most hardware after the season he had. The 18-year old recorded 43 goals and 62 assists in 67 regular season games and added 16 markers and 30 points in 19 playoff contests. Along with the four team awards, he was also named the QMJHL’s playoff MVP and Memorial Cup MVP.

Another highlight of his hockey playing career will come on Friday in St. Paul, Minnesota where he will become the highest Sea Dogs player taken in the National Hockey League Entry Draft.

It’s no surprise Despres was named the Sea Dogs’ top defenseman after winning the QMJHL’s top defenseman award. Despres registered a career high 13 goals to go along with 28 assists in just 47 games. In the playoffs he scored four goals and eight assists in 19 appearances. The ‘Big Horse’ also helped Canada win a silver medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Tesink scored eight goals and 35 points in 59 regular season games and another three goals and five points in 19 playoff games en route to being named the team’s top rookie.

Team captain Mike Thomas won the community service award. From the Sea Dogs website:

A hard worker on the ice, Thomas has also logged countless hours in the community throughout his career. Whether it’s spending time with sick and underprivileged children, visiting local schools for the Get FANatical About Math program, or simply taking a few minutes to sign autographs and speak with fans, Thomas has been an outstanding representative of the Sea Dogs organization.
MacAulay was awarded the team player award following a 15 goal and 16 assist regular season and a six goal and four assist post-season. The St. Louis Blues prospect is a solid defensive forward and proved to be a clutch goal scorer in the playoffs.

After recording 44 points in his rookie season, Phillips improved his total to 95 this season and was named the team’s most improved player. He battled a shoulder injury in the playoffs but still managed to get nine goals and 15 assists in 17 games.

Finally, Anthony was named Saint John’s academic player of the year. From the Sea Dogs website:

The 19-year-old Vancouver Canucks prospect is a dedicated, conscientious student and is diligent in balancing the demands of hockey with the demands of his studies in business administration at the University of New Brunswick Saint John. Reports from his instructors indicate a pleasant and interested student who is driven and determined.
Photo Credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

Monday, June 20, 2011

TSN RELEASES THEIR TOP 60

With the 2011 National Hockey League Entry Draft just days away, TSN has released their final rankings featuring the top 60 players available in this year’s class.

Not surprisingly, Jonathan Huberdeau is the highest ranked Saint John Sea Dogs skater, coming in at No. 3.

“Huberdeau is the rising star of this year's draft,” writes TSN’s Bob McKenzie. “He didn't get a single vote (at any number) in our poll to determine a pre-season Top 10. In fact, Huberdeau is the only one of TSN's Top 5 prospects who didn't get a No. 1 vote at some point of the season. He was ranked No. 9 on the mid-season list in January, moved up to No. 4 on the draft-lottery edition in April and settled at No. 3 on the final list. Huberdeau is the scouts' consensus choice as the ‘smartest player’ available this year. He was MVP of both the Quebec League playoffs and Memorial Cup and was instrumental in the Saint John Seas Dogs' Memorial Cup win.”

His incredible rise up the rankings has been amazing to follow. Many publications had him has a borderline first round pick last fall. But after a 105-point regular season, a 30-point playoff run, and a solid showing at the Memorial Cup, Huberdeau is considered one of the top-five players available in this year’s draft by most.

Nathan Beaulieu is the second highest Sea Dog ranked, coming in at No. 11. TSN calls him “an elite puck carrying defenceman, soft hands, smart puck distributor. Creates lanes with strong lateral movement, intelligent shooter, transition is excellent, has some jam to his game.”

Zack Phillips is TSN’s 28th best prospect. “Elite hands and playmaking abilities,really sees the ice well,” writes TSN scout Grant McCagg. “Difficult to stop on power play when he has room, a consistent point producer, drives hard to the net and has a goal scorer's touch. Not overly gritty but likes to have the puck, can saucer a pass with ease.”

Tomas Jurco has been getting mixed reviews from scouts but managed to make the top 30, coming in at No. 29. The super-skilled-Slovak is called a “risky pick in the first round who may be a top-two winger, or could struggle for ice time due to inconsistencies.”

Scott Oke and Ryan Tesink were both honourable mentions.

TSN will be airing their mock draft tomorrow night at 8:30 pm AST. Their preview show is Thursday at 8:00 pm and the first round of the draft will be shown live on Friday.

Photo Credits: Marc Henwood/Station Nation