Rockets add Fiddler to their show. . . . Nyren expected to plead guilty. . . . Tigers sign prospect


MacBeth

F Jordan Draper (Red Deer, 2007-08) has signed a one-year contract with Crocodiles Hamburg (Germany, Oberliga). Last season, with Mulhouse (France, Ligue Magnus), he had 12 goals and nine assists in 42 games. . . . Draper is spending the summer with CBR Brave Canberra (Australia, AIHL). In 14 games, he has 15 goals and 26 assists. He leads the league in points, and is tied for the league lead in assists.


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Vern Fiddler has moved from the coaching staff of the NHL’s Dallas Stars to the WHL’s KelownaRocketsKelowna Rockets. . . . Fiddler, who played three seasons (1997-2000) with the Rockets, was added to Kelowna’s coaching staff on Wednesday. . . . Fiddler, 39, will work alongside head coach Adam Foote, assistant Kris Mallette, Adam Brown, who handles goaltenders, skills coach Kim Gellert, and power-skating coach Evan Marble. . . . Fiddler, from Edmonton, had been working as a skills development coach with Dallas, helping out in the NHL and with the AHL’s Texas Stars. . . . Fiddler was dealt by the Rockets to the Medicine Hat Tigers three games into the 2000-01 season. He finished his WHL career with the Tigers before going on to a pro career that included 877 NHL regular-season games. He last played in 2016-17 when he split the season between the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators. . . . The Rockets, who didn’t make the playoffs last season, are the host team for the 2020 Memorial Cup.


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Former WHL D Giffen Nyren intends to plead guilty after he was charged following an attempt by a man to take a baby from a mother in Kelowna on April 28. . . . Nyren, 30, who is from Calgary, also was charged with assault and wilfully resisting or obstructing a peace officer following the incident. . . . Nyren’s next court appearance is set for July 23 in Kelowna at which time he is expected to plead guilty and be sentenced. . . . Nyren played for the Moose Jaw Warriors, Kamloops Blazers and Calgary Hitmen during four seasons (2006-10) in the WHL.


JUST NOTES:

The Calgary Hitmen will have 49 of their 68 regular-season games carried on Sportsnet 960-The Fan, with the others online at sportsnet.ca/960. The games will be moved online due to a conflict with broadcasts of Calgary Flames games. . . . Brad Curle will be back as the play-by-play voice, with veteran broadcaster Jeff Hollick providing analysis during home games. . . . As well, The Hitmen Hockey Hour will be back on Saturdays with the first show on Sept. 28. . . .

The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed F Oren Shtrom, who was a third-round selection in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. Shtrom, who will turn 15 on Sept. 28, is from Gilbert, Ariz. He had three goals and 11 assists last season with the bantam AAA Phoenix Jr. Coyotes. . . .

The Portland Winterhawks have lost two members of their operations staff, both of whom have moved on to NHL teams. . . . Josh Dye, who had been Portland’s director of U.S. scouting and player development, has accepted a scouting post with the Tampa Bay Lightning. He will work out of Minnesota after spending 10 seasons (2006-13, 2016-19) with the Winterhawks. . . . Eric Fink, a Minnesota-based scout with Portland, is joining the Carolina Hurricanes’ scouting staff. He was with the Winterhawks for six seasons. . . .

The Spokane Chiefs have named George Ross as their director of United States scouting. . . . Ross had been a part-time scout in the western U.S. He started with the Chiefs in 2014-15, then scouting in his home state of Minnesota. His role expanded in 2016. . . .

Former WHL F Mike Brown has joined the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines as a skills coach. Brown, 29, is from Calgary. He played 171 regular-season WHL games, split between the Swift Current Broncos and Tri-City Americans (2006-11). . . .

Don Chesney, a veteran of the Saskatchewan hockey scene, has joined the junior B Fort Knox hockey club of the Prairie Junior Hockey League. He was assistant general manager and scout. . . . He spent the previous three seasons scouting for the MJHL’s Portage Terriers, who won two league titles and an ANAVET Cup while he was on their staff. . . . Fort Knox plays out of Fort Qu’Appelle, Sask.


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Cozens to have ‘procedure’ on thumb. . . . Hamblin’s knee injury not serious. . . . Saskatchewan all atwitter over new Gainer


MacBeth

F Andrew Clark (Brandon, 2005-09) has signed a one-year contract with Langenthal (Switzerland, Swiss League). Last season, in 52 games with Innsbruck (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had 20 goals and 49 assists. He led the league in assists and was tied for the lead in points. . . .

D Juraj Valach (Tri-City, Vancouver, Regina, Red Deer, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in 44 games with with Piráti Chomutov (Czech Republic, Extraliga), he had three goals and five assists. . . .

D Jonathon Blum (Vancouver, 2005-09) has signed a two-year contract with Färjestad Karlstad (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL), he had three goals and seven assists in 35 games. . . .

F Colton Gillies (Saskatoon, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract extension with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal and four assists in 35 games. . . .

F Mark McNeill (Prince Albert, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Linz Black Wings (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in 56 games with the Providence Bruins (AHL), he had eight goals and 17 assists. . . .

F David Rutherford (Vancouver, Spokane, 2004-08) has signed a one-year contract with Lyon (France, Ligue Magnus). Last season, with the Belfast Giants (Northern Ireland, UK Elite), he had 18 goals and 39 assists in 54 games.


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F Dylan Cozens of the Lethbridge Hurricanes suffered an injury to his left thumb during the Buffalo Sabres’ development camp on Saturday. He absorbed a hip check — it was a clean hit — and in trying to soften the landing, he put out his left hand, only to be injured when he landed awkwardly. . . . The above tweet from the Sabres came one day after Cozens was seen by a specialist. . . . While the thumb wasn’t broken in the mishap, it appears to have been dislocated, so he will undergo a ‘procedure’ today. . . . The Sabres selected Cozens with the seventh-overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft.


Guy Flaming, the owner, operator and host of The Pipeline Show (patreon.com/thepipelineshow), asked fans on Twitter the other day: “If there was ONE thing that you could change/add/remove from the Canadian Hockey League, what would it be and why?”

Some responses:

“I’d add another OA player to teams. Improves the overall hockey fans get to watch and puts a player who’s not quite ready for major junior back in midget. Improving the on-ice competition also improves development of all players.”

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“More imports. With the U.S. and Euro junior leagues catching up to the CHL in quality, while also allowing players to keep NCAA eligibility, the CHL needs to cut into that. One way would be increasing imports to 4 or 5 up from 2. Cuts into European junior League talent.”

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“A way better TV deal with regional and national broadcasts.”

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“An online streaming service, where fans across Canada pay $60 a year to get any regular-season game of any team and then $30 for the playoffs, regulate the streams so they are good quality and call it a day.”

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“WHL should change the bantam draft age from 15 to 16. Makes the draft more entertaining for the average fan because there will be a chance for the players to play immediately, and it wouldn’t be as much of a crapshoot for the teams.”

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“Fighting. There is no need for teenagers be fighting in the CHL. Too many are paying the price with their health both now and down the road.  Really can anyone give a valid reason as to why teens are fighting in the CHL? Everyone else is banning it; time for the CHL to get rid of it.”

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“Memorial Cup hosted by a U.S. team.”

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“I’d add a Canadian U-17 team that would play games in all three major junior leagues and be our team at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. I love the USA hockey model in the USHL with U-18 and U-17 teams.”

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“Lighten the schedule a little. More time for skills development practice. More time for workouts and recovery. More time for personal time, mental health.”

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Flaming also tweeted that he is preparing to interview Ron Robison, the WHL commissioner, for an upcoming show. Perhaps Flaming could ask the WHL commish about a regular-season schedule that has the Portland Winterhawks and Prince George Cougars playing each other four times in six days. Seriously! They will meet Dec. 3 and 4 in Portland, then head north and go at it in Prince George on Dec. 7 and 8. . . . The WHL schedule always seems to have its share of quirks, but methinks it will be tough to top this one.


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You may have read here about F James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers suffering a dislocated kneecap while attending the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp last week. . . . It turns out that the injury isn’t as bad as it originally appeared. . . . He told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that “the pain was horrible.” . . . And then it was over. Just like that. . . . “Once they stretchered me off,” he told McCracken, “just as we got to the room we kind of hit a bump and it popped back in, and it was basically instant relief,” said Hamblin. “It went from an unbearable pain to nothing in an instant.” . . . Hamblin will undergo surgery, albeit minor, to remove a piece of cartilage that was revealed to be loose during an MRI. . . . Hamblin had 33 goals and 44 assists in 67 regular-season games last season. The Tigers’ captain each of the previous two seasons, Hamblin is prepping for his fifth season in Medicine Hat. . . . McCracken’s complete story is right here.


The gang at capfriendly.com reports that Day 1 of NHL free-agent frenzy resulted in the signings of 125 contracts covering 239 years with a total cap hit of $218,986,001. The total contract dollars involved were $704,499,000. . . . On Tuesday, which was Day 2, the totals were 10 signings covering 19 years, with a total cap hit of $8,509,167, and total dollars of $17,525,000. . . .

Meanwhile, the first day of NBA free agency was Sunday. Teams promptly committed more than $3 billion to 45 players.


Geoff Grimwood has filed a lawsuit in B.C. Provincial Court in Kelowna, claiming that the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors owe him $29,166, plus interest, after he was fired late last season. . . . You may remember that Grimwood was the team’s interim general manager and head coach when he was fired early in the season, only to be rehired when the players chose not to practice and went on a hike instead. Grimwood was rehired after the boycott, but was fired again on Jan. 28 by owner Kim Dobranski. . . . Wayne Moore of castanet.net has more right here. . . . Grimwood now is the GM/head coach of the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders.


Matt Samson, the general manager of the junior B North Vancouver Wolf Pack, also will be the head coach in 2019-20. Samson stepped in as an assistant coach during last season and helped the club win the Pacific Junior Hockey League championship. . . . Samson takes over from Bayne Koen, who left after five years and now is the head coach of the bantam prep White team at Delta Hockey Academy. He also is the director of player development with the PJHL’s White Rock Whalers.


ICYMI, the Saskatchewan Roughriders throttled the visiting Toronto Argonauts on Monday evening, improving their CFL record to 1-2. You would think that the Roughriders having won their home-opener would be cause for excitement in Saskatchewan, but you would be wrong. Instead, football fans are confused/angered/upset/dismayed/up in arms (pick one, or insert your own) over the new-look Gainer. It seems that Gainer spent a chunk of his off-season at the Gopher Spa and came back with a brand new look. . . . There’s more right here.


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WHL teams select 30 imports in draft. . . . Broncos open by taking another Finn. . . . Warriors, T-birds aim high

The WHL’s 22 teams combined to select 30 players in the CHL import draft on Thursday. . whl. . Each team is allowed to have two import players on its roster during the season. . . . As you read this team-by-team look, keep in mind that a team with an import on its roster who was a first-round NHL draft pick, or one who has signed with an NHL team, or one who is prepping for his 20-year-old season is allowed to add a player in the draft. Some teams, then, could end up with three imports on their roster, but eventually will have to get down to two. . . . I believe a team has until two weeks after the third import arrives to trim its roster.

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BRANDON WHEAT KINGS — They selected a pair of 18-year-old forwards, both of BrandonWKregularwhom played last season in the USHL. . . . Finnish F Marcus Kallionkieli played last season with the Sioux City Musketeers, putting up 29 goals and 54 assists in 58 games. He was a fifth-round pick by the Vegas Golden Knights in last weekend’s NHL draft. Kelly McCrimmon, the Wheat Kings’ owner, is the Golden Knights’ assistant general manager; he takes over as GM on Sept. 1. . . . Russian F Vladislav Firstov was picked by the Minnesota Wild in the second round of the 2019 NHL draft. Last season, he had 26 goals and 32 assists with the Waterloo Blackhawks. Firstov has committed to play with the Huskies at the U of Connecticut in the fall. . . . The Wheat Kings’ roster also includes Czech G Jiri Patera, 20, who was a sixth-round pick by the Golden Knights in the NHL’s 2017 draft. The Wheat Kings’ No. 1 goaltender as a freshman last season, he has yet to sign a pro contract.

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CALGARY HITMEN — The Hitmen have three imports on their roster after picking Czech F Jonas Peterek, 18, and Slovakian F Samuel Krajc, 17. . . . Peterek played for his country in last summer’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup and also in the IIHF U-18 world championship earlier this year. . . . Krajc played for Slovakia at the U-18 worlds after putting up 11 goals and nine assists in 27 games with HK Dukla Trencin’s U-20 team. He also had eight goals and six assists in 14 games with the U-18 side. . . . They join veteran Russian D Egor Zamula, 19, on Calgary’s roster. He has played two WHL seasons and has signed with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers. . . . The Hitmen expect all three players in Calgary when training camp opens in late August.

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EDMONTON OIL KINGS — They made one pick, taking Finnish F Jesse Seppala, 17, who had 17 goals and 31 assists in 42 games with Tappara’s U-18 team. . . . Among other international games, he played for Finland at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . He joins Belarusian F Vladimir Alistrov, 18, as Edmonton’s imports. . . . Belarusian F Andrei Pavlenko, 19, was released prior to the draft.

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EVERETT SILVERTIPS — With Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas expected back for a third season, the Silvertips took Czech F Michal Gut, who will turn 17 on Aug. 16. . . . He had 14 goals and 20 assists in 33 games with Pirati Chomutov’s U-19 team last season. Gut also played at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Russian D Artyom Minulin, Everett’s other import at last season’s end, has used up his junior eligibility.

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KAMLOOPS BLAZERS — They dropped one defenceman and selected another in the draft. . . . The Blazers released Finnish D Joonas Sillanpää, 18, after one season, and filled that spot on their roster by picking Swiss D Inaki Baragano, who will turn 18 on Sept. 4. . . . As a 17-year-old, he had six goals and 16 assists in 39 games with Lausanne’s U-20 team last season. . . . He is expected in Kamloops in time for training camp to open on Aug. 21. . . . The Blazers’ other import is Czech F Martin Lang, who will be 18 on Sept. 15, and is heading into his second WHL season.

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KELOWNA ROCKETS — With D Lassi Thomson having been a first-round selection by the Ottawa Senators in the NHL’s 2019 draft, the Rockets made two import picks — Czech F Pavel Novak and Russian F Daniil Gutik. . . . Novak, 17, had 29 goals and 16 assists in 31 games with Motor Ceske Budejovice’s U-19 team. He also played 20 games with Motor Ceske Budejovice in Czech 2, recording three assists, and was expected to play there in 2019-20. He also played in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Gutik will turn 18 on Aug. 31. He had five goals and eight assists in 13 games with Loko Yaroslavl of the MHL, a Russian junior league. He also had four assists in five games at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

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LETHBRIDGE HURRICANES — They had one selection and used it to take Slovakian F Oliver Okuliar, 19, who played last season with the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix. In 66 games as a freshman, he had 14 goals and 28 assists. . . . He also had four goals and four assists in five games at the U-18 IIHF Worlds. . . . Sophomore Belarusian D Danila Palivko, who will turn 18 on Nov. 30, is the Hurricanes’ other import. . . . D Igor Merezhko, from Ukraine, used up his junior eligibility last season.

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MEDICINE HAT TIGERS — Danish F Jonathan Brinkman Andersen, who turns 18 on July 4, was the Tigers’ lone selection. Last season, he had one goal and five assists in 32 games with the Aalborg Pirates in the Metal Ligaen. He was the pro team’s youngest player. . . . The Tigers’ other import is G Mads Søgaard, who turns 19 on Dec. 13 and is preparing for his second WHL season. Søgaard, who was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the second round of the NHL’s 2019 draft, also is from Aalborg.

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MOOSE JAW WARRIORS — The Warriors had one selection and used it on Swedish G MooseJawWarriorsJesper Wallstedt, who has been hyped by some observers as perhaps the best in the world in his age group. . . . He will turn 17 on Nov. 14, so isn’t eligible for the NHL draft until 2021. . . . Last season, the 6-foot-3 Wallstedt played in 21 games with Luleå HF J20 of the SuperElit league, going 2.65, .901. He is expected to return to the team for the 2019-20 season, so the Warriors have some work ahead of them. . . . The Warriors have two other imports on their roster — Belarusian D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 20, who was acquired from the Calgary Hitmen on May 2, and F Danill Stepanov, 18, who also is from Belarus. Yeryomenko was a fifth-round pick by the Nashville Predators in the NHL’s 2018 draft, but he has yet to sign a pro contract.

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PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS — With two selections, the Winterhawks added Swiss F Simon Knak, 17, and Danish D Jonas Brøndberg, 18. . . . Last season, Knak had 14 goals and 11 assists in 37 games with Kloten EHC’s U-20 team. Prior to the import draft, he was expected to split the 2019-20 season between that club and EHC Kloten of the NLB. He had one assist in three games with the pro team last season. . . . Brøndberg played with three Växjö Lakers U-18 and U-20 sides last season, totalling three goals and seven assists in 48 games between them. . . . Prior to the draft, the Winterhawks released Czech F Michal Kasnica, 19, after one season. Portland’s other import from last season, Danish F Joachim Blichfeld, won the WHL scoring title as a 20-year-old.

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PRINCE ALBERT RAIDERS — They picked F Ivan Kechkin, marking the first time the Raiders have selected a Russian in this draft. Kechkin is a smallish centre who totalled 12 goals and 21 assists in 38 games last season, which he split between 17- and 18-year-old teams in Moscow. . . . Of course, he may never play in Prince Albert because the WHL’s reigning champions have two Belarusians on their roster in F Aliaksei Protas, 18, and D Sergei Sapego, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 8. . . . Protas was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the 2019 NHL draft. . . . This week, Sapego is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp.

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PRINCE GEORGE COUGARS — With their one selection, the Cougars took Czech F Filip Koffer, 18, who had 10 goals and 28 assists in 34 games with HC Dynamo Pardubice’s U-19 side last season. He also had one assist in 12 games with Dynamo Parubice’s men’s side in the Extraliga. Prior to the import draft, he was expected to return to the pro team. . . . Mark Lamb, the Cougars’ general manager, said in a news release that Koffer “is committed to playing in the WHL.” . . . F Matej Toman, a teammate of Koffer’s on the Czech U-18 team, is the Cougars’ other import.

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RED DEER REBELS — The Rebels say they are waiting to hear from sophomore Russian F Oleg Red DeerZaytsev as to his immediate future, but, in the meantime, they are keeping him on their roster. . . . With one pick in the draft, then, they took Finnish D Christoffer Sedoff, 17, out of the HIFK organization. . . . Last season, he had three assists in 32 games with HIFK’s U-20 team. . . . He also played in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . “From everything we know, he’s coming,” Brent Sutter, the Rebels’ owner, general manager and head coach, told Greg Meachem of reddeerrebels.com. “Unless some unforeseen thing comes about, as far as we know he’ll be here.” . . . Russian D Alex Alexeyev, 20, was selected by the Washington Capitals in the first round of the NHL’s 2018 draft and is expected to start his pro career in the fall.

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REGINA PATS — Regina used its lone selection to take Russian F Daniil Gushchin, 17, who played last season with the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks, putting up 16 goals and 20 assists in 51 games. . . . He also played for Russia at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge, the U-18 Worlds and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . The Pats’ other import is sophomore Russian D Nikita Sedov, 18. . . . Regina traded Russian F Sergei Alkhimov, 18, to the Vancouver Giants this week, getting back F Dawson Holt, 20.

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SASKATOON BLADES — Prior to the draft, the Blades released both of their imports Saskatoonfrom last season — Swedish D Emil Malysjev, 18, who will play at home, and Norwegian F Kristian Roykas Marthinsen, 20, who apparently is planning on beginning his pro career. He was a seventh-round pick by the NHL’s Washington Capitals in 2017 but hasn’t signed. . . . The Blades then grabbed a pair of Czech defencemen — Libor Zabransky, 19, who has played 107 WHL games with the Kelowna Rockets, and Radek Kucerik, who is to turn 18 on Dec. 21. . . . Last season, Zabransky had two goals and seven assists in 35 games with the Rockets, before finishing up with the USHL’s Fargo Force. He had four goals and 12 assists in 30 games with Fargo. In 2017-18, He had two goals and 17 assists in 72 games with Kelowna. . . . Kucerik won’t turn 18 until Dec. 17. He captained HC Kometa Brno’s U1-9 squad last season and, if he doesn’t show up in Saskatoon, he could play with HC Kometa Brno in the Czech Extraliga in 2019-20.

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SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS — With a pair of solid imports expected to return, the Thunderbirds aimed high in selecting German F Tim Stutzle, 17. Last season, he had 23 goals and 32 assists in 21 games with Jungadler Mannheim, a U-20 side. He has signed to play professionally with Addler Mannheim of the DEL, Germany’s top league. Some observers have him ranked as a top 10 selection in the NHL’s 2020 draft. . . . Czech D Simon Kubicek, who turns 18 on Dec. 19, and Slovakian F Andrej Kukuca, who turns 20 on Nov. 14, are coming off terrific freshman seasons and both are likely to be back. . . . If Stutzle were to be assigned to Seattle by Addler Mannheim, it could be that the Thunderbirds hit a home run. If not, they’ve still got a pair of pretty good imports.

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SPOKANE CHIEFS — With two returning 20-year-old goalies in Bailey Brkin and Reece SpokaneChiefsKlassen, the Chiefs picked Czech G Lukas Parik, 18, who was a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL’s 2019 draft. This was the first time Spokane has picked a goaltender in the import draft. . . . The 6-foot-4 Parik attended the Kings’s development camp this week. . . . Campbell Arnold, 17, also is in the Chiefs’ picture after being a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft. From Nanaimo, B.C., he played last season for the junior B Spokane Braves of the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League. . . . Spokane also selected Russian D Matvei Startsev, who will turn 17 on Sept. 4. He is listed at 5-foot-8 and 132 pounds, but the Chiefs indicated in a news release that “scouting reports indicate Startsev has grown significantly above his listed height and weight over the past year.” . . . Veteran Czech D Filip Kral, who turns 20 on Oct. 20, remains on Spokane’s roster and could return for a third season. He was a fifth-round pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the NHL’s 2018 draft, but has yet to sign a pro deal.

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SWIFT CURRENT BRONCOS — With the draft’s first overall selection, the Broncos took SCBroncosFinnish D Kasper Puutio, a 17-year-old from Vaasa. . . . Last season, he had one goal and three assists in 31 games with Kärpät’s U-20 team, and had four goals and eight assists in 10 games with the U-18 side. . . . He also had four assists in six games at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Puutio is the fourth straight selection from Finland for Swift Current, after F Aleksi Heponiemi (2016), and F Joona Kiviniemi and D Roope Pynnonen (2018). . . . Kiviniemi is returning for a second season, but Pynnonen was released prior to this draft. . . . Puutio is “a 2002 that fits into our mold,” Dean Brockman, the Broncos’ director of player personnel and head coach, said on the team’s website. “He’s a right-handed shot who’s projected to go in next year’s NHL draft. He’s got all the checkmarks we needed. The biggest thing is he wants to be here.”

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TRI-CITY AMERICANS — With a 20-year-old import on the roster in the person of Czech F Krystof Hrabik, the Americans were able to make two selections. They took a pair of Czech players — F Jan Cikhart, 17, and D David Homola, who will turn 18 on Oct. 4. . . . Last season, Cikhart had 18 goals and 13 assists in 40 games for Bili Tygri Liberec’s U-19 team, which is where Hrabik played before joining the Americans. Cikhart also played in the U-17 World Hockey Challenge. . . . Homola had four goals and 14 assists in 47 games with U-19 Ocelari Trinec. He also played in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . According to Bob Tory, the Americans’ general manager, Cikhart and Homola both will be at training camp in August.

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VANCOUVER GIANTS — With their only pick, the Giants took Slovakian D Samuel Knazko, who will be 17 on Aug. 7. . . . Last season, he had two goals and 15 assists in 49 games with U-20 TPS of the Jr. A SM-liiga. . . . Knazko played for his country at the IIHF U-18 Worlds. . . . The Giants’ roster also includes Slovakian F Milos Roman, 20, and Russian F Sergei Alkhimov, 18, who was acquired this week from the Regina Pats in exchange for F Dawson Holt, 20. . . . Roman was selected by the Calgary Flames in the fourth round of the 2018 NHL draft, but hasn’t yet signed a pro contract.

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VICTORIA ROYALS — With their only selection, the Royals took Swiss F Keanu Derungs, 17, who played last season in his country’s top junior league. He has played four seasons in the Kloten organization, splitting last season between the U-17 and U-20 sides. . . . His brother Ian, who will turn 20 on Dec. 31, played last season with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs. . . . The Royals have one other import on their roster — Danish F Phillip Schultz, who turns 19 on July 24. He had 19 goals and 17 assists in 60 games as a freshman. . . . Belarusian F Igor Martynov, 20, won’t be back for a third season as he plans to play professionally at home.

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WINNIPEG ICE — In its first import draft since relocating from Cranbrook, the Ice wpgicepicked two players — Czech F Michal Teply, 18, and German F Nino Kinder, 18. . . . Teply was a fourth-round selection by the Chicago Blackhawks in the NHL’s 2019 draft. Last season, he had four goals and six assists in 23 games on loan to HC Benatky nad Jizerou in the Czech2 league. He had been loaned by Bílí Tygři Liberec of the Extraliga, the country’s top pro league. Teply had played 15 games with them, putting up two assists. He also played at the IIHF U-18 Worlds and the Hlinka Gretzky Cup. . . . Kinder had 17 goals and 24 assists in 33 games with the U-20 Eisbaren Juniors Berlin. He was pointless in five games with Eisbaren Berlin of the DEL. Kinder is spending this week at the Los Angeles Kings’ development camp. . . . The Ice finished last season with two import defencemen on its roster. Martin Bodak of Czech Republic has used up his junior eliibility, while Valtteri Kakkonen, 19, of Finland has signed with JYP of Liiga, that country’s top pro league.


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Colina tells his mental health story. . . . Teams prepped for import draft. . . . Gustafson, Hay back with Winterhawks


MacBeth

F Robin Soudek (Edmonton, Chilliwack/Victoria, 2008-12) has signed a one-year contract extension with Feldkirch (Austria, Alps HL). Last season, in 35 games, he had 32 goals and 37 assists. He tied for the league lead in goals and was fourth in points. . . .

F Lane Scheidl (Vancouver, Red Deer, Regina, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with Nitra (Slovakia, Extraliga). Last season, in 57 games, he had 20 goals and 16 assists. . . .

G Jordon Cooke (Kelowna, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with Gyergyói HK Gheorgheni (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, in 35 games with Gap (France, Ligue Magnus), he was 18-13-4, 2.75, .909, with two shutouts. . . .

D Eric Roy (Brandon, 2010-15) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he had one goal and three assists in eight games with the Allen Americans (ECHL), two goals and three assists in 30 games with the Wichita Thunder (ECHL), and four goals and nine assists in 25 games with the Norfolk Admirals (ECHL). . . .

F Greg Scott (Seattle, 2005-09) has signed a three-year contract with Byrnäs Gävle (Sweden, SHL). Last season, with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and eight assists in 45 games. He was an alternate captain. . . . Scott played three seasons wth Brynäs before playing the past three seasons with CSKA. . . .

F Nikita Scherbak (Saskatoon, Everett, 2013-15) has signed a three-year contract with Avangard Omsk (Russia, KHL). Last season, he had one goal in five games with the Laval Rocket (AHL), one goal in eight games with the Los Angeles Kings (NHL), and four goals and seven assists in 23 games with the Ontario Reign (AHL). . . .

F Cam Braes (Lethbridge, Moose Jaw, 2007-12) has signed a one-year contract with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had three goals and two assists in 16 games with Orli Znojmo (Czech Republic, Erste Bank Liga), and eight goals and five assists in 22 games with the Aalborg Pirates (Denmark, Metal Ligaen). . . .

F Radek Meidl (Seattle, Tri-City, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with the Leeds Chiefs (England, National). Last season, with the Milton Keynes Lightning (England, UK Elite), he had 10 goals and seven assists in 46 games. . . .

F Robin Figren (Calgary, Edmonton, 2006-08) has signed a one-year contract with Kloten (Switzerland, NL). Last season, in 50 games with HV71 Jönköping (Sweden, SHL), he had 15 goals and 15 assists.


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F Ilijah Colina was just days from his 19th birthday when, in his third WHL season, he left the Prince George Cougars and went home. At the time, the Cougars said it was for “personal reasons.” . . . It later came out that Colina was struggling with mental illness. He recently sat down at a keyboard and told his story, something that should be mandatory reading for anyone involved not just in hockey but in any kind youth sport.

Here is part of what Colina wrote:

“During my recovery (from a concussion) my depression was reaching a point to where I felt attacked. I was lonely, as all I could do was lay in bed for the next 2 weeks. I questioned my existence and I wanted to kill myself. I felt my presence was not needed and that I would only hurt people with the negative energy I was creating. I had no control of anything. What came out is what I was truly thinking at the time. I remember crying in my bed, night after night. I didn’t know what to do. I was scared of my own mind and was worried for myself. It was like there was another person in the room trying to harm me. I didn’t know how to deal with it, it was horrifying.”

His complete essay is right here.


The Swift Current Broncos will be picking first overall this morning when the CHL’s 2019 CHLimport draft gets started. The Broncos, who had the WHL’s poorest record last season, cleared room for one pick by releasing Finnish D Roope Pynnonen, 18. . . . A freshman last season, Pynnonen was pointless in 44 games. . . . The Broncos’ other import is Finnish F Joona Kiviniemi, who will turn 18 on Dec. 17. Last season, his first in the WHL, he had 16 goals and nine assists in 25 games.

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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders are expected to make one selection in the import draft, even though they have two Belarusians on their roster — F Aliaksei Protas, 18, and D Sergei Sapego, who is to turn 20 on Oct. 18. . . . Protas was selected by the Washington Capitals in the third round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . Because Sapego would be playing in his 20-year-old season, the Raiders are allowed to make one selection, even with him on their roster.

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The Everett Silvertips are expecting Slovakian F Martin Fasko-Rudas, 19, to return for a third season with them. So they will be making one selection in today’s import draft. . . . Fasko-Rudas had 15 goals and 16 assists in 60 regular-season games. He then added four goals and five assists in 10 playoff games. . . . In 2017-18, as a freshman, he had six goals and nine assists in 70 regular-season games. . . . Russian D Artyom Minulin, the other import on Everett’s roster at the end of last season, has played out his junior eligibility. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to the Silvertips, the only one of the WHL’s 22 teams to have their early 2019-20 pre-season roster available on the WHL website as of Wednesday night.

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The Portland Winterhawks are expected to make two selections in the import draft, after having released Czech F Michal Kvasnica, 19. . . . In his lone WHL season, Kvasnica had eight goals and 12 assists in 20 games. . . . F Joachim Blichfeld was Portland’s other import player last season. The Dane won the WHL scoring title in what was his 20-year-old season. . . . Having released Kvasnica, the Winterhawks will be eligible to pick twice today.

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The Spokane Chiefs will be able to make two selections in the import draft after releasing Russian D Egor Arbuzov, 18. He had four goals and nine assists in 58 games as a freshman last season. . . . Czech D Filip Kral, 20, remains on the Chiefs’ roster. Kral was selected by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the fifth round of the NHL’s 2018 draft. Because he is 20, the Chiefs will be allowed to make two selections today.

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The Tri-City Americans revealed on Wednesday that Russian D Roman Kalinichenko, who will turn 19 on July 6, won’t be returning to the WHL after signing with CSKA Moscow (Russia, KHL). He played two seasons with the Americans, scoring one goal and adding nine assists in 44 games as a freshman, then putting up two goals and seven assists in 67 games last season.

Czech F Krystof Hrabik, the other import on Tri-City’s roster, is heading into his 20-year-old season. As a freshman last season, he had 21 goals and 30 assists in 63 games. Because Hrabik will be 20, the Americans will be permitted to make two selections in today’s import draft.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings, with one import on their roster, are expected to make two selections in the import draft. Czech G Jiri Patera, 20, is the only import on Brandon’s roster; in fact, he was the only import used by Brandon last season. . . . Because he is 20, the Wheat Kings are free to select an import in case Patera ends up starting his professional career and doesn’t return to Brandon.

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The Moose Jaw Warriors are expected to make one selection in the import draft after releasing Belarusian F Yegor Buyalski, 18, who had six goals and eight assists in 66 games in his only WHL season. . . . The Warriors’ roster also includes two other Belarusians — F Daniil Stepanov, 18, and D Vladislav Yeryomenko, 20, who was acquired from Calgary on May 2 in a deal that had D Jett Woo join the Hitmen.

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The Red Deer Rebels haven’t yet received a commitment from Russian F Oleg Zaytsev, 18, Red Deerfor a second season, but have chosen to keep him on their roster and make one selection in today’s import draft. . . . In his final 31 Thoughts of the season, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman wrote on Wednesday: “It was (Zaytsev’s) first season in North America, and while he petered out as the (season) continued, you could see the potential. Zaytsev went unselected last weekend, mainly because teams heard he will be signing an entry-level contract with the KHL. (Those contracts are also three years.) But, don’t be surprised if someone tries to get him as a free agent, therefore holding his rights until a return.” . . . Zaytsev’s play may have tailed off but he still put up 13 goals and 30 assists in 66 games as a 17-year-old freshman in a foreign country. . . . D Alex Alexeyev, who will turn 20 on Nov. 15, has played three seasons with the Rebels. A first-round pick by the Washington Capitals in 2018, has signed an NHL contract and is expected to at least start the season with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, if he doesn’t make the big club, that is.

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The two-round import draft is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Eastern (8 a.m. Pacific).

The OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs hold the No. 2 selection, followed by the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

If you are so inclined, you are able to follow the import draft right here.


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It’s looking more and more as though D Lassi Thomson, who played last season with the KelownaRocketsKelowna Rockets, won’t be returning to the WHL. Thomson was selected by the Ottawa Senators with the 19th overall pick of the NHL’s 2019 draft. This week, he is in Ottawa’s development camp. It seems that Thomson, 18, has two options — return to Kelowna or go home and play for Ilves, the pro team located in his hometown of Tampere. . . . On Wednesday, Thomson told Postmedia’s Bruce Garrioch: “I think right now it’s back to Finland but you never know. We’ll see what they want. I think at this point it would be best for me to play against men.” . . . Trent Mann, Ottawa’s chief scout, said: “It’s a tough one because we’re told that he can play in the top pairing in the league in Finland. He’s going to get an opportunity to play with men in a pretty good league. Right now, that would probably be my guess of what he’ll end up doing. But a lot of things can change in the meantime.” . . . The Rockets will be permitted to pick twice in today’s import draft and keep Thomson on their roster, at least for now, because he was a first-round NHL draft pick. . . . Garrioch’s complete story is right here.


The Portland Winterhawks have signed Kyle Gustafson, their assistant general manager Portlandand associate coach, and assistant coach Don Hay to contract extensions. No contract details were revealed. . . . Gustafson is heading into his 17th season with the Winterhawks. He recently turned down a four-year contract offer to work as head coach of the Kamloops Blazers. Taking Note has been told that one of the things that figured into Gustafson’s decision to stay in Portland was that the Winterhawks “did a lot” to keep him. . . . Hay, who is the winningest head coach in WHL history, is going into his second season as an assistant coach alongside Mike Johnston, Portland’s vice-president, GM and head coach. Hay spent four seasons as the Blazers’ head coach before being ousted following the 2017-18 season.


TSN’s Kristen Shilton tweeted on Wednesday that F James Hamblin of the Medicine Hat Tigers Logo OfficialTigers, who is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp, went down with an injury to his “left knee/leg.” She added: “Hamblin clearly in a lot of pain, covering his head with his hands.” . . . Hamblin, 20, was taken from the ice on a stretcher with the leg immobilized. . . . Bobby Fox, the Tigers’ director of player personnel, late told Ryan McCracken of the Medicine Hat News that Hamblin underwent X-rays and that they came back negative. . . . Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun later reported that Hamblin suffered a “knee cap injury in an apparent skating mishap.” . . . Hamblin has played four seasons with the Tigers and was the team captain for the last two of them.


JUST NOTES:

Mitch Love, the head coach of the Saskatoon Blades, is in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ development camp as a guest coach, as is Matt Anholt, who is a skills/development coach with the Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . .

The WHL released its complete 2019-20 regular-season schedule on Wednesday. For details, visit your favourite team’s website. . . .

Hockey Canada has invited 44 players to a summer camp for the U-18 team that will play in the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in Breclav, Czech Republic, and Piestany, Slovakia, Aug. 5-10. . . . The camp is scheduled for Calgary, July 26-30. . . . Michael Dyck, the Vancouver Giants’ head coach, is Team Canada’s head coach, with Dennis Williams, the head coach of the Everett Silvertips, as one assistant. . . . There’s a news release and a link to the camp roster right here. . . .

A couple of former WHLers, both heading into their 20-year-old seasons, were involved in a junior A trade on Wednesday. The AJHL’s Okotoks Oilers dealt D Tylor Ludwar to the SJHL’s Estevan Bruins for F Tristyn DeRoose. Ludwar played 73 games with the Kamloops Blazers over three seasons (2016-19). DeRoose split 109 games between the Vancouver Giants and Moose Jaw Warriors (2015-19). . . .

The Halifax Mooseheads are looking for a head coach with Eric Veilleux having joined the AHL’s Syracuse Crunch as a head coach. Last season, the Mooseheads lost out in the QMJHL final and then were the host team for the Memorial Cup, where they were beaten in the championship game. . . . A coach since 2006-07, Veilleux spent one season in Halifax after having been the head coach of the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage for two seasons. . . .

The NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers have added Nick Schultz to their staff as a player development coach. Schultz, 36, is from Strasbourg, Sask. He played three seasons (1998-2001) with the Prince Albert Raiders and was the team captain in his final season there. He went on to play 1,066 regular-season NHL games, retiring after spending three seasons (2014-17) with the Flyers.


ThisThat

Savoie signs with Ice, says he doesn’t know where he’ll play in 2019-20. . . . Royals get Warm from Oil Kings


MacBeth

F T.J. Foster (Edmonton, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract extension with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite). Last season, he had 11 goals and 30 assists in 50 games. He actually started the season on a try-out contract with Sport Vaasa (Finland, Liiga), going pointless in one game. . . .

F Braden Christoffer (Regina, 2012-15) has signed a one-year contract with Stjernen Fredrikstad (Norway, GET-Ligaen). Last season, in 47 games with the Bakersfield Condors (AHL), he had seven goals and three assists. . . .

F Evan Bloodoff (Kelowna, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with the Coventry Blaze (England, UK Elite). Last season, with the Fife Flyers (Scotland, UK Elite), he had 27 goals and 17 assists in 55 games. He led the Flyers in goals.


ThisThat

F Matt Savoie, the first-overall selection in the 2019 WHL bantam draft, has turned his back on the U of Denver Pioneers and signed with the Winnipeg Ice.

The Ice announced Thursday that Savoie had signed a WHL contract. The move comes wpgiceafter he made a verbal commitment to Denver in March.

“Obviously, it’s a tough decision,” Savoie told Winnipeg radio station CJOB. “Both are great options. It was a long process. . . . In the end I felt Winnpeg gave me the best opportunity to develop as a player and a person.”

Savoie and family members visited Winnipeg and the Ice’s training facility and the Rink Hockey Academy after the May 2 bantam draft.

Savoie, 15, and his older brother, Carter, also spent last weekend in a spring camp that was put on by the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints.

The Ice also holds the WHL rights to Carter, 17, who was the AJHL’s rookie of the year with the Sherwood Park Crusaders. Carter also has made a commitment to Denver. The Ice acquired Carter’s rights from the Regina Pats on April 3. On Thursday, Carter said in a tweet that he intends to return to the Crusaders and that he also intends to honour his commitment to Denver.

“We’re pretty close,” Matt told CJOB of his relationship with Carter, “but we know we both have different paths in our hockey careers.”

The Ice held the first two selections in the 2019 bantam draft in Red Deer on May 2. It used the picks to take Savoie and F Conor Geekie, both of whom now have signed WHL deals.

From St. Albert, Alta., Savoie had 31 goals and 40 assists in 31 regular-season games with the Northern Alberta X-Treme prep team. In five playoff games, he put up three goals and nine assists, helping his club win the league title. He later was honoured as the league’s MVP.

That came one year after he was the bantam prep league’s MVP for finishing 2017-18 with 28 goals and 69 assists in 30 regular-season games for the X-Treme.

The Savoie family applied to Hockey Canada for exceptional status late in 2018. While Hockey Canada has yet to make an official announcement, numerous reports this spring indicated that the application had been denied.

Had Savoie been granted exceptional status, he would have been eligible to be on the Ice’s roster in 2019-20. As things now rest, he is eligible to play five games before his club team has it’s season end, after which he could join the Ice on a full-time basis. He also is eligible to play games with the Ice in 2019-20 on an emergency basis, and who knows what the maximum is under that rule?

When it was suggest to him by CJOB that he could play five games with the Ice in 2019-20, Savoie responded: “That’s a question for the WHL.”

If Hockey Canada doesn’t grant him exceptional status, he could return to the X-Treme for a second season with the midget team. He also could play a number of junior A games with the Crusaders as an AP.

Asked by Winnipeg radio station CJOB where he will play in 2019-20, Savoie replied that it is “undetermined where we’re going or what we’re doing.”

In the same news release that revealed Savoie’s signing, the Ice announced that it has released 100 more seats at Wayne Fleming Arena, the rink on the U of Manitoba campus in which it will play at least its next two seasons. After renovations, that arena is expected to have a capacity of around 1,600. The Ice didn’t reveal whether Savoie will get a cut of tickets that were sold after his signing was announced.

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WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


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The Victoria Royals have acquired D Will Warm, 20, from the Edmonton Oil Kings for a VictoriaRoyalsfifth-round selection in the 2021 WHL bantam draft. . . . From Whistler, B.C., Warm played three seasons with the Oil Kings. Last season, he had two assists in 33 games. He missed a lot of time with a knee injury. . . . In 153 regular-season games, he has 10 goals and 28 assists. . . . The Oil Kings selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 bantam draft. . . . Warm also was named the WHL’s humanitarian of the year for the 2018-19 season, winning the Doug Wickenheiser Memorial Trophy. . . . Warm is one of eight 20-year-olds on Victoria’s roster, joining F D-Jay Jerome, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, D Jameson Murray, D Scott Walford, D Jake Kustra and G Shane Farkas. . . . Farkas was acquired from the Portland Winterhawks on May 2. . . .

Edmonton’s roster now includes four 20-year-olds — F Zach Russell, D Parker Gavlas, D Conner McDonald and G Dylan Myskiw. F Trey Fix-Wolansky also is 20, but has signed an NHL contract and is expected to play in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization.


The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed D Ryan Nolan to a WHL contract. Nolan, from Calgary, was a third-round selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Last season, he had eight goals and 16 assists in 31 games with the bantam AAA Calgary Northstar Sabres.


Darrell Hay is back in the coaching game, having signed on with the Boise State Broncos. Hay, 39, is the son of Don Hay, who has more victories than any head coach in WHL history. . . . Darrell, a defenceman, played four seasons (1996-2000) with the Tri-City Americans. . . . During his pro career, he spent three seasons (2004-05, 2006-08) in Boise playing for the Idaho Steelheads. He is employed by the City of Boise, working in the Parks and Recreation Department, with a focus on the Ice Pilot youth hockey program. . . . Before relocating to Boise, Hay spent one season (2016-17) as an assistant with the BCHL’s Salmon Arm Silverbacks. . . . With the Broncos, he will work alongside head coach Lloyd Ayers. . . . The Broncos play in the PAC 8, an American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II league.


Tweetoftheday

Gustafson will stay in Portland. . . . Blazers restart coaching search. . . . Warriors, Chiefs sign first-rounders

MacBeth

D Mathew Berry-Lamontagna (Prince Albert, 2010-12) has signed a one-year contract with HK Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with Simon Fraser U (BC Intercollegiate), he had four goals and 16 assists. He was named the BCIHL’s MVP and top defenseman, and a first-team all-star. . . .

D Cody Carlson (Medicine Hat, Regina, Prince George, 2006-12) has signed a one-year contract with UTE Budapest (Hungary, Erste Liga). This season, with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga), he had four goals and 28 assists in 49 games. He was second on the team in assists. . . .

D Vladimír Mihálik (Red Deer, Prince George, 2005-07) has signed a one-year contract extension with Banská Bystrica (Slovakia, Extraliga). This season, he had four goals and 10 assists in 49 games. . . .

F Radel Fazleyev (Calgary, 2013-16) signed a two-year contract extension with Ak Bars Kazan (Russia, KHL). This season, with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL), he had two assists in 15 games. He also had two goals and five assists in 16 games with Bars Kazan (Russia, Vysshaya Liga).


ThisThat
The Kamloops Blazers held a development camp in the city over the weekend.

During the camp, Marty Hastings of Kamloops This Week asked general manager Matt Kamloops1Bardsley about the team’s search for a head coach to replace one-and-done Serge Lajoie.

Bardsley replied: “We are getting close, but we’re taking our time, double-checking, triple-checking, doing extra interviews with the individuals. We want to make sure we feel really good about it when we walk away from it.”

What Bardsley didn’t say is that the Blazers are pretty much back to Square 1.

Taking Note has been told that the Blazers offered their head-coaching position to Kyle Gustafson. In fact, the offer is believed to have been for four years.

Gustafson, however, withdrew his name from consideration and will be staying in Portland as the Winterhawks’ assistant general manager and associate coach. He has been on Portland’s coaching staff since 2004.

Bardsley, who is preparing for his second season as the Blazers’ general manager, left the Winterhawks to come to Kamloops. He had been with the Winterhawks since 1999, first as a scout and, in the end, as assistant GM. So he is quite familiar with Gustafson.

In fact, Taking Note was told last month, and it was reported in this space, that Gustafson was the leading candidate for the Blazers’ head-coaching job a year ago. However, ownership decided the new man would be Lajoie, who was coming off a national university championship with the Alberta Golden Bears.

With Gustafson out of the picture, where do the Blazers go now?

Malcolm Cameron, who has been in the coaching game since 1998 when he was an assistant coach at Acadia U, is believed to have interviewed with Bardsley. Cameron, 49, spent three seasons (2011-14) with the Regina Pats, the first two as an assistant coach, the last as head coach. He was the head coach of the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder for the past three seasons, until they let him go on April 10.

Cameron made earlier ECHL stops with the Columbia Inferno, Cincinnati Cyclones, Columbus Stars, Corpus Christi Rayz, Long Beach Ice Dogs, Texas Wildcatters, Florida Everglades and Elmira Jackals.

It could be that Jeff Truitt, who just completed his first season as an assistant coach with the WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders, also is in the picture. The Raiders announced contract extensions for general manager Curtis Hunt and head coach Marc Habscheid on Monday, but neither Truitt nor Dan Gendur, the other assistant, were mentioned.

Truitt also has WHL coaching experience with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Kelowna Rockets and Red Deer Rebels. He was Kelowna’s head coach through three seasons (2004-07).

Then there’s Don Nachbaur, who is No. 3 on the WHL’s list of career head-coaching victories, has been out of the game since Nov. 4. He was in his second season as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Los Angeles, when he was dismissed when the team fired head coach John Stevens.

Nachbaur, if he is interested in coaching in the WHL again, might be a better fit in Prince George where the Cougars also need a head coach. Nachbaur, 60, was born in Kitimat, B.C., and was raised in Prince George. He is a member of the city’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Bardsley also is believed to have at least chatted with former Cougars head coach Richard Matvichuk, who was near the end of his third season when he was fired in February.

You have to think the Blazers also will have at least inquired as to the availability of Kris Knoblauch and Manny Viveiros.

Knoblauch had been an assistant coach with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers for two seasons, but lost his job when they hired Alain Vigneault as head coach early in May. He has WHL coaching experience with Prince Albert and the Kootenay Ice, but really came to prominence in four-plus seasons as head coach of the OHL’s Erie Otters.

The same fate befell Viveiros with the Edmonton Oilers when Dave Tippett signed on as head coach. Viveiros joined the Oilers after guiding the Swift Current Broncos to the WHL championship a year ago.

One thing seems certain, though — the person who ends up as the Blazers’ head coach will have Darryl Sydor as one of the assistant coaches. Sydor, who officially was named an assistant coach on Feb. 12, is one of the team’s five co-owners. Most observers feel that the day will come when Sydor will be the team’s head coach.


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The WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders have signed general manager Curtis Hunt and PrinceAlberthead coach Marc Habscheid to what a news release says are “multi-year extensions.” . . . The news release adds: “Further terms of the contracts were not disclosed.” . . . Hunt took over as GM prior to the 2015-16 season and is the reigning WHL executive of the year. . . . Habscheid took over as the Raiders’ head coach during the 2014-15 season. The Raiders are 168-134-36 in his time as head coach. . . . This season, he became the eighth head coach in WHL history to get to 500 regular-season victories. . . . Habscheid was name the WHL’s coach of the year for 2018-19, the second time he has been so honoured.


The Moose Jaw Warriors have signed F Denton Mateychuk to a WHL contract. He was the 11th overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Dominion City, Man., Mateychuk had 23 goals and 38 assists in 36 games with the bantam AAA Eastman Selects this season.

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The Spokane Chiefs have signed F Ben Thornton to a WHL contract. Thornton, from Abbotsford, B.C., was the 15th overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . Thornton played this season with the Abbotsford-based Yale Hockey Academy, scoring 13 goals and adding 32 assists in 30 games with the bantam prep team.

——

WHL 2019 FIRST-ROUNDERS

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

——

SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker

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The Medicine Hat Tigers have signed D Aidan Brook to a WHL contract. . . . The Seattle Thunderbirds selected Brook, who will turn 16 on July 30, in the fourth round of the 2018 bantam draft. The Tigers acquired him on Jan. 4, along with a second-round pick in the 2019 bantam draft and a third-round pick in 2020, for F Henry Rybinski. . . . Brook played this season with the Winnipeg-based Rink Hockey Academy Elite 15s, putting up one goal and 25 assists in 36 games. . . . Brook, from Roblin, Man., is the younger brother to a pair of WHLers — D Josh Brook, who will turn 20 on June 17 and has played four seasons with the Moose Jaw Warriors, and F Jakob Brook, 17, who just finished his freshman season with the Prince Albert Raiders.


Ryan Aasman, a former WHL defenceman, has signed on as an assistant coach with the AJHL’s Grande Prairie Storm. . . . He has coaching experience as an assistant with the midget AAA Lethbridge Hurricanes. . . . Aasman, 27, is from Medicine Hat. He played in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders, Seattle Thunderbirds, Swift Current Broncos, Medicine Hat Tigers and Edmonton Oil Kings before going on to spend four seasons (2013-17) at the U of Lethbridge.


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Cranbrook says ‘no’ to KIJHL team. . . . It’s official! Willie’s back in The Hat. . . . Scooter scoots into retirement. . . . Ice, Wheaties sign first-round picks


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D Linden Springer (Prince George, Portland, 2010-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with the Manchester Storm (England, UK Elite), he had four goals and nine assists in 51 games. . . .

D Jason Fram (Spokane, 2011-16) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). This season, in 28 games with the U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had nine goals and 21 assists. . . .

F Justin Maylan (Moose Jaw, Prince George, Prince Albert, 2007-12) has  signed a one-year contract with the Dundee Stars (Scotland, UK Elite). This season, with Villach (Austria, Erste Bank Liga), he had two goals and three assists in seven games. He didn’t sign with Villach until Feb. 9. . . .

F Carter Ashton (Lethbridge, Regina, Tri-City, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Dinamo Riga (Latvia, KHL). This season, with Severstal Cherepovets (Russia, KHL), he had nine goals and five assists in 36 games.


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A hearty welcome to all the new readers who have found us here over the past day or two. . . . Hope you enjoy what you find here and that you will spread the word. . . . Enjoy!


It would seem that the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League won’t be setting up kijhlshop in Cranbrook, at least not in time for the 2019-20 season. . . . Taking Note was told on Thursday that a group of 10 investors had reached a deal in principle to purchase the junior B Kelowna Chiefs and move the franchise to Cranbrook. . . . The team would have played out of Western Financial Place, which had been home to the WHL’s Kootenay Ice until that franchise moved to Winnipeg after its 2018-19 season ended. . . . The Ice’s lease with the City of Cranbrook runs through the 2022-23 season and a settlement hasn’t yet been negotiated. So the group had cut a deal with the Ice to sublease and, according to a source, the deal “guaranteed the city WHL rent for the next four years.” . . . However, the city rejected the sublease proposal late Thursday night, meaning the arena is one step close to not having a primary tenant for the 2019-20 season. . . .

“Our deadline for any relocation is May 31,” KIJHL president Larry Martel told Jeff Johnson of The Drive FM in Cranbrook. “Because of the medical situation in Kelowna, we’re still looking at a possibility, but we need to get our scheduling done so the league is moving on as of (Friday).”

Grant Sheridan, the Chiefs’ president and general manager, was admitted to hospital late in March after being diagnosed with bacterial meningitis.

As for a KIJHL team moving into Cranbrook, Martel said that isn’t likely to happen in the near future.

“There’s an existing rink deal with the former team, the Western Hockey League’s Kootenay Ice,” he said. “So until that’s been negotiated and cleared up, no other junior team will be moving into Cranbrook as far as I’ve been told. But I have not been involved with any talk with the City of Cranbrook or anybody involved with that.”

Johnson’s story, along with a statement from The Chiefs, is all right here.


As expected, the Medicine Hat Tigers introduced Willie Desjardins as their new general manager and head coach on Friday morning, less than 24 hours after announcing that Tigers Logo Officialthey had parted company with Shaun Clouston. . . . Clouston, 51, had been with the Tigers since 2003-04, working as an assistant coach and associate coach before succeeding Desjardins as head coach prior to the 2010-11 season. Clouston had been GM and head coach since 2012-13. . . . Desjardins’ contract terms weren’t revealed but you get the feeling that he has the job for as long as he wants. . . .

Desjardins, 62, spent three seasons (2002-05) as the Tigers’ head coach and five (2005-10) as GM/head coach. With Desjardins running things, the Tigers won WHL championships in 2004 and 2007. They also won four straight Central Division titles, two Eastern Conference championships and one Scotty Munro Trophy as the top regular-season team. . . . After leaving the Tigers, Desjardins spent two seasons (2010-12) as an assistant coach with the NHL’s Dallas Stars, two as head coach of the AHL’s Texas Stars, three as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks, and one with Team Canada. This season, he took over as the interim head coach of the Los Angeles Kings in November, but was released at season’s end. . . .

One of Desjardins’ responsibilities may be to stop the bleeding at the gate. When the Tigers played in The Arena, regular-season games were sold out (4,006) for a number of seasons. The Tigers moved into the 7,100-seat Canalta Centre in time for the 2015-16 season. They average 4,248 fans for that season, but in subsequent seasons the attendance declined to 3,586, 3,295 and 3,121.

This season, the Tigers had announced attendances of fewer than 3,000 for 16 of their 34 homes games.

The Tigers finished 35-27-6 in what turned out to be Clouston’s final season as head coach. They made the playoffs as the Eastern Conference’s first wild-card team and lost a first-round series, 4-2, to the Edmonton Oil Kings.

In the previous three seasons in the Canalta Centre, the Tigers went 30-37-5, 51-20-1 and 36-28-8. They missed the playoffs in 2015-16, lost in the second round in 2016-17, and were ousted in the first round in 2017-18.


Dean (Scooter) Vrooman ended his 32-year career with the Portland Winterhawks on Friday by strolling off into retirement. . . . Vrooman joined the team in 1982 as its play-Portlandby-play voice and primary sponsorship salesperson, roles he held for 25 years. He left the organization briefly in 2007 to work in the banking industry. He returned to the Winterhawks in 2012 as the director of corporate sponsorships. . . . As the voice of the Winterhawks, Vrooman handled more than 2,000 games, including the 1982-83 and 1997-98 Memorial Cup championship seasons. . . . Of course, retirement doesn’t mean Vrooman won’t be somewhere near the Winterhawks at times. As he put it in a news release: “Overall, I have been a part of the organization for 32 years and I am going to be 66 years old in December so I thought this was the right time to move out of the realm of working full time in corporate sponsorships. I absolutely love the team and the WHL and will still be coming to a lot of games, perhaps helping out with some broadcasting occasionally, and working with the Winterhawks alumni and other isolated projects as they arise. I am so fortunate to have worked with so many great people, players, sponsors and fans for so many years.  It has been a lot of work, but it has also been a lot of fun.”


The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers released two assistant coaches on Friday, both of them former WHL players and coaches. . . . Manny Viveiros spent one season with the Oilers Oilersafter working for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos director of player personnel and head coach. He helped lead the Broncos the WHL championship a year ago. Viveiros played four seasons (1982-86) with the Prince Albert Raiders. . . . Trent Yawney, a veteran coach, also spent just one season with the Oilers, after working as an assistant coach with the Anaheim Ducks for four seasons. There is speculation that he could be joining the Los Angeles Kings as an assistant coach. Todd McLellan, who was fired by the Oilers early this season, is the Kings’ new head coach. . . . Yawney played three seasons (1982-85) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . Glen Gulutzan will be staying with the Oilers as an assistant under new head coach Dave Tippett. Gulutzan has completed one season with the Oilers and working as the Calgary Flames’ head coach for two seasons. As a player, he skated for two seasons (1989-91) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1991-92) with the Saskatoon Blades. . . . There is speculation that Jim Playfair will be joining the Oilers’ staff as an assistant coach. Playfair worked with Tippett for six seasons (2011-17) when the latter was the head coach of the Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes.


The Regina Pats have signed Dale McMullin, their director of scouting, to an extension. The length of the contract wasn’t revealed, other than to report that it is a “multi-year extension.” . . . McMullin has been the Pats’ director of scouting for eight seasons. . . . Before joining the Pats, McMullin was part of the Red Deer Rebels’ scouting staff for nine seasons. . . . McMullin is a former WHL player, having put up 418 points, including 168 goals, in 309 games (1971-76) with the Brandon Wheat Kings.


The Winnipeg Ice has signed F Conor Geekie to a WHL contract. Geekie, from Strathclair, Man., was the second-overall selection in the 2019 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had 49 goals and 37 assists in 31 regular-season games with the bantam AAA Yellowhead Chiefs. . . . His older brother Morgan played three seasons (2015-18) with the Tri-City Americans and now is in the AHL’s Calder Cup final with the Charlotte Checkers. Their father, Craig, played two seasons (1991-93) with the Brandon Wheat Kings and one (1993-94) with the Spokane Chiefs.

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The Brandon Wheat Kings owned three first-round selections in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft that was held in Red Deer on May 2. On Friday, the Wheat Kings announced the signings of all three players — F Nate Danielson, who was the fifth-overall pick, F Tyson Zimmer, who went sixth, and F Rylen Roersma, who was No. 16. . . . Danielson, from Red Deer, had 26 goals and 33 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Red Deer Rebels and was named the Alberta league’s top forward and MVP. . . . Zimmer, from Russell, Man., played for the OHA bantam prep team in Penticton, putting up 22 goals and 30 assists in 26 games. . . . Roersma, from Raymond, Alta., had 23 goals and 21 assists in 29 games with the bantam AAA Lethbridge Golden Hawks.

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With the signings announced Friday by the Winnipeg Ice and Brandon Wheat Kings, WHL teams have signed 12 of the 22 first-round selections from the 2019 bantam draft. Here’s a look at who has signed and who hasn’t . . .

UNSIGNED:

1. Winnipeg — F Matthew Savoie

3. Prince George — D Keaton Dowhaniuk

4. Prince George — F Koehn Ziemmer

7. Kamloops — D Mats Lindgren

11. Moose Jaw — D Denton Mateychuk

14. Swift Current — F Matthew Ward

15. Spokane — F Ben Thornton

19. Victoria — D Jason Spizawka

20. Kamloops — F Connor Levis

21. Swift Current — D Tyson Jugnauth

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SIGNED:

2. Winnipeg — F Conor Geekie

5. Brandon — F Nate Danielson

6. Brandon — F Tyson Zimmer

8. Seattle — F Jordan Gustafson

9. Saskatoon — F Brandon Lisowsky

10. Seattle — D Kevin Korchinski

12. Medicine Hat — F Oasiz Wiesblatt

13. Calgary — D Grayden Siepmann

16. Brandon — F Rylen Roersma

17. Regina — D Layton Feist

18. Edmonton — F Caleb Reimer

22. Prince Albert — F Niall Crocker


The Kelowna Rockets have signed D Elias Carmichael to a WHL contract. From Langley, B.C., Carmichael was a second-round selection in the 2018 bantam draft. . . . This season, he had three goals and 11 assists in 27 regular-season games with the Burnaby Winter Club’s prep team.


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