Happy retirement to Ferguson and Marshall. . . . Nickolet leaves Blades for NHL. . . . Leason gets pro deal. . . . Chiefs sign Czech goaltender

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F Alexander Delnov (Seattle, 2012-14) has signed a tryout contract with Admiral Vladivostok (Russia, KHL). Last season, with Molot-Prikamie Perm (Russia, Vysshaya Liga), he had 14 goals and 12 assists in 52 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. . . .

F Andrei Pavlenko (Edmonton, 2017-19) has signed a tryout contract with Dinamo Minsk (Belarus, KHL). Last season, in 58 games with the Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL), he had nine goals and 17 assists.


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The NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes have lost two veterans of their scouting staff to retirement, both of them with ties to the WHL. . . . Sheldon Ferguson, who had been Carolina’s head North American scout, and Bert Marshall, a long-time amateur scout, both have headed off into retirement. . . .

Going back to 1977-78, Ferguson owned the WHL’s Billing Bighorns (actually, it was the WCHL then) and the AJHL’s Red Deer Rustlers. He spent part of 1978-79 as the head coach of the Medicine Hat Tigers, before scouting with the NHL’s Quebec Nordiques for six seasons. From 1985-88, he was the Seattle Thunderbirds’ GM and head coach. He also worked for two seasons as the Swift Current Broncos’ assistant GM. For 18 of the past 20 seasons, Ferguson has been on Carolina’s scouting staff. . . .

Marshall has been an NHL scout since 1983-84. He spent 13 seasons with the New York Islanders and one with the Hartford Whalers. He has been with the Hurricanes since 1997-98. As a player, he came off two seasons (1962-64) with the Edmonton Oil Kings to play 868 regular-season and 72 playoff games, split between the Detroit Red Wings, California/Oakland Seals, New York Rangers, and the Islanders. . . . Think about this for a minute: Marshall has been a part of the NHL for 54 years — since 1965-66 when he played 61 games with the Red Wings. . . . A defenceman in his playing days, Marshall scouted the way he played — quietly efficient. . . .

At the same time, the Hurricanes have added Cody Nickolet and Eric Fink to their scouting staff. . . . Nickolet has been a scout with the Saskatoon Blades, and also was their director of analytics for four seasons. . . . Fink spent the past six seasons scouting for the Portland Winterhawks.


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F Brett Leason of the Prince Albert Raiders has signed a three-year entry-level contract with the NHL’s Washington Capitals. Leason was selected in the second round of the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . He is eligible to return to the Raiders for his 20-year-old season but, if he doesn’t crack the Capitals’ roster, is more likely to open with the AHL’s Hershey Bears. . . . From Calgary, he opened last season with a 30-game point streak, putting up 28 goals and 36 assists. He finished the regular season with 36 goals and 53 assists in 55 games. Leason added 10 goals and 15 assists in 22 playoff games in helping the Raiders to the WHL championship. . . . Leason may have been the best individual story of the 2018-19 regular season, considering that he went in with 24 goals and 27 assists in 135 games. He played his first 81 games with the Tri-City Americans before being dealt to the Raiders early in 2017-18.


The Spokane Chiefs have signed Czech G Lukas Parik to a WHL contract. Parik, 18, was selected by the Chiefs in the CHL’s 2019 import draft. . . . The 6-foot-4, 185-pound Parik was a third-round pick by the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL’s 2019 draft. . . . The Chiefs haven’t posted their pre-season roster on the WHL website, but barring any unreported moves they have four goaltenders on their depth chart. Parik joins veterans Bailey Brkin and Reece Klassen, both 20, and Campbell Arnold, 17, who was a second-round selection in the WHL’s 2017 bantam draft.


Whoops! Chad Harden was hit with 30 seconds in penalties on Day 7 of the Rangeland Derby at the Calgary Stampede. Harden finished second in the heat, but the penalties dropped him to fourth. . . . By night’s end, Harden, who scouts for the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen when he’s not racing chuckwagons, had fallen from third to 33rd in the aggregate standings. . . . Harden was penalized, fined $10,000 and given a two-performance suspension after it was ruled that he cut off Evan Salmond, whose chuckwagon went into the inside rail. . . . Harden has won $22,300.


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Lamb to wear two hats with Cougars. . . . Pats get Holmes back from Everett. . . . Raiders’ Sapego gets AHL deal


MacBeth

F Tomáš Plíhal (Kootenay, 2001-03) has signed a one-year contract with Kobra Prague (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). Last season, in 25 games with Jablonec nad Nisou (Czech Republic, 2. Liga),he had 14 goals and 27 assists. He also had six goals and 21 assists in 18 games with Landshut (Germany, Oberliga). . . .

F Tyler Wong (Lethbridge, 2011-17) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, he had five goals and eight assists in 68 games with the Chicago Wolves (AHL). . . .

F Adam Cracknell (Kootenay, 2002-06) has signed a one-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with the Toronto Marlies (AHL), he had three goals and seven assists in 14 games. He also was pointless in two games with the Anaheim Ducks (NHL), and had 15 goals and 13 assists in 32 games with the San Diego Gulls (AHL). . . .

F Garet Hunt (Vancouver, 2004-08) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had nine goals and 14 assists in 69 games. . . .

F Adam Helewka (Spokane, Red Deer, 2012-16) has signed a one-year contract with Barys Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan, KHL). Last season, he had 13 goals and 18 assists in 41 games with the Tucson Roadrunners (AHL), and eight goals and 11 assists in 24 games with the Milwaukee Admirals (AHL). . . . Nur-Sultan was known as Astana until the Kazakhstan parliament voted in March 2019 to change the name. . . .

F Brandon Magee (Chilliwack/Victoria, 2009-15) has signed a two-year contract with Kunlun Red Star Beijing (China, KHL). Last season, with U of Alberta (USports, Canada West), he had 10 goals and 18 assists in 22 games.


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Mark Lamb won’t be joining the coaching staff of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, Instead of flying into NHL cities all over North America, he’ll be riding a bus to cities that are home to WHL franchises.

The Prince George Cougars announced Thursday that Lamb now is the team’s 13th head PrinceGeorgecoach since it relocated from Victoria for the 1994-95 season. Lamb also is their general manager.

Lamb has a history with Dave Tippett, the Oilers’ new head coach, and there had been speculation that the two would reunite in Edmonton.

According to Lamb, he rejected overtures from the Oilers to stay in Prince George, and when is the last time that happened?

In a story by Ethan Ready of myprincegeorgenow that is right here, Lamb explained his decision this way:

“The NHL lifestyle is unbelievable, as we all know. And it should be unbelievable because it’s the best league in the world. That’s where everybody wants to be. You’re flying on chartered jets, staying in nice hotels. But I’m from Cadillac, Saskatchewan — there’s not a lot of jets out there.”

Lamb, who will turn 55 on Aug. 3, spent 16 seasons as a pro player. He was in the NHL long enough to play 403 regular-season games and 70 in the playoffs. He won a Stanley Cup with the 1989-90 Oilers. He then spent seven seasons as an NHL assistant coach before working for seven seasons (2008-16) as the general manager/head coach of the Swift Current Broncos.

“I’ve been there. I’ve had some success in the NHL as a player and won a Stanley Cup,” Lamb said. “I’m not downgrading it at all, it’s an unbelievable league, but the situation here is pretty gratifying.”

Lamb, who signed a four-year contract with the Cougars a year ago, has completed one season as the franchise’s general manager. He had been the interim head coach since Richard Matvichuk was fired on Feb. 7.

The Cougars finished 19-41-8 and didn’t make the playoffs in 2018-19. Interestingly, Lamb said at that time that he wasn’t interested in being a full-time head coach.

“That’s not the plan to come back, I’m interim head coach since I took over and that’s still what I am,” Lamb told Ted Clarke of the Prince George Citizen in late March.“There’s going to be a search for it . . .”

Early in May, Lamb told Clarke that the search for a head coach was in progress.

“I’ve talked to quite a few people and I’m going to be talking to more,” Lamb said. “You’ve got to be able to relate to the kids, know the trends how hockey is being played now, how you communicate. Just being down there coaching, I have a pretty good idea what it’s going to take and what type of coach the guys do need. I have a lot of connections not just in our league but in pro leagues and I’m doing a lot of work in those areas.”

At the end of the day, the Cougars’ ownership group obviously decided that Lamb fit all of those descriptions and was the best man for the job.

Or maybe Lamb’s wife, Tanya, who is from Edmonton, was tired of all the moving in recent years?

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Here is the last sentence of the news release in which the Prince George Cougars announced that general manager Mark Lamb also would be the head coach:

“The Cougars will be naming an associate coach and finalizing other members of the hockey operations department in the coming weeks.”

Steve O’Rourke, the team’s associate coach for the past three seasons, no longer is with the Cougars.

Lamb told Bill Phillips of pgdailynews.ca, for a story that is right here, that the new associate coach will have a lot on his plate.

“It’s going to be like two coaches,” Lamb said. “He’s going to have a lot of responsibility . . . I want to make that one of the tightest coaching staffs in the league, which will give us a greater opportunity to have success.”

Others in the Cougars’ hockey operations department include goaltending coach Taylor Dakers and Nick Drazenovic, the director of player development.


There now are two WHL teams without head coaches — the Brandon Wheat Kings, who are looking to replace David Anning, whose contract wasn’t renewed, and the Spokane Chiefs, who lost Dan Lambert to the NHL’s Nashville Predators where he now is an assistant coach.

The Wheat Kings also are without a general manager as they have yet to replace Grant Armstrong, whose contract wasn’t renewed.

Earlier, the Kamloops Blazers signed Shaun Clouston, who had been dismissed by the Medicine Hat Tigers, to replace Serge Lajoie. Willie Desjardins has taken over as the general manager and head coach in Medicine Hat.


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F Robbie Holmes is back with the Regina Pats. They have acquired Holmes, who will turn Pats20 on July 22, from the Everett Silvertips in exchange for two 2020 bantam draft selections — a fifth- and a sixth-round pick. . . . Holmes, who is from Sherwood Park, Alta., had played 148 regular-season games with the Pats before he was dealt to Everett on Jan. 10 for F Sloan Stanick, a second-round pick in the 2020 bantam draft and a sixth-rounder in 2022. . . . Last season, he had three goals and seven assists in 26 games with Everett, after putting up nine goals and seven assists in 16 games with Regina. . . . In 174 career games, he had 32 goals and 34 assists. . . . The Pats’ roster now includes four 20-year-olds — Holmes, F Austin Pratt, F Dawson Holt, who was acquired from the Vancouver Giants last month, and F Sebastian Streu. . . . Everett now has five 20s on its roster — F Lucas Cullen, F Max Patterson, F Bryce Kindopp, D Jake Christiansen, D Wyatte Wylie.


The Toronto Marlies, the AHL affiliate of the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs, have signed D PrinceAlbertSergei Sapego of the WHL-champion Prince Albert Raiders. Sapego, from Belarus, had 10 goals and 33 assists in 58 regular-season games last season, then added three goals and 10 assists in 23 playoff games. . . . The signing came after Sapego attended the Maple Leafs’ development camp. . . . Sapego will turn 20 on Oct. 8. . . . The Raiders also have Belarusian F Aliaksei Protas, who was a third-round pick by the Washington Capitals in the NHL’s 2019 draft, on their roster, and they selected Russian F Ivan Kechkin in the 2019 import draft. . . . The Raiders have yet to post a pre-season roster on the WHL website, but the 20s on their playoff roster were G Ian Scott, Sapego, D Max Martin, D Brayden Pachal, D Zack Hayes, D Jeremy Masella, F Parker Kelly, F Brett Leason and F Brian Harris. . . . Scott (Toronto), Kelly (Ottawa Senators) and Leason (Washington Capitals) are expected to begin their pro careers with the start of the upcoming season.


If you click on Nick’s tweet, you will find the schedule for the 2019 Hlinka Gretzky Cup . . .

 


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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.


ThisThat

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

Comings, goings and happenings . . . and now back to baseball and The Border

If you’re wondering where I’ve been, well, I’ve been right here. I am taking some time away from writing, just taking a break. . . . I also have cracked open The Border, the third book in author Don Winslow’s terrific trilogy about, yes, the U.S.-Mexico border and a whole lot more. So I have been spending some time with Art Keller (hey, Google is your friend). . . . If you haven’t read the trilogy, start with The Dogs of War, then move on to The Cartel. After that you’ll be ready for The Border. . . . A warning though — this stuff is gritty. . . .

Some stuff has happened over the last few days, so what follows is a summary. No, I’m not back on a daily basis. Not yet. . . . You see, I’m only halfway through The Border. . . .


MacBeth

F Radim Valchar (Portland, Lethbridge, 2007-10) has signed a one-year contract extension with Csíkszereda Miercurea Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, he put up 42 goals and 43 assists in 61 games. He was tied for the league lead in goals and was second in points. . . .

D Brenden Kichton (Spokane, 2008-13) has signed a one-year contract with the Vienna Capitals (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, with SaiPa Lappeenranta (Finland, Liiga), he had eight goals and 15 assists in 46 games. . . .

F Lukáš Králík (Victoria, 2011-12) has signed a one-year contract with Nový Jičín (Czech Republic, 2. Liga). Last season, in 28 games with Draci Šumperk (Czech Republic, 2. Liga), he had seven goals and four assists. . . .

D Matt Pufahl (Red Deer, Saskatoon, Everett, 2010-14) has signed a one-year contract with the Glasgow Clan (Scotland, UK Elite). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had one assist in six games. He also had one goal and one assist in 26 games with Zvolen (Slovakia, Extraliga). . . . The Glasgow press release states that Pufahl will enrol in the MBA program at Glasgow Caledonian University while playing for the Clan. . . .

F Wacey Rabbit (Saskatoon, Vancouver, 2001-07) has signed a one-year contract with Corona Brașov (Romania, Erste Liga). Last season, with the Jacksonville IceMen (ECHL), he had 29 goals and 31 assists in 70 games. He led the team in goals and points, and was tied for the lead in assists. . . .

F Michael Burns (Edmonton, Vancouver, 2007-12) has signed a try-out contract with the Hannover Indians (Germany, Oberliga Nord). He didn’t play last season. In summer 2018, with the Sydney Bears (Australia, AIHL), he had five goals and five assists in nine games. He holds dual German-Canadian citizenship. . . .

F Kevin King (Kootenay, 2006-11) has signed a one-year contract with Cortina (Italy, Alps HL). Last season, in 45 games with the Guildford Flames (England, UK Elite), he had five goals and 13 assists. . . .

F Austin Carroll (Victoria, 2011-15) has signed a one-year contract with the Kassel Huskies (Germany, DEL2). Last season, with the Utah Grizzlies (ECHL), he had 15 goals and 20 assists in 45 games. On loan to the Manitoba Moose (AHL), he had one goal in seven games. . . .

F Michal Řepík (Vancouver, 2005-08) has signed a one-year contract with Sparta Prague (Czech Republic, Extraliga). Last season, with Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia, KHL), he had 10 goals and 11 assists in 42 games; he was an alternate captain. . . . He was traded to Vityaz Podolsk (Russia, KHL) on Dec. 26, and had five goals and four assists in 19 games. . . .

F Jim O’Brien (Seattle, 2007-09) has signed a one-year contract with the Nuremberg Ice Tigers (Germany, DEL). Last season, with the Belleville Senators (AHL), he had one goal and two assists in 11 games. . . .

F R.J. Reed (Vancouver, Prince Albert, 2010-11) has signed a one-year contract with Diez-Limburg (Germany, Regionalliga West). Last season, with the Nijmegen Devils (Netherlands, BeNeLiga), he had 33 goals and 17 assists in 19 games. He led the team in goals and was second in points. He was third in the league in goals. . . .

D Brendan Mikkelson (Portland, Vancouver, 2003-07) has signed a one-year contract with Red Bull Salzburg (Austria, Erste Bank Liga). Last season, in 47 games with Adler Mannheim (Germany, DEL), he had six goals and eight assists in 47 games.


ThisThat

The Kamloops Blazers have signed Shaun Clouston as their head coach, replacing Serge Lajoie who was one-and-done. Clouston arrives in Kamloops after spending 16 seasons with the Medicine Hat Tigers. He was dismissed as general manager and head coach on Kamloops1May 30 so that the Tigers could bring back Willie Desjardins to fill both roles. . . . The Blazers also named co-owner Darryl Sydor an associate coach. He was named an assistant coach on Feb. 12. . . .

A tip of the Taking Note fedora to Clouston for not ducking questions about what happened in Medicine Hat. The Tigers announced his departure in a three-paragraph news release in which the team said they and Clouston “have parted ways.” . . . Clouston told reporters in Kamloops on Wednesday that he was in shock — he likened it to a “punch in the stomach” — when the Tigers dumped him. . . .

The Blazers didn’t announce any terms of their contract with Clouston, but you have to think it is at least four years in length. After all, they originally offered Kyle Gustafson a four-year deal, only to have him choose to remain with the Portland Winterhawks as associate coach and assistant GM. The offer to Gustafson was made before Clouston’s time ran out in The Hat. . . .

What makes things interesting in Kamloops is Sydor’s presence as associate coach. He also is one of the team’s five co-owners and hasn’t hidden his desire to be a WHL head coach. Sydor has never been a head coach, but has ample experience as an NHL assistant coach, having worked with the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues. . . .

With the Blazers having hired Clouston, it leaves the Brandon Wheat Kings, Prince George Cougars and Spokane Chiefs as the only WHL teams still searching for head coaches. . . . The NHL’s Edmonton Oilers have a announced the hiring of Jim Playfair as an associate coach under head coach Dave Tippett. There continues to be speculation that Mark Lamb, presently the Cougars’ general manager, could be joining the Oilers as an assistant coach. He has a long history with Tippett.


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A couple of notes from Postmedia’s Jim Matheson:

“Connor McDavid’s junior coach Kris Knoblauch lost out for the Columbus farm team head job in Cleveland to Mike Eaves. . . . Hearing Los Angeles head coach Todd McLellan would have hired his other Oilers assistant Manny Viveiros, but there’s only room for two assistants for budgetary reasons. Viveiros is very much in running for an assistant’s job in Ottawa, though. No surprise Trent Yawney, who’ll look after L.A.’s defence, is joining McLellan again.”



I watched most of the Minnesota Twins’ 17-inning victory over the visiting Boston Red Sox on Tuesday night. One night later, Dick Bremer, the TV play-by-play voice of the Twins, passed along some interesting numbers. In a nine-inning game, he said, MLB teams will go through between six and 18 dozen baseballs. On Tuesday, in a game that included 487 pitches, they used up 27 dozen baseballs. . . . That’s a lot of souvenirs!


Shawn Mullin, the radio voice of the Swift Current Broncos for the past nine seasons, will be the new play-by-play voice of the OHL’s Peterborough Petes, according to Mike Davies of the Peterborough Examiner. . . . According to Davies, Mullin will replace Rob Snoek of Extra 90.5FM. Snoek told Davies that he won’t be back and that “it wasn’t my decision.” . . . Davies’ story is right here.


The Lethbridge Hurricanes have acquired F D-Jay Jerome, 20, from the Victoria Royals Lethbridgefor a pair of unspecified conditional bantam draft picks, one in 2021 and the other in 2022. Jerome is from Lethbridge. . . . Other 20-year-olds on Lethbridge’s roster include D Koletrane Wilson, D Ty Prefontaine, F Scott Mahovlich and F Zach Cox. F Jake Leschyshyn, F Jordy Bellerive and F Nick Henry also are 1999-born players, but are likely to begin their pro careers in the fall. . . .

The Royals also lost D Jake Kustra, 20, on waivers to the Swift Current Broncos. Kustra played under Broncos head coach Dean Brockman when both were with the Saskatoon VictoriaRoyalsBlades. . . . With Kustra, the Broncos have three 20-year-olds on their roster, the others being F Ian Briscoe and F Ethan O’Rourke. . . .

Having trade away Jerome and placed Kustra on waivers, Victoria has six 20s on its roster — D Will Warm, who was acquired from the Edmonton Oil Kings on June 13, Belarusian F Igor Martynov, F Tanner Sidaway, who is from Victoria, D Jameson Murray, D Scott Walford and G Shane Farkas, an offseason acquisition from the Portland Winterhawks. . . .

Meanwhile, the Broncos have signed F Mat Ward to a WHL contract. From Kamloops, he was the 14th overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft.


The Edmonton Oil Kings have waived F Zach Russell, 20. He got into 36 games with them last season. Earlier, the Oil Kings had dealt D Will Warm, 20, to the Victoria Royals. . . . The Oil Kings are left with four 20s on their roster — F Riley Sawchuk, who was acquired from the Tri-City Americans on May 16, G Dylan Myskiw, D Conner McDonald and D Parker Gavlas. . . . F Trey Fix-Wolansky also is 20, but is likely to begin his pro career in the Columbus Blue Jackets’ organization.


Bart


An interesting note from Bob Molinaro of the Hampton Roads Virginian Pilot: “Bob Molinaro in the Hampton-Roads Virginian-Pilot: “Forbes has put out another list of the highest-paid athletes. It’s the usual dull cluster of dollar signs and numbers, but with one amusing twist. Strictly by salary, Tom Brady ranks fifth on the list — among Boston athletes alone. The top paid Beantown jock is Celtics guard Kyrie Irving, followed by teammates Gordon Hayward and Al Horford. Red Sox left-hander David Price slips into fourth place. Not taken into account is the cash value of six Super Bowl rings.”


The Kamloops Blazers are down to three 20-year-olds with F Travis Walton having cleared WHL waivers and signed with the BCHL’s Nanaimo Clippers. . . . Walton had nine goals and nine assists in 48 regular-season games over three seasons with the Blazers. . . . The 20s remaining on the Blazers’ roster are F Zane Franklin, F Kobe Mohr and D Jackson Caller. . . .

Meanwhile, the Blazers announced Thursday that they have signed Colin (Toledo) Robinson, their trainer, to a contract extension. The length of the extension wasn’t revealed. . . . Robinson has been with the Blazers since then GM/head coach Dean Clark signed him in 2005. Robinson is prepping for his 25th WHL season, having also worked for the Swift Current Broncos and Vancouver Giants.


The Prince Albert Raiders named Curt Brownlee as their director of player personnel. He has been with the Raiders since 2011 when he signed on as a scout. He takes over from the late Ron Gunville, who died in December.


There is zero chance of the Tampa Bay Rays splitting their American League seasons between the Florida city and Montreal. None. Zilch. Nada. . . . This is simply a cheap way for the Rays to try and pressure their way to a new ballpark in Tampa.


If you’re wondering about the costs of operating a junior A hockey team, consider this from Michael Reeve of radio station Q101.1 from the AGM of the BCHL’s Merritt Centennials:

“Beth Nadeau, the team’s treasurer, provided an update on last (season’s) financials. While the team’s expenses came in at approximately the same amount as last (season), this (season’s) revenue was down close to $23,000. All of that resulted in the team losing $95,644.68 last (season), up from a loss of $75,329.99 the season before.”

Meanwhile, the MJHL’s Swan Valley Stampeders held their AGM on Wednesday night and reported a deficit of $6,402.95. The Stampeders had a long playoff run or it would have been a lot worse. . . . For more, check out Benny Walchuk’s blog right here.


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.

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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

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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

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.


Tweetoftheday

Mooseheads celebrate loss, advance to Memorial Cup final. . . . Huskies, Storm in semifinal. . . . Thunderbirds sign first pick

MacBeth

F David Hruška (Red Deer, 1995-96) has signed a one-year contract extension with Sokolov (Czech Republic, 1. Liga). This season, he had 12 goals and 14 assists in 35 games. . . . Sokolov played in 2. Liga this season and won promotion to 1. Liga. . . .

D Tamás Láday (Spokane, Medicine Hat, 2014-16) has signed a one-year contract with SC Csíkszereda Miercurea-Ciuc (Romania, Erste Liga). This season with Fehérvár AV19 Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Bank Liga), he had two assists in 24 games. He also had six goals and 15 assists in 33 games with Fehérvári Titánok Székesfehérvár (Hungary, Erste Liga). . . . Láday is spending this summer playing for the West Auckland Admirals (New Zealand, NIHL). He has two assists in two games. The NIHL regular season started on May 18, ends on July 28, and playoffs end no later than Aug. 18. . . .

F Max Brandl (Prince Albert, Portland, 2007-09) has signed a two-year contract with Landshut (Germany, DEL2). This season, with Bad Nauheim (Germany, DEL2), he had five goals and 17 assists in 52 games. He was the team captain. . . .

F Colin Long (Kelowna, 2005-09) has signed a one-year contract with Lustenau (Austria, Alps HL). This season, with Gherdëina Selva Val Gardena (Italy, Alps HL), he had 12 goals and 24 assists in 39 games. He was second on the team in goals, assists and points.


ThisThat

The Prince Albert Raiders arrived back home on Wednesday afternoon, where they were greeted by appreciative supporters.

In Halifax, the host Mooseheads lost the last game of the round-robin portion of the 2019MCMemorial Cup and they celebrated.

Seriously!

As one WHL observer wrote in a note to Taking Note: “The fact that Halifax celebrates like that after losing against a huge rival is another example of why the Memorial Cup is stupid.

“I’m sorry. I have all the respect in the world for that trophy and its history, but that tournament is just completely pointless and dumb.”

It’s hard to disagree with that kind of logic, especially after last night’s circus in Halifax.

The QMJHL-champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies scored with 54 seconds left in the third period to beat the Mooseheads, 4-3, last night.

The Huskies beat the Mooseheads in six games in the QMJHL’s championship final, meaning that Rouyn-Noranda has beaten Halifax in five of their past seven meetings.

But it’s the Mooseheads who have advanced to Sunday’s Memorial Cup final. The Huskies and the OHL-champion Guelph Storm will meet in Friday’s semifinal game. The Raiders went 0-3 and were eliminated on Tuesday.

Here is how Kyle Cicerella of The Canadian Press described the silliness:

“Any one of Halifax, Rouyn-Noranda or Guelph could have earned a berth in Sunday’s tournament final based on Wednesday’s outcome. All three clubs finished with 2-1 records, but the Mooseheads got the tiebreaker through a drawn-out mathematical formula.

“All Halifax needed to do to advance was win outright or lose by one goal up to 4-3. Rouyn-Noranda had to win 4-0, or by five or more goals to move on, while the Storm still had a chance if the game finished by any other score.”

Here’s Halifax head coach Eric Veilleux: “Knowing what everybody knows, obviously I hope I never have to go through that again. It’s really not easy.”

Perhaps Halifax defenceman Patrick Kyte summed it all up with this: “Even though we didn’t win, we got the job done.”

(Cicerella’s game story is right here.)

Of course, this is the risk you run with any kind of round-robin situation, and the CHL’s four-team format, including a host team, isn’t going away anytime soon.

As the afore-quoted WHL observer put it: “(It’s a) cash grab in the second-ugliest form in junior hockey . . . the highest-ugliest form being World Juniors.”

Meanwhile, in Prince Albert, they will celebrate the Raiders’ season with a party at the Art Hauser Centre tonight. A good time will be had by all.


Darren Steinke, the travellin’ blogger, was in Prince Albert when the Raiders arrived on Wednesday. His blog post is right here.


By now you will be well aware that the last four WHL champions to play in the Memorial Cup tournament are a combined 0-12. The Brandon Wheat Kings (2016), Seattle whlThunderbirds (2017), Swift Current Broncos (2018) and the Raiders all failed to win even one game at the CHL’s championship tournament.

So, you’re wondering, what’s going on?

Here’s Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News: “Different years, different teams, different situations. Logically, this is just a screwy numbers thing, like the fact a Canadian team hasn’t won the Stanley Cup since 1993 (Montreal), or that a franchise with a predominantly blue jersey hasn’t won the Cup since 1994 (New York Rangers).”

In the overall scheme of things, there likely isn’t any rhyme or reason to it.

But the one thing I don’t feel can be discounted is the travel factor. Because of the WHL’s geography, the championship final is almost always going to feature some killer travel.

In 2016, it was Brandon and Seattle in the final. The next year, Seattle and the Regina Pats met in the final. A year ago, it was Swift Current and the Everett Silvertips. This season, it was the Raiders and the Vancouver Giants, and they went seven games. They played on a Friday in Langley, B.C., then finished the series in Prince Albert with games on Sunday and Monday. The Raiders travelled to Halifax — three time zones to the east — on the Wednesday and played their first game on Friday.

The travel almost invariably leads to injuries, and by the time a team leaves for the Memorial Cup it is banged up and emotionally drained. And, in a four-team round-robin, you are up against it if you lose that first game.

One WHL fan suggested to Taking Note that the WHL needs to “eliminate the killer travel schedule, which is possibly going to get worse for many Eastern Conference teams. And, of course, save $$$ for smaller Eastern Conference franchises.”

The only way the “killer travel schedule” is eliminated is for the WHL to revamp its regular-season schedule and keep teams playing only in their own conferences. That isn’t likely to happen.

One solution — and it’s only a pipe dream — would be to split the WHL into two leagues, with the B.C. and U.S. teams in one league, and the East and Central division teams in another. There wouldn’t be any interlocking play; these would be two separate leagues.

Each league would hold its playoffs, with the two winners meeting in a western final. Meanwhile, the OHL and QMJHL winners also would go into a best-of-seven final.

The Memorial Cup final, then, would go back to being a true East vs. West best-of-seven series.

Of course, that won’t ever happen because the present format — with a host team as part of a four-team round-robin — is great for the host city and it helps fill the coffers for the host league and its teams.

The present tournament format allows for a celebration of major junior hockey for 10 days every May. It’s time to accept it for what it is, and if the WHL champion never wins another game, so be it.

It could be that Guy Flaming (@TPS_Guy) hit the nail on the head earlier in the week when he tweeted: “It’s more impressive to me to outplay and outlast 15 other teams to win your own league. The Memorial Cup is like dessert after a great meal — not for everyone and it never replaces the meal.”


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The Seattle Thunderbirds have signed F Jordan Gustafson to a WHL contract. The SeattleThunderbirds selected him with the eighth-overall pick in the WHL’s 2019 bantam draft. . . . From Ardrossan, Alta., Gustafson had 31 goals and 39 assists in 33 games with the bantam AAA Fort Saskatchewan Rangers this season. . . .

Gustafson is the third of the WHL’s 22 first-round selections from the May 2 bantam draft to sign contracts. . . . The Edmonton Oil Kings have signed F Caleb Reimer, the 18th selection, while the Prince Albert Raiders signed F Niall Crocker, who was taken with the 22nd pick.