The Western League’s Moose Jaw Warriors are dealing with tragedy right now, as one of the team’s prospects passed away this week. Ethan Williams, 16, was a Winnipeg native who played one game for the Warriors in 2012-13, spending last season in midget with the Winnipeg Thrashers. The following statement comes from GM Alan Millar on the Moose Jaw website, dated July 30:
As obsessed as I am with hockey, I was once similarly preoccupied with music. I am nowhere near as plugged in as I used to be, but I still love music and since my tastes tend to run on the obscure side, I don’t get a lot of opportunities to talk about my favorite bands within the hockey community. But over the years, I’ve found some kindred spirits in the sport and it’s always fun to talk about bands and artists that we share a mutual love for.
So in the spirit of summer fun, I hit up a few of the people who fall into that category and asked them about the current state of hockey and music. Here’s the panel:
Nathan MacKinnon: Calder Trophy-winning center for the Colorado Avalanche, hip-hop head.
Drew Stafford: Veteran Buffalo Sabres right winger, heavy metal fiend
Boyd Devereaux: Stanley Cup winner with the Detroit Red Wings. Now retired, his company Waking Sound makes hockey promo videos featuring highlights set to music. He also founded the label Elevation Recordings, which put out psyche/noise/underground artists.
Vinny Karpuszka: Arena DJ for the Pittsburgh Penguins, heavy metal enthusiast
Sunaya Sapurji: Junior hockey writer for Yahoo! Sports and its Buzzing the Net blog
Uffe Bodin: Editor in chief and writer for Hockeysverige.se.
Arun Bali: Guitarist for Saves the Day, die-hard Red Wings fan now living in Nashville
Part two of this conversation will go up tomorrow. Here we go…
In the latest round of chatter surrounding the potential of a CHL players’ union, TSN’s Rick Westhead pointed out that the Ontario League’s Kitchener Rangers made $6.2 million in revenue for the 2012-13 season. But if you dig deeper, there’s a lot more fascinating information about the club.
Getting drafted is a dream for all high-end hockey prospects, but being selected by a team on the rise like the Tampa Bay Lightning makes the day even more sweet. Czech defenseman Dominik Masin was picked 35th overall by the Bolts this summer, capping off a season that saw his stock jump up after the world under-18s. Speaking through a translator, Masin was amped for the future.
The 2015 draft has been hyped for quite some time now and the crazy thing is, the season hasn’t even started yet.
Potentially franchise-changing names lie at the top with Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and Noah Hanifin, but it’s also shaping up to be a deep draft.
Here’s a look at 10 players to watch for, but also keep in mind University of Michigan commit Zach Werenski, Chicoutimi’s Nicolas Roy and Ottawa’s Travis Konecny.
1. CONNOR MCDAVID
C, 6-0, 185 LBS, Erie (OHL), 56-28-71-99-20
Can create offense within the blink of an eye. Has been a phenom for years already.
2. JACK EICHEL
C, 6-1, 191 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 53-38-49-87-28
Big, fast and talented, the Boston University commit will keep McDavid on his toes.
3. NOAH HANIFIN
D, 6-2, 201 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 45-8-24-32-34
All-around force would be No. 1 in most draft years. Quebec or Boston College next.
4. OLIVER KYLINGTON
D, 6-0, 174 LBS, Farjestad (Swe.), 32-2-4-6-6
Incredibly fast skater was too valuable to send to under-18s. Farjestad needed him in playoffs.
5. MATT BARZAL
C, 5-11, 171 LBS, Seattle (WHL), 59-14-40-54-20
Brilliant playmaker skates well and made an impact for Canada at the under-18s.
6. PAVEL ZACHA
LW, 6-3, 201 LBS, Liberec (Cze.), 38-4-4-8-10
Incredibly, played most of the season against men. Power forward can wire the puck, too.
7. COLIN WHITE
C, 6-0, 179 LBS, U.S. NTDP (USHL), 47-33-30-63-81
Boston College commit is a complete player and leader who can really motor.
8. DYLAN STROME
C, 6-2, 178 LBS, Erie (OHL), 60-10-29-39-11
Great frame, excellent hockey IQ. He’ll produce even more once older Otters move on.
9. KYLE CONNOR
C, 6-1, 170 LBS, Youngstown (USHL), 56-31-43-74-12
Michigan commit is a preternatural scorer. Ranked second in league. Dazzled at under-18s.
10. DANIEL SPRONG
RW, 5-10, 177 LBS, Charlottetown (QMJHL), 67-30-38-68-20
Potent shot, strong on his skates and whip-smart. Sprong was a force for the Islanders.
FAVORITE FOR 2016: It’s not easy to fly under the radar when you play for Team USA’s National Team Development Program, but an early season injury had some folks missing out on Auston Matthews. Luckily, he did his best to jog their memories by putting a big stamp on 2013-14 at the world under-18s.
The Arizona native rang up seven points in seven games en route to the gold medal. Only Jack Eichel and Sonny Milano beat him among Americans. And Matthews did it from the third line.
“He’s unbelievable,” said one scout. “Smooth skating, incredibly skilled two-way guy. You notice him every time he’s on the ice.”
A late-born 1997, Matthews is one of the few major NTDPers yet to make a college commitment, making him a hot commodity coming out of his star turn in Finland.
TOP STUD IN 2017: Famous bloodlines continue to dot the prospect map and one name to watch for is big right winger Nolan Patrick of the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings.The nephew of former NHLer-turned-coach James Patrick, Nolan is already 6-foot-3, even though he doesn’t turn 16 until September. He was taken fourth overall in the 2013 bantam draft. He has already played 12 games (including the playoffs) for the Wheaties and prides himself on playmaking.
“I have pretty good vision out there,” he said. “I try to use that to my advantage.”
And when he needs advice, Uncle James is always available.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had a phone call that wasn’t about hockey,” Nolan said.
In a few years, the Buffalo blueline will be run by players such as Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov, Jake McCabe and Mark Pysyk. The hope of course, is that the Sabres will be a playoff team by then, helped up front by names such as Sam Reinhart, Zemgus Girgensons and perhaps Connor McDavid. But in order to get that organic progression, the organization must ensure that those current youngsters don’t get squashed by pressure and expectations along the way.
The Indiana Ice of the United States League are on hiatus right now due to arena issues, but the franchise has kept itself in the game by releasing its tenth anniversary all-star team. Notable names include Washington defenseman John Carlson, Boston blueliner Torey Krug and Calgary netminding prospect Jon Gillies. Which got me thinking about other programs around the hockey world.
What would the all-time teams look like for teams in major junior, NCAA or even Europe? As a lark, I put together a couple and the results are pretty interesting. For example, here’s who the University of North Dakota could trot out:
Minor ripples were made the other day when a Michigan news outlet reported that center Tye Felhaber was unlikely to report to the Saginaw Spirit, the Ontario League team that drafted the talented youngster 10th overall in the spring.
As I found out in talking to insiders, Felhaber didn’t just decide this; the team had quietly known for some time. But since it’s officially out there now, Felhaber becomes the third top-10 pick from the 2014 OHL draft to express reticence in joining the franchise that selected him.