Prospect Need to Know: Jack LaFontaine is a hidden draft gem in net

Jack LaFontaine (photo courtesy of the NAHL)

The NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau released its latest Watch List today for the 2016 draft and there have been a bunch of movers. This is not surprising, since the early September edition was largely speculative and now the prospects actually have a good sample size of games under their belts, but it is interesting to monitor nonetheless. Also, as I first reported the other day, top 2016 prospect Auston Matthews will return to the ice for Zurich tomorrow in a Swiss Cup game against Ambri-Piotta. Here’s a look at what else is going on in the prospect world:

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Prospect Need to Know: Julien Gauthier gets us pumped up

Julien Gauthier  (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

Can you sense it, folks? It’s almost world juniors time. Sure, the tournament is a month and a half away, but players need to be making impressions on national team brass all the time and for Canadian hopefuls, the CHL-Russia Super Series can be a big boost – just as Lawson Crouse, who caught eyes last year and turned his efforts into gold.

So far, Russia has been blanked, losing all four games to the WHL and OHL. Now it’s the QMJHL’s turn to defend home turf. One player honored with that duty is in our spotlight today. Let’s take a whirl around the world of prospects.

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Green Bay Gamblers raise $25,000 for charity with awesome military jerseys, helmets

Jared Clinton
Green Bay Gamblers Military Appreciation Night logo (via Green Bay Gamblers)

The Green Bay Gamblers hit the ice Saturday night for their annual Military Appreciation Night decked out in camouflaged jerseys and helmets, but the event provided much more than a tribute to the military.

After the massive success of the 2014 Military Appreciation Night, an event that raised roughly $20,000 to benefit local military veterans, the club was set to attempt to break the previous year’s record. And after the Gamblers 2-0 victory over the Bloomington Thunder, Green Bay players put their game-worn jerseys and helmets up for auction and, with the support of local businesses, raised over $25,000 for local veterans through Disabled American Veterans.

“The event was fantastic,” said Gamblers’ media relations coordinator, Jason Habeck. “We announced 5,777 in attendance, which is about 700 more than last year. It’s in its fourth year and it has just grown each year.” Read more

Prospect Need to Know: Chad Krys has been golden for Team USA

Chad Krys at the All-American Prospects Game (Photo by Jen Fuller/Getty Images)

It’s a busy time in the prospect world with several events wrapping up and others just beginning. In this week’s Prospect Need to Know wrap, I’ll shed the spotlight on players from the World Under-17 Challenge, the Five Nations under-18 tourney and Four Nations under-20 showdown. So we’re getting into all the age brackets today. Also, the CHL-Russia Super Series kicked off, with the WHL taking Game 1 for the major junior side. That’s a series to watch for the next 10 days, as Canada’s world junior scouts will be grading carefully.


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Flint Firebirds prove major junior player union is possible

Ken Campbell
Flint Firebirds vs. Mississauga Steelheads (Photo by Graig Abel/Getty Images)

Let’s just take a moment to ponder what those courageous young men who play for the Flint Firebirds accomplished Sunday night when they marched up to the team’s front office and dropped their sweaters on the floor. Because both the character and gumption they displayed and the results they accrued are nothing short of remarkable.

Not only did they manage to get their fired coaches reinstated, the coaches were minted with new three-year contracts. And league commissioner David Branch rushed to the scene to staunch the bleeding and ensure that all the affected had their feelings assuaged. The owner of the team publicly apologized for making a rash and irresponsible decision to fire his coaches, apparently because they weren’t giving his son enough ice time. And it seemed to happen in record time. Good for those young men who, in some ways, displayed the same courage Ted Lindsay, Doug Harvey and a small cabal of players did when they stood up to the owners almost 60 years ago to plant the seed that germinated into the NHL Players’ Association.

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WHL’s Saskatoon Blades unveil Star Wars-themed jerseys

Jared Clinton
Saskatoon Blades Star Wars jerseys (via Saskatoon Blades)

The hype surrounding the newest Star Wars film, which is set to be released in December, is almost impossible to escape. And if you were hoping to take in a hockey game to get away from the Star Wars frenzy, don’t head to Saskatoon in late November.

The WHL’s Saskatoon Blades have planned themselves a Star Wars night for Saturday, Nov. 28 when the Edmonton Oil Kings roll into town. In sticking with the theme of the evening, the Blades have unveiled some brand new jerseys that they’ll be wearing for the game. The threads, which use a fight scene from of the film’s fictional planets, Hoth, as the background, are exactly what you’d expect from a Lucasfilm-approved, Star Wars-themed jersey: Read more

OHL’s Flint Firebirds get their coaches back; show the power of unity

Ryan Kennedy
The Flint Firebirds (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)

As reported by local journalist Ryan Slocum, the Flint Firebirds have reinstated the junior team’s coaching staff after a mass walkout by the team’s players. It’s a crazy development in what was already a bizarre story that unfolded in less than a day, but if there is a silver lining, it’s that the players on the team came together for something they believed in and won.

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