It's funny how the off-season often produces some of the best stories out there but I guess when you consider that it's during the summer that most changes in the hockey world take place... it shouldn't be that surprising.
There are bunch of things circulating, some no more than speculation while others are pretty sound. One such item that appears to be pretty solid has to do with Springfield where the AHL Falcons have called a press conference for Tuesday afternoon. I'm still looking for official Oiler confirmation but a source out East has indicated to me that it is regarding the coaching position. If that is the case (and not another season ticket sales update) then expect Jeff Truitt to be formally announced that day as the new bench boss on the farm. I do know that Kevin Prendergast will be in Springfield for the presser so it certainly appears to be lining up that way.
Wondering what is going to happen with Rob Daum since it's but a formality that Kelly Buchberger moves up to the NHL for next season? I ran into Daum at Oilers prospect camp last week, a pleasant surprise to see a him there despite the way he's been cast aside. I also talked with him on Tuesday during the TEAM 1260 golf tournament. He's obviously pretty tight-lipped about what he and the Oilers are talking about but I can confirm that the position offered to Daum is that of a pro scout. I'm also hearing that he'd have the greenlight to pursue a coaching opportunity elsewhere if one came his way and if you've been listening to Total Sports with Bob Stauffer... doesn't Detroit make sense with Mike Babcock now in need of a new assistant?
Regan Bartel is one of the most respected guys around the WHL so when he speculates on something, it's probably more than just idle chit-chat. On May 26th he blogged an interesting tidbit on Kelowna Rockets' forward Milan Kytnar suggesting he might be in tough for a spot on the roster next season. Here's the original post by Bartel who you should know is also the voice of the Rockets on their broadcasts. I wonder if there is a WHL team that would has room for an import, a need to upgrade penalty killing and their ability to keep goals against down? The Edmonton Oil Kings fit the bill but with a high pick in the CHL Import Draft later this month they might have their eyes on a more offensive player to help in that department. The fact that Kytnar is also an Oiler prospect makes it even more interesting but far from a sure thing.
It was a good month for Alex Plante who impressed the brass at prospect camp after a 3-week stint of training in California with Chad Moreau. Plante needs to improve his mobility and his strength and while the former will be a longer process it is simple to see how the 19-year-old has matured physically. Thicker in the neck, through his upper body and defnitely stronger in his legs, Plante has dedicated himself to getting back on the right track after a tough year in Calgary.
And speaking of Plante and the Hitmen, rumors are swirling that the 19-year-old might be available this summer as Calgary heads towards a rebuild. One source told me that Plante's camp were disappointed with the way he'd lost his spot last year due to injury and another source described the situation to me by saying "he became a whipping boy for [head coach Kelly] Kisio". IF the rumor is true that Plante is available, expect his hometown Brandon Wheat Kings to be front runners in trying to nab him from Calgary.
As Dean mentioned on our last show, the Toronto Maple Leafs seem to be extremely interested in Kyle Beach of the Everett Silvertips. Would a team in such disarray really roll the dice on a player who some believe is a ticking timebomb? Well both Millard and I are believers that Beach's upside outweighs his troubled past and we both have him going in the top 11 in our mock draft although neither of us have him going to the Leafs...
Another interesting one, and you might have to file this under 'C' for 'Conspiracy Theory'... Zac Dalpe was drafted as an overager by the Plymouth Whalers in the OHL. But why? He's already publicly committed to the NCAA program with the Ohio State Buckeyes right? Well, and here's the conspiracy theory, what would happen if the Carolina Hurricanes drafted him with the 14th overall pick (or moved down and did it)? Some have suggested that Dalpe would then bolt for the OHL and play with Plymouth. What's the connection? Peter Karmanos owns the Hurricanes and the Whalers. Things that make you go Hmmmmmmm...
Two players who seem to be getting some momentum as the draft gets closer are Colin Wilson and John Carlson. Wilson wowed the NHL onlookers at the combines where his dedication to personal training paid off. His team interviews also went well as TPS expected after he was a homerun interview on our show a couple weeks back. He's got the bloodline going for him, a great attitude and is considered one of the guys who could be closest to NHL ready. He'll be gone in the top 12.
Carlson's stock went up when he made it public that he was jumping ship from the NCAA to the OHL; instead of playing at UMass next year he's headed for the London Knights. Now I've had plenty of hockey people express concern about the way players develop in London (stellar junior success, not so much on the preperation for the next level) but it's seen as a step up from the Hockey East program which takes a back seat to Maine, Boston College, Boston Univesity and New Hampshire in that conference. Carlson was considered a late first rounder before but looks more like a mid round pick now.
One last one... in case you haven't heard yet, Nikita Filatov granted The Pipeline Show with the first North American radio interview of his career. Dean and I spoke with the future star for about 12 minutes and you'll be able to hear that interview in its entirety on Tuesday's show. Who does he think will draft him? How much are teams in Russia's new Kontinental Hockey League trying to keep him at home? Would he play in the CHL next year? Hear it from the man himself next week.