While the NHL and AHL playoffs inch closer and closer to the finals and the Memorial Cup will be decided on Sunday, there are some things going on that may have gone unnoticed.
Summer Camp with the Oil Kings
For example, the Edmonton Oil Kings are in the middle of their annual get-to-know-ya summer camp. The WHL club has all of their '93 and '94 born players skating at NAIT right now so it's basically the 2008 and 2009 drafted players with a few listed players thrown in for good measure. Speaking of measure... 16-yer-old goalie Laurent Brossoit strode onto the ice and several of us standing rinkside were commenting on how big he is. He's isted a 6'2 but I swear he looked a lot bigger than that.
I had a chance to talk with Brossoit before today's on-ice session and was struck by how well spoken he is already. Keep in mind he's only 16 and is fresh out of Midget hockey. You can hear that conversation HERE.
Dean Millard and I also spoke with 2009 1st round pick Griffin Reinhart. This guy is going to be a player. Dean said he's heard people compare Reinhart to a 15-year-old Karl Alzner... the Oil Kings will be mighty happy if things turn out that well. You can hear our conversation with Griffin Reinhart HERE.
The third Oil Kings player we spoke with is the guy most will be looking to for this coming season - 2008 1st round pick Michael St. Croix. The Winnipeg kid is visibly bigger than a year ago and is a bit more comfortable in front of a microphone too. He had a special season in Midget leading Manitoba in scoring and also appearing at the World U17 challenge as the youngest player on Team West. Hear what St. Croix had to say HERE.
Interesting note: The Oil Kings have listed Henrik Samuelsson (credit A.J. Jakubec for the tip). Samuelsson is the younger brother of defenceman Philip Samuelsson who Edmonton drafted in the 2007 Bantam Draft. The older brother has signed a letter of intent with Boston College although he's not expected to play much there as a freshman in 2009-10. I was told today that Henrik will definitely be in town for training camp in August. Might we eventually see both brothers wearing Oil Kings jerseys? Philip played for the Chicago Steel of the USHL but whoever drafts him (if he gets drafted) might steer him to the WHL over a smaller role with Boston College. Samuelsson played for USA at the World U18s in Fargo but didn't get great reviews. They are the sons of Phoenix Coyotes assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson who played in the NHL for several teams including Hartford, the Rangers and the Penguins.
Oiler Defenceman Re-Hab continues
He missed most of the 2008-09 campaign with a seriously injured knee but blueliner Jordan Bendfeld was on the ice with the Oil Kings bench staff helping run drills and shoot on the two netminders. I had a chance to speak with Bendfeld during the practice session and got a full report on how the injury happened, the re-hab process, what life was like in Stockton and obviously how key this off-season is for him as he looks ahead to Oiler camp in September. Hear what Bendfeld had to say by clicking HERE.
The Chicago Blackhawks signed Kyle Beach, their 2st round pick in 2008, to a 3-year entry level contract. The controversial forward will either stick with the Hawks next season or be returned to the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL. The Canes are still looking for a new GM and a new head coach as well with Rich Sutter leading the rumors for the bigger job according to Pat Siedlecki, the voice of the Canes.
Anton Gustafsson was signed by the Washington Capitals. He was their 1st round pick (21st overall) and officially joins the club that his dad was a part of during his NHL career. Gustafsson is a big center who played at a lower level that the SEL in Sweden this past year. Here is more from Elite Prospects.
The Oilers officially announced the signing of Swede Johan Motin that we told you about earlier in May.
The New York Rangers signed Finnish defenceman Ilkka Heikkinen last week. The 6'2 rearguard will turn 25 this November and has played 6 years in the SM-Liiga with Lukko Rauma and HIFK Helsinki. Heikkinen was never drafted.
Matthew Pistilli's QMJHL days are behind him. The 6'2 and 220 lb forward had 93 points with Gatineau in 2007-08 and followed that up with 45 goals and 86 points for Shawinigan this past year. The forward was never drafted.
Finally, Dwight King of the Lethbridge Hurricanes has signed his 3-year entry level contract with the Los Angeles Kings. the 4th round pick in 2007 had 60 points in 64 games with the Hurricanes in 2008-09.
The Oilers have 8 days left to get both Milan Kytnar and Alex Plante under contract or they will be up for grabs and returned to the pool for the 2009 Entry Draft. I was told yesterday that there was nothing new to report since I reported that the team and Plante were "a little ways apart" - that was on May 14th.
Other players of note still without a contract include Oil Kings goalie Torrie Jung, Carloina forward Justin McCrae and Chris Terry, a trio of Blackhawks made up of Colin Greenop, Maxime Tanguay and goalie Josh Unice, Ondrej Roman of the Dallas Stars, Florida's Corey Syvret, goalie Linden Rowat of the L.A. Kings and both Maxim Gratchev and Simon Lacroix for the Islanders.
it's possibly I missed one of the above being signed so if I did, please leave a comment and a link.