The National junior championship will be decided on Sunday at the final of the 2011 Memorial Cup. Obviously that major event was front and center on The Pipeline Show this weekend but, as always, we looked ahead to the NHL Draft next month plus touched on the Stanley Cup final as well. We spoke with two scouts, two players as well as our regular Saturday NHL Insider plus it was CHL awards day... how did we do with our predictions?
The show began with a conversation about goaltenders, which means Dean was in a great mood to start the day. Al Jensen is the expert for NHL Central Scouting when it comes to the masked men and he gave us the low down on several key goalies eligible for the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. John or Chris Gibson? Has Jordan Binnington's play at the Memorial Cup earned him consideration before those two? How many goalies (if any) might be in the mix for the first round? What about guys like Oil Kings rookie Laurent Brossoit and high school puck stopper Stephen Michalek. And where does an overage guy like Kootenay's Nathan Lieuwen fit into the pack? We covered it all with Al Jensen.
Segment two was supposed to be a conversation with Peter Loubardias but commitments at the Memorial Cup with the CHL and Sportsnet got in the way. That left Dean and I to ponder the CHL Awards. Both of us felt that Darcy Kuemper (MIN) should be named Top Goalie, that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would grab Top Prospect honors, Sarnia's Nail Yakupov should be Top Rookie, Gerard Gallant Best Coach and Ryan Ellis the nation's Top Defenceman. We were correct on all accounts. The only category that we were kind of off on was the Player of the Year. Both of us suggested we'd put our vote behind Darcy Kuemper but that we expected Ryan Ellis to win, which he did.
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds forward Daniel Catenacci was out guest in segment 3. The speedy OHL forward had a massive jump in production from a decent rookie year a season ago. He also played for Canada at the U18s and the Ivan Hlinka tournament and gave us a rundown on those two experiences. We also got Catenacci to give us scouting reports on teammates Ryan Sproul and Nick Cousins as well as good friend Ryan Murphy.
Daren Millard joined us at the top of our second hour. We talked at length about his take on Owen Sound head coach Mark Reeds decision not to dress red-hot goalie Jordan Binnington in the pivotal game against Kootenay. We also discussed Memorial Cup MVP and the big game tomorrow between Mississauga and Saint John. The Stanley Cup final came into the conversation specifically Nathan Horton of the Bruins. We ended with the rumored name of the transplanted Atlanta Thrashers when they land in Winnipeg - The Manitoba Polar Bears. Well worth the listen just to hear his reaction to that one.
The Director of Amateur Scouting for the Carolina Hurricanes was our next guest. Tony MacDonald has been with the club for the better part of two decades and has helped outfit the organization with the likes of Cam Ward, Erik Staal, Brandon Sutter and rookie of the year candidate Jeff Skinner. We asked MacDonald about a handful of 2011 eligible players - Tomas Jurco, Mark McNeill, Sven Bartschi and Jamie Oleksiak. Then we discussed some of the key guys in the system like Justin Faulk. How did the team settle on Skinner in 2010? Was it a "Best Player Available" pick or did they specifically target a pure scorer? It was an interesting conversation for sure.
Finally, US-NTDP defenceman Michael Paliotta joined us to reflect back on his two seasons with the National team. We also talked about the upcoming draft combine and why joining the Catamounts at the University of Vermont was the right fit for him.
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