Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bulging on the Blueline

The Edmonton Oilers AHL affiliate is going to have a talented but young defence corps in 2008-09 and with the recent draft and a veteran signing, the blueline is starting to bulge.

By my count, and it's changing every couple of days it seems lately, there are 9 or 10 players who are in the mix for Springfield. I expect another AHL vet, maybe even 2, to still be added so clearly there are a lot of options here for coach Jeff Truitt and the Falcons.

T.J Kemp, Allan Rourke, Rick Berry and Harlan Anderson will not be back. Neither will Danny Syvret who was traded to Philadelphia a few weeks back. I also believe that T.J. Reynolds will be employed elsewhere so there will be planty of new faces on the squad.

So who will patrol the backend for Springfield? Returning prospects Bryan Young and Theo Peckham will provide much of the muscle and physical play but they'll get help from newly drafted Jordan Bendfeld (pictured on the right). Mathieu Roy is obviously not a shoe-in for the NHL roster despite his 1-way contract and that might also keep him from getting claimed on waivers should Edmonton send him down. That will provide the AHL club with 4 bodies that can all bang and crash and aren't afraid to drop the gloves (although it's pretty rare for Young to do so).

On the other side of the ledger you've got the puck moving offensive types, a weakness on the farm last season. Leading the way in 2008-09 will be Taylor Chorney, once he gets officially signed that is. Add Cody Wild for his first full rookie year and Sebastien Bisaillon (above left) who will look to rebound from injury. Josef Hrabal comes to the AHL with 4 years of pro experience so he should be able to make a pretty smooth tranistion to the North American game. With Thursday's signing of Mike Gabinet, the Falcons will have 5 guys who can move the puck or skate it out themselves.

That's 9 bodies right there and I'm told there could still be one or two more before training camp in September. Obviously there is plenty of time for trades and free agent signings so things could look much different 2 months from now... but it's intersting to see how the AHL blueline is shaping up.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Inside The Draft

The Pipeline Show was extremely pleased to have Oilers first round pick Jordan Eberle and Bruins first round pick Joe Colborne blogging for us leading up to and during the NHL draft. Below is Eberle's post-draft entry... enjoy.

Well the draft is finally over and I couldn’t be happier to where I went. The number 22 pick to the Oilers was the pick that I was hoping to go to and I was lucky enough to get chosen there. After hugging all your family members and heading up to the podium it doesn’t really hit you until the next day that you just got drafted. But the podium pictures didn’t last and I was rushed to meet the whole Edmonton Oiler staff, interviews with various networks and autograph signings. After all that was said and done my family and I were put into a limo to be driven to the Oiler’s suit at their hotel. Once we got there we met people like Dave Semenko, Glen Anderson, Kevin Lowe and the Oiler scouting staff. It was amazing but the draft had gone so late that it was 1 o’clock already and I was already heading home to bed.

The next day I headed back to the draft to watch some of my buddies go but spent the majority of the day touring around to see the parliaments, and most of the city. Overall it was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget. It’s also finally nice to have the draft over with and now the real work begins.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Targets In Sight

Less than 24 hours to go until the draft begins so I figured it's time I release my list of names I expect could realistically become Oilers in the first round tomorrow evening.

One of the local writers I have a ton of respect for, Robin Brownlee, had an interesting list earlier today although he admitted a couple of the 4 players would more than likely be gone before the 22nd pick came around. My list is strictly going on the premise that there is no trading up as I don't believe they will, although adding multiple 2nd and or 3rd round picks is what I'm hearing.

The following four players are realistically going to still be available at 22, in fact all four of them might still be there. It's an interesting mix of position where as most fans look at the depth chart at say 'they don't need a goalie or any defencemen'... those fans might be upset by what happens tomorrow evening.

Here's my list.

Jordan Eberle - Regina Pats (WHL)

The Oilers want a scorer with size. Well, at 5'10 and 175 lbs, Eberle isn't big but his 42 WHL goals certainly put him in the former category. Kevin Prendergast told Pipeline Show listeners that in the first round, size won't matter so if Eberle is still there... my money is on him being the right guy. Millard and I have both had him as Edmonton's pick in our mock draft for over a month and you regular listeners know that we've been throwing out this name for at least that long.

I have reason to believe though that Eberle might be off the board by then. Speaking with a source in Calgary I'm hearing that the Flames are eyeing up Eberle or Joe Colborne as a consolation prize should Airdrie native Zack Boychuk be gone.

Erik Karlsson - Frolunda (SWE)

He's a smallish, offensive defenceman out of Sweden that put up nearly a point per game this past year. He checks in at 5'11 and 165 lbs so he's still very immature from a physical perspective. Moves the puck well, skates "like a forward" and can make that all important first pass. This is a name that seems to be gaining steam from around the league as the draft has been getting closer. One non-Oiler source predicted that Karlsson wouldn't make it out of the top 20 so who knows if Edmonton would even have a shot. Although he's a similar player to the Chorney's and Wild's that Edmonton already has on board... you can't have enough of these types of players in this day and age.

John Carlson - Indiana (USHL)

Speaking of defencemen, this 6'2 and 212 lb blueliner has a big shot, plays physical, can skate, solid in both ends... sounds like the perfect package. Draw back seems to be inconsistency but what 18 year old doesn't struggle with that some time? He was committed to going to UMass next year but has decided very recently to play in the OHL instead - the London Knights to be specific. I have spoken to a few different hockey people about that, not this case specifically but in regards to players who bolt from their NCAA commitments at the last minute... and not many seem to be fans of that choice. Not following through after making that commitment to is a red flag that some say suggests a character flaw.

Jacob Markstrom - Bryans (SWE)

Yes I know he's a goalie but as someone very recently pointed out... if you can draft a bona fide stud goalie it could set you up for a decade. Edmonton has Deslauriers and Dubnyk in the system but Markstrom, I'm told, is a much better long term prospect that either of them. He was outstanding at the U18 tourney in Moscow and I know he caught Edmonton's eye there. He's 6'3 and 180 lbs, and had a 2.00 GAA and .931 SV% in Sweden last year. In the summer of 2007 he was in net when Sweden beat Canada for their first gold medal ever at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tourney and he had to stop Steven Stamkos, Kyle Beach and Kelsey Tessier in a shootout to do it.)

If all four are still there... Eberle is the name I expect to hear called.

Three names to watch for in later rounds - Russians Viktor Tikhonov and Evgeny Grachev; although I've always suggested Edmonton and Russians go together like strippers and church... this year could be different. Tikhonov grew up in California and speaks flawless English whereas Grachev has the size and scoring to be a reasonable target. Kelsey Tessier of the Quebec Remparts was on Mike Oke's 'over-rated list' during the ISS Draft Preview show but I'm getting the feeling the Oilers would take a chance on him if he slid to them later in the draft.

Trying to guess who will be picked by a specific team at a specific spot is pretty tough, especially this late in the draft. I don't know if anyone could have correctly predicted that Alex Plante would become an Oiler at the 15th spot... of, wait, yes I believe someone did predict that. In fact, last year on the air during the draft I was 2 for 3 with Edmonton's 3 picks.

TEAM 1260 will be live on location at Northlands from 3 PM-Midnight in the new sports lounge with our draft coverage... hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

TPS Mock Draft Results

Last night Dean and I rattled off the remaining 5 picks to complete or Mock Draft... here are the final results. Keep in mind that we started making these picks over a month ago and if we were both to redo it today there would be plenty of changes. Nevertheless, here you go (Guy's picks on the left and Dean's picks on the right):

1. (TBY) Stamkos - Stamkos
2. (LA) Doughty - Doughty
3. (ATL) Bogosian - Pietrangelo
4. (STL) Pietrangelo - Bogosian
5. (NYI) Filatov - Filatov
6. (CLB) Schenn - Myers
7. (TOR) Boedker - Hodgson
8. (PHX) Hodgson - Schenn
9. (NSH) Beach - Wilson
10.(VAN) Myers - Boedker
11.(CHI) Wilson - Beach
12.(ANH) Teubert - Teubert
13.(BUF) Bailey - Boychuk
14.(CAR) Boychuk - Bailey
15.(NSH) Nemisz - Colborne
16.(BOS) Robak - Sbisa
17.(CGY) Colborne - Tedenby
18.(OTT) DelZotto - Robak
19.(CLB) Sbisa - Nemisz
20.(NYR) Tedenby - Carlson
21.(NJ) Pickard - Pickard
22.(EDM) Eberle - Eberle
23.(WSH) Carlson - Petrov
24.(MIN) Gardiner - DelZotto
25.(MTL) Stefanovich - Toews
26.(BUF) Cuma - Cuma
27.(PHI) Ness - Karlsson
28.(LA) Dalpe - Grachev
29.(ATL) Sauve - Dalpe
30.(DET) Karlsson - Deschamps

After the fact I know I for sure would not have Nemisz, Stefanovich or Sauve in my top 30. I would likely bump up Colin Wilson, John Carlson, Tyler Cuma and Erik Karlsson and I would try and find a place for goalies Jacob Markstrom and Jake Allen.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Top 5 Overagers for 2008

Every year good players fall through the cracks and don't get drafted. Too small, didn't play enough during their draft year, not seen enough by NHL scouts, late bloomer; there are lots of reasons it happens but every year it does and then the next draft some of those guys get scooped up as overagers.

Here are some of the top guys that fit the category this year and I'm sure we missed a couple good ones so feel free to add their names in the comments section! And YES... i realize my top 5 list has 6 names on it.

Viktor Tikhonov - Severstal Cherepovets (Russia)

He was passed over in both 2006 and 2007 and a big part of the reason why is the lack of a transfer agreement with Russia. But with an outstanding performance at the 2008 WJC in the Czech Republic, the 6' Russian forward could be a priority target for some teams this time around. Like 1st round priority. He had several interviews at the NHL combine and one scout I talked to couldn't say enough good things about him including his total shock at Tikhonov's grasp on English (He's fluent with no accent). Tikhnov actually grew up in California when his dad worked for the San Jose Sharks and in fact the 20-year-old only got his Russian passport in the last few years telling the NHL scout that he's spent a lot more time in North America than he has in Russia. He played for Severstal Cherepovets this past season and had 12 points in 43 games.

Vitaly Karamnov - Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Last year there were scouting agencies that had Karamnov listed as a potential first rounder but teams stayed away because the player had expressed no desire to play in North America. Imagine the shock and dismay of those NHL teams when just two months later Karamnov turned up in the WHL playing for the Everett Silvertips! The Moscow native had 25 points in his rookie year with the 'Tips playing in a 2-way role. He was invited to training camp by the Edmonton Oilers last fall, one of the teams who had initially toyed with the idea of drafting him. Will he get picked up this year now that his intent on playing on this side of the pond is without question?

Juha Metsola - Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

Last year Central Scouting had the Finnish netminder listed as the 4th best goalie in Europe and yet no team took a chance on him. Why? He's listed at 5'10 and 165 lbs, that's why. However, this past season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes should give teams reason to reconsider his ability to play. He 1.98 GAA and .916 SV% in 23 regular season games, was named CHL Goalie of the Week twice this past season (March 3rd and April 15th). In the playoffs he got the nod from coach Mike Dyck and carried the load for the Hurricanes. His post season numbers were solid again including 3 shutouts in 18 games.

Ben Wright - Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

Originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 4th round (113th overall) in2006 but was surprisignly not signed to a contract and so re-enters the draft pool this year. Wright was named captain of the Hurricanes at the start of the year and represented his club well this past season. He had 10 points in 19 playoff games after a 38 point regular season where he boasted a plus-15 rating. He's 6'2 and a hair under 200 lbs, plays a solid 2-way game and could be compared to a guy like Steve Staios, a leader that can round out a defensive corps with dependable play in his own end and chip in some points as a bonus.

Mike Murphy - Belleville Bulls (OHL)

The OHL Goalie of the Year was a major factor why the Bulls fared as well as they did this year in getting to the Memorial Cup. Passed over in previous years because he'd never played more than 18 games in a OHL season until this year where he was stellar in 44 outings. His 2.24 GAA and .929 SV% were the best in the regular season. Head coach George Burnett told me that he had no qualms about Murphy's potential as a pro and the 5'11 keeper should be poised for a huge year in 2008-09 with the Bulls.

Colin Long - Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Last but not least, this California product had a massive year for the Rockets finishing the year as one of only two players to break the 100-point plateau in the WHL (Nashville's Mark Santorelli won the scoring race with 101 points). Long isn't big at 5'11 and 175 lbs and of his 100 points only 31 were goals; some I have spoken to suggested to me that linemate Jamie Benn's transfer from the BCHL was the key to Long's success. However, to me that just goes to show that with a talented linemate Long has proven that he can raise his game and play that complementory game very well. Certainly worth being drafted in my opinion, the question is "how high"? Colin was recently invited to try out for Team USA in Lake Placid where they are going to build their 2009 WJC squad.

Tonight on the show we're airing the Nikita Filatov interview, you won't want to miss that one, plus we're also recapping our mock draft picks 1-25 and announcing our final 5 of round 1. If you miss it, I'll be psoting both of our lists on the blog in the next day or two.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Top 5 Goalies for 2008

To me they are the big wildcard every year because you can never really be sure that a team is going to take a goalie. I've talked to some NHL scouts who are of the opinion that in the cap era you don't need to draft a goalie at all because there will always be ones available. I've also talked to scouts who say that the only way you'll get an elite goalie is to draft and develop one yourself.

In a conversation that the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson and I had with New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello right before Christmas he told us "I think today you have a better chance of finding someone than you did yesterday because of the rules regarding the CBA and free agency with the number of games goalies have to play compared to forwards. We would always prefer to, if we can, draft our own and develop our own and have him come along that way."

With that in mind I don't know that we can positively say that team X will take a goalie or that team Y positively will not draft one or when or where in the draft a goalie selection makes more or less sense.

Here are The Pipeline Show's top 5 goalies for the 2008 NHL Entry Draft... and yes, I know I'm actually listing 6... That's just how we do things around here. The links are to the bio pages for each keeper and the extra little tidbits or comments made here are our thoughts and remarks.

#1 Chet Pickard - Tri City Americans

He's a Manitoba kid so obviously Millard has him already slated as a future Hall of Famer. Pickard was fantastic all year for the Americans but even better than that in the playoffs where he had a 1.78 GAA, .937 SV % and 11-3-2 record. The Canadian prominently features Captain America on his mask, a design submitted by a kid in a local contest. I like his size at 6'2 and 210 lbs because he's tall but not so tall where he becomes awkward. Oh and the correct pronunciation of the last name is PICK-erd not Pi-CARD.

#2 Thomas McCollum - Guelph Storm

Dean has McCollum second on his list but he actually comes 3rd on my own. I thought McCollum was the best of the four goalies at the Top prospects game but quite honestly, none of them really played very well. His numbers were actually a bit worse in each category than in 2006-07 but still pretty good. Also has good size at 6'2 and 205 lbs so really there might not be much to seperate he and Pickard in that sense.

#3 Jacob Markstrom - Brynas & Sweden U18

I have the Swede in the second spot on my list but Deano has him like this, at number 3. Scouts I talked to had nothing but outstanding things to say about his performance at the U18 tournament in April. I personally won't be stunned if Markstrom turns out to be the first goalie chosen although both Millard and I have only 1 goalie going in round 1 in our mock (and it isn't this guy). He's 6'3 and 180 lbs so room to fill out still but has great height already. Could be the guy for Sweden at the next World Junior Championship in Ottawa now that Enstrom is too old (if I got that right).

#4 Jake Allen - St. John's & Canada U18

He kind of came out of nowhere at the U18 tournament but his 8-0 shutout of the Russians in the gold medal game and his play even before that has him high on many mock drafts. Allen is a New Brunswick native and is another 6'2 keeper available this year. We had Jake on as a guest back on May 6th and you can hear that interview here. After playing back up all year we expect Allen to have a breakout year with the Montreal Juniors next season.

#5 Dustin Tokarski - Spokane Chiefs

We mentioned how strong Pickard's stats were in the playoffs but even they pale in comparison to what Tokarski put together. A 1.38 GAA and .944 save percentage during the WHL playoffs and then his stellar performance at the Memorial Cup that earned him the award as tournament MVP. So what's the downside? He's smaller at 5'11 and 185 lbs and he played on a defensively strong team so some scouts believe he and his stats were more of a product of that than he was. 'Tick' was also a guest on TPS on May 27th.

Honorable Mention: Harri Sateri - Tappara & Finland U18

How can you have a draft without a notable netminder from Finland? You can't because the Scandinavian country has been a goalie factory for the last decade and a half and still churns more out every year. This year the best Finn available is Sateri who has solid size at 6'1 and 190 lbs. He was much higher on most lists earlier in the year but if he's lost ground in the rankings it's more to do with the rise of others than his own performance dropping off much. The catchy rhyming name is a marketing campaign waiting to happen... how long before he's called Harri "Carrey" Sateri?

Wedensday we will unveil our Top 5 Overage Players who should get serious consideration this year after going undrafted through a previous draft.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Rookie Tournament... Finally!

It's been something Edmonton have been trying to set up for the last few years but for the first time it appears that this fall fans of the Oilers, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks will be treated to a prospects tournament.

Other NHL teams have done it for years with the most popular being the Traverse City event that is hosted by the Detroit Red Wings. That is a 6-team tournament whereas the one involving the 3 western Canadian teams will be a 4-team exhibition. If you're wondering who team #4 is going to be well look no further than the University of Alberta Golden Bears.

Basicaly it's an expansion of the annual UofA Golden Bears vs Oilers rookies game that is a highlight of training camp each September. And don't think for a second that the CIS club will be the weak sister in the 4-team format; they've got a winning record against the Oilers over the last decade with some of those games not even being that competitve as the Bears have wiped the floor with the Oilers.

I first got word of this in early June talking with Kevin Prendergast at prospect camp. It almost happened a couple years ago but was wiped out by the NHL lockout but better late than never right?

My understanding is that the games will be played in Red Deer but as far as I know that has yet to be confirmed. I don't know how many days the mini-tournament will last or if it will be a round robin or what. (It will be a topic for discussion when KP appears on TPS this coming Tuesday).

Yesterday on Total Sports with Bob Stauffer, UofA head coach Eric Thurston mentioned the mini-tournament is on his team's schedule so clearly plans seem to be getting firmed up.

Bottom line: it should be a lot of fun to watch Leland Irving, Cory Schneider (goalie pictured), Bryan Pitton and Aaron Sorochan square off in net... Michael Grabner, Taylor Chorney, Ian McDonald and Swede Mikael Backlund (pictured up top) leading the charge for the skaters.

Something to look forward to for sure!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rumblings, Bumblings and Stuff...

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.

Draft tidbits

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.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Inside The Draft

As the NHL draft approaches, we're happy to have Regina Pats forward Jordan Eberle and Camrose Kodiaks forward Joe Colborne - both are expected to be first round picks this year - writing their thoughts about the upcoming festivities. Here's Jordan's first entry about the Combine, and below it is Joe Colborne's thoughts.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Inside The Draft

A few weeks back we had Camrose Kodiak forward Joe Colborne blogging for us while he was at the Royal Bank Cup. As the draft approaches Joe is kind enough to jot down some more thoughts for us, giving an insiders look at the NHL draft. We're also excited to have Regina Pats forward Jordan Eberle on board to blog as well. Keep checking back for Jordan's thoughts but in the meantime, here's Joe's Journey part 2.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Rookie Talk

We are very pleased to welcome both Taylor Chorney and Riley Nash to The Pipeline Show for an entire hour on Tuesday night. Both players, in Edmonton this week for the team's prospect camp, will Join Guy and myself in studio for a portion of the show.

Last year we brought in Theo Peckham and Ryan O'Marra for a similar show and it was great, we aren't expecting anything less from the two college boys this time around.

If you want to get in on the action, email a question for Taylor or Riley to:

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Oil Kings Update

The Edmonton Oil Kings have completed their 3-day Orientation camp for their 15 and 16 year olds. The camp was held at NAIT arena and featured a couple on ice sessions over the last couple of days.

Two things stood out to me. First, it's stunning how much a kid can grow in 1 year and goalie Cam Lanigan is a prime example. Lanigan will be in the mix to win the back up job with the team this year and after being drafted last season as a good sized 6' goalie he's now 6'3 (I'm told). T.J. Foster (pictured in red below) might have been 5'9 last year but he's got to be 6' now and showed so pretty nifty hands too.

The other thing that was apparent was just how much more skill was on the ice compared to a year ago. 12 months ago there were nothing but, excuse the expression, but league castoffs out there. Let's face it, aside from Robin Figren, Tomas Vincour and maybe a couple of other guys... it wasn't a very skilled line up the Oil Kings had to work with.

From what I saw today, the future looks good. Goaltending two years from now with Lanigan and Laurent Broissoit should be more than solid. Both are big and look comfortable on the ice. It should be a position of strength in 2 years... this year, who knows.

Mark Pysyk (pictured in white) is ranked 5th in for the NHL 2010 draft according to the Hockey News... but that's a long way away. He should be a regular with the big club this year though.

1st round pick Mike St. Croix has skill. He won't play with them this year, maybe a road game in Brandon or something but that's it, but St. Croix will be a name in this town in a couple of years.

Next on the agenda for the Oil Kings is the CHL Import Draft which goes 10 days after the NHL draft... so the calendar says June 30th. After that there is nothing for July. August has the team's rookie camp which leads into main camp, all that happening the last 10 days of the month.

Last year the Oil Kings hosted a 6-team mini-tournament in St. Albert. They are doing it again but it will only be 5 teams, at least so far. Returning from last year will be the Regina Pats, Prince George Cougars, Kamloops Blazers and of course the Oil Kings. New to the mix are the Medicine Hat Tigers. Not coming this time are Swift Current and Kelowna but I'm told a 6th team could get added yet.

That tournament will go over the Labour Day weekend just like last year.