Thursday, September 11, 2008

Rule Changes for The WHL

The CHL and subsequently the WHL has introduced some new rule changes for the upcoming season (link). Basically the top junior league in the world is doing what the NHL will likely be doing next year.

The biggest change will be where faceoffs will take place after a penalty. Here's and example.

Let's use the Edmonton Oil Kings and, I don't know...the Brandon Wheat Kings for no particular reason as examples.

The Oil Kings take a penalty anywhere on the ice. The ensuing faceoff would then come back into their own end. The exceptions to this are after a goal, at the end or start of a period- the faceoff would then take place at centre ice. Or if the Wheat Kings had iced the puck (not sure why that would ever happen) then the puck would be dropped just outside the Wheat Kings blueline.

Now this obviously is an attempt to increase offence, but as Guy and I discussed one time on TPS I'm not sure I'm up for this one. I think you're penalized enough by having a guy in the box. I am interested in watching how this plays out and who knows maybe I'll come around on this one, but as of right now, I'm not a big fan.

On the flip side, it will increase offence, and should cut down on dumb lazy penalties. Can you imagine taking a lazy penalty with 2 minutes to go? The psychological effect of watching the officials skate back to your own end would be killer enough. It will also mean faceoffs will be that much more important.

I have not heard whether the NHL is going with this system this season, but expect them to implement this next year. The AHL used it last year, and some WHL management people I spoke to today said it was a positive experiment and they're looking forward to it this year.

The other change is that, for example Oil Kings D-man (and top draft prospect for 2010) Mark Pysyk wires a shot off the goalpost, crossbar or any other part of the Wheat Kings net, the puck will be dropped in Brandon's zone instead of coming outside the blueline like in the past. This I have no problem with, as the Oil Kings created a scoring chance and shouldn't be penalized for it. If it goes off an Oil KIng forward, then I don't have a problem with the draw coming outside to the off side dots.

In other junior hockey news, the first CHL Mosaic Mastercard Top 10 Rankings have been released:

Rank Team
1 Windsor Spitfires
2 Spokane Chiefs
3 London Knights
4 Rimouski Oceanic
5 Belleville Bulls
6 Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
7 Kelowna Rockets
8 Brandon Wheat Kings
9 Chicoutimi Sagueneens
10 Shawinigan Cataractes

A few thoughts on this. Nice to see the Windsor Spitfires starting out on a good note this year, after what had to be an incredibly painful season last year, after captain Mickey Renaud passed away. The Spitfires will retire Renaud's #18 this year, and his memory should spur on first round picks from last June Greg Nemisz and Joshua Bailey, as well as possible first overall pick in 2010 Taylor Hall to great things.

Spokane will be battling Windsor all season for that top spot. The Chiefs were supposed to be a year away when they won it all last year, and have both barrells loaded for a repeat this year.

As Nathan from - an excellent ready by the way - pointed out recently, the London Knights will be a force should they pick up John Tavares, who's in his own battle with Victor Hedmen this year to be the top draft pick in June. Nathan says the rumour is Tavares for London for a package that would include Akim Aliu. Another team I've heard in the Tavares trade sweepstakes is Kitchener, as we spoke about on The Pipeline Show on August 26th in our ICU video Focus of the week, it's near the end of the segment.

And of course good to see the prairies represented with Brandon slotting in at #8. The rookie line from last year of Scott Glennie, Matt Calvert and Brayden Schenn is now a year older and should be even more dangerous this season.

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