Thursday, May 21, 2009

NCAA/CHL Free Agent Forwards Wishlist

The Edmonton Oilers will be holding their annual summer Top Prospects Camp in July as opposed to in June as in years past. This will enable them to invite the players that they will have just selected in the NHL Entry Draft as well as all of their NCAA properties who, like Matt Glasser the last two years, may have not been able to participate because of exams.

It will also give the Oilers a chance to invite some un-drafted overage players for a closer look as a precursor to another invite to the main camp in the fall.

I haven't spoken with anyone with the team yet about a list of players they might invite in July but I have drawn up my own. It consists largely on overage players from the WHL and the NCAA but there are a few OHL and QMHL players thrown in as well. Some of these guys might get snapped up in the draft which would obviously erase the possibility of them getting an invite from Edmonton.

Last year the Oilers invited a handful of players, my list is significantly longer but... here it is.

Lee Jubinville (F) - Princeton Tigers
Born Apr 30, 1985 Edmonton, ALTA
Height 5.10 Weight 175 Shoots L

Jubinville's 4-year NCAA career is done and because of his obvious tiny stature he was never drafted. However, playing in the ECAC Conference with the Princeton Tigers, Jubinville was able to put up some pretty good numbers. His best year, 2007-08, he compiled 39 points in 34 games, was named a Conference All-Star and was a Hobey Baker candidate. By comparison, Oiler prospect Riley Nash's top offensive output so far is 35 points although he's played 36 games in both of his ECAC seasons. (Nash is bigger but Jubinville is older)

The former member of the Camrose Kodiaks, Jubinville is a quick offensive player. I'm not sure how he'll make out as a pro playing against much bigger and stronger competition. Certainly the odds would be against him.

Mike Connolly (F) - Minnesota-Duluth
Born Jul 3, 1989 Calgary, ALTA
Height 5.11 Weight 180 Shoots L

He was a freshman at Duluth this year after two great years in Camrose. Connolly was a player I really thought someone should have taken a flier on in the draft last year because despite a lengthy layoff due to injury he still was a leading scorer for the Kodiaks and he was instrumental in their AJHL and Doyle Cup titles.

In Duluth he proved that he could be just as big of a contributor racking up 42 points in 43 games for the WCHA's Bulldogs. He finished third n team scoring but scored a clutch overtime goal against Princeton in the NCAA tournament. Connolly's not a big guy either but deserves a look.

Justin Fontaine (F) - Minnesota-Duluth
Born Nov 6, 1987 Bonnyville, ALTA
Height 5.10 Weight 170 Shoots R

Sticking with the Bulldogs for a minute, I think Justin fontaine is another intriguing player. He is a former AJHL Rookie of the Year (2005-06), played in the CJAHL Top Prospects game and played in the Viking Cup in 2006 as well. He led Bonnyville in scoring two straight years compiling 152 points in just over 100 games.

This year in Duluth he was second in team scoring with 48 points and was 9th in the nation in scoring. It was his sophomore year so he's probably got 2 more NCAA seasons ahead of him as at his size, I don't see a NHL club signing him early. He was Duluth's Rookie of the Year last season.

Carter Camper (F) - Miami RedHawks
Born Jul 6 1988 -- Rocky River, OH
Height 5.09 -- Weight 173 -- Shoots R

Yes he's small but as Miami head coach Enrico Blasi told us during the Frozen Four Coach's Show, the fact that Carter Camper has put together back-to-back +40 point seasons proves he's got what it takes. The CCHA is a very competitive NCAA Conference, there's no hiding and there are few opponents where you go into games getting ready to pad your stats. Camper was tied for 23rd in the NCAA scoring race. He's fast, agile, had 20 goals, he can dangle or set up plays.

I will be a little surprised if Camper goes undrafted again this June, especially considering Miami reached the National Championship game and the diminutive forward didn't wither under the spotlight. Camper actually picked up a point in both Frozen Four games including a dandy assist in the Championship loss to Boston University.

Mike McKenzie (F) - St. Lawrence University
Born Apr 29, 1986 Whitby, ONT
Height 6.00 Weight 175 Shoots L

McKenzie led the Saints in scoring this year as a junior and almost took them to a NCAA tournament at-large bid. His numbers jumped this past year as he set career bests in every category. I have seen his weight listed anywhere from 175 - 190 lbs so I'm not sure what it is exactly but I think we can safely say that he is of average size.

He played two years with the St. Mike's Buzzers and was a linemate with Andrew Cogliano. He's also the son of respected TSN analyst Bob McKenzie. The soon-to-be senior will be one of the alternate captains for the Saints for the 2009-10 campaign.

Jay Fehr (F) - Brandon Wheat Kings
Born Mar 2, 1989 Morden, MB
Height 5.10 Weight 170 Shoots L

He's overshadowed by the big name draft eligible players on his team but the few times I've watched the Wheaties when they've rolled through Rexall Place, this is the guy that gets them going. Fehr had a 4-point game against the Oil Kings in October and followed that up with a 17-game scoring steak where he compiled 31 points. Fehr doubled his goal scoring from his rookie year to 32 goals and ended with 84 points.

Interestingly enough, he lists the Oilers as his favorite NHL team which leads me to believe he'd bust his ass just as hard for Edmonton as he does in Brandon. He's a spark plug player but has a knack for production because of how hard he competes.

Tyler Shattock (F) - Kamloops Blazers
Born Feb 3, 1990 Salmon Arm, BC
Height 6.03 Weight 198 Shoots R

This was someone I wondered about in regards to last year's draft. he went unselected but with his size I was surprised that no one took a chance on Shattock. I was told that his skating is a big issue and that may be true but I look at the leap forward in his production and wonder if this is someone that might be a bit of a late bloomer.

Shattock went from 9 goals to 30 last year and his point total jumped from 23 to 69. I think there is enough intangible evidence here to warrant an invite for a closer look.

Justin Dowling (F) - Swift Current Broncos
Born Oct 1, 1990 Cochrane, ALTA
Height 5.10 Weight 182 Shoots L

I had the good fortune of being able to cover for Oil Kings radio colour analyst Kent Simpson for two games this past year, one of them was against Swift Current. One of the guys who I wanted to pay attention to was this Dowling kid who was outscoring all the drafted players on his team and yet wasn't getting any recognition as a notable 2009 eligible prospect himself. Cody Eakin is, and deservedly so, but Dowling's 66 points were 9 more than Geordie Wudrick a player who went in the 3rd round last year.

Unfortunately Dowling did nothing really special in that game so my questions really didn't get answered. But that's why he's on my invite wish list - because I still want to know if he did it with mirrors or if this is someone who is really getting overlooked.

Here are a few other forwards that I have in mind: Dustin Cameron is a 6'1 and 195 lb winger who lit the lamp 33 times this year for the Prince Albert Raiders... Ian Duval is at the Memorial Cup right now with Kelowna but all he's every done is produce - he was a point per game player in Moose Jaw and for the Rockets this year... speaking of the Rockets, the Bloodoff brothers (Evan and Lucas) have made me fans with their physical forechecking style of play... Andrew Clark potted 40 goals for the Wheat Kings in his final WHL year, all of it spent in Brandon... Bemidji State got to the Frozen Four this year and Tyler Scofield led them in goal scoring with 22. He may have been the fastest skater in the NCAA but at 5'8 and 150 lbs you'd expect him to be fast... James Marcou is another tiny forward but he had 47 points in 39 games with the Massachusetts Minutemen which was good for 12th overall in NCAA scoring...

I have some goalies on my list as well as a handful of blueliners but I'll save them for another day.

Have some thoughts on the guys I mentioned (other than TOO SMALL!) then please leave some comments. Have some other guys YOU would prefer get an invite or maybe one of these guys has already been scooped up and I missed it? Let me know.

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(Photos Courtesy:, WHL, UMD, St.Lawrence University, Miami RedHawks)


Vik said...

The knock on the Wheaties forwards (Clark and Fehr) isn't simply that they're small but they're somewhat lacking in foot speed too. I'd still be all for giving them a look though. A note on Lucas Bloodoff, he was with Tampa Bay in the Traverse City Tournament last year and some felt he was possibly the most impressive of the group (though whether that's more of a shot at Tampa's group of prospects or a compliment to him, I'm not sure).

As for other names, I'll throw Ben Wright out there. He was a 4th round pick in 2006 by Columbus, wasn't signed, and passed through last year's draft but I can't see why. He was voted 2nd best defensive dmen in the Eastern Conference of the Dub (behind Keith Aulie, tied with Alex Plante), ain't shy about getting physical and has been pretty effective with his gloves off from what I've seen. Plus he's led Lethbridge in defensive scoring the last 3 seasons.

Guy Flaming said...

Ben Wright is on my list of defencemen...

Someone told me that he had signed with a team after camp last year (I know it wasn't Columbus) but I'm still trying to confirm if it's even true, and if it is then which team it was.