Saturday, September 17, 2011

Rookie Tourney Wrap, Who's Going Camping, Toews Getting Physical, Etc.

Rookie camp action wrapped up this week as NHL teams prepared for the start of their main training camps. Jason Gregoire and the Winnipeg Jets rookies closed out their Young Stars action with a 2-0 win over Vancouver. Gregoire finished with a goal and an assist over the course of the three game tournament, and he is heading into main camp with a shot to play for his hometown team.

The Phoenix Coyotes rookies dropped the second game of their two game set with the LA Kings by a score of 4-3. Brett Hextall scored a power play goal for the Coyotes, giving him three goals in the two games against Los Angeles, a franchise he is certainly familiar with. And as he embarks on his goal of making the Hextalls a four generation NHL family, he is playing the game in the family tradition.

Brad Malone wrapped up rookie camp with the Colorado Avalanche, and here's what one observer had to say:

Brad Malone: lovelovelove this kid, wasted no time getting physical in 1-on-1 drill, looking for contact immediately, picked a few corners and made Aitokallio look silly, worked with Mike Brennan for several minutes on deflections, tipping nearly every shot into the net or off the post (the shots were pretty soft, though)

And some more analysis on Malone's play.


An interesting sidenote to the above stories of Gregoire and Hextall is the role college hockey has played. Gregoire stated that it wasn't until he was 15 that he became aware of the NCAA hockey option, and Brett was urged by his father Ron to take the college route so that he'd be prepared if his hockey career didn't work out. Last weekend, during a Q&A session at the FSC Breakfast/Sioux Fan Fast, Andrew MacWilliam commented that he too didn't hear much about the NCAA option until later on in the recruiting process.

MacWilliam commented that the Canadian major junior teams can come at you early and hard, doing whatever they can to make you ineligible for the college option. This is pretty significant considering that kids are 14-15 years of age during their CHL bantam draft year. I'm doing my best to paraphrase MacWilliam's comments from memory here, but he also stated that he knows of players that have exhausted their junior eligibility who won't be playing at the next level, and they are now less prepared to take on life after hockey because the educational aspect of the Canadian junior system is not as strong as it is in the NCAA.

It was some interesting commentary, and it certainly makes you wonder if the marketing arms of the NCAA and College Hockey, Inc. need to be pushing into Canada with more aggression in order to let families and kids know of the viability and benefits of the college choice. It goes without saying that college hockey most definitely isn't for everyone and that CHL hockey (of which, by the way, I am a fan of) also has an awful lot to offer, but the Canadian exposure to the college option appears to need strengthening. Of course, time will only tell if this past summer's rash of top US-born talent backing out of their collegiate commitments is a trend or a short term anomaly, but perhaps there will be more focus instead on retaining elite American talent.

Also interesting is if you look at the ten confirmed players who have committed to enrolling at North Dakota over the next few years, how many Canadians do you see? Stefan Matteau has dual citizenship, so do we count that as 1/2? There's really no point here, just a curious observation considering North Dakota's strong and proud tradition of Canadian-born players.


It's post-Labor Day, so it's officially camping season. Here's a list of former Sioux players taking part in NHL training camps:

PlayerNHL Club
1Jason BlakeAnaheim
2Matt SmabyAnaheim
3Corey FienhageBuffalo
4Drew StaffordBuffalo
5David ToewsChicago
6Jonathan ToewsChicago
7Brad MaloneColorado
8Mike CommodoreDetroit
9Ryan JohnsonDetroit
10Chris VandeveldeEdmonton
11Taylor ChorneyEdmonton
12Matt GreeneLA Kings
13Chay GenowayMinnesota
14Hunter BishopMontreal
15Darcy ZajacNew Jersey
16Travis Zajac (Injured)New Jersey
17Zach PariseNew Jersey
18Brian LeeOttawa
19Brett HextallPhoenix
20Chris PorterSt Louis
21TJ OshieSt Louis
22Matt FrattinToronto
23Jason GregoireWinnipeg
24Joe FinleyBuffalo
25     Michael Forney                Winnipeg

I don't think I missed anyone, but if I did let me know.


The commitment to offseason training was rewarded yesterday as both TJ Oshie and Iron Man extraordinaire Chris Porter fared very well during the fitness testing at St Louis Blues camp. And here's a bit more on the conditioning testing.


From the "For What It's Worth Department," Jason Blake's group won the Anaheim Ducks annual training camp kick-off golf tournament. Check out the sweet orange jackets awarded to the winners-The Master's has nothing on these things:


Everyone knows Jonathan Toews is one of the best all-around hockey players in the world, but he appears to have spent some time this summer working on the physical side of his game:

Toews response to the hit can be found in this Sun-Times piece.


The College Hockey Blog has released its WCHA Preview, which has North Dakota coming in second.


Sioux commit Jordan Schmaltz is featured as one of the best players around yet to play in the NHL. If you don't want to go through the entire slideshow, the Schmaltz page is right here.

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