Saturday, August 27, 2011

RDO Wrap, 2012 Draft Rankings, Etc.

The NHL's Research, Development, and Orientation Camp wrapped up a week and a half ago and Sioux commits Jordan Schmaltz and Miles Koules appear to have had solid camps. Schmaltz is part of a draft class that is stacked with high-end defensemen, while Koules impressed scouts with his hockey sense and ability to finish. Koules also displayed a sniper's accuracy, as he impressively took out eight targets on only ten attempts to win the accuracy shooting portion of the Skills Contest.


The RDO camp featured the best of the best of the 2012 eligibles as they prepared to begin their ever-important draft year season. There is obviously a lot of rising and falling that will occur among the top prospects between now and June of 2012, but the early rankings are out and three Sioux commits have made this aggregated list of the Top 100 prospects:

#10 - Jordan Schmaltz
#35 - Stefan Matteau
#88 - Miles Koules

I wouldn't be surprised to see Koules' ranking jump after his performance at the RDO camp, particularly if he gets off to a solid start with the NTDP Under-18 team.


The College Hockey Blog has the Sioux sitting at #4 in their preseason rankings.


Two key cogs to the Sioux living up to such lofty rankings (and hopefully exceeding them) are junior forwards Corban Knight and Danny Kristo. With a very solid defense/goaltending corps returning, offensive production appears to be the biggest question mark entering the season and Knight and Kristo are two of the returnees who will be heavily relied upon early to lead the way offensively for the Sioux. Knight is looking forward to taking on an expanded leadership role while Kristo is featured in this Montreal Canadiens fan blog piece.

Kristo appeared to be a bit snakebitten early on last season. He was generating solid scoring chances but seemed unable to get the puck into the goal. These things tend to even out over time, and when he returned to the lineup towards the end of last season he played very well and seemed to be developing some good chemistry with centerman Brock Nelson. Knight meanwhile, will be the top returning point producer, and I'd love to see him on a line with freshman Rocco Grimaldi. Knight's setup abilities combined with Grimaldi's dynamic and multi-faceted finishing skills could make for a very explosive combination.


Several former Sioux took part in this summer's Minnesota Hockey Camp in Brainerd.


Speaking of former Sioux NHLers, T.J. Oshie is among those primed for a breakout season while the New Jersey Devils' Travis Zajac is expected to miss the first month and a half of the upcoming season due to an Achilles tendon injury.


Sioux commit Charlie Pelnik was sporting some Force gear while conversing with Hurricane goalie Cam Ward as he prepares for the upcoming season at "Camp Brind'Amour." Pelnik will be attending Shattuck-St. Mary's this fall.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Commitments, RDO Links

The men's hockey team has reportedly received commitments from a pair of '95 birth year skaters (equivalent to a high school Junior for the 2011-12 school year). Luke Johnson, the son of former Sioux All-American Steve Johnson, has committed to the Sioux. Johnson spent the past two seasons with Grand Forks Central after playing his 8th grade year for Grand Forks Red River. He is expected to spend the next two seasons playing for the USHL's Lincoln Stars prior to enrolling at UND. The Stars are coached by his uncle and former Sioux forward Chad Johnson.

Also reportedly committing to the Sioux this week was Hill-Murray (MN-HS) forward Luke Voltin. The commitment hasn't been confirmed that I'm aware of, but it's on the Heisenberg List so we'll roll with it. Voltin will be joining fellow recent Sioux commit Keaton Thompson on the USNTDP Under-17 team this coming year. The US Hockey Report ranked him #8 among forwards at the 2010 Select 15 Development Camp, and here's their quick-hitting analysis (the full rankings appear about a third of the way down the page and are dated July 23, 2010):

8. Luke Voltin (#12 Grey) 6-0/175 - 4-4-8 - Played mostly JV at Hill-Murray last season. A lot of power and energy to his game. Can score, can finish. Well-rounded -- comes up with high marks in all areas. Good upside.

He finished the camp tied for 9th in scoring, with 4G-4A-8Pts in five games.

The NHL's Research, Development, and Orientation Camp kicked off today, and though not listed on any pre-camp roster that I saw, Miles Koules joined fellow Sioux commit Jordan Schmaltz at the camp. Here's a Koule article (I couldn't resist...) detailing his father Oren's experience watching his son at the camp. Oren, the former owner of the Tampa Bay Lighting, also sports an impressive showbiz resume.

Jordan Schmaltz is also writing a blog for the USHL on his experience at the camp.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

NHL RDO Camp, Rookie Tournaments, & A Few Links

The NHL's Research, Development, and Orientation Camp kicks off tomorrow in Etobicoke, Ontario. The camp assembles some of the best draft-eligible junior talent in the world to evaluate and test potential rule changes, technological advancements, and equipment modifications in a controlled setting. The camp roster includes 2012 Sioux commit Jordan Schmaltz, and did a brief breakdown of some of the top prospects. If you want to see what this camp is all about and catch a glimpse of the best 2012 draft-eligibles, check out the NHL Network's broadcast schedule for coverage info.

Speaking of Jordan Schmaltz, the Sioux City Musketeer blog posted a very well-done ESPN article in which he was featured.

Coming up in about a month are a handful of NHL prospect & rookie tournaments. Not a lot of team rosters have been confirmed as of yet, but one that has is Toronto's. The Maple Leafs will host a round-robin tournament of prospect teams from Chicago, Pittsburgh, and Ottawa, and former Sioux Matt Frattin is expected to suit up for the Leafs.

Other organizations with a potential Sioux presence that will be participating in September tournaments include Winnipeg, Minnesota, Buffalo, and Edmonton. I have not seen any other rosters thus far, but as they are made available they will be passed along.

The Team USA World Junior team evaluation camp wrapped up last weekend, and the USA squad lost twice to a very solid Sweden team and was able to pick up a victory over Finland. Incoming Sioux freshman Rocco Grimaldi played in six games (including Team USA split squad games) and racked up a line of 3G-2A-5P. Current Sioux sophomore defenseman Derek Forbort also played in six games, notching one assist.

Chicago Blackhawk captain Jonathan Toews won a recent TSN fan poll/tournament asking which player age 23 and under you'd most like to build a franchise around. With all that Toews has already accomplished in his sparkling career, it's hard to believe he won't turn 24 until April.

And lastly, the Regina exhibition game is still a month and a half away, but already Hab Nation is getting concerned that one of their top prospects, dynamic Sioux junior winger Danny Kristo, could go the route of Jason Gregoire and Blake Kessel. Note that incoming Sioux freshman Mark MacMillan is another Canadiens prospect listed in the article...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

International Notes

Former Sioux and 2012 Team USA WJC head coach Dean Blais and his coaching staff have whittled down their Summer Evaluation Camp roster. Both Derek Forbort and Rocco Grimaldi will remain in Lake Placid for the camp's final three games, while Fargo Force defenseman Brian Cooper was among the cuts. Team USA will face Sweden Wednesday and Finland on Thursday. They will close out the camp against Sweden on Saturday. A handful of links and information can be found below:

Final Team USA Evaluation Camp Roster
Camp Schedule
Viewing Information
Grimaldi, Florida Prospects Having Success At Camp

Canada's Junior camp wrapped up Sunday, and here's a brief Edmonton Journal  Q&A with camp participant Dillon Simpson.

The Team USA Under-18 Select Team is taking part in the annual Ivan Hlinka tournament in Eastern Europe, and while no Sioux commits are participating, there is a local presence. Grand Forks Central forward Luke Johnson (son of former Sioux Steve Johnson) and Fargo Force defenseman Justin Wade are on the roster. After two games Team USA is 1-1, with Johnson notching a goal in a 6-3 loss to Finland.

The Team USA Under-17 Select Team begins play this afternoon in the Five Nations Tournament in Ann Arbor, MI. Minot (HS) sophomore-to-be Alex Schoenborn and Fargo Force draft pick Gabe Guertler will be taking part.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Future Sioux in Fargo, Tickets, Thompson & Schmaltz Commit, Etc.-UPDATED

Even though defense recruit Charlie Pelnik has opted to attend Shattuck-St. Mary's this season rather than play for the Fargo Force, several future Sioux are slated to be in Fargo this year as a part of the USHL regular season. Here's a list of the opportunities to catch various Sioux commits take on Zane Gothberg and the Force:

Opponent Sioux Commit Sioux Schedule
Thu, Oct 20 vs Sioux City Jordan Schmaltz @ Wisc. 21st & 22nd
Fri, Nov 11 vs Cedar Rapids Jack Rowe No Game - Off Week
Fri, Dec 09 vs Team USA - 18 S. Matteau, M. Koules vs. Neb-Omaha
Fri, Jan 06 vs Sioux City Jordan Schmaltz No Game
Sat, Jan 07 vs Sioux City Jordan Schmaltz Clarkson @ Winnipeg
Thur, Jan 26 vs Sioux City Jordan Schmaltz vs Wisc. 27th & 28th

Jack Rowe's roster spot with the RoughRiders has yet to be confirmed, but there has been no indication that he won't play for Cedar Rapids this season. Keaton Thompson will be playing for the USNTDP U-17 team, so there's a shot he could be in Fargo Dec. 9-it all depends on what the international schedule looks like for Team USA.

Plan on taking a road trip this season? The Wisconsin, Duluth, and St. Cloud series are etched into my calendar (with an additional trip or two possible as well), so here's some info concerning on-sale dates and ticket outlets:

Series Game Date Tix On-Sale Tickets/Details
Home Games - Sept. 10 Tickets
Wisconsin Oct 21/22 Sept. 22 Tickets
Minnesota Nov 4/5 TBD Details
Bemidji St Nov 19/20 Sept. 17 Tickets
Alaska-Anchorage Dec 2/3 Sept. 26 Tickets
Clarkson @ Winnipeg Jan 7 TBD Tickets
St Cloud St Jan 20/21 Sept. ?? Tickets
Minnesota-Duluth Feb 10/11 Sept. 26 Tickets
Denver Feb 24/25 Sept. 10 Tickets
Final Five (St Paul) Mar 15/16/17

The Sioux have received commitments from two promising young players. Former Devils Lake (HS-ND) defenseman Keaton Thompson has committed to the Sioux for the 2013 or 2014 season, while forward Nick Schmaltz, the younger brother of 2012 commit Jordan Schmaltz, has committed for the 2014 season. Thompson was one of the top defensemen in North Dakota high school hockey last season as a freshman, and he played 13 games for the Fargo Force after the high school season. He has accepted a roster spot with the USNTDP Under-17 team for the 2011-12 season. Schmaltz is a slick, playmaking forward who recently fared quite well at the Team USA Select 15 Development Camp. He will be playing for the Chicago Mission Midget Minors in 2011-2012.

Derrick LaPoint has yet to sign a professional contract, but he may be leaning towards becoming a free agent August 15.

Former Sioux Ryan Johnson spent a good portion of last season getting healthy before signing with the Chicago Blackhawks for the stretch run. The shot blocking specialist discusses his future as he waits patiently for the next step in his career.

The Team USA 2012 World Junior Championship summer evaluation camp is underway in Lake Placid, NY and former Sioux head coach and current 2012 Team USA head coach Dean Blais will be giving all invitees a clean slate. Current Sioux Derek Forbort and incoming freshman Rocco Grimaldi are taking part in the camp.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Development Camps Pt. 3.

Here's a wrap on the rest of the stuff I stumbled across concerning the Sioux presence at this summer's NHL development/prospect camps:

Brock Nelson Interview:

By all indications, Nelson has fully recovered from the broken tailbone he suffered in the national semifinals against Michigan this past spring. He's put on 10-12 pounds and appears to have turned the right heads at the New York Islanders prospect camp. Here's what Isles head coach Jack Capuano had to say about Nelson after a team scrimmage (click on the quote for the full article):
“Brock had a strong game,” the coach said. “Comparing Brock from last year to this year, he’s stronger on the puck, great vision, great reach with his size and the weight and muscle he put on never really affected him at all with his acceleration and his speed so I was very impressed with his game today.”

Here are a few more Nelson themed links:
Nelson Making Strides
Nelson Strong in Scrimmage
Nelson & Anders Lee Stars of the Week

Derek Forbort attended the Los Angeles Kings camp last month and he was featured as one of the Kings top blueline prospects. The father of former Sioux Brett Hextall and Kings assistant GM Ron Hextall comments on Forbort's development, and here's a video interview:

Nick Mattson and Joe Gleason were at the Blackhawk's camp, and this feature reviews the USHL Defensman of the Year's thoughts on the prospect camp experience.

Rocco Grimaldi, Corban Knight, and Derrick LaPoint all took part in the Florida Panther's camp. Grimaldi stood out, and here are several links:
Montreal Gazette Article
Dev Camp Review
Fan Friendly

Also, one message board post I ran across had this to say:
- Rocco Grimaldi stole the show again today. He was amazing in the 1 on 1 drill in front of the net. This kid has it. His size is no concern, he's just so good. To top it all off, he did one of the nicest things I've ever seen a young kid do. At the end of practice, he saw a little boy in a Panthers jersey sitting by the glass. Rocco tapped on the glass, motioned for the kid to come to the door, got off the ice, and handed the kid a puck and started talking to him. It made the kid's day. Hats off to Rocco.

Chay Genoway took part in the Minnesota Wild development camp, and about 35 seconds into the video below you'll see him zip through four defenders on his way to beating the goaltender with a wraparound. It was a classic Genoway goal, a sight surely to be missed this coming season:

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

JP Lamoureux Interview

Earlier this summer former Sioux goaltending standout Jean-Philippe Lamoureux signed a one year deal with Olimpija Ljubljano of the Austrian Elite League. Below is a brief interview after his European arrival:

Monday, August 1, 2011

Player Movement, Signings, Blog Schedule, Etc.

After a few weeks off (vacation and the ever time consuming and much dreaded rummage sale), a lot of catching up is in order, which I will try to break into several posts over the course of the week. The first order of business is to update the summary of former player transactions and signings which have occurred this offseason:

NHL Free Agency:

Zach Parise New Jersey RFA New Jersey 1 Year, $6 Million
Drew Stafford Buffalo RFA Buffalo 4 Years, $16 Million
David Hale Ottawa UFA

Matt Smaby Tampa Bay RFA Anaheim 1 Year, 2 Way Contract
Ryan Johnson Chicago UFA

Chris Porter St Louis UFA St Louis 1 Year, 2 Way Contract
T.J. Oshie St Louis RFA St Louis 1 Year, $2.35 Million
Taylor Chorney Edmonton RFA Edmonton 1 Year, 2 Way Contract
Mike Commodore Columbus UFA Detroit 1 Year, $1 Million

Non-NHL Signings:

Lee Goren Skelleftea Swedish Elite (Sweden 1) Press Release (Swedish)
David Lundbohm Vasteras Hockey Allsvenskan (Sweden 2) Press Release (Swedish)
Jason Ulmer EHC Munchen DEL (Germany 1) Press Release (German)
Jeff Ulmer DEG Metro Stars DEL (Germany 1) Twitter
Ryan Martens EHC Dortmund Oberliga (Germany 3) Press Release (German)
Bill Trew Landshut Bundesliga (Germany 2) Press Release (German)
Colby Genoway Lausanne National B (Switzerland 2) Press Release (French)
Anthony Grieco Asiago Serie A (Italy 1) Press Release (Italian)

The European press releases are rather easy to interpret, assuming you are fluent in five or six languages. However, for those of us who still struggle with our command of the English language, Google Translate is an invaluable tool. The player movement pertains only to those players who have changed teams this offseason. A comprehensive list of all former Sioux players and their 2011-2012 teams will be posted a little closer to the start of the season(s).

The Fighting Sioux have received a commitment from former Edina (MN-HS) Hornet Connor Gaarder to join the team this fall. Gaarder has spent the past two season playing in the NAHL, and last season he was a three-time Central Division Player of the Week with the Coulee Region Chill.

Gaarder's addition to the Fighting Sioux program came as a result of JT Miller's roster spot becoming available after he opted to join the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League. Miller's decision to make a last minute switch from the University of North Dakota to Canadian juniors began a bit of a snowball effect, as several other top prospects spurned the NCAA in favor of the CHL. It is certainly hard to blame a young man for making a decision he feels will better suit his development towards an NHL career, but the proximity to the start of the academic year certainly leaves programs scrambling to fill roster spots.

Dillon Simpson was in-studio on The Pipeline Show this past weekend. Links to the audio can be found in the show's archives.

The Canadian (Aug 3-7) and Team USA (Aug 6-11)World Junior Championship evaluation camps kick-off this week, with Dillon Simpson taking part for Canada and Derek Forbort and Rocco Grimaldi participating for Team USA.

The official 2011-2012 schedule was released today. Full Schedule

Jake Marto recently signed a two-way AHL/ECHL contract with the Winnipeg Jets organization. He could very well be suiting up as a St. John's IceCap alongside former Sioux teammates Jason Gregoire and Michael Forney, whose rights also belong to the Jets. Perhaps this will help draw even more interest to UND's Winnipeg game this season.

Throughout the week I will try to finish catching up on the busy summer we've experienced thus far, including:

Timothy Boger of UND's Dakota Student did an interesting statistical breakdown of the production each WCHA team will be returning this season. I put something together something similar earlier this summer and have been waiting for the early defections to end before summarizing the breakdown. I also looked at the percentage of defensemen and goaltender minutes each team is returning, as well as a look back over the past decade or so and just how much production a team can lose and still win a conference championship. I'm going to try to get that post up by the end of the weekend.

A wrap-up on the Sioux presence at this summer's NHL prospect development camps.

A look at the USHL schedule and when Sioux commits will be playing in Fargo.