Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Tuesday Evening Links

Because I was unable to watch the game, there is no recap for last Saturday's 3-1 victory over Clarkson in the US College Hockey Classic. Instead, here's the latest from the Sioux hockey world:
  • The Fighting Sioux lost another USNTDP recruit to Canadian major juniors after 2012 recruit Stefan Matteau announced via Twitter today that he plans on joining the QMJHL's Blainville-Boisbriand Armada next season instead of making his way to UND. Matteau's father, Stephane, was hired as an assistant coach for the Armada prior to this season, and after Stefan's rights were traded to the Armada last Saturday, the handwriting was certainly on the wall. Today Matteau made it official, and it is hard to blame the young man for wanting to play for his father. While it is somewhat conforting that he announced his decision in January rather than mid-summer (a la JT Miller), it continues the growing trend of high-end US talent making collegiate commitments only to back out in favor of major juniors. Signed letters-of-intent carry weight only within the jurisdiction of the NCAA, thus there are no repercussions for a recruit signing a LOI only to back out at a later date. It will be interesting to see how this trend influences the recruiting process and whether or not coaching staffs become a bit more gun-shy about offering scholarships to elite US talent. This on-going topic was touched upon in a recent Q&A with College Hockey Inc.'s Paul Kelly.
  • Matteau's US Under-18 teammate Miles Koules also had his major junior rights traded prior to today's Western Hockey League trading deadline. Koules' rights were sent from Everett to Medicine Hat, but it is believed that Koules' commitment to UND is stronger than that of Matteau. However, the major junior teams can be tremendously persuasive in their recruitment of committed players, so Koules' commitment status certainly warrants monitoring.
  • Yet another Sioux recruit who has drawn serious attention from the major junior ranks, Jordan Schmaltz, was recently featured as a potential Minnesota Wild draft pick in this summer's NHL Entry Draft.
  • It became official today that Mark MacMillan's older brother Mitch has joined the Fighting Sioux. Mitch spent a year and a half playing at St. Could State prior to his decision to leave the Husky program. Due to NCAA transfer guidelines, he will not be eligible to suit up for North Dakota until next January.
  • Stephane Pattyn had a strong game against Clarkson last weekend, and the local newspaper from his MJHL days put together a nice feature on him. Also garnering attention from his hometown media is Corban Knight, who will be counted upon to help lead North Dakota's push towards the postseason.
  • Anaheim Duck Matt Smaby cleared waivers last week and was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL) to get back into game shape after having not yet played this season. The former Sioux defenseman, who has not scored a goal in 122 career NHL games, scored one in his first contest with Syracuse.
  • Matt Frattin was assigned to the Toronto Marlies (the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate) last week. As the Leafs begin to return to full health, Frattin's ice time would have diminished significantly, so the Leaf's opted to send him to the Marlies to keep his development on-track.
  • Jason Blake has played in just six of the Anaheim Ducks' 40 games this season, but he has been involved in both of the winning streaks they been able to string together.
  • The St. Louis Blues have powered their way to the top of the NHL's Central Division, and they've done so with a core of talent, including TJ Oshie, that was developed within the Blues' organization. 
  • Travis Zajac sat out tonight's game at Calgary as he continues to recover from an inflamed Achilles tendon. He states that dealing with his Achilles injury has been a lot tougher than he expected.
  • In the Devils Army midseason review, Zach Parise was named the team's first-half MVP. Meanwhile, Detroit Red Wing defenseman Mike Commodore graded out at a B for his first half performance.
  • Parise's contract status is a hot topic around the league now that the Devils and their star winger can begin contract extension talks that could prevent him from hitting the open market. No talks are currently scheduled, and while Parise has expressed his desire to remain in New Jersey, it will take more than money to convince him to remain a Devil. Meanwhile, longtime Devil Petr Sykora went on record saying it's imperative that the team gets a new deal done with their irreplaceable star, and father JP has said he will have little to no impact on the situation. There have been rumblings that the Devils may look into trading Parise, but as they push towards a playoff berth in what has been a bounce back season, don't expect to see him play for anyone other than New Jersey this season.

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