Thursday, June 30, 2011

Oshie Re-signs With Blues

Former Sioux T.J. Oshie and the St. Louis Blues have agreed to terms on a one year deal. Oshie was set to become a restricted free agent tomorrow if he and the Blues had been unable to work out a new deal.

Zach PariseNew JerseyRFA

Drew StaffordBuffaloRFABuffalo4 Years, $16 Million
David HaleOttawaUFA

Matt SmabyTampa BayRFA

Ryan JohnsonChicagoUFA

Chris PorterSt LouisUFASt Louis1 Year, 2 Way Contract
T.J. OshieSt LouisRFA
St. Louis

1 Year, $2.35 Million
Taylor ChorneyEdmontonRFA

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Free Agency & A Mixed Bag

NHL free agency fires up Friday, and several former Sioux find themselves in search of new contracts. Drew Stafford and Chris Porter have already signed new deals, and below is a list of the other former Sioux who played in the NHL last season and will be looking to sign new deals this summer:

Zach Parise New Jersey RFA

Drew Stafford Buffalo RFA Buffalo 4 Years, $16 Million
David Hale Ottawa UFA

Matt Smaby Tampa Bay RFA

Ryan Johnson Chicago UFA

Chris Porter St Louis UFA St Louis 1 Year, 2 Way Contract
T.J. Oshie St Louis RFA

Taylor Chorney Edmonton RFA

Oshie recently received a qualifying offer from St. Louis, which prevents him from becoming an UFA,
while the New Jersey Devils have filed for arbitration in their effort to get Parise signed long-term
without risking losing him to an offer sheet it might not be able to match. It will also be interesting to
see where Jason Gregoire signs, and if any other former Sioux are able to make there way into the NHL.

McKeen's Hockey published an interview with incoming recruit Rocco Grimaldi about a week before
the NHL Draft,  and when asked about next year's outlook at North Dakota Grimaldi replied:

"I expect to be a big part of it, to be a big contributor, and I expect to win. I really do expect to win.
That's just the mental attitude that I have. We're going to be a pretty young team, but we're going to
be a pretty dang good, solid, skilled team. I think we'll do really well. Obviously, I want to win in the
end. That's our goal and hopefully I'll be a big part of that and be able to help along the way." 

I love his positive outlook, the expectations he has of himself, and the expectations he has of the
team. Here's the full interview.

The USHL put together some short highlight reels of some it's NHL Draft prospects, including
Grimaldi and fellow incoming recruit Colten St. Clair:


St. Clair:

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Belfour Headed For The Hall

Former UND Fighting Sioux goaltender Ed Belfour learned this afternoon that he will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in an induction ceremony this November. Belfour, who was selected for the Hall in his first year of eligibility, will be joined by Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe and Joe Nieuwendyk.

A native of Carman, Manitoba, Belfour spent just one season with the Sioux, but he made that season count. He posted a 2.43 GAA, .914 Save Percentage, and three shutouts en route to a 29-4 record during North Dakota's 1986-87 NCAA National Championship season.

Professionally, his accolades include winning two Vezina Trophies as the league's most outstanding goalkeeper and four Jennings Trophies as the goaltender on the team having given up the fewest goals over the course of the season. He also earned the Calder Cup as the NHL's top rookie in 1991 and won a Stanley Cup Championship with the Dallas Stars in 1999.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Draft Wrap, Etc.

With the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in the books, how did the world of college hockey fare? 57 players were selected with collegiate ties, and there were two others drafted who have indicated they are planning on playing college hockey but have yet to commit to a school. Below is a breakdown by conference and school:

WCHA - 23 HE - 7 CCHA - 13 ECAC - 14
Minnesota - 5 Boston University - 3 Miami-OH - 4 Harvard - 4
Denver - 4 Northeastern - 3 Notre Dame - 3 Cornell - 3
Wisconsin - 4 Vermont - 1 Ohio St - 3 Yale - 2
North Dakota - 3
Michigan - 1 RPI - 2
Nebraska-Omaha - 3
Michigan St - 1 Quinnipiac - 2
Minnesota-Duluth - 2
Western Michigan - 1 Brown - 1
Michigan Tech - 1

Colorado College - 1

The two non-committed players are Mario Lucia of Wayzata (MN) HS and Eddie Wittchow of Bursnville (MN) HS. Lucia stated Saturday at the draft that his choices are down to Colorado College, Notre Dame, and Minnesota, where he would play for his father and head coach Don Lucia. Wittchow just completed a breakout senior season at Burnsville and spurned an offer from Wisconsin to begin school this fall, opting instead to play for Waterloo of the USHL. Aside from Wisconsin, he is on the radar of Minnesota, Ohio State, Colorado College, Bemidji State and North Dakota.

When looking at the numbers, the ECAC's showing really stands out. The "smart kid" league, which was lambasted by some last season for the perceived weak conference schedule that enabled Yale to end up atop the PairWise rankings, had 14 players selected, second only to the WCHA's 23. And lastly, while roster makeup and incoming recruit numbers certainly fluctuate from year-to-year, it's always surprising to not see perennial power Boston College on the list.

Incoming Sioux recruit JT Miller, selected #15 overall by the New York Rangers, is reportedly hoping to make his stay at North Dakota a short one.

Incoming recruit Rocco Grimaldi is profiled in this cool piece, while 2012 incoming recruit Stefan Matteau is profiled in this article from USA Hockey.

I heard a radio report on the drive home today that former Sioux Jason Herter will be leaving the Fargo Force and has accepted an assistant coaching job with the current national champion Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs. This of course means that the Force will have their fourth coach in four seasons of the franchise's existence. This kind of staff turnover cannot be good for the team and it's players, but it's nice to see that all three former coaches (all with significant ties as coaches or players at North Dakota) have moved onto the world of WCHA hockey after their time with the Force.

And lastly, tomorrow we find out whether former Sioux and NHL legendary goaltender Eddie Belfour will be part of the Hockey Hall of Fame's Class of 2011. Here's a breakdown of Belfour and many of the other eligible candidates.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

NHL Draft Rounds 2-7 & George Pelawa Video

The 2011 NHL Entry Draft wrapped up yesterday with future Sioux forward Rocco Grimaldi and current Sioux defenseman Dillon Simpson earning selections.

Grimaldi was chosen by the Florida Panthers in the 2nd Round (33rd Overall), and jokingly stated via Twitter that "I have decided to take my talents to South Beach and join the Florida Panthers haha." Look out, LeBron. Grimaldi was widely considered to have surefire 1st Round talent, and while his small frame surely made some teams uneasy, his devout religious beliefs may have scared off others. During the Versus Round 1 broadcast Friday night Grimaldi stated that during interviews teams asked questions concerning his faith and how that might affect his relationships with teammates:

Considering that some say he may have been the number one overall pick if he were half a foot taller, the Florida Panthers may have landed the steal of the draft on Day 2. Only time will tell, but there are certainly players who use skill and ability to make size a non-issue in today's NHL game.

Simpson was taken by his hometown Edmonton Oilers with the first pick of the 4th Round (92nd Overall). Simpson's father, CBC hockey analyst Craig Simpson, spent six years with the Oilers, winning two Stanley Cup Playoff Championships. The Simpsons, however, weren't the only Edmonton Oiler father-son duo to make headlines during this year's draft.

Here's an interview with the Simpsons following Dillon's selection:

The NHL Network also aired a touching piece on George Pelawa, a 1986 Calgary Flame draft pick from Bemidji, MN who was to be a freshman on North Dakota's 1986-87 National Championship winning "Hrkac Circus" team. 25 years later, the pain his family members and friends still live with is almost palpable:

Saturday, June 25, 2011

NHL Draft Round 1

Sioux incoming commit JT Miller was selected last night by the New York Rangers in the NHL Entry Draft. Miller, the #15 overall selection, was the only future Sioux to be taken in the First Round. Future Sioux Rocco Grimaldi is expected to go early on Day 2, current Sioux Dillon Simpson should be a mid-round pick, and 2011 incoming Sioux and former Fargo Force member Colten St. Clair could be selected in the draft's later rounds.

Below are a couple links regarding the pick along with an interview with JT following his selection. 

Blueshirt Banter

The strength of the Fighting Sioux hockey program is mentioned as the interviewer comments on how Miller will be going to North Dakota rather than Canadian juniors. There is no doubt that having hockey alums like Toews, Parise, Greene, Stafford, Oshie, Zajac, etc., have the kind of success they've all experienced helps allay fears NHL clubs might have concerning their prospects going the collegiate route over major juniors. It's very much a tribute to the coaches, staff, facilities, and entire program at North Dakota. Well done...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

NHL Draft Combine Wrap Up

The 2011 NHL Draft Combine wrapped up last weekend in Toronto, and here's a brief interview with Rocco Grimaldi following his fitness testing:

...and with JT Miller following his fitness testing:

Miller and Grimaldi were roommates at the Combine, and with Grimaldi wrapping up his fitness testing before Miller, apparently a little gamesmanship was in order. Here's an excerpt from this link that followed Miller and other Pittsburgh area prospects throughout the Combine:

Miller kept a daily blog for for the first three days of the Combine (Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday), and he told us that his roommate here in Toronto was USNTDP teammate Rocco Grimaldi.

Grimaldi was in the first fitness testing group from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. So of course, I asked Rocco if he was going to return to the hotel and tell J.T. any horror stories. His response?

"Oh, absolutely. I’m going to get in his head and I’m going to try and make him a little bit nervous. But I’m not going to try and make him too nervous. He’ll be great here."

I then asked J.T. if he had heard from Rocco and he said, "I sure did." While Miller said he wasn't getting nervous, he did say he was getting "just a little intimidated."

Below is a summary of how the two Sioux recruits fared during the fitness testing portion of the Combine, and here is a link for the top ten for every test.
Sum of Six Skinfolds (mm)
T1   32.8 mm  Rocco Grimaldi

Percent Body Fat
T1   6.8%   Rocco Grimaldi

Hand Eye Coordination
5   24.3   JT Miller

Vertical Jump (Pause)
T9  28.3 inches   JT Miller

Vertical Jump (No Pause)
5   29.8 inches   Rocco Grimaldi

4 Jump - Avg. Jump Height
T6   24.2 inches   Rocco Grimaldi

Push Ups
4   39   Rocco Grimaldi

Push Strength (lb/lb body weight)
3   1.67   Rocco Grimaldi

Pull Strength
7   294 lbs.   JT Miller

Pull Strength (lb/lb body weight)
6   1.56   JT Miller

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

NHL Draft Combine Part 1

Here are a few NHL Combine links featuring 2011 Sioux recruits JT Miller and Rocco Grimaldi:

JT Miller interview from PensTV Online:

JT Miller and Team USA's Pittsburgh connection

Rocco Grimaldi is featured in this NHL Combine piece