NHL Development Camps Underway
By the end of this week, there will have been a total of seven current Brandon Wheat Kings players take the ice wearing the logo of a National Hockey League team, doing their best to show case their talents in hopes of obtaining an invite to training camp next fall. For some, getting that invite to an NHL training camp next September won’t be a concern as they have already earned that right by being drafted by their respective NHL clubs. These players include: Tanner Kaspick (STL), Kale Clague (LA), Stelios Mattheos (CAR), Daniel Bukac (BOS), and captain Nolan Patrick (PHI). The last three mentioned were drafted 10 days ago at the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, which saw the Philadelphia Flyers take Patrick in the first round – 2nd overall, the Carolina Hurricanes take Stelios Mattheos in the 3rd round – 73rd overall and Daniel Bukac taken by the Boston Bruins in the 7th round – 204th overall.
The current Wheat Kings players who will have to earn their way to an NHL training camp in fall are Ty Lewis, who is taking part in Colorado’s development camp and Brandon net minder Logan Thompson, who is currently skating with the newest NHL franchise in Vegas, under the guidance of former coach and GM, Kelly McCrimmon. Lewis is coming off a big year which saw him score 30 goals, while collecting 38 assists for 68 points in his sophmore season. Meanwhile, Thompson was able to take the reigns as the starting goalie from Jordan Papirny and finish off a fairly successful first season as a WHL starting goalie, with some ups and downs a long the way.
Three other members of the 2016/2017 Brandon Wheat Kings hockey club, all whom have graduated from the junior ranks, are also taking part in WHL development camps this week. Reid Duke, who was the much publicized first signing in Vegas Golden Knights history, is currently impressing at the Golden Knights development camp scrimmages, while being joined by former Wheat King teammate Dmitry Osipov. The Wheat Kings third twenty year old from last season, Tyler Coulter, is currently skating with the Arizona Coyotes at their development camp and is hoping to get a contract to play professionally somewhere next season.
CHL Annual Import Draft
The CHL import draft took place this past Wednesday, July 28th and with the 24th overall pick in the draft, Brandon selected highly skilled Czech forward, Martin Kaut. Kaut could join Brandon defensman, and fellow Czech, Daniel Bukac as the Wheat King’s two European imports for the upcoming season. Martin is a 6’1 winger from Pardubice, Czech Republic who spent last season with the Pardubice U20 Czech Jr. club recording four goals and 12 assists in 22 games, to go a long with 24 penalty minutes. This season will be his 18 year old season and he will be looking to impress in what will be his draft year, as he is not eligible until the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
As shown in recent years, the expansion draft can be a guessing game for CHL General Managers and one that involves trying to juggle getting a productive player while trying to ensure the club gets someone who will be at training camp in August. This has proven to be difficult for WHL teams in the past, including the Brandon Wheat Kings as of late, who have had tough luck the past two import drafts, specifically with Swedish Players. Two seasons ago, while Ivan Provorov manned the Brandon blue line, the club drafted highly touted NHL draft pick Oliver Kylington of Sweden. Oliver ended up playing the entire season in the AHL as an 18 year old for the Calgary Flames affiliate. This past year, Brandon picked Florida Panthers draft choice Linus Nassen of Sweden with their first pick, before selecting their current defensman Daniel Bukac with their second pick in the draft. While Bukac reported to camp, Nassen did not and instead decided to play professionally in Sweden. Oddly, Nassen was drafted again in this past import draft by the Medicine Hat Tigers. It is unknown at this time whether or not he has had a change of heart and is looking at the Western Hockey League as a legitimate option for the upcoming season. It should also be noted that while the Wheat Kings draft pick this year, Martin Kaut, has not yet declared he is playing in Brandon this season, he did send out a tweet thanking the Wheat Kings and showing excitement about being picked by the club. Previous Wheat King imports who have had productive junior careers in the past seven seasons include: Toni Rajala, Alexander Urbom, Alessio Bertaggia, Rihards Bukarts, Richard Nejezchleb and Ivan Provorov.
Wheat Kings Tidbits
- Nolan Patrick recently had successful surgery on June 13th, his third surgery relating to the sports hernia injury, and GM Ron Hextall of the Philadelphia Flyers reports he will be out 4-6 weeks. This means that although he will be in attendance for the Flyers development camp, he will not participate in any of the on-ice sessions.
- It was reported last month by the Wheat Kings Hockey Club that overage defensman James Shearer suffered a torn Achilles tendon this summer and will be out 4-6 months. There is a chance he may not be ready until October or November, which leaves a decision for GM Grant Armstrong to make. Does Brandon go with their current overage situation (James Shearer, Logan Thompson, Kade Jensen & Meyer Nell) to begin the year and wait for James to return before making their final decision? Or does General Manager Armstrong add an additional overage to add some competition in training camp?
- The Brandon Wheat Kings and Everett Silvertips completed a trade that saw Brandon Goaltender prospect Brandon Peacock (17) of Quesnel, BC get moved to Everett for Goaltender prospect Zach Bennett (16) of Winnipeg, MB. Zach Bennett will have the opportunity to compete for the vacant back up role on the Wheat Kings this season, with the recent trade of overage netminder Travis Child to Edmonton, who served as Brandon’s back up a year ago. Bennett played last season for the Winnipeg Thrashers of the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League and was no doubt well scouted by the Wheat Kings staff.