We are getting closer to that wonderful time of the year – the start to the WHL season. Accompanying the start to the year each season is fans of some WHL teams paying close attention to NHL training camps and preseason games to see if a 19-year-old WHL player will stick with the NHL team who ahs his rights.
The Collective Bargaining Agreement does not allow players drafted out of the CHL to play in the AHL, so these players have to stay in the NHL or return to the junior team that owns their rights. They can, however play nine games in the NHL and then return. If they play in a 10th game, the first year of their entry-level contract kicks in.
Last year both Kailer Yamamoto of the Spokane Chiefs and Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings started out in the NHL. Yamamoto played nine games with the Edmonton Oilers before returning to the Chiefs. Patrick , who was the second overall pick in 2017, played all year with the Philadelphia Flyers. He notched 30 points in 73 games and then had two points in six playoff games.
In the 2016-17 season the Wheat Kings also had a 19-year-old play for the Flyers as defenseman Ivan Provorov had 30 points in 82 games in the NHL. Seattle Thunderbirds center Mathew Barzal got into two games with the New York Islanders before coming back and leading the T-birds to a WHL title. That same year the Buffalo Sabres called up Prince George Cougars defenseman Brendan Guhle as part of an emergency call-up situation for three games but then returned him.
Going back to the 2015-16 season, the second overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft – Sam Reinhart got a nine-game stint with the Sabres before they sent him back to the Kootenay Ice. Calgary Hitmen center Jake Virtnanen stayed with the Vancouver Canucks all year – getting into 55 games and potting 13 points.
So over the past three seasons, there has been at least two players each year who play in the NHL and at least one of them stays for the full year.
Keeping in mind, of course that each individual player and team situation is different, who are the players most likely to get a taste or more of the NHL this year:
Cody Glass – Center- Vegas Golden Knights – sixth overall pick in 2017 – Portland Winterhawks
Glass was the first even draft pick in the history of the Vegas Golden Knights. After drafting him, they gave him and their two other first round picks some preseason games, before sending them on their way. Glass had a couple big moments in the preseason, including an impressive pass to former Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Tyler Wong for a goal. Glass’ playmaking is ready for the NHL, but is the rest of his game?
It was reported that the six-foot-two Glass is now up to 188 pounds and is looking much stronger than a year ago. This is a big area that held him back from the NHL a season ago and if he comes into training camp and proves that he can hold his own against older and bigger men, the Golden Knights may just give him some time in the NHL.
They do have good depth up the middle
Vegas’ rookie camp starts on Thursday, September 6th and main camp begins on Thursday, September 13th. Vegas then has seven scheduled preseason games that go through September 30th. The regular season begins for them Thursday, October 4th. The ninth regular season game for Vegas is on Thursday, October 24th.
Portland fans may want to get out to the Neely Cup and the preseason tournament in Everett if they want to see Glass. It looks like he will for sure miss the tournament in Tri-City and (if he stays through the preseason) he could miss the first four games of the regular season, including the home opener.
If Glass stays for a nine-game stint with Vegas, he will miss at least the first 10 games of the regular season.
Michael Rasmussen – Center – Detroit Red Wings – ninth overall pick in 2017 – Tri-City Americans
In years past, Rasmussen would not have stood a chance at making the Detroit Red Wings. There was a dearth of prospects in their system that even elite players had to wait to make the big club. Now the Wings do not have that same strength in their system and a player like Rasmussen has a good chance at making the NHL out of training camp.
Rasmussen had a solid training camp a season ago and impressed with his elite ability to work in traffic and use his big six-foot-six frame in close to the net. After suffering a wrist injury and missing time with Tri-City, he found his stride in the playoffs where he potted 33 points in 14 playoff games. At times in the first two rounds it looked like he was a man playing against boys as he and Morgan Geekie had their way physically and he uncorked his pro-ready shot by hapless B.C. Division goalies.
One big reason we could see Ramsussen get a shot in the regular season is his ability to produce on the power play. This skill is something that should transfer over to the next level and will help him earn at the very least a taste of the NHL.
If he does not produce, we could see him get sent back for one more junior season and a likely roster spot with Canada’s U20 World Juniors team.
Detroit’s training camp goes September 14th-18th and their first preseason game is September 19th. They have seven preseason games that go through September 29th.
Due to the later start of Detroit’s camp, Rasmussen could end up participating in the Tri-City preseason tournament which runs the 6th through the 8th, though he will not play in the game on Saturday the 15th against the Chiefs in Kennewick.
If Rasmussen get a nine-game stint, he will be out through October 22nd. That would mean him missing 10 or possibly 11 Americans regular season games.
Henri Jokiharju – Defenseman – Chicago Blackhawks – 29th overall pick in 2017 – Portland Winterhawks
Jokiharju’s situation is a little bit different in that there has not been definitive information as it stands now about whether he can play in the AHL as a 19-year-old. There is information out there that he was brought to Portland in the CHL Import Draft on a loan and thus the CBA does not apply to him. However, Portland head coach and general manager Mike Johnston told me earlier this summer that he did not believe Jokiharju was AHL eligible.
It may not matter.
Jokiharju had an extremely strong development camp with the Blackhawks and Chicago is looking really thin on defense. There was talk that they were going to try and bring in right-handed d-man Justin Faulk, but now that does not seem likely. Jokiharju has improved physically according to Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman – which was the area they wanted him to work on. Bowman was very clear in what Jokiharju needs to do at training camp in order to make the opening night roster and that is the defensive side of things.
September 14th is when things get kicked off for the Blackhawks, meaning like Rasmussen and unlike Glass, Joikiharju is available to go to the Tri-City preseason tournament, though I would not be surprised if he gets that time off.
Chicago has six preseason games with the first going on September 18th and the last one going on the 29th of September. You would have to think that he will at least be given the preseason to show that his defense is up to snuff.
If he plays nine games in the NHL, he will be sent down after the October 23rd game at home against Anaheim. Id he does go back to Portland after that game, he will have missed 10 games.
There is a possibility that both Jokiharju and Glass go back to Portland after missing 10 games. If they both make their country’s U20 World Junior Championship rosters they could end up missing 17-18 games apiece from their 2018-19 WHL seasons. If that happens or one or both of Jokiharju and Glass stay in the NHL, this season for Portland could be far more reliant upon their youth and non-NHL drafted players this year.
Other 1999-born players with a shot to play in the NHL this year:
-Jaret Anderson-Dolan -Center – L.A. Kings – 41st overall pick in 2017 – Spokane Chiefs.
-Parker Kelly – Center – Ottawa Senators – Free Agent signee in 2017 – Prince Albert Raiders.
Both Anderson-Dolan and Kelly would need incredible training camps to get any time in the regular season. Despite being undrafted, Kelly actually seems the more likely of the two as he seemingly has torn up every camp he has been at for Ottawa. The Senators do look to be rebuilding this year and inserting a young, hard-working Kelly into the bottom-six might not be out of the question.
Neither of these two seem likely to make the big jump this year but we have had surprises before. Yamamoto was not expected to go straight to the NHL and he earned a spot with a great training camp and preseason. This could happen for either Kelly or Anderson-Dolan.
Royals bring in another forward
The Victoria Royals addressed an urgent need for the second week in-a-row, acquiring 1999-born forward Tanner Sidaway from the Regina Pats in exchange for an eighth round WHL Bantam Draft pick in 2019.
In the deal, the Victoria native returns home and should get an opportunity to compete for a bigger role than he had previously with the Pats.
After being added to the Red Deer Rebels protected list in 2014, he plied his trade with South Island Royals of the BCMML in 2014-15. The next season he drew played with the Westshore Wolverines of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League. He racked up 138 penalty minutes in only 387 games and found himself going all the way from junior “B” to major junior as he got into two games with the Kootenay Ice – who added him as part of the Luke Philp trade on January 3rd, 2016.
In 2016-17 he had 61 penalty minutes and eight points for the Ice in 65 games. As an 18-year-old player, last year he had a goal and an assist in five games for the ICE, before he was moved to the Pats along with a seventh round pick for Jeff de Wit.
The six-foot, 181 pound Sidaway had three assists and 65 penalty minutes with the Pats in 58 games and then got into six playoff games.
Here is how I have the Royals’ current projected depth chart. Keep in mind that the Royals already dropped de Wit and they have to part ways with at least two of Hannoun, Zablocki, Buziak, defenseman Ralph Jarratt and goalie Griffen Outhouse. They also drafted import Phillip Schultz in the most recent CHL Import Draft and may have parted ways with Grishakov – though is not confirmed yet.
|Kaid Oliver (00)||Dante Hannoun (98)^||Lane Zablocki (98)^|
|Igor Martynov (99)#||Braydon Buziak (98)^||Dino Kambeitz (00)|
|Andrei Grishakov (99)#||Jesse Lees (00)||Tarun Fizer (01)|
|D-Jay Jerome (99)||Tyus Gent (01)||Tanner Sidaway (99)|
|Ty Yoder (02)||Alex Bolshakov (02)*|
Czech Republic gets one back from Finland
In the second of two exhibition games between the U20 teams for the Czech Republic and Finland, the Czechs beat Finland 5-1 behind a strong effort from Jiri Petera who was drafted by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Draft and the Brandon Wheat Kings in the CHL Import Draft.
Yesterday Finland beat the Czechs 9-3.
Besides Patera, Portland Winterhawks drafted and signed forward Michal Kvasnica and now former Brandon Wheat King Daniel Bukac were on the Czech’s roster for the two-game set.
I know Zadina (DET), Necas (CAR), Kaut (COL) and Lauko (BOS) are in the Czech Republic for the camp. pic.twitter.com/2SwCVhETMY
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) July 23, 2018
#U20: Finland begins a two-game set with the Czechs tomorrow from Vierumäki in preparation for the WJSS that begins later this week in Kamloops, BC. Here is the roster for the tune-ups. Lots of NHL prospects, but IMO 2019 draft RW Kaapo Kakko (Ranked No. 3) is the real prize. pic.twitter.com/yXVRCes2te
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) July 23, 2018
Links and notes:
-Former Medicine Hat Tigers coach Willie Desjardins has shifted gears from coaching Canada’s Winter Olympics team team to heading a hockey academy program.
–Great write up by Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times on what an NHL team could do for the development of hockey in the Seattle area. Someone who knows how much this is needed is Jamie Huscroft, a former Seattle Thunderbirds enforcer. He is now director of the Sno-Kings Ice Sports program.
–Four Chilliwack, B.C. natives will be going to WHL camps. Goalie Bradyn Nelnyk was drafted by Saskatoon and will go to the Blades camp. Defenseman Luke Wismer will be at the Swift Current Broncos camp and Lukas Bourdon and Clay Kurtz will be headed over to the Kamloops Blazers prospect camp.
— Pro Hockey Rumors (@prohockeyrumors) July 24, 2018
-The former Moose Jaw Warrior and Kamloops Blazer got a new deal.
Hockey mom’s deafness pushed her boys to be better https://t.co/q3GdqUPCDE via @torontostar – an amazing hockey family… I enjoyed working with both Ocean and Orca…. and there is much more still to come for all of them! Good Luck!
— Kevin Yellowaga (@PuckSmart) July 24, 2018