Friday, June 24, 2016

One Pat and One Warrior Taken In First Round of 2016 NHL Draft

The 2016 NHL Draft began with the first round on Friday evening from the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, NY. Four WHL players heard their names called within the first 30 picks.

Jake Bean (Calgary, AB / Calgary Hitmen), Brett Howden (Oakbank, MB / Moose Jaw Warriors), Lucas Johansen (Port Moody, BC / Kelowna Rockets) and Sam Steel (Sherwood Park, AB / Regina Pats) were all selected in the first round of the NHL Draft on Friday. The NHL Draft resumes Saturday morning with the second round beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET.

In total, 15 of the 30 selections made on Friday evening developed this year in the Canadian Hockey League. With the WHL’s 50th Season recently completed, a total of 1,937 players have now been selected in the NHL Draft out of the WHL.

Jake Bean (13th overall, Carolina Hurricanes)
A native of Calgary, AB, Bean had a breakout year with the Hitmen, leading all Western Hockey League defencemen with 24 goals and in the process setting the franchise record for most goals in single season by a blueliner. His long list of accolades this past campaign included his 12 power play goals, which tied for top spot among WHL blueliners, and his 64 points, sixth among rearguards. He was also named the WHL Eastern Conference Most Sportsmanlike Player in 2015-16.

Brett Howden (27th overall, Tampa Bay Lightning)
This season, Howden had 24 goals and 64 points in 68 games and finished fourth in team scoring.  During the 2016 WHL Playoffs he had four goals and 15 points in 10 games and was tied for third in team scoring. From Oakbank, MB, Howden was selected fifth overall by the Warriors in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft. In 2014-2015 he finished with 22 goals and 46 points in 68 games and was fifth in WHL rookie scoring.

Lucas Johansen (28th overall, Washington Capitals)
Johansen played in 65 games for the Rockets in 2015-16, scoring 10 times and adding 39 assists, for a 49-point season, his second in the WHL. The Port Moody, BC native became the second Rocket chosen by the Capitals in the last three years on Friday after former Rocket Madison Bowey was drafted by Washington in the 2013 NHL Draft. Other Rockets defenceman to be drafted in the first round of the NHL Draft include Scott Hannan, Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers.

Sam Steel (30th overall, Anaheim Ducks)
The Sherwood Park, AB native had a strong year for the Regina Pats during the 2015-16 Season. He played in all 72 games and tallied 70 points (23g-47a). Steel added to his totals during a strong performance in the WHL Playoffs where he averaged over a point-per-game. Over 12 games in the WHL Playoffs, Steel managed 16 points (6g-10a). Steel also earned a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and received a spot on Team Cherry for the 2016 CHL Top Prospects game.



This and That

Welcome to Friday!  Here are the weekly collection of thoughts running through my muddled mind, and as always, they come in no particular order!

They're off! The 2016 CFL season started in Toronto last night with another game tonight and two more on Saturday to close out Week 1 of the season. Yes, the Riders are left in the dust until Thursday's Week 2 opener against the Argos at home, but it will be nice to watch some regular-season CFL football as it will lead the way into CIS, NCAA and NFL. Ahhhhhhh----football is back! 

As is the case every year, the question is who hoists the Grey Cup high in November.  I see it being a two team race in the West with Calgary battling Edmonton and a two horse race in the East with Hamilton battling Toronto. I see the Stamps and Argos fighting it out at BMO Field in November with the Stampeders coming away with the trophy. As for the Riders, I know they will be better in Chris Jones' first year in charge. In fact, I think they will be the 3rd place team in the West beating out both the Bombers and Lions as they will make a 2nd half charge. Is it too much to ask for a nine win season. I don't think so. If you want predictions, go Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatchewan, Winnipeg and BC in the West with the East standings having Toronto, Hamilton, Ottawa and Montreal from to top to bottom.

As the season starts, the focus in Riderville is squarely on this guy and why not?

It has become painfully evident over the last year and a half that the fortunes of the Saskatchewan Roughriders depend on this guy. They have a good chance when he is playing and virtually no chance when he isn't. While some have said "NO WAY", and I understand that, I still believe if Durant is healthy last year, the team would have been fighting for a playoff spot going into that last game in  Montreal. Of course if that were the case, Chris Jones might still be in Edmonton (or maybe Winnipeg) because I don't think he would have been here. That being said, Corey Chamblin would not have been here in 2016 barring some kind of huge playoff run.

Without Durant, the Riders are 5-26 in their last 31 games. In the 31 games before Durant suffered his season-ending elbow injury in 2014, they were 22-9.  It is as simple as the nose on your face that as Doubles goes, the fortunes of the Saskatchewan Roughriders go.  It may be even more magnified if Durant goes down in the wake of the Brett Smith cut as there is no experience behind Durant right now should he go down.

Offensively, I see Naaman Roosevelt having a monster season and I also see Rob Bagg having a great year. They may not make you go Weston Who?, but they'll try. I am also very intrigued to see what roles Kendial Lawrence and Nic Demski have as they will be asked to do many things. I've already said I see Lawrence having the same type of role here that Corey Holmes used to have.  The running game still is a concern to me as Curtis Steele didn't play a lot in the pre-season and when he did, he wasn;t that effective.

Defensively, this team will be much better than the team that left the field in 2015. Not having Marshay Green and Junior Mertile on the field makes that sentence accurate. Jeff Knox Junior is needed in the linebacking corps, but the additions of Justin Capiccotti, Shawn Lemon, Otha Foster and Greg Jones make that side of the ball much better. Once Jones gets them on the same page, and yes, it will take a couple of weeks, I see some defensive football that Rider Nation is used to seeing.  By the way, where are Marshay Green and Junior Mertile anyhow? Maybe that could be a segment for Ballsy's "Where are they now?" feature. Then again, maybe not.  By the way, has anyone mentioned Josiah St. John lately?

--The NHL draft goes tonight, and if all goes according to script, the excitement shouldn't start until the #4 pick as it is expected Auston Matthews, Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi go 1-2-3 to Toronto, Winnipeg and Columbus. The Oilers have the #4 pick and if they keep it, I think they take Matthew Tkachuk. However, I don't think they keep it as they use the pick to trade down and get a defenceman they so desperately need and then perhaps get an Olli Juolevi, Mikhail Sergachev or Jacob Chychrun to help them out on the blueline.

 Will the Calgary Flames offer up number 6 to get someone like Marc-Andre Fleury or Ben Bishop? I am guessing Tampa might be willing to move up to number 6 if they are going to lose Steve Stamkos.  Would the Arizona Coyotes offer Toronto a package including Max Domi, Dylan Strome, their first round pick this year and next to land Matthews and give the organization the marquee player it wants? Being from Arizona, you know Matthews would love nothing more than pull a Coyotes jersey over his head tonight. I don't think that happens, but you never know what Lou Lamioriello may do.  Will Jordan Eberle get traded, will Kevin Shattenkirk or PK Subban have a new team by the time Monday hits and will Tyler Bozak, Scott Hartnell or Rick Nash have new homes as some suggest. Draft weekend is always a treat to watch.

Around these parts, there is a lot of interest as the Pats and Warriors will be well represented in Buffalo. Where does Sam Steel go? Where will Adam Brooks end up? Is Brett Howden going to be a first rounder? Is either team holding a draft party tonight? If not, why not? Nothing wrong with talking junior hockey in late June is there? Find a spot, get some current players and alumni out there, do some giveaways and hopefully see one of your players get selected in Round 1. Bada boom, bada bing!  I sometimes think teams are too scared to try something new for fear it will fail. How do you know if you don't try?

--Two thumbs up to outgoing Swift Current Broncos head coach and general manager Mark Lamb. In his exit news conference, Lamb said the following:

 Social media is a huge problem. I don’t follow it a lot because it can drive a person crazy with the negativity that’s out there. And usually the negative people (who) are out there are the people (who) really don’t know what’s going on anyways. But I’ll tell you one thing — the players, they’re on social media and they read it and they follow it. And when they’re getting criticized on social media for going out and not doing their best and not performing up to the standards of some of the people, I think the fans really have to realize that you’re writing something about these kids — look back and go, ‘Maybe that could be my kid.’ And maybe you change your mind.”

Rippin pro athletes is one thing, but rippin young kids is another. Yes, the story may change a little when a pro contract is signed, but when I see people ripping 15, 16 and 17 year old hockey players for their play, it becomes a little tiresome. There is a fine-line between criticizing someone for what they do or don't do on the ice and ripping someone just for the sake of ripping them because they have an axe to grind. I don't think there are many in the hockey world who disagree with what Lamb is saying.

--Congratulations to Dean Brockman. The former head coach of the Humboldt Broncos is the new coach of the Saskatoon Blades. I met many classy individuals during my time with the SJHL and Brockman was right up there. Considering his track record behind the bench, I have no doubt if he is allowed to do his job, he will have the Blades playing good hockey very soon.

--Congratulations to Regina's Dustin Molleken. As he toiled in the minor leagues, he must have wondered if he would ever get the call to the bigs. 13 years later, he got that call. Molleken is in the bullpen of the Detroit Tigers and while he didn't get a chance to pitch before being sent down Thursday, he still had that chance to wear a big league uniform.

--The annual "Sticks On Rose" street hockey tournament will go outside the 620 CKRM headquarters today. The work done by Mike Sillinger, Jamie Heward and others on this event is outstanding. I'm sure it will be another great day.

--That's all I got. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Changes in Saskatoon as HC Bob Woods Heads To Buffalo

Image result for saskatoon blades

The Saskatoon Blades have named Dean Brockman as their 21st head coach, with news Bob Woods is returning to the NHL.

Woods, who joined the Blades two years ago, has signed on to be the right hand man to Buffalo Sabres head coach Dan Bylsma.

“This was too great of an offer to pass up,” says Woods. “It’s a chance to work alongside a Stanley Cup winning coach who also coached in the AHL. It’s an example I’d love to follow. I have mixed emotions leaving the Blades since the team is turning the corner but I know the players are in great hands.”

Brockman, 48, who was alongside Woods for the past two seasons, is thrilled with the opportunity.
“We’ve come through three difficult but necessary years but the time for talk is over. It’s time for results and we are committed to take a major step forward this season. We have a room full of great players who have outstanding character. They’ve taken great strides during our time together and I can’t wait to work with them to seize the opportunity we have in front of us.”

Brockman is well-suited to take the top job. Previous to his two years with Woods, Brockman coached the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League to incredible success over 17 years. He led the team to victory in the Royal Bank Cup on two occasions, 2003 and 2008. In two other appearances at the national championship, Humboldt was the runner-up in 2009 and lost the semi-final in 2012.

The product of St. Benedict, Saskatchewan, also guided the Broncos to four Anavet Cup Championship titles in five appearances at the event, which matches up SJHL champion against the winner of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League. Brockman was named SJHL Coach of the Year four times.

Brockman also has a history of success with Hockey Canada. He coached Canada West to a silver medal at the World Junior A Championship in 2012, taking home a gold medal at that same event as an assistant coach one year earlier in 2011.

While Brockman has some strategic thoughts on adjusting the team’s play on the ice for more wins, he also sees opportunity on the mental side of the game. “I have great passion for our players and I want to help guide them through the obstacles that stand in their way so we can together find – and enjoy – success.”

“We believe Dean is a great fit to carry on to what we have been building for three years while adding a different perspective to our players,” says the new general manager, Colin Priestner. “Our fans are anxious for a return to the playoffs and so are we. It’s been a long wait and we have every intention of returning to the playoffs this coming season.”

Priestner assumes the GM position on a full time basis, a role he has largely carried out while Woods focused the bulk of his attention on rebuilding the team on the ice. Priestner, who becomes the 7th GM in Blades history, may be only 32 years of age but he guided the team through the previous three drafts, the results of which have been widely praised by independent observers. He has also crafted the restructuring of the Blades scouting system as well as rebuilding the 50-man list.
Priestner, who has a degree in Political Science from the University of Alberta and is currently enrolled at the Business of Hockey MBA program at Athabasca University, becomes the youngest GM in the WHL.

“Colin has brought tremendous talent to our organization. He was very insightful introducing critical structure and analysis to our recruitment process, and that is reflected in the quality of players who are joining our great group of veterans,” says president Steve Hogle. “The fact he’s the youngest GM in the league is similar to some hires of bright young minds in the NHL, such as the Phoenix Coyotes signing 26-year-old John Chayka as their GM.”

One of the men who has been at Priestner’s side every step of the way while rebuilding the team, Assistant General Manager Steve Hildebrand, is being promoted to Associate General Manager. The man commonly known as “Hilty” was also just named by Hockey Canada as one of the Directors of Operations for the U17 national team.

“Hilty is an incredible talent and we’ve worked very closely over the last three years. We plan on making all decisions together to do what’s best for the Blades,” adds Priestner. “This is a great day for the Blades. We are extremely excited to build upon what we have achieved so far. Our fans are anxious for a return to the playoffs and so are we. It’s been a long wait and we have every intention of returning to the playoffs this coming season.”

“Any time someone at our level, whether it’s a coach or a player, makes it to the NHL, it’s a great thing for the franchise and shows we are developing quality people,” adds Hogle. “Bob Woods helped poured a great foundation here. Now we have a dynamite person in Dean Brockman to build upon that and take the team to new success.”

(Saskatoon Blades)

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Viva Las Vegas!!

The NHL is now officially the first major professional sports league to gamble on Las Vegas.
On Wednesday, the NHL's board of governors unanimously approved expanding to this city, making the franchise the 31st team in the league.

The team will start play during the 2017-18 season and will be included in the Pacific Division. The league said its current playoff format will not change.

In the expansion draft, which will take place next year, the Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each team for a total of 30 players with at least 20 being under contract for the 2017-18 season. The franchise also must select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.

Each existing team will have two options for protected lists, which they must submit by 5 p.m. ET on June 17, 2017: Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender. Players in their first and second years and unsigned draft choices will be exempt from selection.

Players with "no movement" clauses in their contract that decline to waive those rights must be included in a club's protected list.

Players with potential career-ending injuries or that missed more than 60 consecutive games for their clubs cannot be used by teams to satisfy the quota of exposed players.

Teams must expose at least one defenseman and two forwards who are under contract in 2017-18 and that played in 40 or more games in the NHL the prior season or 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

Teams must also expose one goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent when his contract expires before the 2017-18. If a club chooses the latter option, the goaltender must have received a qualifying offer from the club before it submits its protected list.

The deadline for the Las Vegas franchise to submit its selections is 5 p.m. ET on June 20, 2017. The team's selections will be announced on June 21, 2017.

In the 2017 NHL draft lottery, the Las Vegas team will have the same odds as the team finishing with the third-fewest point total in 2016-17 and will be guaranteed to pick no lower than sixth in the first round. It will pick third in each round for the remainder of the draft

"In the fall of 2017, when we celebrate the 100th birthday of the NHL, we will do so as a League of 31 teams," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "We are pleased to welcome Bill Foley and the city of Las Vegas to the League and are truly excited that an NHL franchise will be the first major professional sports team in this vibrant, growing, global destination city."
Foley, a West Point graduate, paid the $500 million expansion fee to bring NHL hockey to Las Vegas and the announcement is the culmination of two years of hard work for him that included a successful season ticket drive to prove local interest.

The approval of Las Vegas temporarily puts Quebec City's hopes of landing an NHL team on hold. Quebec City was the other city to go through the NHL's formal expansion process but ultimately the league decided to settle on just one franchise for now, keeping open the option of Quebec as a relocation destination for a current NHL team.

Bettman announced that Quebec City's expansion application has been deferred.

"The decision to defer, however, was based on elements over which the Quebec City group had no control of whatsover."

Bettman cited fluctuation of Canadian dollar and league's geographic imbalance as a conditions for deferring Quebec City.

"The expansion process conducted over the past year gave us an excellent opportunity to present our business plan and promote Quebec City as a city that can support an NHL franchise," Pierre Dion, CEO and President of Quebecor said. "We will continue to work with determination to achieve this goal."

Jeremy Jacobs called Quebec City a strong candidate for future expansion.

(Associated Press) 

Draftkings CFL Picks For Week 1

As you know by now, the CFL has partnered with DraftKings in what should be a huge win for the league. Engaging a younger demographic, and a football crazed fan-base by entering the world of daily fantasy sports should do nothing but have more viewers who are checking out their investment and create more fans. Who should you take in Week 1? Here's who I have!

First off, you may be asking how exactly will the game be scored. Wonder no more....

Offensive players will accumulate points as follows:

Passing TD = +4PTs
25 Passing Yards = +1PT (+0.04PT/ per yard is awarded)
300+ Yard Passing Game = +3PTs
Interception = -1PT
10 Rushing Yards = +1PT (+0.1PT per yard is awarded)
Rushing TD = +6PTs
100+ Yard Rushing Game = +3PTs
10 Receiving Yards = +1PT (+0.1PT per yard is awarded)
Reception = +1PT
Receiving TD = +6PTs
100+ Yard Receiving Game = +3PTs
Punt/Kickoff/FG Return for TD = +6PTs
20 Punt/Kickoff/FG Return Yards = +1PT (+0.05PT per yard is awarded)
Fumble Lost = -1PT
2 Point Conversion (Pass, Run, or Catch) = +2PTs

Defense/Special Teams will accumulate points as follows:
Sack = +1PT
Interception = +2PTs
Fumble Recovery = +2PTs
Rouge Scored = +1PTs
Kickoff Return TD = +6PTs
Punt Return TD = +6PTs
FG Return TD = +6PTs
Interception Return TD = +6PTs
Fumble Recovery TD = +6PTs
Blocked Punt or FG TD = +6PTs
Safety = +2PTs
0 Points Allowed = +10PTs
1-6 Points Allowed = +7PTs
7-13 Points Allowed = +4PTs
14-20 Points Allowed = +1PT
21-27 Points Allowed = 0PTs
28-34 Points Allowed = -1PT
35+ Points Allowed = -4PTs

The following scoring plays will result in Points Allowed (PA) by your Defense/Special Teams (DST):

Rushing TDs, Passing TDs, Punt Return TDs, Kick Return TDs, FG Return TDs and Blocked Punt/FG TDs
2pt conversions

Now that you know how the game is scored, here is who I am taking for Week 1. As you will see, I am going with established guys and not newcomers as very little is known about them. 


This is a bargain as far as I am concerned. BLM is the 5th best quarterback to take this week according to the DK price-setters. I think Bo Levi torches the Lions for 300 yards and at least 2 TD's.


The big bruiser is cheaper than Andrew Harris, Jeremiah Johnson, CJ Gable and Tyrell Sutton. Yes, Messam only had 2 rushing touchdowns last year, but I would think Calgary will pound away at the BC defence and if they get inside the 5, it will be the Messam show. 

                                   - WESTON DRESSLER $7100 

In an 8 team league, stacking players from one team is a good investment if that team can come through with points. McDaniel should be Bo Levi's favourite target seeing Eric Rogers is no longer around, so here's hoping these two can hook up for at least one score if not more in opening week action against the Lions. 

As for Dressler, I am thinking Drew Willy will want to make an impact with one of his off-season acquisitions quite quickly. We all know in Saskatchewan what Dressler can do. It may be one of those picks where I go with my heart instead of my head, but I think WD has a nice start to the season at home. 

           -ANDY FANTUZ  $5500

One has to think Duron Carter is in for a big year in Montreal. We all know this guy can play and he certainly has the pedigree. I would have to think Carter will get in behind that Winnipeg secondary for a score and he should be able to get 100 yards receiving, 

As for Fantuz, he is a guy the Ti-Cats look to in the red zone. It is a gamble because he is getting the ball from Jeremiah Masoli and not Zach Collaros, but I'll roll the dice on Fantuz and hope for the best on this one which is my biggest gamble on the board for Week 1. 


I think the Argos want to make their first game at BMO Field one to remember for their fan-base. I think they come out flying with guys like Ricky Foley, Jermaine Gabriel and Brandon Isaac making life difficult for Masoli. Let's not forget Rich Stubler is Toronto's defensive co-ordinator now and his defences are usually pretty solid. 

That's who I am going with. Get in there and join me and if you do, good luck. 2000 goes to the winner in the $3 play I am making and if you can finish in the top 2300, you'll double your money.  There is also a free contest as well so you have nothing to lose

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Riders Add Defensive Back

The Saskatchewan Roughriders announced today international defensive back Buddy Jackson has signed with the team. As per club policy details of the contract were not disclosed.  

Jackson (6’1 – 180) will enter his third CFL season after originally entering the league with the Calgary Stampeders in 2014. Through his first two seasons, the 27-year-old Florida native has registered 68 defensive tackles in 18 regular season games. He won his first Grey Cup with Calgary in 2014.

Last season, Jackson played six regular season games with the Stampeders before being released in November. He received multiple NFL tryouts before signing with Dallas Cowboys practice roster in December where he remained for the remainder of the season.

(Saskatchewan Roughriders)

Swift Current Broncos Need New Head Coach/GM; Mark Lamb Heads To Tucson

Arizona Coyotes General Manager John Chayka announced today that Mark Lamb has been hired as the Head Coach of the Tucson Roadrunners, the Coyotes’ AHL affiliate. The team also announced that Mark Hardy has been named as Tucson’s Assistant Coach. As per Club policy, terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

“We are very pleased to add Mark Lamb as our head coach for the Tucson Roadrunners,” said Chayka. “Mark is an experienced NHL coach who did an excellent job developing young players in Swift Current for many years. He previously worked with Dave Tippett in Dallas and we are confident that this will be a great fit for our organization.”

Prior to joining the Coyotes organization, the 51-year-old Lamb was the General Manager and Head Coach of the Swift Current Broncos (WHL) for seven seasons. He was the longest tenured coach in the WHL after taking over the role in July 2009. Lamb guided Swift Current to postseason appearances in four of his seven seasons with the team.

Lamb previously spent seven years as an Assistant Coach in the NHL including six seasons with the Dallas Stars and one with the Edmonton Oilers. The veteran coach served on current Coyotes Head Coach Dave Tippett’s staff with the Stars from 2002-09. The Stars won two Pacific Division titles (2002-03 and 2005-06), made the playoffs in five of six seasons and advanced to the 2008 Western Conference Final. On the international stage, Lamb was an Assistant Coach with Team Canada at the 2011 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

A native of Cadillac, Saskatchewan, Lamb recorded 46-100-146 in 403 career NHL games with the Calgary Flames, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers and Montreal Canadiens. The former center was originally drafted by the Flames in the fourth round (72nd overall) in the 1982 Entry Draft.

(Arizona Coyotes)