Tuesday Morning Skate: July 3rd, 2018
Acadia: Nothing official out of the Acadia camp in the past few weeks, but there’s rumours that they’re in on WHL defenceman Tyson Helgesen. The Axemen have enough bodies to hit the ice tomorrow, but they won’t hesitate to add another big piece to the lineup if the opportunity arises.
Dalhousie: Two more new faces introduced to the Tigers for next year, both from Jr. A leagues out west. Connor Welsh comes in to Dal after a solid season with Alberni Valley and Trail in the BCHL. A defenceman who has two-way tendencies, he hopes to fit on a Dalhousie blueline which was surprisingly productive offensively at the start of last year. Ashton Anderson is a forward who became a mainstay in the Neepawa Natives organization for four seasons in the MJHL. He’s coming off an impressive 31 goal campaign, but he’ll have to make a big jump to continue that rate of production in the AUS. Again, Dalhousie not shying away from the Jr. A market hoping for a couple diamonds in the rough.
StFX: Some rumblings went around this week that both Ethan Szypula and Trent Fox had been talking with StFX. However, I was told there was no merit to those rumours as well. At any rate, it doesn’t sound like either are a lock to go to Western as it appeared back in May.
UNB: No recruit news for UNB, but as of right now, they have more current/future players and alum at NHL development camps than any other U SPORTS program. It’s not like we didn’t know UNB was good at producing pro players before, but this reinforces my thinking that U SPORTS hockey is not a secret… to the scouts at least. Mark Simpson, Etienne Marcoux, Joe Gatenby, Matthew Boucher, and Mark Rassell are all getting looks by NHL teams. Hockey people know this league exists, and they know what kind of talent it houses. As the league continues to get more talented we’ll start to see more and more players get a shot at these type of camps.
UPEI: Finally some news to speak of coming out of the UPEI Panthers program. Troy Lajeunesse will join the Panthers after a four year OHL career with stops in Sarnia, Sudbury, and Erie. Lajeunesse has typically been an above-average secondary scoring option for every team he’s played for. Good chance he starts out that way at UPEI too behind their top-end stars. But down the road, Lajeunesse has the tools to hit double digits in goals at the university level. If he fits into the culture at UPEI, there’s no reason he can’t be an important player every night for UPEI for multiple seasons.
- After having second thoughts about joining Brest in France 2, Trey Lewis is taking his grit and good manners to the Coventry Blaze in the EIHL. Given his style of play, it’s hard not to see Lewis being a slam dunk in a league where toughness and physicality hold high value.
- Noah Carroll had a look with the Toronto Maple Leafs at dev camp last week, but it doesn’t sound like there’s an imminent deal with the organization. At this point, UNB should still be considered a contendor.
Carleton: Nothing official yet, but wouldn’t be shocked at all to see Dawson Theede end up with the Ravens. He’s an Ottawa native who just finished his junior career with Gatineau in the QMJHL. Carleton continue to put together a solid recruit class from all over the country.
RMC: The RMC Paladins are officially done recruiting for the offseason barring anything unexpected. They close out their class of five players with Alex MacDonald who heads to the Paladins by way of the Truro Bearcats. When it comes to MJAHL teams, the Bearcats have produced the best university hockey players over the last five years or so. MacDonald hopes to keep that trend going after posting 30 points in 42 games for them this year. Much like fellow recruits Liam Stagg and Sam Cameron, we’re probably looking at a depth option, at least for now, with MacDonald. The heavy weaponry up front will more or less remain the same for RMC, but they hope the trio of forwards they bring into the mix help their secondary scoring. Depth has historically been the biggest challenge for RMC.
UQTR:No new players on the way in to UQTR, but there’s a key one on the way out in Raphael Maheux. Maheux was part of UQTR’s impressive haul of defencemen out of the QMJHL a year ago. He suited up for 22 games and saw decent ice-time in his rookie year. UQTR should be able to cope with his departure, given some of the talent they still have on the blueline, but it begs the question as to whether or not this is a sign of more to come from the Patriotes. After last year’s ineligibility fiasco who knows who comes back and who doesn’t for next year.
- Looking to confirm by the end of the week, but it looks like Nicholas Poulin from Rimouski to McGill for ’18-19.
Brock: Here we are with yet another batch of Brock Badger recruits to talk about. Three more bodies are off to St. Catharines in addition to the nine recruits previously reported. Kosta Likourezos comes to Brock by way of the Markham Royals where he finished last year after starting out with the Minnesota Wilderness in the NAHL. Likourezos comes into the OUA as somewhat of an unknown having played a considerable amount of time playing in the U.S. But rest assured, the Badgers have done their homework. Brock also bring in Jared Marino up front. He comes off a good year in the BCHL with West Kelowna. His numbers took a big jump from ’16-17, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see him start as a two-way forward in the bottom six as a rookie. Lastly, the Badgers also have Tyler MacArthur from the St. Catharines Falcons. Even though he’s a Jr. B recruit, MacArthur is basically a major-junior quality addition. After years with the Owen Sound Attack, MacArthur accrued a reputation as a steady player with a physical edge to his game. He’ll be an impact player right away for the Badgers.
On top of all of this, the Badgers have brought back Marty Williamson on a three year deal. That’s the most important piece to the puzzle for them moving forward. But he’s going to have his work cut out for him this year trying to gel together what will be nearly an entirely new Brock Badgers team from what he had a year ago.
Laurier: No more majors acquisitions to talk about from Laurier, but they do bring on Mack Graham from the Oakville Blades. Graham is a small centre who’s got a reputation as a playmaker, but showed off his shot to the tune of 32 goals in ’16-17 with the Steinbach Pistons. Laurier have found success in the past with speedsters or playmakers from Jr. A that come without much fanfare (ie. Christian Mroczkowski, Tyler Stothers, Will Cook).
Toronto: U of T are back in the news with Kevin Lavoie ready to head back to his home province for the ’18-19 season. Lavoie was a key part of the dominant Trenton Golden Hawk teams in ’14-15 and ’15-16. Lavoie has played at the highest level of Jr. A hockey possible, and he’s drawn some high praise off-ice as well. Lavoie has spent his last two years in the NCAA with Robert Morris, but things haven’t panned out the way he hoped. After going pointless in all 28 games he played, Lavoie comes back up north of the border in search of more playing time and better opportunity. Hard to not see him get more minutes early in the season, but he’s going to have to produce to keep his role intact.
Waterloo: Waterloo get a big boost with Mike Moffat coming back into the picture for the ’18-19 season. Suddenly, this defensive group doesn’t look so green after all. But there’s more help on the way offensively too with Nick Chyzowski coming to the Warriors from the Kamloops Blazers. Chyzowski just put up a career-high 20 goals, but his impact in Kamloops reached far greater than what he did on the ice. Three years with a letter on his chest, Chyzowski fits the bill for the type of character guy any team boasts about having. On a team in dire need of secondary scoring, Chyzowski provides help right away, but he’s likely to be a long term asset to boot.
Western: Managed to confirm a collection of additions for the Mustangs, so let’s go ahead and break them down.
Kenny Huether: Long-time Oshawa General with a great shot and knack for picking up goals either on the power play wing or in front of the net off rebounds. He’ll be a good addition to Western’s power play and will likely put up high goal totals if his skillset translates to the OUA.
Alex Di Carlo: A big physical defenceman who loves to mix it up and hit anything that skates, Di Carlo makes the Mustangs just a little more intimidating next year. He joins a defence that continues to mature and will likely play a key anchoring role on the second or third pairing. He’ll be drawing matchups against secondary scoring threats all year.
David Ovsjannikov: After the second half that Luke Peressini had last year, Ovsjannikov comes in as the consensus #2 goaltender. But he’ll be good competition for Peressini and should be just fine in a backup role for the time being. Possible he overtakes the starting job at some point, but he’s going to have to develop his game at Western to do so.
Kyle Langdon: A depth option for the IceDogs his entire OHL career, Langdon had his fair share of offensive struggles this year. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be an effective third line centre for Western. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, and learned to play in his defensive zone in order to stay around in the OHL. He’ll bring that same mentality to Western.
William Lochead: If you thought Di Carlo was a physically intimidating presence on the blueline, Lochead takes it to the next level. He’ll go out of his way to dish out punishment on anybody. He’ll be used primarily as a spark plug who is a threat to light up any player who isn’t paying attention. Lochead ensures that this Western team is going to be tougher and more bothersome to play against than we’ve seen in recent years.
Western isn’t done with the additions yet, but this is a good looking group thus far. It’s lacking a little offensive punch, but Huether is definitely going to help in that regard. The Mustangs were always relying on some development from within from this year, but they’ve clearly gotten tougher and more physical this summer too.
York: Although the Lions might not be done recruiting yet, this is going to be a very heavy Jr. A based class. The Lions now have Jeremy Lucchini and Matthew Neault both coming in from the Trail Smoke Eaters and Rayside-Balfour Canadians respectively. Lucchini had a decent overage year, but how he fits into the Lions lineup is tough to project. There’s a couple different ways he could play a part. Neault just served as captain with Rayside-Balfour and he’s had consistent numbers in the last three seasons. But again, how he fits into the Lions lineup won’t become clear until the end of training camp at the earliest.
- Big week for Waterloo Warriors alum. Former coach Karl Taylor has been named head coach of the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. Elsewhere, former captain of the Warriors, Kirt Hill is now the new President of Hockey Operations and General Manager of the Edmonton Oil Kings.
- Alex Basso is doing at Rangers camp what he’s been doing for four years in the OUA. Skating circles and unloading bombs.
- Brock’s Sammy Banga is off to a good start playing in Australia with the Newcastle Northstars. He’s on a team that features former Lethbridge Pronghorn Zane Jones.
Alberta: Once again, Alberta are in the news for their alumni rather than their current players. Serge Lajoie and Derek Ryan are both on the move to new homes for the upcoming season. As many saw, Lajoie was announced as the new coach of the Kamloops Blazers, following up to the legendary Don Hay. Lajoie was a former Blazer prior to his Alberta playing days. Now he inherits a team with a lot of room to improve after missing the playoffs last year. Ryan is also on the move, but he’s coming closer to his Alberta roots. Ryan signed a three year deal at $9.375m on July 1st with the Calgary Flames. This is a great-looking contract for Ryan who has some stability at the NHL level and is primed for another full year in the show. With a cap hit of roughly $3.125m per season, Ryan’s contract is the second most lucrative deal ever signed by a former U SPORTS hockey player. He trails Joel Ward’s $3.25m per season deal with the San Jose Sharks from ’15-16 to ’17-18.
Calgary: The Dinos are getting some help up front next year from Cal Babych. Unlike his dad, former NHLer Dave Babych, Cal is a forward. But his bread and butter is his two-way game. Babych isn’t afraid to get dirty and he’s capable of helping out offensively every now and again. He’ll be a nice fit into the bottom six for Calgary in his rookie year.
Manitoba: The Bisons continue to go back to the Jr. A ranks to get their talent for the future with six players incoming from either the SJHL or MJHL. The name that really sticks out to me is Jeremey Leipsic. Leipsic was dynamite in ’16-17 for the Portage Terriers, hitting the 100 point mark. He was a little less productive this year, but still bar none one of the best playmakers in the league. He’s going to be playing alongside some legitimate talent at Manitoba too, although Michael St. Croix is going to be their number one playmaking option. Wouldn’t be shocked to see Leipsic settle into the top six and pile up the assist numbers. Mackenzie Dwyer is another name that looks pretty good on paper. Some previous experience in the WHL, Dwyer just put up 53 points and 132 PIMS in 60 games for the Portage Terriers. He’s a tough D-Man who makes a responsible first pass and can fit into the Bisons D-corps very quickly. Mitch Dyck is another big D-Man from the MJHL with the Winkler Flyers. He put up some decent points in the last two years, but he’s likely to be relied on for his defensive abilities first and foremost in his rookie season. Then we’ve got Devon Skoleski who split his season between Prince Albert (WHL) and Winnipeg (MJHL). Skoleski projects as more of a depth option who can chip in for the odd goal here and there. Manitoba found a couple great energy pieces in Nick Zajac and Remi Laurencelle. Skoleski might not put up numbers up to their par, but the energy levels and spark he can bring to the team is very comparable. Finally we’ve got Keaton Jameson, a seasoned vet from the Swan Valley Stampeders. After a big 70 point season, there’s reason to believe Manitoba like him for his offensive potential, but he’s going to need to prove it early in the season to get a consistent job in the middle six. Overall, this definitely isn’t a bad looking group thus far.
Regina: The Regina Cougars are starting to have their recruit class come into focus with the addition of Brennan Riddle for ’18-19. Another acquisition from the WHL, Riddle split his last season between Lethbridge and Vancouver. Riddle has been a stable and sturdy D-man his whole WHL career who plays a one-dimensional game. Riddle does what he does really well and adds to a Regina team that needs to have good defence on top of great goaltending to have a shot to win. Riddle might not win you games, but he’s going to help you not lose games… if that makes sense.
Saskatchewan: Heard some tips from pretty legitimate sources that the Saskatchewan Huskies have Travis Child on the way for the ’18-19 season. Saskatchewan bringing in a goalie makes sense given the departure of Jordon Cooke. But Child certainly isn’t the prototypical Huskies-type recruit we often see. There was a thought last year that perhaps Daniel Wapple would return after undergoing surgery, but if Child is in the mix, that suggests Wapple will not come back. I also had at least one tip that Child was looking at NAIT in the CCAA.
Meanwhile, Evan Fiala is a great compliment to the blueline with Gordie Ballhorn in the recruit class. He’s a big body with shutdown capabilities and a great hockey pedigree. Sound like another former Huskies defenceman?
UBC: We’ve finally got a done deal to talk about out of UBC as Patrick Dea is all officially set to become a T-Bird in ’18-19. Dea was previously the starter for the Edmonton Oil Kings, but appeared to take a pretty good step forward in his game with the Tri-City Americans this year. He’ll be joining a UBC team with Rylan Toth set to come back for a second year. Between those two, goaltending should not be an issue at all for the Thunderbirds. Still more official news to come later this month, but it sounds like UBC have a healthy chance of landing at least a couple big names from the WHL.
- There was a thought that if Matteo Gennaro wasn’t going pro, he’d be an Alberta Golden Bear in ’18-19. His AHL deal with the Tucson Roadrunners put an end to that rumour.
- Nothing official, but at this point it sounds like Giorgio Estephan is off the university market in favour of a pro contract.
*Update: Literally as soon as this was published, Estephan has an announced done deal with the Toronto Marlies.
- Speaking of pro deals, Matt Bradley, Turner Ottenbreit, Cole Kehler, Kevin Davis, Patrick Bajkov, Matt Fonteyne, Carsen Twarynski, Zach Fisher, Tanner Jeannot, Jayden Halbgewachs, Brayden Burke, Keoni Texeira, Evan Weinger, Giorgio Estephan, Hudson Elynuik, Cameron Hebig, Austin Strand, Glenn Gawdin, Ty Ronning, and Brad Morrison all began the ’17-18 season without contracts, but are all now signed to pro deals. By far and away, that’s more overage talent signing pro deals than any other junior hockey league this year. No wonder so many of the other overagers are holding out for a pro deal.