-2014 4th round Bantam Draft Pick: Brannon McManus was the leading scorer at the U.S. Select 16 six day camp recently, notching 11 points in just 5 games. McManus was rewarded by being named to the U.S. U-17 roster right after camp ended. He played for Shattuck St. Mary's last year and is committed to play for the University of Minnesota. Another Winterhawks prospect: Cole Guttman (2014 Bantam Draft: 8th round) was a leading scorer at the Select 16 camp (Tied for 3rd with 8 pts). Guttman is far more likely to end up in Portland, as he has not committed to a college and was an attendee at last year's Neely Cup. Guttman is a 5'9" 161 lb, 1999 born Center from L.A. Jr. Kings U-16 program.
U.S. Division Team's Overage Situations:
-Tim Pigulski wrote a piece looking at the Seattle Thunderbirds' overage situation for the 2015/16 season. Seattle is one of two U.S. Division teams that appear to have three pretty clear players for the 1995 born spots. Seattle has Defensemen: Jared Hauf and Jerret Smith and recently acquired (from Lethbridge for fellow over-age Forward Cory Millette) Forward: Jamal Watson. Tri City also recently cleared up their O/A situation by trading away Center Justin Gutierrez to Lethbridge for a Bantam pick. T.C. now has Forwards: Parker Bowles and Beau McCue, as well as, D-man: Tyler Morrison as their three 20 year olds.
Everett started out with five '95 born players, but announced that Logan Aasman has left the team to play the 2015/16 season with the AJHL's Brooks Bandits. They now have Forwards: Carson Stadnyk and Remi Laurencelle, D-man: Cole MacDonald and Goalie: Austin Lotz. I would guess that Lotz will be traded at soem point, though it can be difficult to move an O/A Goalie. Of note is the fact that both Stadnyk (St. Louis Blues) and Lotz (Buffalo Sabres) were at Prospect Development Camps and could receive pro. deals (at some level) at some point.
Spokane's O/A situation is the most crowded of the U.S., as they have Forwards: Adam Helewka, Riley Whittingham, Blair Oneschuk and Devon McAndrews, D-men: Jason Fram and Nick Charif and Goalie: Garrett Hughson. That's six 1995 born players for only three spots. In my opinion, Oneschuk and McAndrews are out as they are more bottom six Forwards then top six (They combined for only 17 pts last season). Helewka was recently drafted by San Jose and was at their Development Camp. Fram was an invitee to Calgary Flames Development Camp and could be invited back for camp in September. Likely though, they will both return, meaning the Chiefs will likely have to decide between Charif (who they traded for last season), Whittingham (5th highest returning scorer with 33 pts last year) and Hughson (who started 53 games for them last season), for just one spot. I would tend to think that the leftover two will play elsewhere in the WHL.
Finally, due to players leaving because of signed professional contracts, Portland will likely be left with under the maximum of O/A players again. Currently it looks like the San Jose Sharks will not sign Alex Schoenborn before the season starts (though I could be wrong). Add him in with Blake Heinrich, whom Washington decided not to sign, making him a free agent and you've got two of the three spots filled. I would like to see Portland shore up this 3rd spot before the Neely Cup, unlike last year.
Bartschi Refusing 2-Way Contract?:
-Former Winterhawk: Sven Bartschi has yet to be signed by the Vancouver Canucks, who traded a 2nd round pick for him during last year's trade deadline. According to Hockey Buzz, Bartschi is refusing to sign a 2-way contract, as he's hoping to play the whole season at the NHL level for the first time in his career. With all the talk around Vancouver, being that they are looking at him in a top 6 forward role, I get why he thinks he has the leverage to secure his role.
Oilers Steal Rockets Top Choice for Head Coach:
-Edmonton hired Ian Herbers, who coached the CIS' University of Alberta Golden Bears to a title last season, as an Assistant Coach, meaning that one of Kelowna's top choices for their vacant Head Coach position, is unavailable. The Rockets now seem to have former Kootenay Ice Coach Ryan McGill at the top of their list.
Johnston Signs Deal with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads:
-Former Winterhawk D-man Daniel Johnston (2007-09) will play his 3rd season in the ECHL and this one will be in Idaho. In a strange twist he played against Idaho last season during a 4-OT epic playoff game last season while with Evansville. Idaho won that game, the series and now have signed Johnston over to their side.
Quenneville Signs with New Jersey:
-Brandon's John Quenneville signed a 3 year Entry Level Contract with New Jersey Monday. This means that 8 of the 9 WHL players selected in the first round of the 2014 draft have signed ELCs. The one remaining player who hasn't is Colorado Avalanche pick (23rd overall) and current Red Deer Rebel: Conner Bleackley. A bad sign for Bleackley is the fact that Avs Coach: Patrick Roy was critical of his conditioning at training camp last season and may've soured on the Forward. A positive for Bleackley is that he will be a leader on the Rebel's team, which is hosting the 2016 Memorial Cup, so he will have plenty of chances to impress Colorado or maybe even another NHL team, willing to trade for his rights.