First an apology for the blog’s disappearance during Game 7 of the Calgary series. There were technical problems while I was in Calgary and we are still ironing them out.
The only thing of note that is even remotely relevant now so long after the fact was that Warriors goaltending coach David Marcoux was highly visible before Game 7. He actually stood on the Warriors bench during the pre-game skate.
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The creation of a summer prospects camp in June is a fantastic idea. Not only does it give all of the Warriors staff a chance evaluate players, it also gives them a chance meet with the players and work with them on a more individual basis and get to the know them more personally.
As a bonus, it also gives the players and their families a chance to see the city and learn more about the organization and community that they may be sending their sons too.
The timing is great as well. Most players are pretty dedicated to off-season training, but knowing your WHL parent club is going to be looking at you in the middle of your off-season can only help motivate the players as they spend sunny summer hours in the weight room.
The Warriors will release the camp roster closer to June, but not only will there be some of their top recent draft picks (guys like Morgan Rielly and Joel Edmundson) and players expected to challenge for a roster spot (like Zane Weal, Sam Fioretti, Jordan Wyton and Michael Forsyth — the player acquired for Matt MacKay), but there should be a few new list players coming up to show their wares.
Two newly listed players expected to attend are 1993-born forwards A.J. Ramirez from Bakersfield, Calif. and Matthew Grant from Ladysmith, BC. Both have a little size and both player junior hockey last season. Grant was with Comox Valley Glacier Kings in the Vancouver Island Junior B League and Ramirez played for the Bakersfield Junior Condors in the Western States Hockey League.
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When asked point blank if Jakub Herman will be back next season, Warriors director of hockey operations Jeff Truitt said he honestly wasn’t sure as the organization was still going through their post-season player evaluations. The Czech import was named to his under-18 national team for the IIHF World Under-18 Championships where he was held pointless.
If the Warriors feel that they can upgrade the spot they likely will — which is no different than any other spot on the team. That being said Truitt added:
“We knew that Jake was going to take a little bit of time this year. He certainly didn’t disappoint. We want to be patient with this and make sure we’re making the right decision. If we can get a higher end European, then we have to seriously look at it. If not we know that Jake is comfortable here and as an 18-year-old he’ll grow and get better. We think it’s win-win situation. If we can get a higher-end European here then fine, but if not we’re very comfortable with Jake.”
The CHL import draft is usually a couple of days after the NHL draft at the end of June.
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Speaking of drafts, the WHL Bantam Draft is in Edmonton Thursday. The first selection is expected to be made at 8:30 a.m.
Projecting who may be available — and who the Warriors may covet — at No. 10 is pretty difficult. It will almost certainly be a forward, but beyond that there isn’t much consensus outside of the top-five.
Alex Forsberg looks to be a lock to go first overall. Two seasons ago he led Warman to a Bantam provincial title and with nothing left to prove he made the rare jump to Midget AAA where he put up 72 points in 44 games as a 14-year-old. If that didn’t cement him at first overall, the fact that his brother Jesse plays for Prince George — the owners of the first pick — just took more of the drama out of the announcement.
Defencemen Josh Morrissey (Calgary) and Madison Bowey should be gone before the Warriors draft.
There is a group of forwards that all look like top-10 choices, but their order is far from consensus — Curtis Lazar (Kelowna Pursuit of Excellence), Matt Needham (Penticton, B.C.) Jon Merkley (Calgary) and Morgan Klimchuk (Calgary) are all highly regarded.
The wild card is forward Brian Williams from Los Angeles who has an abundance of skill, but questions about his commitment to the WHL could see him slide a little. On talent alone he should be one of the first names called.
After those first eight there is expected to be a bit of a run on defencemen, but two forwards — Anthony Ast from Burnaby and Nicolas Petan from Vancouver — are also supposed to be taken in the range where the Warriors will make their first selection.
For what it’s worth both the mock draft done by Tyler Neisz of hockeyprospect.com for the Saskatoon StarPhoenix had the Warriors taking Ast and the Brandon Sun’s mock draft had the Warriors taking Petan.
There are some interesting players this year who make the first round even more difficult than usual to try to predict. Goalie Eric Comrie — the younger brother of Mike Comrie — is widely regarded as the top goaltending prospect. He played for LA Selects after the family relocated from Edmonton, but wants to play in the WHL. He also competed in the Alberta Cup earlier this month which features the top draft-eligible players from Wild Rose Country.
There is also a trio of huge defencemen who have been projected as possible first rounders — Keegan Kanzig (6-5), Jared Hauf (6-4) and Spencer Jensen (6-4). Yes these kids were all born in 1995.
Hockeyprospects.com has Kanzig ranked 16th and Hauf ranked 18th, but you can imagine a team taking a towering defenceman earlier than that.