By Patrick King, Sportsnet.ca
The Oshawa Generals lost out on a chance to host the Memorial Cup this May, but general manager Brad Selwood did what he could to help get his team to Kitchener for the event.
Selwood made a big splash when the team acquired Czech goaltender Michal Neuvirth from the Windsor Spitfires before last Thursday’s trade deadline. In exchange for Neuvirth and forward Ryan Baldwin, the Generals sent fellow Czech goaltender Jakub Kovar, forward Justin Shugg and second-round picks in 2008 and 2011 to the Spitfires.
While Selwood mentioned the price to acquire Neuvirth was high, the opportunity to add a proven commodity made sense for his team.
“Any time you have a chance to add someone like (Neuvirth) without it costing you arms and legs, we gave up lots for him, but we also obtained a guy we think can help us go the distance here,” Selwood told Sportsnet.ca.
The 19-year-old Neuvirth was the starting goaltender in Plymouth last year when the Whalers won the league championship and competed for the Memorial Cup in Vancouver, B.C. In addition, Neuvirth was the starting goaltender for the Czech national junior team over the holidays.
“He not only can steal a game or two for you now, but he’s also that solid playoff goalie your team needs, and every team needs, and we were fortunate enough to get him,” Selwood said. “He’s been through the playoff wars and we felt that that added experience was what we needed.”
The Generals are currently without Neuvirth and backup Daryl Borden who are both listed as day-to-day with lower and upper body injuries.
Oshawa also acquired former Sudbury Wolves captain Kevin Baker and Kingston Frontenacs defenceman Jonathan Sciacca in two other separate deadline deals.
Chiefs Aiming for WHL Crown
In the Western Hockey League, the Spokane Chiefs made a couple of moves that will help position themselves for a run this year.
Spokane added veteran defenceman Trevor Glass from the Medicine Hat Tigers in advance of last Thursday’s WHL trade deadline. The acquisition of Glass, along with that of forward Justin McCrae in a previous deal, adds plenty of talent and leadership to an already impressive group.
“I think both these guys are good leaders,” Chiefs general manager Tim Speltz told Sportsnet.ca. “I think they will fit in well with our group and I think that was part of the reason that we felt moving forward we would be better not only on the ice, but in our room.”
Glass was a member of last year’s Tigers team which won the WHL championship and were runners-up in the Memorial Cup final. McCrae, meanwhile, was the captain of the Saskatoon Blades and adds a physical presence up front.
Perhaps the most surprising news out of Spokane, however, was a trade that didn’t happen. Many thought the Chiefs would part with one of their two goaltenders, Dustin Tokarski and Kevin Armstrong, who could both be starters in the league.
“We were open to anything,” Speltz said. “We felt that if we could have added to our depth or secondary scoring we would have seriously considered a move.
“When that wasn’t available we weren’t going to do anything that was going to take away from this year’s team. Although our situation isn’t as conventional as some, it’s worked for both guys and for the team.”
As for the lineup he will go into the playoffs with, Speltz is more than happy.
“There’s no question we’ve improved our chances,” he said. “There’s a lot of hockey left to play but I think it does add to our opportunity.”
Stamkos Tops Draft Rankings
Sarnia Sting forward Steven Stamkos had barely returned from the Czech Republic, where he helped Canada win a world junior gold medal, when he found out he was ranked first by the National Hockey League’s Central Scouting.
The 17-year-old forward from Unionville, Ont. is the top-ranked North American while Canadian world junior teammate and Guelph Storm defenceman, Drew Doughty, is ranked second.
The top-ranked skater from the WHL is Everett Silvertips forward Kyle Beach at No. 4 while Québec Remparts forward Mikhail Stefanovich is first among Québec Major Junior Hockey League skaters at No. 16.
Tri-City Americans goaltender Chet Pickard is ranked first among domestic goaltenders and is followed by Peter Delmas of Lewiston at No. 2 and Guelph’s Thomas McCollum, who’s ranked third.
The OHL has the most top 10 skaters among any league in the CHL with five, including: Stamkos, Doughty, Peterborough’s Zach Bogosian (third), Niagara’s Alex Pietrangelo (fifth) and Brampton’s Cody Hodgson (10th).
Central Scouting will release their final list in advance of June’s entry draft.
Four Canadian World Juniors at Top Prospects Game
The CHL released the list of the 40 participants who will compete in the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game. The game will be played in Edmonton, Alta. on Jan. 23 and can be seen on Rogers Sportsnet.
Among those invited are Sarnia’s Stamkos, Guelph’s Doughty, Kelowna Rockets defenceman Luke Schenn and Lethbridge Hurricanes forward Zach Boychuk. The four won the gold medal with Canada at the recently completed world junior tournament.
Here are the rosters for each team:
Forwards A.J. Jenks (Plymouth), Philippe Cornet (Rimouski), James Wright (Vancouver), Geordie Wudrick (Swift Current), Stamkos (Sarnia), Patrice Cornier (Rimouski), Kelsey Tessier (Québec), Phil McRae (London), Mikkel Boedker (Kitchener), Stefanovich (Québec), Jordan Eberle (Regina) and James Livingston (Sault Ste. Marie); defencemen Doughty (Guelph), Pietrangelo (Niagara), Colten Teubert (Regina), Michael Del Zotto (Oshawa), Luca Sbisa (Lethbridge) and Jyri Niemi (Saskatoon); goaltenders Chet Pickard (Tri-City) and Kevin Poulin (Victoriaville).
Forwards Beach (Everett), Josh Bailey (Windsor), Chris Doyle (P.E.I.), Joel Champagne (Chicoutimi), Hodgson (Brampton), Jamie Arniel (Sarnia), Maxime Sauvé (Val-d’Or), Mitch Wahl (Spokane), Boychuk (Lethbridge), Tyler Ennis (Medicine Hat), Jared Staal (Sudbury) and Greg Nemisz (Windsor); defencemen Colby Robak (Brandon), Tyler Cuma (Ottawa), Yann Sauvé (Saint John), Zach Bogosian (Peterborough), Tyler Myers (Kelowna) and Schenn (Kelowna); goaltenders Delmas (Lewiston) and McCollum (Guelph).
The CHL also announced the coaching staff for both teams. Team White will have Tri-City head coach Don Nachbaur with honourary coaches Grant Fuhr and Glenn Anderson. Team Red will be coached by Calgary Hitmen general manager and head coach Kelly Kisio and honourary coaches Lanny McDonald and Mike Vernon.
OHL All-Stars Revealed
The OHL will hold its annual all-star game in Sault Ste. Marie on Feb. 6. The Memorial Cup host Kitchener Rangers are well represented with five nominees. Here are the players who will take part:
Western Conference All-Stars
Forwards Justin Azevedo (Kitchener), Jack Combs (Saginaw), Justin DiBenedetto (Sarnia), Matt Halischuk (Kitchener), Justin Hodgman (Erie), Dustin Jeffrey (Sault Ste. Marie), Patrick Maroon (London), Wayne Simmonds (Sault Ste. Marie), Bradley Snetsinger (Windsor), Nick Spaling (Kitchener), Stamkos (Sarnia) and Chris Terry (Plymouth); defencemen Michael Caruso (Guelph), Wes Cunningham (Plymouth), Doughty (Guelph), Josh Godfrey (Sault Ste. Marie), David Kolomatis (Owen Sound) and Yannick Weber (Kitchener); goaltenders Steve Mason (Kitchener) and Jeremy Smith (Plymouth).
The head coach is Michael Vellucci (Plymouth) and assistant coach is Todd Watson (Saginaw) while the management team consists of Dave Torrie (Sault Ste. Marie) and Dave Barr (Guelph).
Eastern Conference All-Stars
Forwards Matt Beleskey (Belleville), Luca Caputi (Niagara), Logan Couture (Ottawa), Kaspars Daugavins (Mississauga), Stefan Legein (Niagara), Brett MacLean (Oshawa), Hodgson (Brampton), Alex Hutchings (Barrie), Shawn Matthias (Belleville), Nathan Moon (Kingston), Staal (Sudbury) and John Tavares (Oshawa); defencemen Bogosian (Peterborough), Cuma (Ottawa), Ryan McGinnis (Oshawa), Pietrangelo (Niagara), Bobby Sanguinetti (Brampton) and P.K. Subban (Belleville); goaltenders Mike Murphy (Belleville) and Bryan Pitton (Brampton).
The head coach is Mike Foligno (Sudbury) and the assistant coach is Bryan Verreault (Sudbury) while the management team consists of George Burnett (Belleville) and Jeff Twohey (Peterborough).
Noteworthy: The Prince Albert Raiders relieved general manager Donn Clark of his duties with the team. Head coach Bruno Campese will assume the GM responsibilities for the remainder of the season … The QMJHL announced Eric Desjardins, Michel Déziel, Orval Tessier and Pierre Turgeon will be inducted into their hall of fame on April 2 … Tavares was named the OHL and CHL player of the week … Niagara IceDogs goaltender Sebastien Dahm was named the CHL goaltender of the week … Rimouski Océanic forward Keven Veilleux was named the QMJHL’s offensive player of the week while Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defenceman Marc-André Bourdon is the defensive player of the week … Red Deer Rebels goaltender James Reimer is the WHL player of the week … Some of the notable trades before the OHL and WHL trade deadlines include: Niagara acquired goaltender Dahm from Sudbury for goaltender Andrew Loverock, Chris VanLaren and two draft picks. Brandon acquired Matt McCue from Chilliwack. Swift Current acquired Jesse Dudas, Bretton Stamler and Mark Guggenberger in separate transactions. Regina acquired Ryan DePape. Prince Albert sent Jeff May to Lethbridge. Vancouver acquired R.J. LaRochelle … London signed goaltender Jhase Sniderman from Rouyn-Noranda. … The Barrie Colts named Tomas Marcinko their captain … The Acadie-Bathurst Titan hired Daniel Naud as their new assistant coach.