Posts Tagged ‘Prince George’

‘Ashamed’ Cavaliers G West pleads guilty (AP)

July 16th, 2010
Cleveland Cavaliers guard Delonte West pleaded guilty Thursday to weapons charges. In Prince George's County Circuit Court, Judge Graydon McKee sentenced West to eight months of electronic monitoring, two years of unsupervised probation, 40 hours of community service and psychological counseling.

New York Islanders Draft Swiss Star: Why Nino Niederreiter Will Be Great

June 28th, 2010

When my grandmother left the tiny northwestern Swiss hamlet of Niederbipp in 1899, she had a much more difficult journey than Nino Niederreiter did when he left his southeastern Swiss hometown of Chur 110 years later.

Whereas Nino was 17 when he left home, my grandmother was not yet 4 and she faced a journey of several weeks after which she would never see her homeland or family again.

For all that, Nino shares many of the traits of Ellis Island immigrants like my grandmother who made America great. Like those great Americans, he is always ready to rise to every challenge life offers him and he is always ready to find creative ways to meet those challenges.

Nino is one hockey player who always wants the puck when the game is on the line. He proved that earlier this year when he just about singlehandedly defeated the heavily favored Russians in the World Junior Championships, scoring the tying and winning goals.

As he told a Boston Bruin blogger, "As the time was going down, I wanted to get the puck on the net because I believed I could get the score."

Many readers will be familiar with Nino's highlight reel skills goal at the Prospect Game earlier this year. Who can forget Nino tossing his glove with one hand and then slapping the puck past the distracted goalie with the other?

Probably no one reading this blog, however, will have been in Prince George, BC as I was on February 13 of this year to watch Nino compete against a Brett Connolly-less Cougar team.

In that game, the Cougar goalie noticed Nino charging in ahead of the defense as he went to clear the puck out of his own end. The goalie then tried to golf the puck over Nino's head, only to have Nino catch the puck in mid-air and nearly redirect it into the gaping net from an all but impossible angle while still skating forward!

I was seated next to an elderly couple who had been going to Cougar games forever. Upon seeing Nino's effort, the astonished woman's jaw dropped to the floor as she said, "Did you SEE that?"

In another era, people like Nino turned America into a great world power. In this era, Nino's ability and size will combine with his creativity, courage, and self-confidence to help lead the Islanders back to Stanley Cup glory.

2010 NHL Draft: Tampa Bay Lightning Make Brett Connolly Their Top Pick

June 26th, 2010

Steve Yzerman certainly knows how to make an entrance. The new General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning stunned many of the experts by selecting Prince George (WHL) center Brett Connolly with the sixth overall selection in the NHL Draft.

Connolly was believed to be one of the top prospects available for this year's entry draft, but a severe hip injury limited the 2009 WHL and CHL Rookie of the Year to just 16 games.

Many believed Connolly could go as high as fifth overall or as low as 30th because of the injury. With offensive dynamo defenseman Cam Fowler on the board, a player who played for the Windsor Spitfires and was seen multiple times by Yzerman while Stevie Y was with the Detroit Red Wings, Yzerman looked as he had no doubt in the selection of the ultra-talented Connolly.

Was Yzerman concerned about Connolly's injury?

"I think it made him available at the sixth pick," Yzerman told TSN, "If not for the injury, he would have been drafted much higher. It's a muscular issue and it's been resolved. We believe he's healthy."

If he is, Tampa Bay just got themselves a dynamic compliment to Steven Stamkos. The first 16 year old to score 30 goals in the WHL since Patrick Marleau, scouts rave about this youngster's offensive skills (if healthy).

"Brett Connolly is a goal scoring phenom who took the Western League by storm last season ('08-'09)," The Hockey News ' Mark Seidel said. "Connolly is heading into this campaign as potentially the best natural goal-scorer in the WHL and his draft class, so scouts are left to wonder what type of numbers he would put up if he played with some quality NHL prospects that Prince George severely lack."

Other scouts have compared him to 50-goal scorer Rick Nash and the great Peter Forsberg.

Connolly cites Nash as an idol.

“Rick Nash is a big, strong, skilled player who's reliable in his own defensive zone and I can relate to that,” Connolly told the Vancouver Sun . “I think my d-zone has to get better, but we do have similar styles. He's definitely a guy that I watch and can model my game around.”

As he was grilled about his injury during his post-selection interview with TSN, the youngster looked like he was tired of talking about the issue.

"I've been cleared by three doctors and I know better than anyone that I'm ready to play," Connolly said, showing a slight bit of frustration with the questioning.

Yzerman hopes the chip on Connolly's shoulder translates into more elite goal scoring talent at the Center position for the Tampa Bay Lightning.


2010 NHL Draft: Tampa Bay Lightning Can Go In a Number of Directions

June 25th, 2010

As new Tampa Bay Lightning General Manager Steve Yzerman glances over the entire organization, there's one truth that he must acknowledge—the Bolts have a lot of Joes, but not many Pros right now in their system.

On the farm, there's plenty of role players like Dana Tyrell, Carter Ashton and Richard Panik on the forward lines, but no superstars. On the back end, Tampa Bay has plenty of stay-at-home defensemen like Ty Wishart and Vladimir Mihalik, but few puck carriers or offensive forces.

Goaltending has much more depth with Dustin Tokarski and Jaroslov Janus, as well as former first round pick Riku Helenius—but there's an obvious need with the big club.

Probably the biggest indictment of the Lightning farm system, with needs of a scoring winger, an offensive (puck carrying) defenseman, and a number one goaltender, is that Tampa Bay does not have anyone that can step up into those roles currently in their system.

This makes Yzerman's first draft a critical one for the Lightning, and it's also a good reason why there's so many different directions the franchise can go in.

Mock Drafts throughout the league are split on which player Tampa Bay will select. Some go with a bevy of forwards, who will be available at the No. 6 overall selection, while others have said the Lightning will still focus on defense and goaltending.

I don't think a goaltender is a likely choice for the Bolts, as they have solid prospects in the lab down in Norfolk.

That eliminates Jack Campbell, the only first round caliber netminder, from being Stevie Y's first selection as a GM.

After Steven Stamkos, the Lightning have absolutely nothing in regards to young skilled forwards. With Martin St. Louis moving over 35 and Vinny Lecavalier hitting the big 3-0 in April, Tampa Bay is in dire need of finding tomorrow's snipers to team with the Rocket Richard award winner, Stamkos.

Luckily for Yzerman, it appears this draft is fairly deep with skilled forwards. Taylor Hall and Tyler Sequin are the best of the bunch, and they should go one and two (most have Hall as Edmonton's No. 1 overall selection).

Depending on what's left after Florida, Columbus, and the Islanders make their selections, the Lightning could have a shot at some dynamic playmakers.

Brett Connolly, from the Prince George Cougars of the CHL, was one of the highest rated prospects in ISS scouting before a hip injury derailed his 2010 campaign. A speedster with tremendous offensive skills, Connolly could be another dynamic center for the Bolts, joining the great tradition of Stamkos, Lecavalier, and Brad Richards.

Big Nino Niederreiter has been a popular choice of the Tampa Bay Lightning for Mocksters. The 6' 3" monster boasts great size and skill as well as great determination and a feisty personality.

In his North American debut with the Portland Winterhawks of the tough WHL, Nino scored 36 goals and 60 points, while racking up 68 penalty minutes in 60 games. Niederreiter was outstanding in the WHL playoffs, putting up 16 points in 13 games and was dominant in the 2010 World Juniors with 10 points in seven games.

Few doubt the talent of Vladimir Tarasenko, but they question his desire to play in the NHL. Already a KHL veteran, Tarasenko has been playing with men twice his age for a full season, playing 42 games and scoring 24 points (13 goals).

If the Lightning look to focus on defense, there's some intriguing prospects the team may want to take a hard look at.

Cam Fowler, from the OHL's Windsor Spitfires, is likely going to be long gone by the time Tampa Bay is called on to make their selection, but if he is there, the skilled defenseman is just what the doctor ordered for the new Bolts Head Coach Guy Boucher's defense. Fowler is outstanding with the puck, has a good shot, and is a gifted passer. He's not one dimensional, as he takes care of his own end of the ice.

Boucher's defensemen have to be gifted puck carriers, but fast in transition to get back on odd man rushes that ultimately will be generated with the aggressive style.

Safe is Death has returned to Tampa Bay, but the Lightning do not currently have the defensemen on the team to run that style successfully.

If he lives up to his billing, Fowler would go a long way to fixing that problem for Tampa Bay.

Brandon Gormley, Erik Gudbranson, Derek Forbort, don't offer the offensive skill of Fowler, but they do have skills that could upgrade the Lightning Blue Line.

While the focus may be on the future on Friday night, don't be surprised if the Lightning make a few moves to help the team this season. Tampa Bay is in the market for a No. 1 goalie, and there's been talk that the Lightning may be in play for Bruin goalie Tim Thomas or Canadiens netminder Cary Price, though acquiring Price seems unlikely after Halak was dealt to St. Louis.

2010 NHL Mock Draft: Round One

June 24th, 2010

The 2010 NHL Draft is almost here and with the Stanley Cup Finals over, we can finally speculate which young players may go where in the upcoming draft. Mock drafts are always fun and a hot topic for hockey fans, and this mock draft should be no different.

So, without further delay, here is a look at my mock draft for the 2010 NHL Draft as we are now less than three days away and many people are speculating who will go where. 

Here is my take on what will happen.


1.  Edmonton Oilers -Taylor Hall-LW-Windsor- Hall is clearly the best player in the draft and the Oilers won’t pass him up.

2.  Boston Bruins -Tyler Seguin-C-Plymouth- The Bruins need the help and they can get it with a guy like Seguin.

3.  Florida Panthers -Eric Gudbranson-D-Kingston- The Panthers could use the help on defense and Gudbranson is the best defenseman in the draft.

4.  Columbus Blue Jackets -Cam Fowler-D-Windsor- If the Blue Jackets miss out on Gudbranson then Fowler should be there for them at No. 4.

5.  New York Islanders -Alexander Burmistrov-C-Barrie- New York could use a center and Burmistrov should be there when they make their pick.

6.  Tampa Bay Lightning -Brandon Gormley-D-Moncton- Tampa Bay could use a good defenseman in the lineup and Gormley could be an All-Star in the future at the position.

7.  Carolina Hurricanes -Brett Connolly-RW-Prince George- Connolly, a gifted right winger, could help improve the Hurricanes overall.

8.  Atlanta Thrashers -Nino Niederreiter-LW-Portland- The Thrashers could use a guy like Niederreiter who could end up being a solid starter in his first season with a team like Atlanta.

9.  Minnesota Wild -Ryan Johansen-C-Portland- The Wild could use some additional youth and building through the draft would really help them out.  Drafting Johansen would be a step in the right direction.

10.  New York Rangers -Vladimir Tarasenko-LW-Sibir- If Tarasenko lasts this long the Rangers should take a look at look at drafting him here at No. 10.

11.  Dallas Stars -Mikael Granlund-LW-HIFK- The Stars need help at several positions, especially at the LW position, and Granlund may be just the guy.

12.  Anaheim Ducks -Riley Sheahan-LW-Notre Dame- Sheahan had a solid college career with the Fighting Irish and should have a solid career in the NHL.

13.  Phoenix Coyotes -Jeff Skinner-C-Kitchener- The Coyotes will go for the best player left on the board at this point and get someone who can start for them sometime in the near term.

14.  St. Louis Blues -Jack Campbell-G-USA The Blues need to start looking at getting some continuity at the goalie position so they should think about drafting Campbell here.

15.  Boston Bruins -Derek Forbort-D-USA U-18 -The Bruins could use some help on defense and could develop Forbort into a starter in a short amount of time.

16.  Ottawa Senators -Emerson Etem-LW-Medicine Hat -If the Senators want to get some help at the left wing position they would be wise to take Etem here and let him develop into a solid player at the position.

17.  Colorado Avalanche -John Merrill-D-USA U-18 -Defensemen should be at the top of the Avalanche’s list heading into this draft and they get a good one if Merrill is still there and they select him.

18.  Nashville Predators -Austin Watson-RW-Peterborough- Watson could help fill the need that the Predators have at the right wing position, and at this point in the draft he would be a smart pick.

19.  Los Angeles Kings -Quinton Howden-LW-Moose Jaw- Howden would be a solid prospect for the Kings and someone that they could develop in a hurry.

20.  Pittsburgh Penguins -Mark Pysyk-D-Edmonton- The Penguins should be thinking defense here and Pysyk is their kind of guy.

21.  Detroit Red Wings -John McFarland-LW-Sudbury- The Wings need some help on the wings and McFarland could be a steal here at No. 21.

22.  Phoenix Coyotes -Dylan McIlrath-D-Moose Jaw- The Coyotes took care of their big need at center and now can concentrate on defense by taking a good one in McIlrath.

23.  Buffalo Sabres -Tyler Pitlick-C-Minnesota State- While Pitlick may end up going before the Sabres have a chance to get him, if he does fall to Buffalo, he could be a star for them in the very near future.

24.  Atlanta Thrashers -Nick Bjustad-C-Blain (MN)- The Thrashers can add another quality player to the mix by grabbing Bjustad here to groom for the center position.

25.  Vancouver Canucks -Jarred Tinordi-D-USA U-18 -This draft is going to be a good one for defensemen and Tinordi will end up being one of the best to come out of the draft this year.

26.  Washington Capitals -Ryan Martindale-C-Ottawa 67’s -Washington can start to develop Martindale and in a short amount of time they could have one of the better players at that position in the NHL.

27.  Montreal Canadiens -Jaden Schwartz-C-Tri-City -The Canadiens may want to start developing some young talent at the center position so taking Schwartz here wouldn’t be a bad idea.

28.  San Jose Sharks -Tyler Toffoli-RW-Ottawa 67’s -The Sharks could use some help on the right side and Toffoli is the kind of guy that could develop quickly.

29.  Anaheim Ducks -Ludwig Rensfeldt-LW-Brynas -This Swedish star has been doing well across the Atlantic so the Ducks may want to bring him over and get him ready to start along the Pacific.

3 0.  Chicago Blackhawks -Stanislav Gailev-RW-Saint John - The NHL champs may have to reload a little bit and can start by adding Gailev to their squad. 

Note: This does not reflect any trades made before the 16th of June.

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