Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Quick thoughts on CHL Prospects

  • Pat Quinn looked like the 'God Father' as he entered Prospera Place last night prior to the CHL Top Prospects opening skate. Quinn had a black hat on and a long black trench coat. Unlike the God Father, he was all smiles as he shook hands with various members of the media as he worked the room. I also had the pleasure of speaking with Quinn, who truly appreciates being involved in this event. Quinn is the honorary coach for Team Orr along with Vancouver Giants Don Hay. When asked what role he will play with Team Orr, Quinn said he will be doing very little because, "Hay doesn't need the help."
  • Mark Recchi flew in from Pittsburgh last night for the event and was surprised to learn that he would be on the ice with his new team, Team Cherry, for a lite skate that evening at Prospera Place. Recchi is an honorary coach and will be behind the bench with Rockets head skipper Ryan Huska.
  • Monday night was a good opportunity to meet the players participating in this two day showcase. My focus was on the WHL players here but one Ontario Hockey League player that I wanted to speak with was 19 year-old Tanner Pearson. Pearson, who plays with the Barrie Colts, is the oldest player at the event and is considering a late bloomer. NHL Central Scouting ranks him as the 22nd best prospects for the draft. Pearson is one of only two players at this event that played for Canada at the World Juniors. The other is Everett defenceman Ryan Murray.
  • Pearson has never been to Kelowna, and when asked what he thought of the Okanagan his first response was, "It looks like Banff". It is really a shame that these players won't get a real feel for the city over the next two days as the majority of the time will be spent either inside the rink or in a hotel room.
  • The best interview I conducted was with Red Deer Rebels d-man Matt Dumba. "I love coming to Kelowna. It is a great city. The weather is always nice here....it's a bit of a change from Red Deer." Dumba is a confident 17 year-old who has his head screwed on straight. He is not only an impressive player on the ice but equally as impressive and comfortable behind a microphone.
  • I had to talk with Dan Marr, the Director of NHL Central Scouting before this event began. "No one will ever lose their stock at an event like this. Some players here have an opportunity to play outside of the role they play with their home teams so they can showcase their abilities a little more. What the scouts like about it is they (players) are very competitive."
  • What does Marr and NHL Central Scouting think of Colton Sissons? "We like him because he has a lot of versatility. He is strong in a lot of areas. There are no weak links to his game. He is a player that comes at you every game and that's what scouts like to see when they are at a game. They don't want to have to look for a player."
  • The Vice President of the WHL is here. Richard Doerksen is always good to chat with. Doerksen has seen his share of Prospects Game's include most recently in Edmonton and Vancouver. "This is very exciting for us as a league. I know it is for the Kelowna Rockets and any time you can host a prestigious event of this nature, we have been looking forward to it."
  • A lot has been made out of the players that are not here because of injury. The biggest hit is obviously the loss of Sarnia's Nail Yakupov. Yakupov will likely be the first pick in this summes draft. The good news is second ranked Mikhail Grigorenko is here.
  • The biggest opportunity over the next two days is with the players that were added to the roster because of injuries.Chris Driedger of the Calgary Hitmen, Tim Bozon of Kamloops, Dalton Thrower of the Saskatoon Blades and Branden Troock of Seattle are all additions to Prospect Game because of injuries to players that were originally named to the 40 man roster.
  • One rumor this morning centered around Edmonton Oil Kings Griffin Reinhart not playing in the Prospects Game because he was injured. Well, I saw the white of his eyes last night at Prospera Place, so I would put my money on him dressing for Team Orr. I don't think the Oil Kings would send him to this event if they figured he couldn't play.
  • The skills competition goes tonight at Prospera Place. Kelowna Rockets Damon Severson is in the fastest skating competition while Rockets captain Colton Sissons is in the breakaway event. Personally, my favourite event is the hardest shot. I will be Tweeting the results, so follow me (Reganrant) if you so desire.
  • I heard a number of times last night from visiting media that I must feel fortunate to be in Kelowna as a member of the media hosting this event. That statement is true. The only downside is life stays the same when it is in your own backyard, so enjoying the Top Prospects Game to it's maximum is tough to do. As a member of the local media, I still drive my kids to school, do home work with them, do house hold chores and complete my obligations with the radio station. If you are visiting media, the sole focus is on the event and the activities surrounding it. Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining, but 'life' gets in the way a bit, so you can't enjoy it to its maximum.

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