Saturday, December 18, 2010

Make Our Lives Easy

Took some ribbing today when the word of Ranger prospect Dan Maggio's (2009 6th) trade from Guelph to the Oshawa Generals came out. It gave Oshawa 2 Islander and 2 Ranger prospects which of course led to people asking how much input we had in making the trade.

We will talk about the trade later because while we are happy about the trade for Maggio, it might come at a price for an Islander prospect.

This weekend is basically the beginning of the holiday break for the prospects playing in the Canadian juniors. Those not playing in the upcoming World Under-20 Championships get to go home and spend some time with their families.

In a way, the holiday break is coming at the wrong time for Islander prospect David Toews (2008 3rd) as he is once again starting to find his offensive flow. Toews and his Brandon Wheat Kings have had the worst luck of any team we have watched this season.

In a way it was ironic that Toews and the Wheat Kings took on Dylan McIlrath (2010 1st) and his Moose Jaw Warriors in a home and home series to send both teams off on their holiday break.

The Wheat Kings have fallen on hard times going from Memorial Cup hosts to the bottom of the WHL standings.  When you struggle in a bad season then no break seems to go your way.

Moose Jaw after a slow start have gone in the opposite direction as they moved up the ladder of the WHL Eastern Conference standings. From just 2 wins in their first 10 to their 18th in their last 24, the Warriors have been getting better with each passing game.

In a way it is only fitting that old rivals would be facing each other in a home and home series before both went on their holiday break

On Friday night Toews and his Wheat Kings hosted McIlrath and his Warriors in what turned out to be a pretty good game. It was a toe to toe game where no matter how hard Moose Jaw tried, the Wheat Kings kept coming back and coming back.

Toews played his best game of the season as he earned the games first star with a 2-1-3 performance but Moose Jaw wound up breaking the hearts of the Brandon fans with a 4-3 shootout win. Toews got his night going with a secondary assist on Brandon's first goal at 9:19 of the second period which tied the game at 1-1.

In the third period, Moose Jaw took a 2-1 lead at 3:55 only to see Toews tie the game just 33 seconds later when Toews scored his 7th goal of the season. Moose Jaw took a 3-2 lead exactly 2 minutes later at 6:28 and looked like they were going to win in regulation.

Toews tied the game up when he scored his 8th goal of the season at 13:45 on the power play. It was Toew's 5th power play goal of the season which says a lot since he only has 8 goals on the season as he is now 8-12-20.

Sadly for the Wheat Kings in a game they never gave up on that they just could not score on their shoot out chances and wound up with the shoot out loss. The teams switch locations for the rematch on Saturday night.

As for McIlrath, he had a secondary assist on the Warrior's first goal for his 10th point of the season as well as a +1 to give him 3 straight games with a "plus".

During the Ranger/Coyote game, Ranger Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark mention that it was not a big deal that Christian Thomas (NYR 2010 2nd) did not receive an invite to try out for Team Canada for the upcoming World Under-20 Championships.  "His time will come next season" Clark said during the interview but on this one we will disagree with Gordie.

See Thomas in our eyes deserved an invite this year from the get go as 41 goal scorers are not exactly everywhere. When Canada wonders how come they are lacking in offense, Thomas will be in Oshawa doing what he did against the Plymouth Whalers, scoring goals and registering assists.

Thomas earned the game's first star with the Gordie Howe Hat Trick, a goal (his 24th), an assist (17th) and his first fight of the year as the Generals defeated the Whalers 3-2. The Ranger's leading prospect scorer now has a 3 game goal scoring streak and 7 goals in his last 8 games.

(SPECIAL STICK TAP TO Brian Krulish for catching that Thomas was in a fight)

The Generals were missing Calvin De Haan (NYI 2009 1st) who was away with Team Canada and scratched Tony DeHart (2010 5th) because they are carrying 1 too many 20 year olds.

Jason Wilson (NYR 2010 5th) and his Niagara IceDogs put a whipping on the Barrie Colts winning 10-0 in a game that was a horror story for the Colts from start to finish. Wilson had an assist for his 14th point of the season on the IceDogs 4th goal in the first period.

To give you an idea as to how bad this whipping was, the IceDogs scored 8 goals in 13:17 as they had more goals in the first period (8) than the Colts had shots (4).

Wilson for his part besides the lone assist was a +2 with 4 PIMS (the IceDogs scored a shorthanded goal on his first minor). It was also Teddy Bear Night for the IceDogs as they made their fans wait just 3:27 before the bears started flying.

The only other prospect to see action on Friday night was Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) as his Lewiston MAINEaics played just a horrible defensive game losing 7-5 to the Montreal Junior. Kabanov was scoreless and a -2 on the game but more importantly did not register any shots or hits.

Kabanov is struggling to find consistency with his game as he just is not putting back to back efforts but we give him the pass tonight since it was just his 2nd game since returning from his "upper body" injury.

Kabanov we know is trying and so far there has been no complaint about his attitude or work ethic.

Ethan Werek (2009 2nd) missed his 3rd straight game with a wrist injury he suffered last weekend in Saginaw. In a season where injury information is really hard to get, we wanted to give some kudos to Doug Gilmour and his Kingston Frontenacs for actually posting his injury information.

For the second time this season Dan Maggio (NYR 2009 6th) has been traded as the Guelph Storm sent the defender to the Oshawa Generals for a 3rd round pick in 2011, 4th round picks in 2011 & 2013 and a 7th round pick in 2015.

That is a lot for a defenseman especially for one who has been out injured for most of the season but the Generals according to our sources have been wanting Maggio for over a year. They lost out to Guelph during training camp but finally got their man despite Maggio will not be ready to play until after the holiday break due to injury.

What really bugs us is that Maggio was sent home by Guelph GM Mike Kelly for supposed "issues" before the trade. Our friend Neate Sager over at Buzzing the Net raised a valid point about The mind does boggle a bit considering he had barely had a chance to be acclimatized in Guelph after a preseason deal with the Sudbury Wolves."

Maggio played in all of 12 games this season being out first with an upper body injury then 2 games to suspension and now his ankle. Everyone we have talked to has said that Maggio has never been a problem but angers us is that how is has been hung out to dry by his former GM.

Sorry you want to blame to former coach, fine no problem with that but blaming someone who missed more games than he has played is suspect. Now Maggio is heading to a new team with rumors over his head but for Maggio thankfully he is headed to a team that thinks he can be a contributor this season and even next.

Blame Maggio for what he did wrong like the boneheaded play which rightfully cost him 2 games in a deserved suspension but to hint that Maggio was part of the problem with the Storm is bogus to us. Yes players do play bad and when they screw up should shoulder blame but Maggio was not part of the problem in Guelph.

Here is the reality, Guelph thought they were a legit contender in the OHL this season but it turns out that right now they are hanging on to the 8th seed in the OHL's Western Conference. Is Maggio being hung out to dry to open the door for Guelph to clean house and tank the rest of the season?

Let us see if Guelph trades their star players who have not performed to expectations while we hope this motivates Maggio to prove to the world that he was not a problem as being hinted at.

The downside to this trade is that the Genrals will most likely trade Islander prospect Tony DeHart to open up space for Maggio. Dehart is looking more and more like the odd man out as CHL teams are only allowed to carry 3 players who are 20 years old.

It is going to be hard for DeHart to wind up on a good OHL team but he deserves that much in our eyes for all he has done for the Generals when Calvin De Haan was out either injured or with the Islanders. He might also not be able to find a new team period as this year has been a really rough year to be a 20 year old in any of the 3 CHL leagues as several good players were cut not because of their play but due to their age.

We will cross our fingers and hope that (a) Maggio returns healthy to be a contributor and (b) a really great person like DeHart winds up where he can also be a contributor so he can earn himself a NHL contract.

Finally we can not leave without sharing this one with you as the ghost of the movie Slapshot lives as the Vancouver Giants and Tri-City Americans combined for a total 277 PIMS. No that is right 277 PIMs on 51 infractions, both coaches receiving game misconducts and we are sure will be sending the WHL offices a nice chunk of change in fines.

You know somewhere Reg Dunlop is smiling screaming "Old Time Hockey Boys"

(Toews/Brandon, McIlrath/Cory Kerr Photography and Moose Jaw, Thomas/Oshawa, Wilson/Aaron Bell/OHL Images, Kabanov/New York Islanders, Maggio/New York Rangers)

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