Friday, August 31, 2012

Surfing Saskatoon Style

Shane McColgan (Kelowna Rockets)
Had a quick Twitter chat with Cody Nickolet the Manager of Communications for the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL regarding New York Ranger 2011 5th round pick Shane McColgan on Thursday evening. It is going to be a big year for the forward from Manhattan Beach, California in several ways.

McColgan is playing for a lot of things not the least is a professional contract from the Rangers. McColgan is joining the Blades after a trade from the Kelowna Rockets who McColgan led in scoring last season going 18-46-64 in 70 games.

It is a fresh start for McColgan who some in Kelowna felt did not live up to expectations when the Rockets drafted him 13th overall in the 2008 WHL Bantam Draft. And Saskatoon is the perfect place for McColgan to show that he deserves a professional contract.

As hosts of the 2013 Memorial Cup, the Blades are the automatic qualifiers to the tournament which means right off the bat McColgan gets a chance to play for a championship. McColgan can't ask for a better situation for the 5'9 170 forward but in return the Blades need McColgan to have a solid season.

The Blades traded for McColgan to give them an experienced scorer who adds grit and a willingness to work hard but they also need McColgan to be their leader on the power play. No question McColgan has strong passing skills but this season McColgan needs to score a whole lot more than 3 power play goals.

In fact if the Blades want to be more than just Memorial Cup hosts then they need McColgan to pile up not just points but goals more than anything. This is McColgan's 4th season in the WHL and asking him to put up 75-80 points is not a stretch.

Of those 75-80 points though has to be at least 30 goals (career high is 25) and despite his 5'9 size, McColgan needs to be a tall voice in the Blades locker room.

And unlike last season's team in Kelowna, McColgan will not be carrying the weight of the team on his shoulders. Saskatoon has some real talent to make some noise in the WHL's Eastern Conference.

They return their top 3 scorers from last season in Matej Stransky (39-42-81), Josh Nicholls (30-38-68), and Lukas Sutter (28-31-59). In addition to adding McColgan, the Blades also picked up Brenden Walker (26-55-81) from the Brandon Wheat Kings.

On defense, the Blades bring back a very experienced group led by Dalton Thrower (2012 2nd Montreal), Duncan Siemens (2011 1st Colorado), and Darren Dietz (2011 5th Montreal) as well as 4 others who saw time on the Blade blueline. In goal the Blades have Andrey Markov who I have followed for 2 seasons now and if plays like he is capable of then defending WHL Champions the Edmonton Oil Kings won't have a walk in the park this season.

Toss in an old friend of Glen Sather, Lorne Molleken in his 7th year as the coach of the Blades and McColgan has a great opportunity being handed to him. The question is will he knock on the door or kick it in?

Given that McColgan at 5'9 had 5 fights last season then bet on kicking the door for him.

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