Monday, October 10, 2011

Who Wants To Go For A Ride?

We got to admit that we really did not pay much attention to New York Islander prospect Andrey Pedan (2011 3rd) last season while he was playing for the Guelph Storm. The Storm were a mess and a 2-10-12 season is not going to attract a whole lot of attention.

That was then and this is now as Pedan is a 6'5 200 lb defenseman from Moscow Russia who was worth taking a 3rd round gamble on. Slowed by back spasms during last season, Pedan is healthy this season and after a slow start is showing signs of an offensive game.

Pedan in back to back games has already matched his goal output of last season but his goal on Sunday was his first OHL game winner. Pedan's goal at 14:31 of the 3rd period gave the Storm a 4-3 lead en route to a 6-3 win over the Saginaw Spirit.

This one was not pretty as for 2 periods it looked more like the Storm had taken off early for the Canadian Thanksgiving entering the 3rd period down 3-1. In the third, the Storm scored 5 unanswered goals surrounding Pedan's to escape with the win.

The goal was a nice slapshot from the point that Spirit goalie Tadeas Galansky could not handle. Pedan also had a secondary assist on the Storm's first goal while earning the game's 3rd star.

Pedan is 2-1-3 on the season as his surprising Guelph Storm improved to 4-1-1-1 on the season.

One huge reason why NHL teams like to see their top prospects playing for CHL teams is the schedule. Not just that they play more games but rather how the schedule is formatted.

In the NCAAs, most teams will play back to back games on Friday/Saturday in most cases it it either 2 home or 2 road games. You will rarely see home and home series except in places where teams are bunched together like Hockey East.

JT Miller (NYR 2011 1st) got his first idea about what he has to look forward to as his Plymouth Whalers started October with 3 road games in 4 days. The Whalers though lost on Sunday 4-1 to go 1-2 on this weekend's trip.

Miller was scoreless and it was no surprise that the legs were a bit tired in the 3rd period. Miller wanted this life so be careful of what you ask for as besides this weekend; Miller is going to play 2 straight weeks of 3 games in 3 nights and then a second 3 in 4 weekend.

We are going to learn a lot about Miller's conditioning, his character and more importantly how he handles these conditions. Right now Miller is a point every other game so where will he be on Sunday October 30th will be something to watch for.

But we can promise that Miller will be very happy he does not play in the WHL like his fellow prospect Michael St. Croix does.

It was not the most earth shattering of games but when you are a scorer and are not scoring then anything helps as was the case for New York Ranger prospect Michael St. Croix (2011 4th).

Scoreless in 5 straight games, St. Croix needed something and Edmonton coach Derek Laxdal gave him a "vote of confidence" by sending him out to start the game. It worked as St. Croix set up Edmonton's first goal of the game as the Oil Kings played enough to earn a 4-1 win over the Swift Current Broncos.

By enough was a polite way of saying that for 2 periods the Oil Kings playing their 4th game in 5 nights ran out of gas in the 3rd period and held on for dear life. Welcome to life in the CHL folks because it is not pretty but if you want an NHL career then you are going to have many a weekend like this.

Try this after Edmonton hosted Kootenay on Wednesday night they got on a bus and road over 9 hours and 470 miles to reach Moose Jaw who they played on Friday night. Back on the bus after Moose Jaw to head north for about 3 hours (140 miles) to reach Saskatoon for a game on Saturday night.

The Oil Kings got right back on the bus and headed south again this time close to 4 hours and 180 miles later they were in Swift Current for the game on Sunday. And after the game (approx 10PM CT) the boys were back on the bus for a 9 hour ride back to Edmonton.

We will forgive them if they snore during their Thanksgiving meal but driving time alone was close to 24 hours and over 1200 miles. It does not include stopping for gas and/or meals but this is what a prospect goes through to try to earn that NHL contract.

Now put yourself in St. Croix's shoes as he is on the road like this AND trying to break out of a slump under these conditions. Sounds cruel but these are the things the Rangers and Islanders are looking at when deciding whether or not to draft or sign a prospect.

In the QMJHL, the only thing we have confirmed is that Kirill Kabanov (NYI 2010 3rd) did not play again for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada for the 3rd straight game after being cut by the Islanders.

We do not have any signs positive or negative as to what is going on but Kabanov has not been added to the Armada roster despite being the team holding his CHL rights. The Armada can add Kabanov as they only have 1 import on the roster.

So the question that begs an answer is "What is going on?"

We hope someone will give an answer this week as all the good will that Kabanov has done in the last 14 months could be undone if there is a problem. People have been waiting for Kabanov to fall so we really hope things are resolved and we see Kabanov on the ice ASAP.

Finally with the Rangers returning from Europe, they have also sent Scott Stajcer  (2009 5th) back to Owen Sound of the OHL. The problem is that it now creates a problem for Owen Sound first in who will be their starting goalie and second do they want to use an overage spot on Stajcer?

If Stajcer is not going to be your starter then you are wasting a very precious overage spot but at the same time Jordan Billington filled in quite well while Stajcer was out hurt last season. One also can not forget it was Billington who won Game 7 in the OHL finals to give Owen Sound their first OHL championship.

Our friend Neate Sager over at Buzzing the Net also checks in on this story but we feel that Owen Sound has to move Stajcer. Owen Sound has a new coach who is trying to install his program so it makes more sense to keep a goalie who could be there for a couple of years.

For Stajcer, we hope he can find a home on a contending team but the options are looking slimmer and slimmer with each day.

(Pedan/Guelph, Miller/Plymouth, St. Croix)

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