Brandon Saad

Nice run, kid: Chicago sends Brandon Saad back to junior hockey

It was a nice run while it lasted for Chicago’s Brandon Saad. After getting to start on opening night alongside Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp and winding up practicing the past few days on the fourth line in Chicago, Saad is headed back to the OHL Saginaw Spirit.

Saad was trying to stick around with the Blackhawks after impressing Joel Quenneville in training camp enough so that Saad got a huge opportunity during Chicago’s opening night loss to Dallas. Since then, however, reality set in for the 18 year-old 2011 second round pick and down the depth chart he went.

In Saad’s two games he had no points and just three shots on goal. He’ll be more of a factor next season in training camp and after getting such a generous look this time around, things are looking up for Saad even though he’s likely very disappointed now.

Back to juniors: Panthers top pick Jonathan Huberdeau sent to Saint John

Jonathan Huberdeau

While we’re going to see guys like first round pick Mark Scheifele and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins get their shot to breakout with their respective teams this year, one guy we won’t be seeing in the NHL until at least next season is Jonathan Huberdeau.

The Panthers have decided to not get Huberdeau signed to his entry-level deal and give him the nine game preview treatment and will instead send him back to junior hockey with Saint John in the QMJHL.

Huberdeau’s selection in June at the draft coupled with Tallon’s big spending ways generated a ton of buzz for the Panthers this summer, but without Huberdeau it’s a bit of a buzzkill. That said, Huberdeau’s development comes first and if he’s not ready for primetime it’s best to send him back to juniors.

All youth is not lost in Florida, however, as last year’s first round pick, Erik Gudbranson, will start the year with the Panthers along the blue line. Gudbranson looked solid in camp last year but he and the Panthers couldn’t agree on a contract before the start of the season and he went back to juniors. Now Gudbranson is signed up and locked in and will be in the lineup on opening night. Given what the Panthers have going with their forwards and defensemen respectively, keeping a big defenseman around is a more pressing need than another forward.

Kings prospect Brayden Schenn is headed back to junior hockey


After all the speculation and wondering what exactly the Kings would do with 2009 top pick Brayden Schenn this season as he approached his games deadline between staying in Los Angeles or heading back to junior hockey with the Brandon Wheat Kings, the Kings finally made a tough choice. Team general manager Dean Lombardi announced today that Schenn will head back to junior hockey after getting an extended look after eight games with the Kings this year. Schenn also spent two weeks in the AHL on a conditioning assignment after being a healthy scratch for so long, but it wasn’t meant to be this year for the 19 year-old.

Schenn hasn’t played in a game since October 30th for the Kings and getting a young kid like him consistent playing time is the right move to make. Keeping him with the big league team as a consistent healthy scratch would only harm his development. Now, he heads back to the CHL where he’ll play a ton of minutes and likely also get a chance to play once again for Team Canada in the World Junior Championships at the end of this month. In eight games Schenn had no goals and two assists with a -2 rating.

We’ll likely see Schenn get a better look next year in Los Angeles to be the teams number two or three centerman. He’ll be back, but in the long run this is better for his development. Only curious part of all this is why it took the Kings so long to decide what they would do with him. The team has plenty of players at center, Schenn’s position, but not much at wing (a big reason why Marco Sturm is looking to be acquired). Had Schenn been a natural left or right wing, it’s possible he would’ve stayed up. Instead, the potential addition of Sturm to go along with the return of Alexei Ponikarovsky, keeping Kyle Clifford in the fold, and the stalwart play of Ryan Smyth strengthens up the Kings left wing considerably.

NHL prospects adjust to life back in junior

2013 NHL Draft
1 Comment

How a first-round NHL draft pick develops varies on an individual case, although it’s common for the majority of those players to find their way back to junior hockey following their first training camps.

More ice time, work on strength and conditioning, and the fact their overall game might not yet be suited to the NHL are just some of the reasons why top prospects often get sent back to the junior ranks at the conclusion of camp.

For those who work their way to the end of NHL training camps and come oh-so-close to earning a roster spot, it can be disappointing to hear they just didn’t make the cut this time around.

There are the exceptions – players like Sean Monahan, the Calgary Flames’ first-round pick, sixth overall in this year’s draft, who has gone well beyond the nine-game look, which burns the first year in his entry-level contract.

The 19-year-old forward is averaging just below a point per game, with six goals in 12 games. (He hasn’t scored in his last four games.)

But there are those who are sent back to junior, and it can provide a different set of adjustments.

Hunter Shinkaruk, the Canucks first-round pick, 24th overall, was dispatched back to the WHL Medicine Hat Tigers. Darnell Nurse, the Edmonton Oilers first-round pick, seventh overall, was sent back to the OHL Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

“At the NHL level, it’s a little bit different. The crowds are a little bit bigger. The players are a little bit bigger and stronger,” Shinkaruk told the Canadian Press.

“It’s a little bit different coming back again to junior, but I feel like I have to continue to work on my skills and make sure I’m ready to make the jump next year.”

Added Nurse, a defenseman: “I’m just going to improve my whole game and see where that takes me.”

Junior player charged with stabbing his girlfriend’s father in the back (literally)

Dalton Young

Saginaw Spirit defenseman Dalton Young has been charged with multiple offenses after a pair of alleged incidents involving his girlfriend and her father.

Per The Times Herald (Port Huron, Michigan), Marysville police allege Young, 20, first assaulted his girlfriend (for which he was arrested on Thursday and released Friday), then…

The same day, he visited his girlfriend’s home in the 2700 block of River Road, [Marysville Police Chief Tim Buelow] said.

Upon learning that his girlfriend wasn’t home, Young allegedly forced his way into the home and entered the parents’ bedroom, and then proceeded into the kitchen.

The Marysville woman’s parents called Young’s parents. Young’s parents came over and were speaking with the homeowners when Young exited the kitchen and stabbed his girlfriend’s father in the back, Buelow said.

Officers responded to the home. After attending to the stabbing victim, they found Young attempting to remove a rifle from a locked secured rack in a Marysville patrol car.

Young was arrested and taken to St. Clair County Jail.

The 48-year-old man stabbed by Young was treated and released from the hospital.

Young had 45 points in 68 games for the Spirit in 2012-13. He has not been drafted by an NHL team.