Guelph Storm v London Knights

Welcome back, Wild Thing: Vancouver hires ex-Canuck Walker

The “Wild Thing” has returned to the West Coast.

Scott Walker, who spent four of his 16 NHL seasons with the Canucks, has been hired by Vancouver as a player development consultant, the club announced on Friday.

Walker joins the Canucks after a successful four-year stint as head coach of OHL Guelph, and as an assistant on Canada’s gold medal-winning team at the 2015 World Juniors.

During his playing days, Walker — who was drafted by the Canucks in ’93 — earned a reputation (and the nickname) as an undersized yet fierce competitor that was unafraid to fight, or throw his 185-pound frame around. In his final two seasons with Vancouver, Walker racked up 296 PIM and scrapped a combined 22 times.

Walker has been out of coaching since January, when he resigned his post with Guelph due to personal reasons.

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    Flyers return first-rounders Provorov, Sanheim, Konecny to junior, Morin to AHL

    2015 NHL Draft - Portraits

    Philly’s collection of young prospects was on display in Tuesday’s 5-3 win over the Rangers but, on Wednesday, a bunch of ’em were sent packing.

    Defenseman Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim, along with forward Travis Konecny, were all returned to their junior clubs today. It’s a fairly high-profile round of cuts; Provorov was the seventh overall pick at this year’s draft, Konecny the 24th, and Sanheim was taken 17th overall at last year’s draft.

    All three had fared reasonably well against the Rangers last night, too.

    Provorov had an assist in 21:25 of ice time, while Konecny notched his second point in as many games (this after Vincent Lecavalier said Konecny reminded him of Tyler Johnson.)

    Sanheim made his preseason debut last night and had 24 shifts for 18:56 of ice time.

    Despite these good showings, it’s not entirely surprising the three dropped from training camp — especially Provorov and Sanheim.

    They were trying to crack a defense that has eight guys on one-way NHL contractsMark Streit, Michael Del Zotto, Luke Schenn, Andrew MacDonald, Nick Schultz, Evgeni Medvedev, Radko Gudas, and Brandon Manning — with fellow prospects Shayne Gostisbehere, Sam Morin and Robert Hagg still in the mix.

    Update: The Flyers made additional reductions later on Wednesday, with Morin being the most noteworthy player who was sent to the AHL.

    First, here are the list of “players under NHL contracts” who were loaned to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms:

    RW Brandon Alderson
    D Mark Alt
    C Cole Bardreau
    LW Tyrell Goulbourne
    D Maxim Lamarche
    LW Taylor Leier
    LW Danick Martel
    RW Derek Mathers
    D Sam Morin
    D Jesper Pettersson
    G Anthony Stolarz
    RW Petr Straka

    Finally, here are players who just under AHL contracts who were sent back to the Phantoms:

    G Connor Knapp
    D Nick Luukko
    G Martin Ouellette
    RW Pavel Padakin
    RW Michael Parks
    D Logan Pyett
    LW Jay Rosehill

    There are now 35 players on the Flyers’ training camp roster. Click here for a PDF with that updated group.

    Avs’ first-rounder Bleackley says lack of contract is ‘in the back of my mind a lot’

    2014 NHL Draft - Round 1
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    Safe to say Colorado isn’t thrilled with the progression of Conner Bleackley.

    Things haven’t gone great since Bleackley went 23rd overall in ’14, two spots ahead of impressive B’s rookie David Pastrnak. Shortly after getting picked, Bleackley’s junior coach, Brent Sutter, said he wasn’t ready for NHL hockey.

    Bleackley then barely spent any time at Avs camp last fall, getting sent back to junior after arriving in inadequate shape, putting forth what Patrick Roy called a “disappointing” effort.

    Oh, and Bleackley is still without an entry-level deal.

    Compare that to Colorado’s first-rounder from this year, Mikko Rantanen, who signed his two weeks after getting picked.

    “Obviously, it’s in the back of my mind a lot,” Bleackley said of his contract situation, per the Denver Post. “I try not to focus on that. I think it’s out of my control. What I can control is the work I put in this summer and what I do here at camp.

    “If I do all the things right, like my goal is, that’ll happen.”

    Bleackley is coming off a good campaign in WHL Red Deer, where he posted 49 points in 51 games (missing time with a groin injury). At 19, he’s almost assuredly headed back to junior this year, so the focus now will be on when he signs.

    Should he not get his ELC done by next summer, he’ll re-enter the draft — though that’s not something Bleackley wants to happen.

    He wants to earn his ELC at this year’s training camp.

    “They told me to come ready to work,” he explained. “Hopefully I can earn it here in camp. I’m looking forward to it.”

    Back to school: Hickey returning to BU, Werenski to Michigan

    2015 NHL Draft - Round One
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    Two of the better freshmen defensemen in NCAA hockey last season are returning for their sophomore campaigns.

    Brandon Hickey, a Calgary draftee from Boston University and Zach Weresnki, the University of Michigan product taken eighth overall by Columbus at the 2015 draft, have opted not to go the Canadian junior route and instead stay at their respective schools.

    Hickey’s status was thrown into doubt earlier this week when his WHL rights were traded to Red Deer, who will host the 2016 Memorial Cup. Werenski was rumored to be headed to OHL London, who drafted him in the second round in 2013.

    “I’m going back to school, the plan hasn’t changed,” Hickey said, per TSN. “I’m looking for a backup plan in case I get injured. Injuries happen in sports. I don’t want to be a guy that is just tied to hockey.

    “I want to be a guy who has options. If hockey doesn’t work out then I’ll always have my degree to fall back on.”

    Werenski, meanwhile, confirmed his intention to play another year for the Wolverines to

    The returns are a big boon for the collegiate hockey landscape. Hickey is the only NCAA player currently playing for Canada at the World Junior Showcase, and had six goals and 17 points in 41 games last season for the Terriers; Werenski led all Wolverines d-men in scoring, with 25 points in 35 games, and was named to both the Big Ten’s first and all-freshman teams.

    Tampa Bay officially bids to host ’18 World Juniors

    Vancouver Canucks v Tampa Bay Lightning

    Back in January, Tampa Sports Commission executive director Rob Higgins said his group “started to lay the groundwork” for a bid to host the 2018 World Juniors, but noted it was “still a ways off from the official bid process.”

    On Thursday, that changed.

    Per the Times, Tampa Bay has officially submitted its bid to USA Hockey to host the tournament. It’s believed Amalie Arena — home of the Lightning — would be a host arena if the bid is success, and the ECHL Florida Everblades’ Germain Arena in Estero, Florida has been floated as a potential second location.

    If the bid is successful, it would continue in Tampa Bay’s growth as a hockey market. The city hosted the NCAA Frozen Four in 2012 and will do so again in 2016; this year, the Bolts made it to the second Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, with nearly 17,000 people showing up to Amalie for a Game 6 watch party (the Lightning went on to lose Game 6, which saw Chicago win the Cup on home ice for the first time in 77 years.)


    Coyotes withdraw bid for 2018 WJC

    Detroit in talks to host ’18 World Juniors