Jonathan Drouin

Drouin grew by spending extra season in juniors

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The 2012-13 QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads were a superb team with top prospects Jonathan Drouin and Nathan MacKinnon leading the charge. They were taken with the third and first overall picks in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft respectably and that’s where their careers began down different paths.

MacKinnon earned a spot with the Colorado Avalanche and won the Calder Trophy while the Tampa Bay Lightning decided to return Drouin to Halifax. Without MacKinnon to back him up, Drouin was still a dominate presence, scoring 29 goals and 108 points in 46 regular season games. He was even better in the playoffs with 13 goals and 41 points in 16 contests, although it wasn’t enough to save the Mooseheads in the QMJHL semifinals.

“I’m more mature as a person. I think I grew a little bit being one of the older guys on the [junior] team, seeing things you didn’t see when you were 16 or 17,” Drouin said, per the Lightning’s official site. “A lot of things were tough for me. It helped me grow as a person. Not winning was the toughest thing.”

Lightning director of player personal Stacy Roest noted that Drouin’s conditioning was better in 2013-14 and that led to him getting a lot faster.

Now 19 years old, Drouin is in a much better position to make the Lightning and potentially follow in his former linemates’ footsteps by winning the Calder Trophy.

“It’s one of my goals to win the Calder one day. But I also want to go far in the playoffs, which is an even better feeling,” Drouin said.

Stars prospect Shore explains choosing NCAA over juniors

2012 NHL Entry Draft - Portraits
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As a 16-year-old, Dallas Stars prospect Devin Shore felt like he was being overpowered by more physically mature opponents. That was one of the driving forces behind his decision to play NCAA hockey rather than going the OHL route, as he explained to the team’s website.

“It wasn’t an easy decision. I flip-flopped back and forth,” Shore said. “The OHL is such a great option, but you have to pick what is right for you. The biggest thing for me is that I needed more time to develop. I was a small kid going into my 16-year-old OHL year, and there were guys stronger than me and way more mature physically, so I figured the college route extends the window to become a pro.”

The 19-year-old is taking that extra time to bulk up, if nothing else.

When the Stars selected him in the second round (61st overall) in 2012, Shore was listed at 185 lbs. He’s impressively managed to pack on 20 lbs. to his 6-foot-1 frame in the past two years while distinguishing himself  in the NCAA, including becoming Maine’s first freshman to lead the team in scoring since a fellow named Gustav Nyquist accomplished that task.

It all leads to glowing reviews from Stars management, even if it’s unclear how far he is from being ready to make the big jump(s).

“Devin had a really strong season. He’s a real solid player, smart. He was one of the better players in college hockey,” Stars assistant GM Les Jackson said. “He has a great attitude, good work ethic. He is a pretty impressive player and person.”

Flames prospect Sieloff continues comeback from staph infection

USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp - USA Blue v Finland

Patrick Sieloff will take part in the Calgary Flames development camp next week, having had the vast majority of his 2013-14 season cut short by a staph infection.

Sieloff, a second-round pick of the Flames in 2012, joined the Abbotsford Heat in the American Hockey League last fall, becoming the youngest player on the roster at the time, according to the Abbotsford News.

But the 20-year-old defenceman, a former member of the U.S. world junior team, appeared in only two games for the Heat, before he was sidelined.

“It’s so great to be here,” Sieloff told the Flames’ website. “I’ve been feeling good all summer. There hasn’t been any hiccups or anything. For me, this is camp … it’s staying on the ice and staying healthy.

“I can build confidence off of those two things.”

His perceived maturity is something Troy Ward, the former head coach of the Flames’ top minor league team, which has since moved out of Abbotsford to Glens Falls, NY., lauded prior to the start of the 2013-14 AHL regular season.

“He’s 19 going on 29,” said Ward, as per the Abbotsford News. “He’s playing as the youngest guy in the league, but he doesn’t make you feel that way at all. His maturity is extremely high as a hockey player, and that’s what’s afforded him to be here.”

Huberdeau ‘excited’ to be reunited with junior coach Gallant

Jonathan Huberdeau
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The Florida Panthers hiring of Gerard Gallant as head coach is cause for a reunion with young star Jonathan Huberdeau.

Gallant coached Huberdeau with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL and the two won a pair of Memorial Cup titles together. As you might expect, the 21-year-old forward is happy to be back with his old coach as George Richards of the Miami Herald shared.

“I’m excited for this,” Huberdeau said. “He’s a guy who is intense and into the game. He keeps you up throughout the game. I think the guys are going to react to him. He wants what is best for the players.”

In three seasons at Saint John under Gallant (165 games), Huberdeau had 88 goals and 212 points in the regular season and another 69 points (37 goals) in 55 playoff games. Those kinds of numbers are hard to ignore and the Panthers will hope the new coach can rekindle the young forward’s offensive game.

Huberdeau struggled this season with just nine goals and 28 points in 69 games. The Panthers will need a lot more than that out of the third overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft if they’re going to climb in the Eastern Conference.

Eichel, McCarron highlight U.S. junior camp roster

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A first-rounder from last year’s draft and the potential No. 1 pick at next year’s are among the 42 players invited to the U.S. Junior Evaluation Camp, to be held from Aug. 2-9 in Lake Placid, New York.

Mike McCarron — taken 25th overall by Montreal at the ’13 Draft — and Jack Eichel, regarded by many as a top-two pick in 2015, were two of the 42, USA Hockey announced on Wednesday. The camp will be an important one for the Americans, as they look to bounce back from a disappointing quarterfinal loss at the 2014 World Juniors, just the second time the U.S. has failed to medal at the event in five tries.

In addition to Eichel and McCarron, the U.S. roster features…

— Cole Cassels, son of ex-NHLer Andrew

— Dominic Turgeon, son of ex-NHLer Pierre

— Ryan MacInnis, son of ex-NHLer Al

— Brendan Burke, son of ex-NHLer Sean

The team will be coached by former Ohio State bench boss Mark Osiecki, and will have input from the likes of Don Waddell (international consultant), Tony Granato (camp coach) and Mike Sullivan (camp coach).