Jonathan Drouin, Kris Versteeg

Lightning send 2013 first-rounder Drouin back to junior

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Tampa Bay’s 2013 first-round pick won’t be winning the Calder Trophy this year.

The Lightning announced they’re sending third overall pick Jonathan Drouin back to his junior team in Halifax. Just yesterday we shared here how GM Steve Yzerman had a difficult decision on whether to keep their hot prospect or send him back. Clearly the team feels it’s better for his development to head back to the QMJHL.

Some fans may get critical of the move, but it’s one that can work out and the Lightning just need to look across the state for a prime example of that.

Florida’s Jonathan Huberdeau didn’t join the Panthers immediately after being drafted in 2011, but he turned his first NHL season last year into a Calder Trophy-winning one. Lightning fans may want to see just what they got for such a bad season last year but they’ll have to be patient.

As for Drouin, the rest of the QMJHL should be terrified to see him back after the numbers he put up last season (41-64-105) in 49 games.

Stars send ’12 first-rounder Faksa back to juniors

Radek Faksa

The Dallas Stars confirmed what they said over the summer and won’t rush 2012 first-round pick Radek Faksa to the NHL.

The team announced they’re sending the 19-year-old Czech back to the OHL Kitchener Rangers. Faksa was taken 13th overall in last year’s draft and they’re hoping he’ll be one of their top centers soon.

Last season with Kitchener, Faksa had his season hampered by a MCL strain. He played in just 39 games scoring nine goals with 22 assists. In the OHL playoffs, he had four goals and two assists in 10 games. Two years ago, his first in the OHL, he had 67 points in 62 games leading to his lofty position in the draft.

Columbus sends ’13 first-rounder Rychel back to junior

KerbyRychel
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After just two preseason games, Kerby Rychel is headed back to the OHL.

Rychel, Columbus’ first-round pick (19th overall) at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, has been sent back to his junior team in Windsor after a week-long stay at Jackets training camp.

The 18-year-old forward probably saw the writing on the wall when he played just over five minutes in Wednesday’s 5-4 win over Carolina. While a solid prospect, Rychel needs to grow and put size on his 6-foot, 185-pound frame in order to play consistently at the NHL level.

Rychel was the only player Columbus sent back to junior today, dispatching 17 others to AHL Springfield.

Flyers send d-man Morin back to junior

SamMorin
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The Philadelphia Flyers have sent defenseman Samuel Morin, the club’s first-round pick in this summer’s draft, back to his junior team (Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL).

From CSNPhilly.com:

The 18-year-old defenseman was nothing short of impressive in training camp and has served notice that he is likely a year or two away from joining the Flyers full-time.

Unusual though it may be, the Flyers were stacked on defense in camp with nine players on one-way contracts plus Hal Gill on a tryout. Gill will go to Lake Placid when training camp continues on Thursday.

General manager Paul Holmgren all but said Morin was going home for more seasoning on Tuesday night.

“It’s a stretch just because of the numbers we have here,” Holmgren said . “We’re just going to take it a day at a time and see how it goes.”

Morin — all 6-foot-6 of him — was selected 11th overall by the Flyers and recently signed his entry-level contract.

More on Morin here.

Stars to send ’12 first-rounder Faksa back to junior next season

RadekFaksa
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Doesn’t sound like the Dallas Stars will rush Radek Faksa into playing at the NHL level.

“[Faksa will] spend the summer here with us, go to Traverse City [for the NHL Prospects Tournament], go to training camp and then go back to Kitchener, which is good because that’s where he should be,” assistant GM Les Jackson told Stars Inside Edge.

“He’s going to get a lot of ice there, he and the coach have a good relationship and I suspect he will take a big step next year.”

Faksa, the club’s first-round pick (13th overall) at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, could’ve been a roster spot candidate for 2013-14. He attended Dallas’ training camp in January, played a couple of games with AHL Texas last season, has been described as a solid defensive center and, at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, has the size to compete at the NHL level.

That said, his prospects of making the team shifted dramatically this summer.

New GM Jim Nill completely revamped the center position, acquiring Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley via trade from Boston and Shawn Horcoff from Edmonton. Those three, along with veteran Vern Fiddler, will likely be the club’s Nos. 1-4 next season, with Chris Mueller and Toby Petersen also in the mix.

Because Faksa is only 19, he can’t play in the AHL full-time, as per the CHL/AHL 20-year-old rule. That means his only option is another year with OHL Kitchener, where he scored 31 points in 39 games last year, missing extensive time with a knee injury.

The Czech native said the knee is all good, and he’s looking to have a solid bounce-back campaign.

“Actually, my knee’s feeling pretty good. I was out six weeks and that wasn’t easy,” Faksa said. “I’ve had a pretty good summer and I’m looking forward to having a good season.”