Tag: Jonathan Blum

Phil Housley USA Hockey

Preds hire Phil Housley as assistant coach

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It didn’t take long for Nashville to find a replacement for Peter Horachek.

On Tuesday, the club announced the hiring of Phil Housley as its new assistant coach.

Housley will replace Horachek — who was fired on Monday — on Barry Trotz’s staff, and work alongside fellow assistant Lane Lambert.

“Phil brings a unique skill set to our coaching staff,” Preds GM David Poile said. “He was one of the most talented offensive defensemen to play in the NHL, and he has worked extensively with young players during his coaching career.

“He will continue to focus his efforts on our young defensemen and assisting on the power play.”

Housley ranks fourth all-time among NHL defensemen in points (1,232) and has achieved great success in his short head coaching career. He led Team USA to gold at the 2013 World Juniors, and served as an assistant to Joe Sacco at the ’13 World Championships, where the Americans captured bronze.

Housley will have plenty of quality young defensive prospects to work with in Nashville.

Chief among them is Ryan Ellis, the 11th overall pick in 2009 that, like Housley, is a diminutive offensive blueliner.

He’ll also get to work with Swiss star Roman Josi — who won tournament MVP at the Worlds — and Jonathan Blum, the club’s first-round selection in 2007.

Report: American-born NHLers on the rise

US Hockey AP

Interesting article from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail on the rise of American-born players in the National Hockey League. In it, Mirtle states the 2010-11 season saw 156 U.S. players play in 25 or more games — up from 101 during the 2002-03 season — which means the NHL has gone from drawing 15 percent of its players from America to a whopping 23 percent.

Why the influx of Americans? Mirtle points to a few reasons.

One, growth and exposure in non-traditional markets (and states) has created a deeper talent pool to draw from.

“Years ago, we talked about the three Ms in terms of Massachusetts, Minnesota and Michigan as the only places where there was hockey played,” said Nashville Predators GM David Poile. “We’ve now drafted a player like Jonathan Blum from California in the first round. There are players in the NHL or Division I colleges from Florida and Texas. I think the exposure of hockey has increased so much more in the last 10 to 15 years.”

(Of note: Nashville has 10 American players this season, second only to Buffalo, with 15.)

Two, the creation of the U.S. National Team Development Program — since its inception in 1997, notable alumni have included Patrick Kane, Ryan Kesler, Phil Kessel, Ryan Suter and Jimmy Howard. The NTDP might’ve reached its apex at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft when Kane and James van Riemsdyk went first and second overall, the first time in which American players were selected with the top two picks.

“That’s been really a strong point of developing elite players,” Poile said. “It’s probably not a lot different than what we used to hear about the Russian system where they’d bring all the top players from around the country to play on a national team.”

While the NTDP has been huge, Mirtle’s first point about expansion and growth into new markets is perhaps most important. This year alone there are NHLers from non-traditional “hockey states” like Nebraska (Jed Ortmeyer), Florida/Tennessee (Blake Geoffrion) and North Carolina (Jared Boll, Ben Smith).

“Once they see someone else make it from their neighbourhood or that program, kids start believing a little bit more,” Toronto defenseman Mike Komisarek (from West Islip, New York) said. “They think, ‘If he can make it, why can’t I?’”

Shea Weber out, Ryan Ellis in for Preds?

Shea Weber

There’s a mystery developing on the Nashville blueline as the Preds prepare to face Detroit this evening.

The mystery begins with The Tennessean’s Josh Cooper reporting Shea Weber left today’s morning skate early. “This rarely happens,” Cooper explained. “In fact, I’ve never seen it happen.”

Weber took a knock in Nashville’s final game before Christmas — a 6-3 loss to the Stars — yet still managed to log over 27 minutes of ice time. It remains unclear what’s plaguing Weber as head coach Barry Trotz didn’t provide an update following practice.

The mystery then continues with the health of Kevin Klein. He’s missed the last two games with the flu and is listed as day-to-day. Klein did skate this morning but — like Weber — his status remains unclear.

So, Nashville could be down two defensive regulars. What’s the solution?

Perhaps it’s giving highly-touted prospect Ryan Ellis his NHL debut.

Cooper notes that while Trotz hasn’t officially announced a call-up from AHL Milwaukee, Nashville’s website and the NHL media site already have Ellis on the Predators roster.

Ellis, 20, was taken 11th overall at the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and went on to become one of the most decorated players in CHL history.

I mean, consider his 2011 trophy haul:

CHL Player of the Year
CHL Defenseman of the Year
Red Tilson Trophy (OHL Outstanding Player)
World Junior Championship All-Star Team
World Junior Championship Best Defenseman

Needless to say, Preds fans are quite excited at the potential of his debut…but there is a flip side. If Ellis does indeed dress, Nashville will have three rookie blueliners — Ellis, Roman Josi and Jonathan Blum — in the lineup against a veteran-laden Detroit squad.