In his first season with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers, Milano had a team-leading 22 goals and 46 assists in 50 games. The 18-year-old also had two goals and four points in five games at the World Junior Hockey Championship.
Here’s a look at some of Milano’s work from his rookie season in the OHL:
Columbus is also watching prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand closely.
The Dispatch reports that Bjorkstrand could join the Blue Jackets this season, if injuries persist.
Bjorkstrand’s Portland Winterhawks open the first round of the Western Hockey League playoffs this weekend against the Seattle Thunderbirds.
The 19-year-old had 63 goals and 118 points in 59 regular season games this season.
Murray, who had his knee scoped in June, practiced with the second group in Columbus Sunday wearing a non-contact jersey and according to Blue Jackets website reporter, Rob Mixer, Murray is expected to be ready in time for Columbus’ season opener Oct. 9.
Meanwhile, Portzline reports Saturday’s signing of Jaden Schwartz by the St. Louis Blues will have no impact on negotiations between the Jackets and restricted free agent centre, Ryan Johansen.
According to Portzline, Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt, has not used Schwartz as a comparable for Johansen during negotiations.
Mike Vellucci, head coach and general manager of the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers, is something of a hockey lifer. He kicked around the minors for over 10 seasons — playing two NHL games with Hartford — before settling in as a coach at the junior level.
Like most hockey lifers, Vellucci has a pretty good sense of humor and knows how to work an audience, both of which were on display during Saturday’s 5-1 win over the Windsor Spitfires:
Awesome. Gotta love a coach that can barely contain his laughter mid-tirade.
2) Vellucci gets to take his routine to the big stage next year. The Whalers will face the London Knights in an OHL game played at Comerica Park as part of the 2013 Winter Classic “Hockeytown Winter Festival.”
In the words of Bart Scott: CAN’T WAIT.
Devils prospect Jon Merrill suspended 12 games from U of Michigan
While the NHL season is set to get under way officially in a few days, the college hockey schedule is roaring to life this weekend. One guy who won’t be participating in that will be New Jersey Devils prospect and University of Michigan standout Jon Merrill.
Merrill has been suspended for 12 games by legendary coach Red Berenson for breaking unspecified team rules. While we see things like this happen in college football and basketball generally having to do with problems with boosters or grades, we don’t know what Merrill’s issues were.
“I support what the coach did and (Merrill) understands and he’s committed to Michigan and we support that 100 percent,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said.
Lamoriello said he had been in contact with Berenson about the incident, but would not say if he spoke with Merrill.
“We have had communication with the coach and that’s good enough for me,” Lamoriello said.
There is one catch when a college prospect runs into issues in the NCAA as a hockey player: A player can always escape college by jumping to the Canadian Hockey League. In this case, Merrill’s CHL rights belong to the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers. If Merrill was frustrated by what happened in Michigan and didn’t want to sit out the 12 games, he could tell Michigan to forget it and go play a pro-like schedule with Plymouth. The catch there is that if he jumps to the OHL, he cannot go back to Michigan.
One thing’s for sure, eyes in Michigan will be focused on Merrill to see if he stays in school as the Wolverines have lost their fair share of prospects over the years to the CHL including Stars first round pick in 2010, goalie Jack Campbell. The noble thing for Merrill to do would be to accept the responsibility for whatever it was he did, deal with the suspension, and finish out the year at UM. Nobility, however, sometimes has nothing to do with what’s right for what a player feels for their career and their future.