Sunday, 2 June 2019

Blades’ GM pumped on Dach’s status ahead of NHL Entry Draft

Kirby Dach was at the NHL Scouting Combine.
    Saskatoon Blades general manager Colin Priestner isn’t ruling out the possibility that his team could be without star centre Kirby Dach next season.
    Dach just finished participating in the NHL Scouting Combine that wrapped up on Saturday in Buffalo, N.Y. The 18-year-old Fort Saskatchewan, Alta., product is pegged to be an early first round selection in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft, which is set for June 21 and 22 in Vancouver, B.C.
    Last season, Dach, who stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 200 pounds, appeared in 62 regular season games with the Blades posting 25 goals and 48 assists for 73 points to go with a plus-15 rating in the plus-minus department. Dach added five goals and three assists in the Blades 10 post-season games.
    “It is exciting,” said Priestner. “I think Kirby (Dach) is going to go in the top five.
    “That is what I am hearing right now. You never know. We’re never really told exactly what teams are doing by any means.
    “I know there is a lot interest in the top five. Four, five or six is very interested. He is going to go somewhere in that range is my guess.”
    Back in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft, the Blades selected Dach in the first round and second overall. Dach has backed up his early WHL Bantam Draft selection with his strong two-way play on the ice.
    In 133 career regular season games with the Blades, he has posted 38 goals and 91 assists to go with a plus-eight rating.
Kirby Dach is expected to be an early pick in the NHL Entry Draft.
    With that in mind, it is still difficult for 18-year-old players to crack into the NHL as freshly drafted rookies, because the bodies of those players still haven’t physically matured.
    Still, Priestner knows Dach will do whatever he can to be ready for an NHL shot.
    If Dach is returned to the Blades, he will have the chance to play with his younger brother, Colton. The Blades selected Colton in the first round and sixth overall in the 2018 WHL Bantam Draft, and he can join the team as a 16-year-old rookie in the upcoming campaign.
    Last season, Colton had 16 goals and 12 assists playing 32 regular season games with the Fort Saskatchewan Boston Pizza Rangers midget AAA team.
    “If he (Kirby Dach) makes the NHL next year, that is an outstanding achievement,” said Priestner. “If he doesn’t, he can play with his brother here.
    “It is fun to play with your brother for a year. They’ve never gotten to do that. I think that would be a great year for them.”
    Priestner said Kirby Dach went into the Scouting Combine at full health.
    Dach injured one of his legs in Game 5 of the Blades second round playoffs series with the Prince Albert Raiders after coming together with Raiders star right-winger Brett Leason. Dach missed about 10 minutes of the Blades loss in Game 5 and played hurt in Saskatoon’s season ending loss in Game 6.
    Dach had the option of joining Canada’s entry at the under-18 worlds after the Blades were eliminated from the WHL playoffs, but he decided to sit that out and heal up.
    “It (Dach’s injury)came at the worse time,” said Priestner. “He just got tangled up with (Brett) Leason.
Kirby Dach had a stellar campaign for the Blades in 2018-19.
    “Their feet hit each other. It was just an awkward play. It wasn’t dirty at all.
    “I think it was a wise move not to go to the world championships with a taped up leg.”
    With all that said, it would be a surprise if Dach wasn’t selected in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft. He was listed third among North American skaters in the final NHL Central Scouting Rankings.
    If Dach is returned to the Blades, Priestner believe he will come back to Saskatoon sometime in October. The general manager expects his skilled centre will likely experience a lull before taking off in that scenario.
    “I think sometimes when an elite player gets drafted and gets sent back there is that letdown period,” said Priestner. “They usually get some games in the NHL.”

Blades overage situation still under evaluation

Nolan Kneen is a safe pick to return as an overager for the Blades.
    Saskatoon Blades are still evaluating the direction they will take with their overage players next season.
    The Blades had seven potential players to fill three overage spots, when they were eliminated from the WHL playoffs in a six-game second round series by the eventual league champion Prince Albert Raiders.
    On May 2, the Blades traded defenceman Reece Harsch to the Winnipeg Ice to cut the potential returning overage players to six.
    Priestner isn’t expecting import Norwegian left-winger Kristian Roykas-Marthisen to return to Saskatoon. Roykas-Marthisen is an NHL Entry Draft selection of the Washington Capitals, but he might elect to play in Europe next season.
    Priestner doesn’t expect netminder Dorrin Luding to be in the picture as 18-year-old Nolan Maier is the team’s starter.
    That brings the Blades down to four candidates for three spots in defenceman Nolan Kneen and forwards “Uncle” Gary Haden, Ryan Hughes and Riley McKay.
    “There is big competition there,” said Priestner. “Nolan Kneen is the only defenceman.
    “I think obviously he is going to be back. That kind of goes without saying after the year he had. We have three excellent forwards and all different.
    “We have an indication of the way we want to go, but I wouldn’t be surprised if four of them showed up to camp right now.”
    Last season, Hughes recorded 30 goals, 39 assists and a plus-13 rating in the plus-minus department in 61 regular season games split between the Portland Winterhawks and Blades.
    Haden posted 31 goals, 34 assists and a plus-19 rating in 64 regular season games split between the Medicine Hat Tigers and Blades.
    McKay appeared in all of the Blades 68 regular season games recording 12 goals, 15 assists, a plus-16 rating and a WHL leading 149 penalty minutes.
    Priestner is looking at his options via the trade route, but said the brain trust on his team needs to be sure of their plans.
    “We need to decide who we are keeping as well before we can trade anyone,” said Priestner. “I am not opposed to a little competition.
    “I want to see what they are like at camp and see how motivated that playoff made them. We’ve got guys that I want to see what kind of shape they come in and all that kind of stuff.”
    Priestner said he has engaged in some preliminary talks on the trade route but added things are still quiet on that front. Teams have until Oct. 10 to decide who their three overage players will be.
    “You sometimes can get a little more for those guys by Oct. 10th than you can in May when everyone is at the cabin or on vacation,” said Priestner. “There is not a lot of urgency.
    “A team goes to camp and doesn’t like their scoring situation or doesn’t like their forwards, we’ve got three capable top six forwards out of those.”

Saskatoon plans to make two picks at CHL Import Draft

Emil Malysjev might not be back with the Blades next season.
    Saskatoon Blades are looking at making two selections in CHL Import Draft.
    The CHL Import Draft is expected to be held via a conference call on either June 26 or 27. The Blades aren’t expecting Norwegian left-winger Kristian Roykas-Marthinsen to return for his overage year.
    Blades general manager Colin Priestner has been in touch with the club’s Swedish defenceman in Emil Malysjev and found out the rearguard might sign a professional contract in his home country.
    Malysjev is slated to enter his 18-year-old. As a 17-year-old rookie, Malysjev, who stands 6-foot-3 and weighs 187 pounds, turned heads appearing in 63 regular season games recording three goals, 14 assists and a plus-13 rating in the plus-minus department.
    He was rated 192nd among North American skaters in the final NHL Central Scouting rankings.
    “I think we’re at a point this year we want to probably get two guys that can help us right away,” said Priestner. “That is my focus right now.”
    Malysjev improved greatly as last season progressed and was expected to be a key returnee for the Blades next season.
    If Malysjev doesn’t return, the Blades will be without four out of their starting six defenceman from last season. Dawson Davidson and Brandon Schuldhaus both exhausted their major junior eligibility and Reece Harsch was traded to the Winnipeg Ice.
    Priestner said the Blades brain trust including associate general manager Steve Hildebrand and director of scouting Dan Tencer have work to do in that area, which could include addressing that situation at the Import Draft.
    “We have some good D returning, but did lose a few really good ones,” said Priestner. “I’m not sure we’re going to replace Dawson Davidson and (Brandon) Schuldhaus just tomorrow.
    “That was a real big strength of our team this year we’re a couple of those veteran D. It is my job now with our staff with Hilty (Steve Hildebrand) and Dan (Tencer) and our coaches to shore that defence up. It doesn’t always happen before camp.”

Alive on The Canadian Press wire with Roughriders’ LaBatte

Brendon Labatte is a Roughriders mainstay.
    I was alive nationwide on The Canadian Press wire this past week.
    The Canadian Press sent me down to Griffiths Stadium at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon to work Saskatchewan Roughriders training camp. 
    I put together a story on veteran offensive lineman Brendon LaBatte.
    Labatte is entering his 12th full season in the CFL. His versatility is a key bonus to the Roughriders offensive line.
    He is one of the team’s leaders, and his play emphasizes the fact why Canadian offensive linemen are viewed as gold in the CFL.
    LaBatte, who is from Weyburn, Sask., was named the CFL’s most outstanding offensive lineman in 2013. He normally plays left guard, but has practiced at centre during training camp.
    The Canadian Press story on Labatte carried via the North Shore News can be found by clicking right here.

 Saskatchewan football community mourns passing of Filteau

Justin Filteau in action for the Hilltops in 2014.
  The football community in Saskatchewan is grieving the sudden passing of Justin Filteau.
    Filteau, who is a former star linebacker with the CJFL’s Saskatoon Hilltops and U Sports University of Saskatchewan Huskies, was one of three people killed in a light aircraft crash near Medicine Hat, Alta., late Saturday night.
    The 26-year-old was flying to Moose Jaw, Sask.
    He is was the linebackers coach for the WWCFL powerhouse Saskatoon Valkyries and was planning to travel to Regina, Sask., on Sunday to meet the team and coach in their regular season game against the host Riot, who are the defending WWCFL champions.
    The Valkyries won that contest 22-7 and have dedicated the rest of their season in Filteau’s memory.
    Filteau was coaching in Saskatoon’s minor football system and was a coach for Saskatchewan’s under-16 provincial team.
    Born and raised in Moose Jaw, Filteau played for A.E. Peacock Collegiate’s high school football team. He suited for the Hilltops from 2010 to 2014 and was a member of four CJFL championship teams. He played for the Huskies from 2015 to 2017.
    Numerous tributes have been posted on various social media platforms for Filteau. Funeral arrangements are still pending.

Pedersen launches sports talk show on Monday

    Rod Pedersen is set to rock the sports talk establishment.
    On Monday, Pedersen, who is the famous former play-by-play voice of the CFL’s Saskatchewan Roughriders and WHL’s Regina Pats, launches The Rod Pedersen Show. Pedersen is aiming to put together a morning sports talk show in the format that is sort of like The View.
    It will air five days a week from 10 a.m. to noon Saskatchewan time over multiple platforms like Facebook Live, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube.
    The move is sure to catch the attention of mainstream outlets. The current two local sports talk shows that air over the radio waves in Saskatchewan in The Green Zone and The SportsCage usually go live after 3 p.m. from Monday to Friday.
    Pedersen will have a daily jump on those two shows with his show.
    During his time as the Roughriders play-by-play voice, Pedersen built a strong following from the team’s fanbase, while becoming infamous with the fans of other CFL clubs that loved to disagree with him.
    No matter how you feel about him, his show should be entertaining. If you want to check it out, it can be found by clicking right here.

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