WHL Notebook: Draisaitl on the move in NHL draft rankings

Dave Leaderhouse
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Prince Albert Raider forward Leon Draisaitl is on the move! No, he is not being traded, but rather his stock has risen considerably in the second half of the Western Hockey League season - so much so that Craig Button from TSN has him ranked at No. 4 in his March evaluation of potential draft picks. Draisaitl has been on a tear since he returned from representing Germany at the world junior hockey championship during the Christmas break and is set to become the first Raider to register 100 points in a season since Steve Kelly accomplished the feat in 1995-96. In Button’s January report, Draisaitl was ranked 11th, but the top three have remained unchanged as Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart is No. 1 followed by Aaron Ekblad of Barrie and Sam Bennett of Kingston. Draisaitl’s teammate Reid Gardiner is No. 64 on Button’s list…Everett Silvertips’ forward Joshua Winquist has set a regular-season scoring record for the franchise after the 20-year-old collected his 43rd goal of the campaign last week. Winquist, who will reach 300 games in his career and should have 100 career goals (he presently has 97) when the season ends this weekend, bettered Shane Harper’s single-season mark by one set in 2009-10.

The news is still pretty grim out of Saskatoon as Kootenay Ice forward Tim Bozun has been put in an induced coma while he recovers from a bout with meningitis. Bozun, who scored a goal for the Ice on Feb. 28 in Saskatoon against the Blades, fell ill the next day and was admitted to Royal University Hospital where he has been in critical condition ever since. Bozun, who was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round of the 2012 NHL entry draft, has had his parents by his side as Philippe and Helene Bozun flew in from their home in Switzerland when their son was hospitalized. Geneve-Servette HC, a Division A team in Switzerland, is wearing logos on their helmets in support of Bozun as they begin their playoffs…The Portland Winterhawks set a team record with 21 straight wins, but they came up one short of the league mark of 22 set by the 1967-68 Estevan Bruins when they were defeated 4-1 by the Seattle Thunderbirds.

The rumour mill is in full swing in the WHL as the Kootenay Ice are said to be moving to Winnipeg in time for the start of the 2014-15 season while the Prince George Cougars have been put up for sale by Rick Brodsky and stories have former players Dan Hamhuis and Eric Brewer part of a group that has offered $7 million for the team. As mentioned, these are all rumours, but once something gets started there generally is some meat on the bone. If the Prince George sale is finalized it would be the second Brodsky franchise to be sold this year as Jack Brodsky (Rick’s brother) got a reported $9 million for the Saskatoon Blades back in September.

The Portland Winterhawks are helping with the 100 Years of Hockey in Oregon celebrations by bringing in both the Stanley Cup and Lester Patrick Cup next week. The Portland Rosebuds were presented the Stanley Cup in 1916 when they won the Pacific Coast Hockey Association championship while the Portland Buckaroos captured the professional Western Hockey League title in 1961, ’65 and ’71 and were awarded the Lester Patrick trophy for their efforts.

Here’s a story that makes you want to cheer for the Swift Current Broncos. Well, Graham Black at least. The 20-year-old forward is having the best season of his junior career having notched 91 points as the Broncos enter the final week of the regular season. What makes this so extraordinary is that Black suffers from Graves’ disease, an autoimmune disorder that is accompanied by insomnia, chronic fatigue and drastic weight loss. Black, who had 50 points in each of his first two years in Swift Current, was also battling the disease when he won the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League scoring title and most valuable player honours three years ago…Prince Albert product Dawson MacAuley is the No. 1 goalie in Regina again after the Pats lost their starter Daniel Wapple for the remainder of the regular season when he was bulldozed into the net during a game against the Edmonton Oil Kings. MacAuley was the Pats’ go-to- guy for the first half of the season, but has been on the bench a lot since Wapple came to Regina at the trade deadline from Medicine Hat. Tyler Fuhr has been brought in to back-up MacAuley as Fuhr became available when his LaRonge Ice Wolves failed to qualify for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs…Everett has also lost a veteran as defenceman Kohl Bauml suffered a broken leg while battling in front of the net in a game against Kelowna last week…Tri-City goaltender Eric Comrie has set a new team record for saves in a season as he has passed Aaron Baker’s standard of 1825 set in 1997-98…Brandon has brought up Nolan Patrick for the remainder of the season. Patrick, who is the nephew of former Raider defenceman James Patrick, was third in scoring in the Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League this year scoring 33 goals and adding 31 assists in 39 games. Patrick was the fourth overall selection in last May’s WHL bantam draft.

Information for the WHL Notebook is gathered from submissions provided by the WHL Writer’s Group.


Organizations: NHL, Western Hockey League, University Hospital Montreal Canadiens Seattle Thunderbirds Pacific Coast Hockey Association Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League Prince Albert Edmonton Oil Kings Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League Manitoba Midget AAA Hockey League

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Germany, Switzerland Kingston Winnipeg Regina Oregon Swift Current Medicine Hat Kelowna Tri-City WHL Writer

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