Author: Brandon Duscharme

ottawa 67's

Ottawa 67’s Get Rights to Defenseman Nikita Okhotyuk

Russian defenseman Nikita Okhotyuk has committed his 2017-18 season to the team that drafted him 16th overall in the 2017 CHL Import Draft, the Ottawa 67’s. In 2015-16, Nikita played for Traktor Chelyabinsk’s U-16 team putting up five goals and 12 assists for 17 points in 35 games.ottawa 67's

Last season he would join the U-17 squad for Chelyabinsk and in doing so was nearly a point-per-game player putting up five goals and 18 assists for 23 points in 25 games, he also added 32 penalty minutes. The rest of the season was shared with Belye Medvedi Chelyabinsk of the MHL which is equivalent to North America’s ECHL. He played a total of 19 games for the team scoring one goal and adding three helpers for four points.

He’d also add 37 penalty minutes with a plus/minus rating of plus nine. Nikita also played for Team Russia at the 2016-17 U-17 World Hockey Championships and in doing so helped earn his team a Bronze Medal. This year he played in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament for the U-18 Russian team where he was the captain and after five games of tournament play, Nikita put up one goal and two assists.

Oshawa Generals Defenseman Nico Gross Commits to Team

Swiss defenseman Nico Gross has committed to the team that drafted him, the Oshawa Generals. Gross was the 40th overall pick in the first round of the CHL Import Draft by the Generals after some solid seasons back home.

In 2013-14 for the U-15 St. Moritz club, Gross put up 37 goals and 28 assists for 65 points in only 19 games, that’s pretty amazing for a defenseman even though it was in a minor league. He would move onto the Zug U-15 team the following season playing 12 games for the club scoring 15 goals and adding seven assists for 22 points. Later that year he’d move onto the Elite Novizen league in Switzerland for the Zug U-17 team and after 19 games for them, Gross put up another seven goals and added five assists for 12 points.oshawa generals

In 2015-16, Gross would return to the Zug U-17 team this time as an alternate captain putting up 17 points in 21 games. He’d later move to the Zug U-20 team where he saw his production drop with only two points in 20 games. Gross would again play for the U-20 squad in Zug during the 2016-17 season but for only seven games. In those seven games, Nico managed to put up four points which is pretty decent along with only 16 penalty minutes.

Later in the year though, Nico improved his progression as he moved on to the NLB league for the EVZ Academy and after 33 games he put up just nine assists and 44 penalty minutes with a minus nine rating. Gross would also get some International play with Team Switzerland in both the U-18 World Junior Championships and U-20 World Juniors as well. In five games with the U-18 team he only managed a single assist, the same output he would tally with the U-20 team.

Going into Oshawa it’s clear Gross has a potential shot at becoming a top pair defenseman, however, he could always fall to the second pairing if his training camp doesn’t go as planned.

Mississauga Steelheads Cole Schwindt Commits to Team

The Mississauga Steelheads fourth pick from the 2017 draft Cole Schwindt has committed to the team for the 2017-18 season. Cole played for the Kitchener Jr. Rangers Minor Midget AAA team last season appearing in 31 games. In those 31 games, Cole put up 12 goals and 15 assists for 27 points as well as putting up 30 penalty minutes.mississauga steelheads

The 16-year-old forward was nearly a point-per-game player last year which is great news for the Steelheads. Players who usually put up great seasons in the minors turn into top six and sometimes top three forwards while surrounded by better talent in Major Junior.

Schwindt also played for Team Alliance in the OHL Gold Cup putting up five points in five games. Schwindt will be joining fellow draftees Keean Washkurak and goaltender Matthew Dunsmoor.

worcester railers

Worcester Railers Sign Former AHLer Nick Saracino

After spending a season and a half with the Iowa Wild in the AHL, Nick Saracino has signed with the Worcester Railers of the ECHL. The 25-year-old forward had the best season of his life in 2009-10 with the St. Louis Jr. Blues in the CSHL where he put up 40 goals and 60 assists for 100 points in 46 games.

A year later he moved onto the USHL for Cedar Rapids Where in 99 career games Saracino tallied 20 goals and 53 assists for 73 points along with 32 penalty minutes and a plus 18 rating. After that, he would go on to spend four years in the NCAA with Providence College. And during 2014-15 he would win a NCAA Championship with the team.

He managed to play 145 games in the NCAA and when it was all said and done he scored 46 goals and added 70 assists for 116 points. He also put up 66 penalty minutes and a rating of plus 43. So it’s quite evident that Saracino is always on the ice at the right times, and off it at the bad times. During his 2015-16 year with Providence, he’d join the Iowa Wild for seven games where he put up two points (one goal and one assist).

But in 2016-17, he’d play a total of 33 games with the Wild and in doing so put up just two goals and four assists along with six penalty minutes and a minus four rating. A huge point production drop from junior hockey to professional hockey. But now that he’s with the Worcester Railers of the ECHL which is a tier lower than the AHL, he could very well see another spike in production. Saracino was never drafted into the NHL but has played well enough to earn himself consistent pro contracts.

hamilton bulldogs

Hamilton Bulldogs Pick Navrin Mutter Commits to Team

Navrin Mutter, the 83rd overall pick made in the fifth round of the 2017 OHL Priority Selection has announced he is committing to the team that drafted him, the Hamilton Bulldogs. The 6’1” 170-pound center who is only 16 years old will have a chance to grow in the OHL for at least three seasons unless he is drafted as a top prospect in the NHL draft and plays pro early.

Mutter played for the Elgin Middlesex Chi. Minor Midget AAA team last season putting up 10 goals and 12 assists for 22 points in 29 games, he also registered 84 penalty minutes that season. But besides playing for just Elgin in the AHMMPL, he also played for the Strathroy Rockets in the GOJHL where in three games he put up just a single goal and two penalty minutes.

Navrin will most likely be a fourth line center on the team playing behind guys like William Bitten, Luke Kutkevivius, and Brandon Saigeon. However, due to Bitten being able to also play wing means Mutten could always play a second or third line role depending on how well his training camp goes for the Bulldogs.

But with already great size and strength for a kid of his age, he could very well make a nice transition into the OHL this year and be a player to watch for.

jacksonville icemen

Jacksonville Icemen Sign Veteran Mike Ratchuk

The Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL announced the signing of veteran defenseman Mike Ratchuk on Wednesday. Jacksonville is affiliated with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL and the Winnipeg Jets of the NHL. The 29-year-old defenseman was originally selected 42nd overall in the second round of the 2006 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ratchuk started making waves in his hockey career all the way back in 2004-05 with the U.S. National U-17 Team in the United States Development Program. He would move onto the U-18 squad a year later for both the USDP and NAHL. Ratchuk would also spend some time in the NCAA for Michigan State University where in 82 games he put up 36 points (10g, 27a).

Mike Ratchuk (WHL – 2) keeps the puck away from Geoff Irwin (CIN – 10).

During the later part of his last NCAA season, Ratchuk would make his pro debut with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL where he put up three points in three games. In 2008-09 he would spend an entire season with the Phantoms, this time putting up 17 points in 77 games. After that is was much of the same for Ratchuk as he would spend two more seasons in the AHL but this time splitting those years between three teams, the Adirondack Phantoms, Springfield Falcons, and Syracuse Crunch.

It wasn’t until 2011-12 that Ratchuk would move down a level to the ECHL for the Elmira Jackals, however, that year was also spent with Binghamton and Syracuse in the AHL. He took a small break from North American pro hockey in 2012-13 when he played for the Olimpija Ljubljana in the EBEL where he put up 11 points in 42 games.

But after that, Ratchuk was back in the ECHL. During the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns, Ratchuk played for the Wheeling Nailers where he put up some decent numbers offensively. He played a total of 97 games during those two seasons and in doing so put up 17 goals and 38 assists for 55 points. A year later he was on the move yet again, this time to the Cincinnati Cyclones where he would only play 24 games before moving to Norfolk and Utah of the ECHL as well.

Last season saw Ratchuk play outside of the pro’s yet again as he joined the Sheffield Steelers of the EIHL putting up 21 points in 45 games. So it’s clear that the 29-year-old has been quite the journeyman over his years of hockey, and hopefully stays with the Jacksonville Icemen, a team that could use some experience.

Mississauga Steelheads Prospect Commits to Team

Forward Keean Washkurak has committed to the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL for the 2017-18 season. Keean spent the last year and a half with the Waterloo Wolves Minor Midget AAA team where he put up 38 points in 32 games along with 34 penalty minutes.mississauga steelheads

The 16-year-old forward won the AHMMPL Championship in 2015-16 with Waterloo, his hometown team. Since Keean is 16, he has two more years before he is eligible for the NHL Entry Draft, and he could possibly spend the next four years in the OHL depending on how well his development goes.

Keean was selected 30th overall in the second round of the 2016 OHL Priority Selection. Besides winning the AHMMPL Championship in 2015-16, Keean Also won the OHL Gold Cup in 2016-17. He also took part of the National U-17 Development Camp where he scored two goals for Team Green.
A quote from the general manager of the Steelheads shows how excited the organization is to have Keean join the club.

“Having one of our top prospects commit so early will add depth to our lineup, and we see Keean being an integral part of our team’s success this coming season.”

via Mississauga Steelheads.com

edmonton oilers

Edmonton Oilers Sign First Rounder Yamamoto

The Edmonton Oilers locked down rookie Kailer Yamamoto to a three-year, entry-level contract, the club announced Thursday.

Yamamoto, at 18-years-old, was selected with the 22nd overall selection in this year’s draft. The diminutive winger (5-foot-8, 153 pounds) registered impressive offensive numbers for the WHL’s Spokane Chiefs last season, tallying 42 goals and 57 assists in only 65 games. And so far in 190 career WHL games, Kailer has put up 84 goals and 143 assists for 277 points putting him well above the point-per-game average at 1.19.

Now the Oilers have ten games with Kailer before they burn a year on his entry level contract. So they could always test the waters with him in the NHL to see if he can play. If he can’t handle the pro game right away it’s likely he will be sent back down to Spokane.

This summer, Yamamoto played for Team USA at the 2017 World Junior summer showcase in Plymouth, Michigan earning even more experience. This means he could potentially play for the U.S again at this year’s World Junior Tournament.

nashville predators

Nashville Predators Mike Fisher Retires

Nashville Predators captain Mike Fisher announced his retirement from the NHL in an article published in the Tennessean on Thursday morning.

Mike Fisher ranks fourth in franchise history with 109 goals and leaves the organization ranked in the top 10 in power-play goals, game-winners, and goals-per-game.

The 37-year-old spent parts of seven seasons with the Nashville Predators after being traded to Nashville by the Ottawa Senators for a pair of draft picks in 2011.

A second-round pick by the Sens in 1988, Mike Fisher leaves having played 1,088 regular-season games, in which he scored 276 goals and 585 points. He added 23 goals and 51 points in 134 playoff games.

And he’ll be rooting for the Preds in retirement.

“I believe that this team, that this city, is going to win a championship, and I’m going to be the biggest fan,” Mike Fisher wrote. ”No one will be happier than I will be to see it happen, because, these fans, they deserve it.”

Via TheGlobeandMail.com

vancouver canucks

Vancouver Canucks Re-Sign Gaunce for Two Years

The Vancouver Canucks announced Wednesday that they signed forward Brendan Gaunce to a two-year $1.5 million contract.

The 23-year-old Gaunce is coming off his second season with the Vancouver Canucks that saw him dress In a career-high 57 games contributing five assists. Gaunce has played a total of 77 games so far in the NHL putting up one goal and five assists for six points along with 35 penalty minutes and a plus/minus rating of minus 11.

Brendan has also seen some time in the AHL with the Utica Comets where in 124 games thus far he has put up 30 goals and 40 assists for 70 points along with a plus 11 rating and 49 penalty minutes. He really shined in the OHL with the Belleville Bulls, his play with Belleville was largely the reason he was drafted 26th overall in the first round of the 2012 draft.

Gaunce has done pretty well internationally too, in 2010-11 he won a U-17 World Hockey Championship Gold Medal. And in 2011-12 he would win a Gold Medal in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and a Bronze Medal in the U-18 World Junior Championships.