- A couple of "A's" were sewn back on Blazer jerseys for Saturday's game. Two weeks after they were stripped off following a 10-1 loss in Spokane, both Bronson Maschmeyer and Dylan Willick were wearing them against the Hitmen. For Maschmeyer, it's the return of his letter while for Willick it was something new. Obviously Willick has earned it in the eyes of the coaching staff after starting the season without one.
- The Blazers have a tough schedule from now until Christmas. In total, they play six games. Five of those six on the road (Vancouver, Spokane, Portland, PG, PG). The lone home game is vs Swift Current Friday.
Playing in Vancouver is always tough. The Spokane game comes Saturday night after the Blazers home game vs Swift Current meaning they will depart following the game for Spokane. The last time they did this was two weeks ago and it no doubt play a part in the lopsided loss to the Chiefs. Portland is leading the Western Conference. The final two games before Christmas are up in PG and will challenge the Blazers who have lost their last two games vs the Cougars.
- Get ready for a steady diet of BC division opponents. The Blazers will only play 14 divisional games in the first half of the season. After the Christmas break, the Blazers have 20 games against BC division opponents
- DJ OTP and DJ Woodsauce03. If you have no idea what I'm talking about check out this link to the story courtesy Marty Hastings and Kamloops This Week. He shows you another side of Blazer D Brandon Underwood and F JT Barnett. It was good to have Marty stop by Saturday night for our first intermission "Hockey Talk".
So Brayden Schenn is back with the Wheat Kings.
I know Kelly McCrimmon won't part with Schenn easily but it is the right move for the Wheat Kings GM. Not having Schenn basically until mid-January after World Juniors doesn't give the Wheat Kings a big window for a charge up the Eastern Conference standings. Plus, with what the Wheat Kings surrendered in young talent last season (Jordan DePape, Klarc Wilson, Dallas Ehrhardt) plus a 1st round pick, two 2nd round picks and a third rounder to bulk up for the Memorial Cup, this would be a great opportunity to re-stock the shelves. Throw in Scott Glennie and you're close to getting back almost all of what you gave up last year. Sure, the temptation to hold onto the duo gives the Wheat Kings a pretty formidable top-six forward group. In this case though "the juice just ain't worth the squeeze"
In Brandon's case, having Brayden Schenn go to World Juniors will up his value. All the attention these players get over the two week period has teams lining up if one is available. Every time Jordan Eberle scored another clutch goal for Canada last year, his value rose dramatically. Brandon could benefit in the same way with Schenn.
There is risk to this. A serious injury to Schenn would end it. If you want proof, look no further than the Prince George Cougars when Dana Tyrell was hurt during World Junior Camp. The market crashed.
Kelly doesn't need my advice though. He's the smartest and most craftiest GM in the league.
Expect the price for adding assets to your team to be through the roof this year. Why? There will be way more buyers than sellers. Supply and demand.
In the West, I don't think there's a team that will look to subtract any pieces. There will be two very pissed-off teams that miss the playoffs on this side. Look for every team in the market to improve their team for a playoff push - or at least try to improve.
I don't think anyone is to fall on their sword and concede anything to the Portland Winterhawks on this side. Although, Portland does hold a lot of the cards. With their young talent and an open 20 year old spot, expect the Winterhawks to make a splash and soon.
In the East, Red Deer, Saskatoon and Kootenay have established themselves. Medicine Hat is too good up-front not to make a push. Their recent trip through the U.S. division probably solidifies their thoughts.
Moose Jaw feels they have enough talent to work with while Swift Current has all sorts of scoring potential, they just haven't scored yet. I'm sure GM Mark Lamb has been fielding calls for the Eakins and Dowlings of the world but at this point, he's not taking offers.
Lethbridge, Edmonton, and Prince Albert need to find their direction soon. Regina should get fair return for F Carter Ashton when they move him. They might even get back the 1st rounder they gave up for him.
Just think what the Pats could have in the years to come if they would have moved Jordan Eberle and Colten Teubert last year. Mind boggling really.
Calgary will have to play nearly .650 hockey the rest of the way to make a playoff push. D Matt Mckenzie would be a great addition to any team's top D pairing. F Jimmy Bubnick has been about as consistent as prairie weather this year. Still, he could fetch something back for the Hitmen.
It's going to be an interesting five weeks up until deadline day.