Monday, February 9, 2009

Texas CHL Teams Involved in Quiet Deadline Deals

The Central Hockey League (CHL) trade deadline expired on Monday at 3:00 PM (CST) with very little movement. The Tulsa Oilers made two deals and several players who were dealt prior in the season were on the move again finding new homes at the deadline.

The Mississippi RiverKings made a late splash finalizing a deal just minutes before the deadline expired that had high-scoring forward Martin Gascon of the Tulsa Oilers on the move again. Gascon was traded from the Arizona Sundogs to the Oilers on January 27th and in six games with Tulsa he scored a goal with an assist. On the season, Gascon has 46 points (8-38=46) in 47 games.

To get Gascon, the RiverKings sent forward Jason Weitzel and future considerations to Tulsa. Weitzel was acquired earlier in the day by Mississippi from the Amarillo Gorillas as the future considerations in the Brad Bonello deal that happened earlier in the season. Weitzel has 11 goals and 14 assists in 39 games with the Gorillas.

The other deal made by the Oilers sent forward Jereme Tendler to the Corpus Christi IceRays in exchange for defenseman Matt Smyth. Tendler has four goals and three assists in 36 games with Tulsa this season. Smyth has three goals, seven assists and 113 penalty minutes in 44 games with the Rays this season.

The Laredo Bucks made a four player swap with the Rapid City Rush on ‘deadline day’ acquiring forward Josh Bonar and the rights to forward Mickey Gilchrist from the Rush in exchange for forward Mitch Stephens and defenseman Ryan Hand. Bonar has no points in five games with Rapid City but was a 20-goal scorer a year ago with Rio Grande Valley. Gilchrist is currently playing in Asia but could join the Bucks in the coming weeks upon his return to North America.

The Rush get Stephens (acquired by the Bucks from New Mexico at the end of January) who has 50 points (14-36=50) in 47 games this season combined with Laredo and New Mexico. Hand has two points (1-1=2) and 57 penalty minutes in 22 games with the Bucks.

Deadline Deals:
-Mississippi gets Jason Weitzel (F) from Amarillo as a part of future considerations from a previous trade
-Mississippi trades Weitzel to Tulsa along with future considerations in exchange for Martin Gascon (F)
-Corpus Christi trades Matt Smyth (D) to Tulsa in exchange for Jereme Tendler (F)
-Laredo trades Ryan Hand (D) and Mitch Stephens (F) to Rapid City in exchange for Josh Bonar (F) and the rights to Mickey Gilchrist (F)

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Stars May Be Buyers at the Deadline

The Dallas Stars' hot play of late is not going un-noticed around the league. Winners of five games in a row, and going for their sixth in-a-row tonight against Colorado, the Stars are hunting down that 5th playoff spot in the West. This is the type of team the pundits around the league envisioned when they were previewing the league last summer. After a rough start, they have finally gotten here.

The strong play of younger players and new arrivals have really boosted the Stars in their play. James Neal and Loui Eriksson have both been having banner years - although he probably won't win it (the competition is VERY stiff), Neal is in the chatter about contenders for the Calder Memorial Trophy, the award given to the league's top rookie. Although quiet in the points department, Brian Sutherby has really chipped in with some great physical play since his acquisition in December. And, of course, there's Brad Richards. After a slow start, he has become the Stars' leading scorer.

There are rumors that the Stars may still be in the hunt for that "missing piece" before the trade deadline at the end of this month, though, and I have to agree that it's a strong possibility. Although the offensive side of things has looked pretty strong all season, the defense has been suspect at times, as has the goaltending, and those are areas the Stars may want to shore up before the deadline passes.

Before suffering a broken hand in last night's game against the Avalanche, Toronto's Tomas Kaberle was one of the most talked about names for available top-tier defensemen. Kaberle has a no trade clause in his contract, but he has said many times before that he is willing to waive it if he is not in the Maple Leafs' long-term plans. It still appears he isn't, but with this injury, he may be much more difficult to move at the deadline. I wouldn't completely rule him out, however, as he is arguably the most talented defenseman available when he's healthy.

Because of this injury, I think the Stars will look elsewhere. They still want a puck-moving defensemen who is a proven contributor, but I believe they want someone who can step into that role as soon as he's acquired. They may look at another Canadian team in the Eastern Conference - the Ottawa Senators. Filip Kuba is in the final year of his contract, and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. The Sens will probably want to get what they can for him while they are able, and the Stars are a prime canidate. Kuba is a capable, offensive-minded D-man who knows how to chip in and be mobile. Kuba has 25 points this year (1 G, 24 A) through 41 games.

Whether or not the Stars look for a goaltender remains to be seen. With Marty Turco's strong play of late, and the organization's announcement that they're not looking at anyone else to start games this year, that speculation is starting to dwindle. They may wish to get another able veteran if they can find one at a reasonable price (no small feat) if they are worried about Stephan's lack of experience for a playoff run, but more than likely they will stay put in this area. Personally, as I have stated before, I would like to see them sign Curtis Sanford. He'd be a lot more comforting as a backup if things get serious. Let's just hope no rash decisions are made...the chemistry is finally looking good this season.

Stars Prospect Tyler Shelast Loaned to Hamilton

Boise, Idaho – The Idaho Steelheads announced today that forward Tyler Shelast has been loaned to the American Hockey League’s Hamilton Bulldogs via the Dallas Stars. Shelast is currently under contract with Dallas, Idaho’s NHL affiliate.

The 24-year-old Shelast began the 2008-09 season with Hamilton, playing in three games, before being reassigned to the Steelheads by Dallas. In 23 games with Idaho, the 6-1, 205-pound rookie has scored 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points, and racked up 21 penalty minutes.

The Steelheads play the second game of a two-game set in Bakersfield on Saturday. Idaho (25-14-3) scored four unanswered goals and battled back from a three-goal deficit to defeat the Condors (14-26-6) 4-3 last night at the Rabobank Arena. They travel to Stockton to take on the Thunder on Monday.

Texas’ Scott Sheppard Wins January’s Oakley Three Star Award

The Central Hockey League announced today that Scott Sheppard of the Texas Brahmas has won the Oakley Three Stars Award for the month of January/2009. Sheppard will receive a pair of Oakley THUMP sunglasses which feature blue tooth technology and a built in MP3 player. Learn more about the wide range of Oakley products at

Sheppard scored a league-high 13 goals during the month and also had four game winning goals. All four of his game winners came in either overtime or a shootout. The Brahmas leading scorer with 52 points finished with one First Star nod and five Second Star recognitions. On Tuesday, Sheppard was named the Sher-Wood/CHL Player of the Month for January.

The regular season Oakley Three Star standings show Odessa’s Sebastien Thinel and Colorado’s Andrew Penner tied for the lead with 44 points. Sheppard’s year-long total has him at 36 points.

Oakley CHL Three Star Player of the Month

Scott Sheppard, Texas Brahmas
Position: Forward
(January Totals)
Games – 14
Points – 25
Goals – 13
Assists – 12
+/- – +9
First Star – 1 time (5 points)
Second Star – 5 times (15 points)
Third Star – 0 times (0 points)
Total Points – 20

Oakley CHL Three Star Player of the Month Winners

October – Travis Clayton, Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs
November – Bobby Chaumont, Mississippi RiverKings
December – Marco Emond, Arizona Sundogs
January – Scott Sheppard, Texas Brahmas