In part two of Ryan Ohashi's three part series, we preview just a few of the names to look for in the Hurricanes exciting young defense:
The Canes D will have a core of solid 92-born defensemen led by Daniel Johnston, Tyler Kizuik, Landon Oslanski and Derek Ryckman. Oslanski and Johnston emerged at the end of last season as power play options on the point while Ryckman will look to take a big step forward after playing more than 60 games last season for the first time in the last three seasons. The 6’4” 205 pounder from Red Deer, AB has all the size and potential to be a premier shutdown d-man. Oslanski led all Canes defensemen in scoring last season and posted 25 points (7G, 18A, 5 PPG, 11 PPA) while finding a place on the Canes Power play while the hard hitting Johnston had similar numbers with 19 points (4G, 15A, 3PPG, 7PPA).
The 93-born group is led by Reid Jackson who is now entering this third season in the WHL. Jackson earned an invite to Calgary Flames Training Camp this fall after going undrafted in the 2011 NHL Draft. A great change in his offseason training regimen has Jackson entering camp at close to the 190 pound mark compared to his 176 pound frame from last season. This added size combined with his skill and agility at moving the puck will make him one of the key players in the Canes defensive corps. Ironically, the Canes two rookie 93-born d-men will be a player playing closest to home – Brandyn Hulit and a player playing furthest from home in Albin Blomqvist. Hulit spent most of the second half of last season travelling and practicing with the Canes after his AMHL season with the Lethbridge AAA Hurricanes came to a close. Hulit battled through a head injury to finish the year with 5 points (2G, 3A) and 98 PIMs in just 31 games. Blomqvist [Bloo-M-Qwist], a native of Kristianstad, Sweden was the Canes first selection in the 2011 CHL Import Draft in the first round (12th overall). Blomqvist is a 6’3”, 194 pound defenseman who was a member of the Swedish U-17 and U-18 National teams and was the winner of a silver medal in the 2010-11 U18 World Juniors. 94-born prospect and 2009 Hurricanes draft pick Adam Henry (3rd rd. 55th overall) will return to camp after being a late cut in 2010. Henry had a great season in Winnipeg this past year with 23 points (5G, 18A) as a major part of the D for the 2011 Telus Cup Champion Winnipeg Thrashers.
Again, adding to the intrigue will be a pair of blue chip 95-born defensemen in 2010 Hurricanes Bantam draft picks Macoy Erkamps and Joel Topping. Erkamps was drafted in the second round (27th overall) of the 2010 Draft and is a solid two way defenseman coming off a season in the BCMML where he posted 19 points (4G, 15A) in 32 games and was an MML Allstar. Erkamps also served as an alternate Captain for the gold medal winning Team BC U16s at the 2011 Canada Winter Games in Halifax last February. Topping is another two way defenseman who was selected by the Canes in the second round (41st overall) of the 2010 Draft. He also posted 19 points (10G, 9A) in 32 games with the Red Deer AAA Optimist Rebels of the AMHL – as a 15 year old.
The wild card of this group is 95-born defenseman Branden Schiedl. Schiedl is a 5’9” 160 pound defenseman and one of Portland’s 4th round picks (72nd overall) in the 2010 WHL Bantam Draft. Last season he was a teammate of Canes 2nd round pick Craig Leverton and played good minutes as a member of the Saskatoon Contacts who played in the Championship game of the 2010 Macs Midget Tournament. Scheidl was also selected to play for Team Saskatchewan U16 in the 2011 Canada Winter Games. This camp will also be the first for several recent Canes draft picks including 96-born Top 5 pick Ryan Pilon. Pilon joined Jay Merkley this past draft as the highest drafted Lethbridge Hurricanes player of all time – 3rd overall and is the highest drafted defenseman in Canes history. He is a 6’1” 176 pound d-man from Duck Lake, SK and is a highly touted prospect, ranked by many as the most talented d-man in the draft. Last season, he notched 45 points (27G,18A) in 20 games with Warman of the CFHL.
Veterans: Derek Ryckman (92), Daniel Johnston (92), Tyler Kizuik (92), Landon Oslanski (92), Reid Jackson (93)
Rookie (s) to keep an eye on at camp: Albin Blomqvist (93), Macoy Erkamps (95), Brandyn Hulit (93), Adam Henry (94), Branden Schiedl (95), Joel Topping (95)
2011 WHL Draft Picks Attending 1st Camp: Ryan Pilon (96), Bryton Sayers (96), Roman Melzer (96), Phoenix Worth (96)
Be sure to visit LethbridgeHurricanes.com for daily Hurricanes 2011 Training Camp news – full camp lists will be made available following player registration. Scrimmages will begin on Thursday before the players are divided into three teams of rookies and veterans for the weekend inter squad games with a wrap up on Sunday morning with a Championship game. Fans are encouraged to attend camp to get their first look at the 2010-11 Hurricanes – On Saturday and Sunday, volunteers from the Lethbridge United Way will be on hand to take donations upon entry for this worthwhile cause.
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