GWMHL

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Cale Makar, Goalies Headline 2020 Rookie Draft

In Transactions on September 13, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Defenseman Cale Makar made the first wave of the 2020 GWMHL Rookie Draft when he was selected in the top spot by the Baltimore Crab. Jack Hughes went second overall, to West Virginia, while Kaapo Kakko will join the South Side after being picked third.

But the real story of the first round was in goal. After months of trying to solidify its goaltending, the San Jose Hosers made Igor Shesterkin the 5th overall pick. Winnipeg picked up Elvis Merzlikins at 6th and Farmington selected Ilya Samsonov at 9th for an unprecedented three goalies in the top 10.

Eight draft day trades were completed, albeit with few blockbusters. The biggest moves were likely El Dorado shipping Max Pacioretty and Darren Helm to Winnipeg for a pair of 2021 picks and Charleston swapping its 2021 first rounder for Ice Harbor‘s 2020 first, with which the Chiefs chose impact defenseman Adam Fox. In other moves, Boston sent Ryan Getzlaf and a pick to Hamilton for Travis Zajac, Ice Harbor acquired Boone Jenner from the Banshees, and Vancouver sent Nick Foligno and Nikita Zadorov to Delta and South Side respectively.

The day also saw the first ever picks for the two expansion teams set to begin play in 2021. The Hershey Bears got a head start on their roster with eight picks, led in the first round by Jesper Boqvist, and while the Clarington Coyotes dealt away its first-ever 1st rounder, it would select Jack Studnicka with a second rounder a few picks later.

Teams will now set their sites on the pre-season Free Agent Draft before finalizing their rosters.

See the complete results of the 2020 Rookie Draft.

Offseason Trading Opens; Domi, Goligoski on the Move

In BOS, DEL, DEN, HAM, HSY, News, Transactions on June 16, 2020 at 3:59 pm

Trading is now open in the GMWHL, and the newly crowned Boston Banshees got things started, dealing forward Max Domi to the Denver Spurs for forward Colton Sissons and netminder Anton Khudobin. Domi began his career with the Spurs and was traded to Boston in 2017 in an eight-player blockbuster that brought now-departed Braden Holtby to Denver. He registered 13 goals and 31 points in 51 games this season with the Banshees. Boston hopes Khudobin can provide some high-quality support for starter Ben Bishop.

It was the first of three deals on the day. Later, Boston welcomed new expansion club Hershey to the league by dealing three 4th round picks (its own, Parry Sound’s and Pittsburgh’s) along with rookie forward Eric Robinson for Hershey’s 2nd rounder.

Finally, the Delta Sturgeon said goodbye to forward Dylan Strome and long-time defenseman Alex Goligoski, sending them to the Hamilton Ti-Cats for a pair of 2nd round picks. Strome has disappointed so far in his career, but Goligoski has been a big part of the Sturgeon blueline for 11 seasons and is 15th in franchise history for points. Still, the 10 points he had in 2019-20 was a career low.

Mid-Season Claims Headlined by… Ryan Graves?!

In News, Transactions on December 29, 2019 at 4:35 pm

The Mid-Season Free Agent Draft, that annual extravaganza where Gump GMs, belts already straining against holiday overindulgence, get to gorge on the league’s castaways and also-rans. This year’s draft saw the Charleston Chiefs take a flyer on defenseman Ryan Graves with the top pick. Also selected in the top five: winger Valeri Nichushkin to South Side (who had released him at preseason), Zack Kassian to Winnipeg, and defensemen Matt Roy and Brad Hunt to Denver and Hamilton, respectively.

Denver was, in fact, the only team to draft in more than two rounds, making four claims in all. Likely spurred by the acquisition of Jordan Binnington at the expense of its first round rookie pick in 2020, the Spurs loaded up on vets with the hope of climbing a few spots in the standings. Joining Denver for the remainder of the season are winger Tyler Ennis, centre Frans Nielsen, and winger Thomas Vanek.

You can find the complete list of 2019 mid-season claims here.

Denver Acquires Binnington, Ships Out Holtby

In DEN, SJH, SSR, Transactions on December 26, 2019 at 9:49 pm

They’re tied for third fewest goals for, and if you can’t put pucks in nets, you’ve gotta keep them out. That seems to be the theory behind the Denver Spurs‘ splashy Christmas Eve trade, which saw them acquire young goaltender Jordan Binnington, along with versatile forward Colton Sissons, from the South Park Renegades. In return, Denver shipped out wingers Mathieu Joseph and Auston Watson, along with its first round rookie pick in 2020.

In a separate deal, and with four goalies on the active roster, the Spurs sent one-time starter Braden Holtby to the San Jose Hosers for a 2nd rounder.

Patrick Kane Traded to Salem

In HAM, SAL, Transactions on September 21, 2019 at 8:54 am

For the second season in a row, the Salem Sabercats have pulled off a major post-draft trade. Last year, it was the acquisition of Anze Kopitar, who went on to be a major part of its cup run. Now the Sabercats have taken an even bigger swing, acquiring star winger Patrick Kane and a third round pick from the Hamilton Ti-Cats for young winger Travis Konecny and Salem’s first and second round picks in 2020.

In 11 seasons with the Hamilton franchise, Kane has scored 30 goals five times, 40 goals once, and put together a monster 70-goal year in ’16-’17. He had a relatively down season by his standards in ’18-’19, with 33 goals and 69 points in 82 games. Salem hopes he’ll bounce back to point-per-game form. Konecny, entering his third GWMHL year, had 14 goals and 38 points in 57 contests last season.

Kane was a first overall pick for a then-Sacramento team that was on the cusp of moving to Nashville. The second pick that year? His new team- and (probably) linemate Nicklas Backstrom. There’s no question that the acquisition changes Salem’s outlook for the year: it addresses its biggest weakness (top-6 wingers) and puts one of the world’s best players in a position that otherwise might have been occupied by Gustav Nyquist. Whether this signals a rebuild or retool for Hamilton is another question. With Claude Giroux, Jeff Skinner, and Jakub Voracek, the team still has veteran star power up front. But the loss of Kane, who twice led the league in scoring, will be felt keenly.

Former GWMHL Star Kovalchuk Returns in Free Agent Draft

In Transactions on September 17, 2019 at 9:57 am

The 2019 Preseason Free Agent Draft has ended, headlined by one-time GWMHL star left-winger Ilya Kovalchuk, who went to the Great Lakes Pilotfirst overall.

Kovalchuk, the second overall pick in 2002, is 8th all-time in career goals and a member of the exclusive 1,000-point club. His arrival to the Portland Winterhawks via trade in 2006 led to four straight Gump Cups, and with Jarome Iginla and Joe Thornton, he formed possibly the league’s most potent trio. He notched a league-record 96 goals in 2008-09.

There was considerably less star power to be had in the rest of the Free Agent Draft, however, as teams fine-tuned their rosters ahead of the season. Grinder Garnet Hathaway went second to South Side, while Denver added goalie Jack Campbell third. Baltimore was the only team to make more than two picks, adding Mikko KoskinenJay BeaglePheonix Copley, and Antti Suomela.

Get the full 2019 Preseason Free Agent Draft results here.

South Side Shuffles Blueline

In DEL, SSR, Transactions, VAN on September 11, 2019 at 11:00 am

The South Side Renegades looked pretty good coming out of the rookie draft, having nabbed winger Brady Tkachuk, goaltender Jordan Binnington, and a quartet of young defensemen in Erik Cernak, Caleb Jones, Maxime Lajoie, and Christian Jaros.

But the rebuilding Renegades weren’t quite content with the makeup of their blueline, and made a pair of trades to change that. First, South Side acquired stay-at-home righty Chris Tanev from the Vancouver Night Train for third and fourth round rookie picks in 2020. Then, they flipped promising offensive rearguard Erik Gustafsson to the Delta Sturgeon for veteran Alec Martinez and Delta’s first rounder in 2020.

For Vancouver, it meant clearing roster space for recent draftee Filip Hronek. For Delta, what it hopes will be a PP superweapon to help get to the promised land. For South Side, it means a facelift of a blueline that, after Seth Jones, has long been in flux and either a step closer to a playoff berth or trade assets at the deadline if they’re out of the race.

Charleston Deals Stamkos, Takes Centre Stage at the Draft

In CHA, SJH, Transactions on July 27, 2019 at 10:58 am

The Charleston Chiefs have dealt one of its top players, centre Steven Stamkos, and the 10th overall rookie pick in 2019 to the San Jose Hosers for the 2nd overall pick in 2019.

The move is the biggest of the offseason so far, and marks the second straight year the rebuilding Chiefs have dealt a top centre. Stamkos had 70 points in 78 games this past season, and a disappointing 19 goals. He was a first overall pick for the Chiefs in 2009.

The move seems designed to nab a top-shelf defenseman — either Rasmus Dahlin or Miro Heiskanen — for the Chiefs’ thin blueline. Stamkos, meanwhile, joins a San Jose team that’s already stacked down the middle, led by John Tavares and Jack Eichel. It’s possible that he may shift to the wing, where the Hosers are weaker.

Denver Loads Up in Two Deals

In BOS, DEN, IHS, Transactions on July 12, 2019 at 2:06 pm

Hobbled by long-term injuries and the retirement of its veterans over the last two seasons, the Denver Spurs have swung a pair of trades to fill out its ranks ahead of the 2019-20 season.

The first, and biggest, sees the Spurs sending out its first round rookie pick in 2019, 5th overall, to the Ice Harbor Storm. In return, Denver receives a whopping eight assets: Ice Harbor’s 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th round rookie picks, Salem’s 4th round rookie pick, Ice Harbor’s 1st round free agent pick, forward Tyler Pitlick and veteran defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

The influx of draft picks freed the Spurs up to make a second deal, this time with the Boston Banshees. In exchange for Denver’s 2nd round rookie pick, the Banshees are sending back forwards Jean-Gabriel Pageau and J.T. Compher, along with Parry Sound’s 3rd round rookie pick. Both players could land in the Spurs’ top nine this season barring more moves.

Parry Sound Flips Veteran Goalies, Adds Hornqvist

In BOS, PAR, Transactions on May 24, 2019 at 10:13 am

It didn’t take long after trading reopened following Salem’s Gump Cup victory for the prolific Boston Banshees to make the first deal of the offseason. In a blink, Boston got its annual summer shake-up underway, dealing winger Patric Hornqvist and goalie Ryan Miller, previously acquired from West Virginia, to the Parry Sound Orrsmen. In return, the Banshees get Curtis “McBackup” McElhinney to give some experienced support to starter Matt Murray, plus West Virginia’s 3rd round rookie pick in 2019.

Hornqvist had a good regular season (24 goals in 70 games) but struggled in the playoffs, managing just two goals and an assist in 12 games. Miller was fine all year, though, posting a .919 save percentage in both the regular season (25 games) and playoffs (5 games). McElhinney struggled somewhat as Pekka Rinne’s backup, with a 3.24 GAA and .910 save percentage in 18 contests. He saw no playoff action.