Thunderbirds news and notes: NHL Draft edition
SUNRISE, Fla. – The day has finally arrived. The first round of the 2015 NHL Draft is here and begins Friday night at 4 PST from the BB&T Center.
Thursday was a day full of media events for the top six prospects. None of Seattle’s players were involved but top prospects Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel and others were busy all day. Starting with a clinic with local youth hockey players, the prospects then toured the Everglades and ended the day being mobbed by the hockey press in town.
The media is here in force. Anyone who is anyone in the NHL community is in the Fort Lauderdale-Sunrise area this week. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was also spotted at a media dinner, sporting shorts and a T-shirt to try and beat the blistering Florida heat.
All the fun and games ends this evening as these players will finally find out what their future has in store. For Seattle, Friday will be Mathew Barzal’s day. The T-Birds’ center will be selected in the first round with a strong potential to go in the top 10.
If you want to follow along, the first round will be televised by both the NHL Network and NBC Sportsnet.
There was other T-Birds news this last week.
2015-2016 Schedule released
If you’re looking to plan out your hockey-attending winter schedule, you’re in luck. The WHL and T-Birds have released next season’s schedule.
The schedule is a bit different than what we’ve seen in the past. Gone is the traditional season opener with the Portland Winterhawks and instead the T-Birds will open on the road with a tilt in Vancouver against the Giants on Sept. 25.
Seattle will then have a week off before its home opener on Oct. 3 with the Prince George Cougars. Seattle will first see Portland on Oct. 11 at the ShoWare Center and won’t play Everett until Oct. 24.
The eastern swing for Seattle starts on Halloween in Kootenay and will end with a Nov. 6 game against the Lethbridge Hurricanes. The T-Birds will end up playing five games over the seven days they are out east.
The defending WHL Champion Kelowna Rockets – whom Seattle went 3-1 against last season – will make their first ShoWare Center appearance on Jan. 31.
Two T-Birds playing for Team Canada
A week before the draft Barzal has been selected by Hockey Canada to attend its National Team Development Camp. Hockey Canada uses this camp to evaluate players it is considering for its World Junior Championship team. Shea Theodore attended this same summer camp last season and ended up playing for Team Canada. Will the same hold true for Barzal?
Barzal isn’t the only T-Bird who will be wearing the maple leaf this summer. Nolan Vulcan was also invited by Hockey Canada to attend the camp for a potential spot on Canada’s U18 squad.
Person of interest at the draft
Barzal isn’t the only player with a T-Birds connection to be selected during Friday’s first round. Brock Boeser, who played last year in the USHL with Waterloo, is expected to be selected in the later half of the opening round. The Minnesota native is committed to play hockey next season with the University of North Dakota.
So what is his Seattle connection?
Boeser – who led the USHL in goals – is on Seattle’s list of protected players. While he appears to be headed to college, the forward would be a T-Bird if he chose to play in the WHL. While most likely a long shot, there is a slight chance that the team that drafts him could sign him to a contract right away and send him to the WHL. Of course, he could also change his mind and choose to come to Seattle and play with the likes of Barzal and Ryan Gropp.
The chances of him ending up in a T-Birds sweater are probably slim at best, but it makes for another intriguing aspect to Friday’s proceedings.