Less than two weeks after acquiring his WHL rights, the Kelowna Rockets have convinced defenseman Sean Comrie to leave the college level and join the junior ranks. The Rockets announced that the 19-year-old has signed on with the team beginning next season, leaving behind the University of Denver. Comrie, an Edmonton native, has always been a well-regarded prospect. He was initially drafted by the Brandon Wheat Kings in the second round of the 2015 WHL Bantam Draft. However, he opted to go the college route and committed to Denver instead of the WHL. Prior to heading to school, Comrie had a breakout campaign with the AJHL’s Spruce Grove Saints in 2017-18, recording 34 points in 54 games. Many scouting sources projected Comrie to be a late-round draft pick last year, but he was surprisingly passed over. Joining the Pioneers as a freshman, the young blue liner likely hoped a strong NCAA campaign could get him back on the draft radar this year. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way; Comrie was used sparingly at Denver and did little with the ice time he did get, recording one lone point in 18 games. Looking to get his development back on track, it is no surprise that Comrie has decided to leave the college game to try his hand in juniors instead. The Rockets clearly still believe in his potential, as they moved back five spots in the first round of the WHL Draft earlier this month to acquire his rights. The next question now is whether an NHL team still sees enough in him to take a chance in the draft this season despite a down year.
- Adam Ollas Mattsson seemingly did enough this season to finally earn an NHL contract from the Calgary Flames. Instead, he is back in his native Sweden visiting the Malmo Redhawks and is expected to sign, reports Swedish news source Kvalls Posten. Ollas Mattsson, 22, was a sixth-round pick by the Flames back in 2014 and stands out on the ice at 6’5″ and nearly 220 lbs. However, concerns about his skill level and skating led Calgary to refrain from signing him to an entry-level contract. Instead, Ollas Mattson chose to prove himself by signing an AHL contract with the Stockton Heat in 2016. After two seasons of being a little-used depth option, Ollas Mattson broke out this year, skating in 65 games for Stockton and recording 18 points and +22 rating. Not only was this campaign a career best across the board for Ollas Mattson, it was among the best seasons for any Heat players. The big Swede led the team in plus/minus by a drastic margin, led all defenseman in games played, and finished third among defensemen in scoring. Admittedly, even a season like that was unlikely to push Ollas Mattson into the NHL ice time conversation on a crowded Calgary blue line, but it should have at least earned him an NHL contract. Whether he made the choice to return to Sweden willingly or felt the Flames and their NHL competitors had no interest, Ollas Mattson heads back to his homeland a much better player who may still yet draw NHL interest down the road. The former Djurgardens junior standout will switch teams, joining a Malmo squad that will get a big boost from the big defender.
- Swiss forward Vincent Praplan is at least considering following in Ollas Mattson’s footsteps. The Florida Panthers prospect, who is a restricted free agent, has been linked to SC Bern of the Swiss NLA already this off-season, after just one season in the NHL. Praplan, 24, signed a one-year entry-level contract with the San Jose Sharks last summer and hoped to compete for a roster spot. Instead, he played exclusively with the AHL’s Barracuda until a deadline deal that sent him to the Panthers for only “future considerations”. Florida also sent Praplan to the AHL, where he finished out the season with the Springfield Thunderbirds. Now, Swiss news site Berner Zeitung writes that he is prepared to return to Switzerland if he does not receive a qualifying offer, or perhaps even a guarantee of NHL action, from the Panthers. Given the Panthers’ deep forward corps and their willingness to be active in free agency this summer, odds are Praplan plays in more games in Bern next season than in Sunrise.