The St. Louis Blues’ and San Jose Sharks’ recent first round picks are on the move, at least for the time being. Jake Neighbours and Ozzy Wiesblatt have been loaned by their WHL teams, Edmonton and Prince Albert respectively, to the AJHL’s Brooks Bandits, the team announced. The loans carry a pre-determined end date of December 20, allowing Neighbours and Wiesblatt to get a head start on the coming season. The WHL announced in October that they had postponed the start of the 2020-21 season to January 8, while the AJHL is set to kick off their season on November 13. Neighbours and Wiesblatt will have more than a month of game action with the Bandits before heading to training camp with the Oil Kings and Raiders. The top prospects, who have both already signed their entry-level contracts, have landed in one of the best possible spots when it comes to being loaned to an inferior league. Brooks is a powerhouse program, whose current roster includes a 2021 first round hopeful in Corson Ceulemans and a number of NCAA commitments. The team just got much more dangerous with the addition of these two elite young forwards, at least for the next month.
- Another recent draft selection has also been moved, but in a more permanent fashion. Tampa Bay Lightning third-rounder Maxim Groshev has been traded in the KHL, though “sold” is the more accurate verb. Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk has dealt their homegrown product to SKA St. Petersburg, per a team release. The return is merely “monetary compensation” but it is believed the young forward cost 40 million rubles. A big winger who was deemed ready for KHL last season at 17, Groshev recorded seven points in 36 games last year and has two points in 17 games thus far in 2020-21. SKA is an elite KHL team and not exactly known to spend time developing young players when they can attract prime talent, so the team must see considerable potential in Groshev as well as feel he has several years left in the KHL before taking his talents to North America.
- The OHL’s postponement of their 2020-21 start to February, as well as questions about the quality of the competition once play resumes, is going to result in considerable player movement, which has already begun. In the latest notable move, potential 2021 first-round pick Chase Stillman has been loaned to Demark by his club, the Sudbury Wolves, until the OHL season begins. The Sudbury Star’s Ben Leeson reports that Stillman has already departed, and is set to join the Esbjerg Engery. Stillman, the son of former NHLer Cory Stillman, should find Denmark to be an interesting developmental adventure; it is his first pro experience but also not considered a top tier pro league by any means. If Stillman dominates in Denmark, he may have to make a difficult decision about returning for a shortened OHL season that may not include checking versus seeing his pro season through. For a highly regarded draft-eligible prospect, it’s a call that could impact his draft stock.