Christmas will come early for the Brandon Wheat Kings.
As early, in fact, as today when the Los Angeles Kings will return 19-year-old forward Brayden Schenn to the Wheat Kings for further major junior seasoning.
Schenn, the Kings’ first pick in the 2009 NHL entry draft, started the season with the NHL squad, appearing in the club’s first eight games before being assigned a spot in the press box. He was recently loaned to the Kings’ American Hockey League farm team, the Manchester Monarchs, for a ‘conditioning’ stint and he rejoined Los Angeles this week.
However, he was still on the outside looking in in regards to gaining full-time employment, with head coach Terry Murray citing his defensive deficiencies as a young player.
With the first year of his three-year entry level deal set to kick in if Schenn had played 10 NHL games, the Kings decided to reassign him to Brandon.
The Kings’ hesitation to play Schenn or send him back to the Wheat Kings fueled rumours that they were preparing to trade him, but Murray dismissed that talk Thursday.
“He’s going to be part of our organization for a long time. This is a good young player and he’s got a very nice up side to his game,” Murray told the Los Angeles Times. “Rumours are rumours, I guess. I would never agree to making a trade for Brayden Schenn. This is a high draft pick, a great kid and again has nice potential, up side to his game. We’re looking for him to be part of the L.A. Kings for a long time.”
Schenn’s return is good news for the Canadian national junior team, which will add him to the roster for the world junior championship starting Boxing Day in Buffalo, N.Y.
“My candid opinion would be sure, that would be a great thing to be able to go play for Canada in the world juniors like that,” Murray told the Times. “It’s great competition and valuable experience.”
• Add Jordan Weal of the Regina Pats and Brendan Ranford of the Kamloops Blazers to the list of disappointed players who graciously accepted the fact that they weren’t invited to the Canadian national junior team’s selection camp.
“I didn’t really even look,” the Pats’ star told Greg Harder of the Regina Leader-Post. “It’s something I wasn’t excepting. There’s a lot of good (19-year-olds) in the country and a lot of depth in (his) age group as well. It’s something you can’t really control. We have the season going on so you can’t be consumed by those things because they can put you off your game. It’s going to make you think about things you don’t need to be thinking about. I thought: ‘If it happens, it happens. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t.’ I’ll have the opportunity next year again. Hopefully I can do it then.”
The small but highly-skilled Weal is 19th in WHL scoring with 32 points (9g,23a) in 27 games.
Blazers sniper Ranford was also left off the national team’s invitation list, despite being second in WHL scoring with 44 points — including a league-best 24 goals — in 26 games.
But the Edmonton native told Gregg Drinnan of the Kamloops Daily News that he’s far from bitter over being excluded.
“No, not really,” said Ranford. “I looked at the list and there are a lot of good guys who are off the list. You can’t really complain about that. There are good players there and they should do well.
“My biggest thing,” he told Drinnan, “has always been my skating. I have to be the best skater that I can be and I have to improve on my speed and my quickness. Hopefully, that is going to help me make the camp next year.”
Just notes: Kelowna Rockets stopper Adam Brown has been named the WHL goaltender of the month for November. Brown, 19, posted a 9-1 record during the month with a 1.96 goals-against average and a .934 save percentage. Included was a six-game winning streak and three wins over the current B.C. Division-leading Prince George Cougars . . . Spokane defenceman Garrett Leedahl decided this week that playing in the WHL was too much of a headache. The 19-year-old Saskatoon native decided to leave the Chiefs due to a concussion that kept him out of the lineup the last month. “It was hard to come up with my decision,” he said in a team release. “My family, the team and I came to this point after talking to the doctors and neurologists. We realized it will be best for my future to retire from hockey.” In his two seasons in Spokane, Leedahl appeared in only 31 games because of concussions. A sixth-round pick in the 2006 bantam draft, he now plans to attend the University of Saskatchewan . . . Jon Groenheyde has plugged a hole in the dike that is the Edmonton Oil Kings. Since being acquired from the Kamloops Blazers in early November, the 19-year-old netminder had helped the Oil Kings win six of 10 games — including three in a row — prior to a 5-4 shootout loss to the visiting Prince Albert Raiders Wednesday.