North American Juniors

Will Leblanc's Situation Affect Alex Killorn?

Rumors have been swirling all week that Montreal first round draft pick Louis Leblanc may have already decided to leave Harvard University after one season with the Crimson. Montreal writer Pat Hickey penned a story for the Montreal Gazette on Wednesday claiming the speedy forward might be weighing whether to go to the QMJHL or sign with the Canadiens and play in the AHL for Hamilton. Compounding the intrigue was that Leblanc, whose junior rights were held by Chicoutimi, apparently had a preference to play for the Montreal Juniors in the QMJHL so he could also attend classes at McGill University to continue his education.

Today, at the tail end of the QMJHL Midget Draft, Chicoutimi traded Leblanc's rights to the Montreal Juniors, along with a 3rd round pick, for Guillaume Asselin and a 2011 first round pick. That will only serve to intensify speculation that Leblanc may leave Harvard. If Leblanc leaves, he will add to a list of players not returning to the Crimson that already included graduating seniors Doug Rogers, Chad Morin, Alex Biega, Jack Christian, and Ian Tallett. While only Rogers, Morin, and Biega were serious contributors to Harvard last season, it's important to bear in mind the club has only won 9 games each of the past two seasons. Losing those players and their leading scorer, Leblanc, may be a death sentence for Ted Donato's club next season.

All that begs the question: what about Alex Killorn? Killorn, a 2007 3rd round pick of the Lightning, has been routinely singled out over the past couple of seasons as being one of the team's best young talents in prospect camps but has failed to garner much publicity playing for a sinking Harvard club. If Leblanc leaves, can the Lightning allow one of their ten best prospects to languish through another potential single-digits win season at Harvard? Would it be better for his development to sign Killorn and have him begin his pro career with Norfolk of the AHL? Expect new GM Steve Yzerman to seriously contemplate that option if Killorn impresses him as much at this summer's prospect camp as he has other Hockey Operations people with the Lightning in previous camps.

If Killorn were to be signed, he'd join fellow signees Johan Harju and Mark Barberio from an already strong class of incoming pros. The team could also still sign 2009 2nd round pick Richard Panik, who just completed his first World Championships appearance for Slovakia.

Hat tip to our Chad Schnarr, who has been following this situation closely on BoltProspects' Twitter feed.

Lightning Relinquish Rights to DeCoste, Sointu

With the June 1 signing deadline for 2008 draftees now come and gone, the Lightning have relinquished the rights to prospects Kyle DeCoste (Belleville, OHL) and Matias Sointu (Sudbury, OHL).

There was some question about Sointu's rights as he was drafted out of Finland, but Bolt Prospects confirmed with the Lightning that Sointu did indeed need to be signed by June 1 to retain his rights.

Memorial Cup Game Night: 5-18-10

Windsor Spitfires 4 vs. Moncton Wildcats 3 (OT)
Memorial Cup Round Robin Play
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (holding)
Tournament Totals: 3 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 5-17-22, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Despite already clinching a spot in the tournament’s championship game, Windsor clawed their way back from a 3-2 third period deficit to force overtime and ultimately defeat the QMJHL champion Wildcats 4-3. With the loss, Moncton fell to 0-3. Their tournament and season are now complete. Barberio did not register a point in the round robin portion of the event, and the last picture of the Wildcats’ season will be a dejected Barberio standing in front of goaltender Shane Owen as Windsor celebrates in the background. Although the ultimate ending is now what Barberio envisioned, his team did win their league championship, he had a career year statistically, was a finalist for defenseman of the year, and led all blueliners in playoff points. He should have an NHL contract in his immediate future and projects to be playing defense for AHL Norfolk next season. Barberio has the offensive mindset and talent to be a successful pro. He’ll need a couple years honing his own-zone skills before flirting with a possible spot in the NHL.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, had a goal and an assist in the game and played worthy of a prospect expected to go in the upper portion of the top-10 in this summer’s draft. Gormley Tournament Totals: 3 GP, 1-2-3, 0 PIM. Meanwhile, Windsor's Cam Fowler, a defenseman expected to be taken just before the Lightning pick, scored his first of the tournament in the Moncton game. He's 1-3-4 after three games.

Memorial Cup Game Night: 5-16-10

Brandon Wheat Kings 4 vs. Moncton Wildcats 0
Memorial Cup Round Robin Play
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, -2, 0 PIM
Tournament Totals: 2 GP, 0-0-0, -2, 2 PIM
Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 5-17-22, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Moncton fell to 0-2 in round robin play, the victim Sunday of playing an embarrassed host-city squad fresh off a 9-3 loss to Windsor. Speaking of the defending champs, Moncton next faces Windsor on Tuesday in a must-win game. Barberio got caught pinching a few times, two of which resulted in Brandon goals going the other way. He continues to log significant ice time for the Wildcats.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, had an even rating in the game. He was the subject of a Sportsnet feature in which he said former Lightning draft pick and Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards has been a huge influence on his career thus far. Both are P.E.I. natives. Gormley Tournament Totals: 2 GP, 0-1-1, -1, 0 PIM.

Memorial Cup Game Night: 5-15-10

Calgary Hitmen 5 vs. Moncton Wildcats 4
Memorial Cup Round Robin Play
D Mark Barberio, MCT: 0-0-0, E, 2 PIM (roughing)
Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 5-17-22, +10, 12 PIM
Season Totals: 65 GP, 17-43-60, +39, 72 PIM

Calgary came back from 3-0 and 4-2 deficits to steal a win in the Memorial Cup opener for both teams. The game winner came when a shot around the boards hit a partition and bounced to Moncton goalie Nicola Riopel, who didn’t see Hitmen forward Tyler Shattock coming around the net. Shattock banged in the loose puck. Barberio played a strong game, logging a large amount of ice time and created a few chances in the offensive zone. Moncton next plays tournament host Brandon Sunday afternoon on NHL Network.

Draft Watch
Moncton defenseman Brandon Gormley, a possibility for the Lightning at No.6 in the summer’s draft, had an assist. The Sportsnet announcers couldn't stop talking about his poise, and at one time said he'd play 10+ years in the NHL. Gormley Playoff Totals: 21 GP, 2-15-17, +14, 4 PIM.

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