Teams in the Newfoundland Senior Hockey League (NLSHL) teams will have fifteen players to choose from in tonight’s third draft.
As in the two previous drafts, the league has decided not to release the list of entrants, however president Neil Norcott says “there are a few quality players among the group.”
As of press time Tuesday, the last-place Gander Flyers had the first pick, followed by, the C.B.N. Eastlink CeeBee Stars, Clarenville Caribous, Western Royals and Grand Falls-Windsor Cataracts.
“The rumour mill says there are a number of trades in the works, so it should be an interesting night,” says Norcott.
One of those trades could involve holdout defenceman Grant Kenny.
The CeeBees’ own Kenny’s rights as the result of a dispersal draft of Mount Pearl Blades players prior to the season. But despite repeated overtures from C.B.N. brass, including coach Corey Crocker, the rearguard has yet to report to the team. In fact, last weekend, he hit the ice for the Mount Pearl Freshwater Suzuki Samurai in two Avalon East Senior Hockey League games.
“He just doesn’t want to play for our team. I have no idea why (since) a lot of his buddies play on the team,” says Crocker, who confirms Kenny is on the trading block, but only if the CeeBees can get something they need in return.
After operating under the old system in the first season, where free-agent local players could essentially shop themselves around to the highest bidder, the league instituted a draft system for its sophomore season in an effort to create more parity by giving all teams a fair shot at any players who wanted to join the league.
Unfortunately, the trade-off of taking the power away from the players was that it gave more to the teams.
“That’s not what the intention was,” insists Norcott. “Although there may not be a whole lot we can do about it on the fly (during) the season, it’ll certainly be a (topic for) discussion among general managers at the annual general meeting.”
Tonight’s draft, like the dispersal draft, will take place via a teleconference. The league has not ruled out a third draft later in the season.
“If the GMs want to let the dice roll and if there’s enough bodies to show up after Christmas, then we’ll have another one,” says Norcott.
It won’t have any effect on tonight’s draft, but on Tuesday afternoon the CeeBees announced they have released import forward Mike Thomas. In eight games, the former Saint John Sea Dogs captain and 2011 Memorial Cup winner had one goal and two assists, and compiled four penalty minutes. Should Thomas want to join another team in the NLSHL, he will not have to enter the draft by virtue of being an import player.