Curtains in Camrose and Swede Surprises

Matt Bugg

2008-09-20

The first-annual Wild Rose Rookie Tournament is officially over, and the grades are in. Who was the surprising champion of the tournament, and who failed to earn a win? Also, pre-season action is underway and Europe, and we look at a couple interesting names playing in Sweden's mysterious Divsion 1 league. Are there any Zetterbergs or Edlers on the horizon?
The Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Edmonton Oilers sent their best and brightest youngsters to the college town of Camrose, Alberta this past week for the first-ever Wild Rose Rookie Tournament. Each team played each other once, with the host Oilers also seeing action against two local college teams.

Final Standings

Calgary 2-0-0
Vancouver 1-1-0
Edmonton 0-2-0

Player Grades

Cody Hodgson, C (Vancouver) A+

No player did more to improve his shot at making his respective NHL team than Cody Hodgson. Vancouver's tenth overall pick in this past draft dominated the tourney with a 5-point performance in just two games. Hodgson impressed not only offensively, but played gritty, responsible hockey every shift. Though he's five inches shorter, the Canucks have found their new Trevor Linden.

Immediate Future:
Not signing Mats Sundin may be the best thing the Canucks ever did. Hodgson now has an opportunity to shine as #2 C on a line with Pavol Demitra and speedster sophomore Mason Raymond. Look for 40 points if he cracks the roster.

Matt Keetley, G (Calgary)
Grade: A

Watching the games from the prespective of an Oilers fan, Edmonton and Calgary's tilt was just like a BOA. Why? Despite icing the more skilled team, the Baby Flames had a gritty squad and a standout goalie. The 20 year-old Keetley was Kipper-good in his two starts, making numerous sensational stops.

Immediate Future:
AHL backup in 2007-08, Keetley stands a very good chance of making the Flames as the backup for Kiprusoff this year.

Cory Schneider, G (Vancouver)
Grade: A

It seems as though Cory Schneider has been around forever, despite only making his pro debut this past season. The 22 year-old flashed the goods 'a plenty in Vancouver's net, stopping a penalty shot, a 5-on-3 and a breakaway in his lone start.

Immediate Future:
Schneider will Manitoba's starter for 2007-08, but look for him to come up on occasion to give Roberto Luongo some much-needed rest. However, Schneider won't get a meaningful shot… ever… if Luongo remains in Vancouver past 2010- his FA year.

Jordan Eberle, C (Edmonton)
Grade: A-

If it weren't for the aforementioned Keetley, Eberle might be on the Oilers already. Eberle had three great scoring chances alone in his very first period in an Oilers uniform- including one while killing a penalty!- but finished the first game of the tournament with just a single goal. However, his best performance came during the Oilers/University of Alberta Golden Bears tilt, where his line was the best on the ice every shift. He added a goal in that one, too, to finish with a pair in three contests.

Immediate Future:
Eberle will be one of the final cuts from camp as he soaks in the NHL pace. However, don't take that to mean he has more than 25% shot of making the team. The Regina Pats are waiting for their franchise player to return, and from Eberle's performance against rookies much older than himself, look for a 52+ goal season in what could be his final year of major junior.

Michael Grabner, RW (Vancouver)
Grade: A-

While he scored two 'lucky' goals in a blowout, 2006 14th overall selection Michael Grabner was the most dangerous player speed-wise for the Canucks. His ability to find the open seam and take off was gasp-worthy.

Immediate Future:
Grabner may be a fantastic skater and a willing combatant in traffic, but he often muffed chances when alone. He needs to work on controlling the puck at high speed, but will be a Canuck by 200