With D-day fast approaching Thursday, many Canadian Hockey League clubs now have the added stress of wondering whether some of their NHL drafted players will be lost to them during the stretch run and playoffs.
The Jan. 10 trade deadline in the CHL has taken on added pressure as teams wonder if the NHL will pluck players off their rosters, diminishing their chances of a run to the 2013 Memorial Cup in Saskatoon.
The Prince George Cougars likely won't have to worry as they only have two NHL drafted players - forwards Colin Jacobs, selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the fourth round of the 2011 draft, and Troy Bourke, grabbed by the Colorado Avalanche in the third round in the 2012 draft. Neither one appears NHL ready so it's unlikely the Sabres or Avalanche would extend invitations to a short training camp.
The NHL season may not have an effect on the Cougars but it's possible the team could see some changeover this week when the WHL trade deadline passes Thursday. The Cougars could move disgruntled forward Alex Forsberg. Thompson has already stated he won't trade Forsberg if the deal isn't right for the Cougars which means the top pick in the 2010 entry draft could spend the rest of his season sitting at home in Waldheim, Sask., as the Cats are unlikely to give Forsberg permission to suit up with another team in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League or midget league.
Cougars forward Jarrett Fontaine said as hard as it may be to keep their minds off the trade deadline it's important he and his teammates don't focus on it.
We dont say anything about the trade deadline, thats not up to us its up to the management," said Fontaine. "Were just here to play hockey and thats what were doing.
One Western Hockey League team not sweating in its hockey skates is the Kelowna Rockets. Rockets head coach Ryan Huska said the team was assured by the Nashville Predators and New Jersey Devils that their 2012 drafted players, forward Colton Sissons and defenceman Damon Severson, respectively, would remain in Kelowna as the team preps to take their best shot at a trip to Saskatoon.
"There's no threat for us," said Huska about his red-hot Rockets (29-10-1-1) who are in the midst of a pair of streaks - a six-game win streak and a 15-game home win streak.
Not all WHL teams are as fortunate. The Portland Winterhawks could see 19-year-old forward Ty Rattie called up to the St. Louis Blues while 18-year-old defenceman Derrick Pouliot could be headed to the Pittsburgh Penguins. Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke has already let it be known Moose Jaw Warriors 18-year-old defenceman Morgan Rielly will be invited to training camp.
The Edmonton Oil Kings dreams of representing the WHL at the Memorial Cup for a second consecutive year could hit a snag if 18-year-old defenceman Griffin Reinhart cracks the New York Islanders roster.