The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) officially announced its plan to start the 2020-21 season on time. Plus, there were some notable moves in the American Hockey League (AHL), both on the ice and behind the bench.
The Q is Back
All three leagues of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) has now officially announced when they plan on starting the 2020-21 season. Both the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL) have targeted the first week of December to return to play. The QMJHL revealed on Friday that they want to start their season on time; on Oct. 1, 2020.
Per the league’s official release:
In order to begin the season on October 1st, with training camps and return to school deadlines coming up at end of August, the league had to decide on whether or not to start the 2020-2021 season. The League’s mission is to develop players both academically and athletically while providing the safest possible environment. In view of the urgency of the situation and in line with our mission, the members voted in favor of returning to play on Oct. 1st.
The league plans to play “behind closed doors” in Quebec. The details concerning the teams in the Maritimes are still being discussed. The plan calls for training camps to open on Aug. 30 with the rosters limited to 34 players. The teams will play a 60-game schedule within three divisions of six teams. The playoff format will be announced sometime in December.
Coyotes Give Pederson Another Season
On Saturday, the Arizona Coyotes signed forward Lane Pederson to a one-year, two-way contract. The team did not release the financial details of the new deal.
The 23-year-old center was originally signed as an undrafted free agent, in 2016, after his WHL career with the Seattle Thunderbirds, Red Deer Rebels and Swift Current Broncos. He has spent the last three seasons with the Tucson Roadrunners in the AHL.
Pederson scored 16 goals and 34 points for the Roadrunners before the 2019-20 season ended in March. Overall, in his AHL career, he has 51 goals and 107 points in 167 games. He has yet to make his NHL debut.
Appert Takes a Jump Up
Lance Lysowksi of the Buffalo News reported on Saturday that the Buffalo Sabres found their new AHL coach. Seth Appert will take over as head coach of the Rochester Americans, replacing Chris Taylor, who was surprisingly fired on June 19.
Appert, 46, was most recently the head coach of the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) in 2017-18. During his time with USNTDP, Appert worked with a record-breaking 17 players who were selected in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft, including first overall pick Jack Hughes.
Prior to his time with the USNTDP, Appert spent 11 seasons as the head coach of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in the NCAA, where he amassed an 88-120-34 record. Before that, he was an assistant for nine seasons at the University of Denver.
Prospect of the Day – Jake Sanderson
We will stay in the USNTDP for today’s Prospect of the Day. Sanderson is one of the top two defensive prospects, along with Jamie Drysdale of the Erie Otters, heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. He is ranked as the fourth-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting. One of THW’s resident draft experts, Larry Fisher, has Sanderson ninth on his top 500 list.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
Sanderson is a left-handed shooting defenseman with a 6-foot-1, 185-pound frame. He played in 66 games between the USNTDP and United States Hockey League (USHL) during the 2019-20 season, scoring nine goals and 43 points. He is committed to playing at the University of North Dakota this upcoming season.
While Drysdale is ranked higher on most draft boards, Sanderson might be the better all-around defenseman. His skating is at an elite level and it makes his transition from defense to offense a smooth one. He also possesses great vision and the puck skills to be a game-changer.
He will likely be the second defenseman selected and can go anywhere from the top-10 to the second half of the opening round. Our own Andrew Forbes feels he can grow into being a top-pairing defenseman at the NHL level.
Putting aside what this kid is capable if he can round out every inch of his game, he already has the potential to be a top-four defenseman on NHL teams in the next couple of years. Add to that how quickly he’s eclipsed expectations in the development program and Sanderson could easily find his way into a top-pairing roll as he grows in his NHL career and gains more experience at that level. It won’t take him long to crack an NHL roster, but his role and top-end play will come with time.
Eventually playing for North Dakota will be a great experience for Sanderson. He will get to play for one of the best college programs in the country, facing tough competition. With the lighter schedule in NCAA, compared to the CHL, he will get to spend more time on the practice ice fine-tuning his game and in the weight room, as well, to add some size and strength.