Weekly Wednesday update

For the last time this season, the media gathered at Ralph Engelstad Arena for a press conference with coach Dave Hakstol. He touched on a number of subjects.

1. Chay Genoway will take some time to make his decision. Chay is an extremely smart individual (as evidenced by his GPA). He knows and understands his situation. He knows and understands NHL contracts and the collective bargaining agreement. When he does make a decision, it is going to be a very informed and a well thought-out decision. On a down note, Chay still has not been medically cleared to play hockey.

2. Hakstol said there’s a great chance that UND will have all of its key pieces back for next season, other than the outgoing seniors.

3. Hakstol said it’s time for players to start preparing for next year. He said that one or two players did not have good summers in 2009 and that cannot happen again. He said the Sioux need every player to have a good-to-great summer. The example I used today was Ben Blood. Hakstol said Blood was one of the players who set the bar very high last summer, but was not the only guy who did a great job.

4. Next season could be an exciting one for the Sioux, but Hakstol basically said that if the guys do not have good summers, they will not be very good.

5. Corban Knight will likely play center next season. He could get an opportunity to center one of the top lines (Brad Malone will center the other one). Hakstol said some of UND’s younger players are natural centermen. I specifically asked whether Jason Gregoire could move to center and Hakstol said that he will not. He said Gregoire is too good along the wall and that left wing is his best position. He will remain there.

6. It is too early to know if Brent Davidson will stay at defense or go back to forward. Hakstol said they will have to evaluate what they have. He said that Davidson will do whatever the team needs and he praised Davidson for the work he did to be ready to play defense for the team during the stretch run.

7. UND will be evaluating Joe Gleason in the next week and will get a better idea of where he’s at. Gleason may be a few weeks away from getting going on off-season workouts but Hakstol didn’t anticipate that it would be anything that would keep him out for a chunk of the summer.

8. Blood, Jake Marto and Andrew MacWilliam are on the mend from their upper-body injuries. All three are pretty tough guys. I’m not sure how long it will be until they can start lifting.

9. Chris VandeVelde said on The Pipeline Show last night that he anticipates signing with the Edmonton Oilers this week. He will likely play in Springfield for the rest of the season. I haven’t heard about anything imminent for Darcy Zajac.

10. Hakstol thanked the media for their coverage this season, and in turn, I am thanking everyone for visiting the blog, posting thoughts, sending e-mails, catching any screw-ups, joining live chats, giving me a heads up on stories and reading stuff on the Herald’s Web site. It was another fun season and I’m already looking forward to the next. As always, the blog will be updated often throughout the offseason. In the meantime, if you have any coverage ideas (there were some very good ones this year that I didn’t get around to doing, which I regret) please pass them along to bschlossman@gfherald.com. Thanks again for reading and helping out on the blog.

Blais signs contract extension

I’m guessing this will not end speculation about his future, but Nebraska-Omaha signed coach Dean Blais to a two-year extension that will take him through 2014-15.

In a statement, Blais said he anticipates finishing his head coaching career in Omaha.

"This university is clearly committed to the success of the hockey program and I am committed to the job we began here last season," Blais said. "My wife and I have come to enjoy Omaha and with this contract extension, I anticipate being able to finish my head coaching career at UNO."

Hobey Hat Trick announced

The Hobey Hat Trick was announced today and the WCHA has one guy left.

Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion, Maine’s Gustav Nyquist and New Hampshire’s Bobby Butler are the three finalists.

The bookies say smart money is on Geoffrion. He’s a senior, a captain and he plays in all areas of the game. He has progressed each season and has become a dominant player.

The WCHA held the award for six straight years — Jordan Leopold, Peter Sejna, Junior Lessard, Marty Sertich, Matt Carle and Ryan Duncan — from 2002-07. But the last two have went to Kevin Porter (CCHA) and Matt Gilroy (Hockey East).

Forbort, Nelson, Gothberg get invites

A forward, defenseman and goalie recruit have been invited to participate in the NHL Combine in Toronto at the end of May.

Warroad’s Brock Nelson, Duluth’s Derek Forbort and Thief River Falls’ Zane Gothberg are among the 100 players who received invites. The NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau picks out who the top 100 prospects are.

Although the Combine will last May 24-29, I believe that the NCAA prospects are only allowed to attend for 24 hours, so it is usually a pretty busy day. They will participate in off-ice workouts and interview with teams.

To see the 100 player list of Combine invites, go here.

NHL.com has started to post some mock drafts. All have both Forbort and Nelson going in the first round. Check them out below.

Adam Kimelman (Forbort 18, Nelson 27)

Mike G. Morreale (Forbort 12, Nelson 20)

Shawn P. Roarke (Forbort 11, Nelson 27)

Jen Raimondi (Forbort 11, Nelson 22)

Brad Holland (Forbort 11, Nelson 22)

NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau is expected to release its final draft rankings next week.

Forbort makes U.S. U18 roster

Derek Forbort will represent Team USA at the IIHF World Under-18 tournament from April 13-23 in Belarus.

Forbort, a 6-foot-4, 195-pound defenseman, will wear No. 3 for the Americans, who are the defending champions at this tournament. Team USA beat Russia for the gold in Fargo last year.

One notable part about this team is that USA Hockey took almost exclusively 1992 birthdays. Last year, they had several 17 year olds on the squad. This year, only two of them — Miami recruit Tyler Biggs and uncommitted forward Rocco Grimaldi.

U.S. Under-18 roster

GOALIES (2)
1 Jack Campbell, major juniors
29 Andy Iles, Cornell recruit

DEFENSEMEN (7)
5 Adam Clendening, Boston University recruit
27 Justin Faulk, Minnesota-Duluth recruit
3 Derek Forbort, UND recruit
28 Stephen Johns, Notre Dame recruit
15 Jon Merrill, Michigan recruit
17 Frankie Simonelli, Wisconsin recruit
24 Jarred Tinordi, Notre Dame recruit

FORWARDS (13)
10 Bill Arnold, Boston College recruit
13 Chase Balisy, uncommitted
4 Tyler Biggs, Miami recruit
20 Connor Brickley, Vermont recruit
18 Austin Czarnik, major juniors
21 Rocco Grimaldi, uncommitted
7 Luke Moffatt, Michigan recruit
19 Matthew Nieto, Boston University recruit
12 Bryan Rust, Notre Dame recruit
22 Brandon Saad, uncommitted
23 Nick Shore, Denver recruit
14 Austin Watson, major juniors
16 Jason Zucker, Denver recruit

IIHF World Under-18 tournament schedule for Team USA

Tuesday, April 13 — vs. Sweden (11 a.m. Central)
Wednesday, April 14 — vs. Switzerland (7:30 a.m. Central)
Friday, April 16 — vs. Canada (11 a.m. Central)
Sunday, April 18 — vs. Belarus (11 a.m. Central)

Tuesday, April 20 — Quarterfinals
Wednesday, April 21 — Semifinals
Friday, April 23 — Medal games

Colborne signs with Boston

OK, it’s official now. Joe Colborne has signed with the Boston Bruins, giving up his final two years of college eligibility.

Colborne led the MacNaughton Cup champion Pioneers with 22 goals this season. He also added 19 assists for 41 points. He finished second on the team in scoring behind Hobey finalist Rhett Rakhshani.

Colborne will report to Providence in the AHL. This means The Pioneers will be minus their top three scorers for next season.

Colborne is the fourth WCHA player to sign early this offseason.

Early signings in the WCHA

Alaska-Anchorage (1)
Lee Baldwin, Fr, D, New York Rangers

Denver (1)
Joe Colborne, So, F, Boston Bruins

Minnesota (1)
Jordan Schroeder, So, F, Vancouver Canucks

Minnesota-Duluth (1)
Rob Bordson, Jr, F, Anaheim Ducks

Kamloops will make run at Fienhage

The Kamloops Blazers of the WHL say they will try to get UND sophomore defenseman Corey Fienhage to go play major juniors instead of college hockey.

An article in the Kamloops Daily News notes that Fienhage has been added to the Blazers’ protected list.

Fienhage was UND’s seventh defenseman until Chay Genoway got hurt. With the possibility of an extremely deep defensive corps next season, Fienhage may have to estimate how much he’s going to play next season.

"He’s kind of a longshot," Kamloops GM Craig Bonner told the Daily News. "I think there is an outside shot. He may come to us, wanting to play in our league. We’ll just wait and see if anything transpires."

For the full story, go here.

Hockey Canada confirms Toews record

Hockey Canada has confirmed that Jonathan Toews is, indeed, the youngest hockey player in Canadian history to win the international triple crown: a gold medal in the World Juniors, World Championships and Olympics.

No American has ever done it.

Toews completed the feat at 21 years, 9 months, 26 days. Shea Weber, who also completed the international triple crown last month, is the second youngest to do it at 24 years, 6 months, 10 days. Patrice Bergeron and Jarome Iginla also were 24.

Hockey Canada did not have access to other countries’ stats, but now I will try to figure out whether Toews is the youngest of all time to pull off the feat.

Wiercioch, Colborne (not official) to leave DU

The MacNaughton Cup champ Denver Pioneers had their first early signing on Monday.

First-team all-WCHA defenseman Patrick Wiercioch signed with the Ottawa Senators, giving up his final two years of college eligibility. Wiercioch was an all-WCHA player in both seasons with the Pioneers.

All-WCHA forward Joe Colborne, meanwhile, plans to sign with the Boston Bruins, giving up his final two years of college eligibility. Colborne led the Pioneers with 22 goals on the season.

It has been reported by a couple of news organizations that Colborne is close to signing, but nothing appears official yet.

For more on the Wiercicoh and Colborne signings, read the Denver Post.

Early signings in the WCHA

Alaska-Anchorage (1)
Lee Baldwin, Fr, D, New York Rangers

Denver (2)
Patrick Wiercioch, So, D, Ottawa Senators
Joe Colborne, So, F, Boston Bruins

Minnesota (1)
Jordan Schroeder, So, F, Vancouver Canucks

Minnesota-Duluth (1)
Rob Bordson, Jr, F, Anaheim Ducks