Just because left wing Scott Oke
of the Memorial Cup-winning Saint John Sea Dogs didn't hear his name called at the 2011 Entry Draft last weekend didn't mean scouts and general managers weren't paying attention.
While the Sea Dogs had five of nine players among the top 124 standouts rated on NHL Central Scouting's final list of North American skaters drafted last weekend, Oke, the hard-working third-line forward wasn't one of them.
Shortly after the Draft, however, Oke, the No. 44-rated North American skater, received an invitation from the Dallas Stars
to attend the team's rookie camp next week.
Oke, who probably didn't receive as much ice time because of so much talent ahead of him on the roster, had 5 goals and 10 points in 54 regular-season games. He is well-regarded for using his body effectively along the wall and in the corners. He chipped in with 1 goal and 6 points to complement a plus-4 rating in 18 QMJHL playoff games.
"The fact that he had to sit out every second game or so because he played for a team that had drafted players and older players needing to play kind of limited his development," Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau told NHL.com. "But we could see he has potential as a very good skater with size, good puck skills and playmaking ability."
Forward Jonathan Huberdeau
, the highest-rated Saint John player at No. 3 among North Americans, was the first player taken off the board on Friday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., when he was chosen third overall by the Florida Panthers
. He was followed by defenseman Nathan Beaulieu
, 17th overall), center Zack Phillips
, 28th overall), right wing Tomas Jurco
(Detroit Red Wings
, 35th overall) and Ryan Tesink
(St. Louis Blues
, 162nd overall), who was rated No. 47 by Central Scouting.
In addition to the 18-year-old Oke, all three of Saint John's overage players are exercising pro options.
, the team's all-time leading scorer, has agreed to a two-year deal with St. John's of the American Hockey League. St. John's, formerly the Manitoba Moose, will be the affiliate of the new Winnipeg Jets
, and Kirkpatrick's deal includes an invitation to Jets rookie camp in September.
"I'm pretty excited, it's what I've worked for," Kirkpatrick said. "It's the next step. I have a busy summer ahead of me, getting stronger and getting faster. I'm looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to making the best of this opportunity."
Kirkpatrick had 31 goals, 51 assists and 82 points in 2010-11, and finished with franchise standards of 108 goals, 143 assists and 251 points. His accomplishments include leading the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in playoff scoring with 31 points in 21 games in 2010, and being nominated for the Guy Carbonneau
Trophy as the best defensive forward in the QMJHL in 2011.
Meanwhile, goalie Jacob DeSerres
will be attending a development camp with the Phoenix Coyotes
next week. DeSerres set team records with a 2.22 goals-against average and four shutouts, winning the Jacques Plante
Trophy as the league's best keeper.
"They want to meet me and get to know me and I'll work with Sean Burke
a bit, the goaltending coach," said DeSerres. "There's lots of opportunity in the system. Hopefully something happens when I'm down there."
Two-year captain Mike Thomas
, also inked an AHL deal with the Springfield Falcons, the top affiliate for the Columbus Blue Jackets
. Thomas, who has played in the most games in franchise history (288) and accured the most penalty minutes (470), is attending Columbus development camp as an invitee this week.
Additionally, forwards Alexandre Beauregard
and Danick Gauthier
, both potential over-agers for the 2011-12 season, have received invitations to Coyotes rookie camp in September. Defenseman Pierre Durepos, 19, will attend summer and fall camps with the Los Angeles Kings
and defenseman Ian Saab
, 19, has been invited to Vancouver Canucks
camp in September.
Sea Dogs coach Gerard Gallant
, named CHL Coach of the Year for the second straight season, saw his team score the most goals (324) while allowing the fewest (165) en route to recording a QMJHL record for wins this season with 58. The Sea Dogs were atop the CHL MasterCard Top 10 poll for the final 15 weeks of the season en route to capturing their first Memorial Cup.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale