Jarret Stoll knows all about the infamous Battle of Alberta between the Calgary Flames and the Edmonton Oilers. Growing up a hockey player in Saskatoon during the height of the rivalry, it would be hard not to. Now, at the age of nineteen and on the cusp of a professional hockey career, Stoll becomes a part of that rivalry at the present time as an NHL Draft day footnote. But in the future could become a bitter pill to swallow for Calgary Flames fans of a player who not only got away, but got away to the hated Edmonton Oilers.
The poetic irony is not lost on the Kootenay ICE captain and it’s a safe bet his first game against the Flames could be one driven by a player with something to prove. “Yeah, I think so,” offered Stoll over the phone from Yorkton, Sask. “But I don’t have anything against Calgary, it just didn’t work out. I’m not going to hold any grudges or anything but if I get a chance to play against them someday, I’m going to play hard. Hopefully that does happen but then again, it’s just another game and another team.”
Having reentered the NHL Draft in Toronto last week due to the inability of the Flames and Stoll to come to contract terms in time for the June 1 deadline, Stoll admitted that the Oilers were perhaps that last team he thought might draft him. “No, actually,” said Stoll. “I’d heard other places wanted me but I never thought Edmonton. To go there is a pleasant surprise.”
Selected in the second round, 36th overall, a full ten selections ahead of the slot the Flames picked him two years prior, Stoll’s bargaining position may or may not have improved from a contract standpoint but his position when it comes to the possibility of playing for the NHL’s Oilers, a club known for giving it’s prospects a real shake at the big club early in their careers, has improved greatly.
“That was the point of going back into the draft. No disrespect to Calgary but that’s just the way things went. Every team sees things differently and I don’t blame them one bit. Hopefully this put me in a better position to play (in the NHL) someday. I think it did that going to Edmonton
“I spoke to various people (from the Oilers) and they have a lot respect for me and are confident with me making that team very soon. I’m thrilled about that.”
Of course the opportunity to reunite the potent twosome of Stoll and former junior linemate Mike Comrie, a potentiality Oiler Coach Craig McTavish has spoke about, also presents itself. “It’s awesome, it’s definitely something I thought of when they drafted me,” said Stoll who’s preparing for his Boston Pizza/Jarret Stoll charity golf tourney in support of the Special Olympics in Yorkton on July 18. “Mike called me maybe a minute after they drafted me and we talked about it and we’re pretty excited. It’s good, we have a lot of fun together and had that half a year together (first half of the 2000-01 WHL season) which was pretty good. We played pretty well together.
“Hopefully someday I’ll be on the same team with him again. It’ll be nice.”
Stoll, who more than likely won’t be back as a twenty-yr-old next season, does plan on returning to Cranbrook for the ICE training camp and to participate in the club’s annual golf tournament that benefits the player’s scholarship fund. “I’m planning to have a good summer here, work hard and have a good training camp then we’ll see what happens.”
Kootenay defenseman Girard Dicaire also reentered the Draft as he failed to come to terms with the Buffalo Sabres, the team that selected him two selections after Stoll, 48th overall in the 2000 Draft, before the June 1deadline. The Tampa Lightning nabbed Dicaire in the 5th round, 162nd overall. Adam Taylor, whose play improved steadily as the season progressed, managed to draw some attention despite an ankle injury suffered in Game three of the WHL Finals that put the feisty forward out for the remainder of the playoffs and the Memorial Cup. Taylor was selected in the seventh round, 224th overall by the Carolina Hurricanes. Shaun Norrie, who also reentered the draft after the Oilers decided not to sign him, did not get selected. Norrie now becomes an unrestricted free agent and is eligible to return to the ICE for his overage year. Other Kootenay notables, forwards Colin Sinclair, Richard Hamula and d-man Brennan Evans were not selected and are now free agents.
Quick Hits – A report out of both New York and Edmonton newspapers is stating the recently signed Kootenay coach Ryan McGill is the front runner to replace John Paddock as bench boss of the Hartford WolfPack, the New York Rangers AHL affiliate. Reached on the phone Tuesday night, McGill said that he was contacted but nothing’s been formally offered. “There’s been contact from them but that’s all there’s been,” said McGill from his residence in Edmonton where he resides in the off-season. “Like I’d mentioned before, it still has to be the right situation for myself and my family. Am I done learning at this (Junior) level? Personally, I don’t think you’re ever done learning in this game whether you’re at the pro level or junior. But if opportunity knocks, it’s something I’d definitely have to consider.” McGill is signed to the ICE through the next season but all junior contracts usually contain an out clause if a move up in ranks presents itself . . .
Overage d-man Craig Weller also followed the trend of Kootenay drafted players and didn’t come to terms with the St. Louis Blues, the club that drafted him in the 5th round in 2000. Free to sign with any club, word is circulating that he’s signed a deal with the New York Rangers. Nothing’s been announced by the Rangers and Weller couldn’t be reached for comment . . .
Invites to the summer training camp of both the World Junior team and the Under-18 squads were announced last week and three Kootenay names were among the lists. WHL Playoff M.V.P. Duncan Milroy got the nod for the development camp that runs Aug. 10-20 in Halifax. This year’s edition of the junior Nat’s will be coached by Kelowna Rocket bench boss Marc Habscheid. Ice Rookies Nigel Dawes and goaltender Bryan Bridges were named to the Under-18 development camp which runs Aug. 1-8 in Calgary. Twenty-two of the thirty-four players invited will represent Canada at the Eight Nations Tournament overseas later in August