The Broncos made a move yesterday that could either help their injury ravaged forward group now or simply add to their depth of prospects. They’ve picked up the CHL rights to the leading scorer of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA league in a trade with Edmonton. Swift Current sends a conditional 8th round Bantam Draft pick to the Oil Kings for Graham Black off their prospect list. I don’t know at this point what the condition is. I imagine it would be whether or not Black plays for the Broncos.
Black has been ripping up the Midget AAA league for the Regina Pat Canadians. The 17-year-old has 12 more goals and 10 more points than anyone else at that level. His 32 goals and 19 assists are good enough for nearly a two points per game average. This isn’t isolated production either. Black had 22 goals and 27 assists for 49 points in 42 games as a 16-year-old last season. The change in his numbers this year shows someone who has become the focal point in his team’s offense and has started to trust his goal scoring instincts more.
So why isn’t Black already in the WHL or SJHL? Craig Slater of the Leader Post did an article on him that had some insight on that question.
A thyroid problem, which Black discovered a couple of years ago, may have hampered him when it came time for scouts and coaches to pick the top bantam players in the country.
“It was a mixture of a lot of things,” Black said. “I didn’t know what I wanted out of hockey — I didn’t have my head right with that. I can’t blame anything on the disease that I had, but it definitely would have helped (getting drafted) by not being the smallest kid on the ice all the time.”
Now he seemingly has that issue under control and has grown to 6′ and 160 pounds according to the article. The paper also hints that Black has NCAA offers already and is considering going the college way. If I were a guessing man I’d say that’s why the pick for Black was conditional. The Broncos now get a chance to talk to the young man and see if he wants to take a shot at the WHL.
Black could certainly look at the injury situation with the Broncos forwards and realize there is a real opportunity for him here. Coming back from holiday break there is certainly hope that Novotny, Hoban and Muth are close to returning. Eakin is going to be gone for a couple of weeks yet at the World Juniors. Wagner and Derko have another 3-5 weeks to recover from their broken bones. Hutt is the great unknown due to the severity of his concussion.
All those holes up front equal opportunity for any young man who would suit up in Broncos colours after Christmas. Is Black going to jump at that opportunity or does the Regina native have a different career path in mind? He might not even want to try the next level before finishing the season with his current team. That might mean for missed opportunities though. It would be interesting to see how his current scoring prowess would translate to the highest level of hockey for a player his age. If he can build on how he’s playing now who is to say the draft eligible Black doesn’t even make a little bit of surprise noise with NHL scouts?
It’s something to watch certainly heading into the December 28th game in Regina. What better place for Black to possibly make his Broncos debut than in his hometown?
WEISE AND EAKIN VIDEO
Speaking of making their debut, Ernie Waldner put together a video summarizing the NHL debut of former Bronco Dale Weise for the New York Rangers. Check it out here. It’s nice to see Weise make an immediate impression.
I also found a link to a video report on Eakin done by The Hockey News on their website. It’s a very complimentary piece that you can check out here. I think there will be even more attention on the Broncos Captain as the tournament progresses.
That’s all for now.