Ok, back home from two weeks in Maui I have not been in touch with the hockey world as I would have liked. Although, I did manage to watch the Canada/Russia Gold medal game on a patio in Lahaina...with the audio on even! I caught the Leafs at Los Angeles on Fox Sports West in my condo and barely managed to keep my fantasy pools all up to date. Perhaps worse I missed four games of my own two beer league teams, (they went a collective 0-2-2, which makes me feel a little better). Now it's back to full hockey immersion.
Kyle Wellwood makes his return to the NHL tonight when San Jose visits Vancouver. Apparently he will centre the third line of Benn Ferreiro and fellow newcomer Ben Eager. In 25 games with KHL's Atlant Wellwood scored 5 goals and had 3 helpers while averaging 8:39 of playing time per game. He hasn't played a game since December 29th when he notched a goal in a 4-3 loss to Dinamo Minsk. In that game he actually played 12:29 in 13 shifts. This was less playing time however than Atlant teammates and fellow ex-NHLers Fedor Fedorov, 39 year old Oleg Petrov and Jan Bulis who played seven minutes more than Wellwood.
On the Canuck front, mounting injuries to their defense have led to the call-up of rookie Chris Tanev. Tanev is less than two years removed from playing Tier II hockey in Ontario with the Markham Waxers. The undrafted 22 year old parlayed a 41 point season with Markham into a spot with R.I.T. of the NCAA. He signed with the Vancouver organization after a nifty 28 point year in college and this year with the Manitoba Moose has 9 points in 39 games.
The rise from Tier II hockey to the NHL in a year and a half is simply remarkable. One other player this season however has followed a slightly similar path to Tanev's. Brandon Pirri starred with the Streetsville Derbys and Georgetown Raiders that same OJHL that Tanev was in Markham. Pirri however is two years younger and was drafted in the second round by Chicago in 2009. He would also play US college hockey scoring 43 points last year with RPI. This year Pirri has 5 goals and 10 assists for AHL's Rockford and played one game with the Blackhawks.