By Nick Patterson Herald Writer
The first-overall pick in the 2010 WHL bantam draft is now in play.
Alex Forsberg, who the Prince George Cougars determined was the best player available in the 2010 draft, decided not to return to the team following the Christmas break and has requested a trade.
The 17-year-old Forsberg was the consensus top-overall player in 2010. The 17-year-old playmaking center from Waldheim, Saskatchewan, then had a promising rookie campaign last season, notching 15 goals and 25 assists in 51 games.
However, now eligible for the NHL draft, Forsberg’s game appeared to stall. This season he had nine goals and 10 assists in 31 games with the Cougars.
Prior to the Christmas break, Prince George coach Dean Clark uttered some choice words about Forsberg.
“Points aren’t just going to happen,” Clark told the Prince George Citizen. “With his skills he’s going to create something but it’s not just going to happen, you have to put the effort out there all the time. Mentally he has to get a little bit stronger.
“If he can understand he has to come back (from the break) in some half decent shape he’ll be fine,” Clark added.
Forsberg opted not to come back instead.
Forsberg isn’t the first member of his family to ask out of Prince George. His older brother, defenseman Jesse Forsberg, played three seasons with the Cougars before requesting a trade during the offseason. He was dealt to the Seattle Thunderbirds in exchange for center Colin Jacobs, who had asked out of Seattle himself.
The Jan. 10 trade deadline is quickly approaching, and with few impact veterans seemingly available, Alex Forsberg could end up being the biggest prize.
Around the WHL
Alex Forsberg wasn’t the only player who chose not to return to his team following the Christmas break. Medicine Hat’s Jayden Hart, a skilled 18-year-old center who was the team’s third-round pick in the 2009 bantam draft, also remained home and requested a trade. … Two players also announced their retirements from the WHL. Regina overage defenseman Alex Theriau, a former member of the Everett Silvertips, suffered a recurrence in his hip injury which will end his junior career. Also, Vancouver goaltender Liam Liston, 19, left the team to concentrate on his education. … One player who did return to the league was Brandon overage winger Michael Ferland. Ferland, who had been playing with the Abbotsford Heat of the American Hockey League, had 47 goals and 49 assists last season with the Wheat Kings. … Prince Albert’s Anthony Bardaro was named the WHL Player of the Week. The 20-year-old center had four goals and three assists as the Raiders went 2-0. … Everett’s Austin Lotz was the WHL’s nomination for Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Week. The 17-year-old stopped 72 of the 74 shots he faced in winning two games.
Points — Colin Smith (Kamloops) 66; goals — Smith, Todd Fiddler (Spokane) 27; assists — Smith 39; penalty minutes — Adam De Champlain (Portland), Jamien Yakubowski (Lethbridge) 104; wins — Luke Siemens (Prince Albert) 23; goals against average — Mac Carruth (Portland) 1.87; save percentage — Carruth .933.
Check out Nick Patterson’s Silvertips blog at http://www.heraldnet.com/silvertipsblog, and follow him on Twitter at NickHPatterson.