Western Conference training camp battles, the WHL’s Distinguished Person Award and two live broadcasts

Damien Brunner will get a shot at making the Red Wings after leading the Swiss League in scoring last year. (JSD077/Wikimedia Commons)

Damien Brunner will get a shot at making the Red Wings after leading the Swiss League in scoring last year. (JSD077/Wikimedia Commons)

The NHL season finally gets under way today and with that we get to see who won the extremely short, but ultra competitive training camp battles. Here are the notable battles from the Western Conference from Darryl Dobbs via Puck Daddy. We’ll find out the big winners over the next week or so.

Here are some of the more interesting fights for open roles.

Damien Brunner will go against, well, history for the Detroit Red Wings. Dobber looks at Jiri Dopita, Janne Pesonen, Fabien Brunnstrom and Ville Leino as recent, late-blooming European players who failed to make a splash in North America. However, after playing with Henrik Zetterberg in the Swiss League this season, Dobber looks for Brunner to reach his potential.

Dustin Penner, Simon Gagne and Andrei Loktionov fight for a spot in the top six in Los Angeles. Dobber believes Penner will ultimately take the spot based on his strong playoff performance and the fact the Kings like size up front. Gagne has lost his scoring touch thanks to a few recent injury-plagued seasons, but remains an adept defensive forward who will be at home on the third line.

Zach Kassian and Jordan Schroeder, two players drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft, will try to earn a spot in the top six in Vancouver. Dobber believes Kassian, acquired for Cody Hodgson at the trade deadline last year, will start to contribute in every way but points and Schroeder will have a good start before tailing off. The biggest issue for the Canucks is waiting for Ryan Kesler and David Booth to become healthy.

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Billets play a huge role in major junior hockey as they are the ones tagged with the responsibility of taking care of a teenager away from home for the first time in search of his NHL dream. Of course, someone has to be there to set up billets for each player and for the Western League’s Red Deer Rebels that is up to Judy Seher, this year’s recipient of the WHL’s Distinguished Person Award.

From the WHL’s website:

Since the inception of the Red Deer Rebels franchise in 1992, Judy Seher has volunteered her time as the team’s Billet Coordinator, working tirelessly to make sure that the players are placed in positive family environments.  Judy has been a key contributor in the off-ice well-being of Rebels players and is also involved in many charitable events throughout Central Alberta.  Her son, Kurt, played four seasons in the Western Hockey League with the Swift Current Broncos and the Seattle Thunderbirds before pursuing a professional hockey career.

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The AHL Outdoor Classic in Hershey between the Bears and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins will be broadcast locally, internationally and in HD. The game, which will start at 5:00 pm EST will be on ABC-27 Harrisburg and on ahllive.com.

Canadian fans can watch the game on the Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific regions and will also be available in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East via ESPN America.

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The United States League Top Prospects Game will be held on January 23 in Muskegon, Michigan at 7:00 pm EST. The game will be broadcast live for free to those who ‘like’ the USHL Facebook page and download and create a free account with the FASTHockey app. Click the link for more information.

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Wade Redden will play his first NHL game in two seasons as he has agreed to a one-year deal with the St. Louis Blues worth $800,000. The 35-year-old blueliner, only six games shy of 1,000, is due to have a physical on Sunday.

Alex Edler signed a new deal with the Vancouver Canucks worth $30 million over six years which will kick in next season. Edler, drafted 91st overall in 2004, has spent his entire six-year career in Vancouver and put up career highs of 11 goals, 38 assists and 49 points last season.

The Sharks have re-signed center James Sheppard and defenseman Nick Petrecki to one-year deals, the terms of which have not been disclosed.

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