WHL Prospect Watch (1/2/2011)

Schenn Starts Strong

Brandon Wheat Kings forward Brayden Schenn may have been disappointed when the Los Angeles Kings decided to send him back to his Western Hockey League team last month, but the Saskatoon, SK native is making the Kings second guess their decision with his play in the World Junior Hockey Championship.

In four preliminary round games, Schenn leads all scorers in the tournament with seven goals and seven assists. Four of those goals came last Wednesday in a 10-1 rout over Norway.

“It would be nice to still be up there [in the NHL] but the Kings are a good team and they’re pretty deep at center,” Schenn said. “We’ll see what next year brings. I’ll use this tournament to prepare for this season and hopefully I’ll be in L.A. one day.”

Between limited ice time with the Kings and bouncing back and forth to the AHL, Schenn admitted he wasn’t in top condition when he reported to team Canada’s selection camp in early December.

“I wasn’t at the top of my game,” he said. “I used the three pre-tournament games to get ready. I didn’t play lot of hockey through the first half, but now my legs are under me and I’ve got my speed back.”

Portland Winterhawks forward Ryan Johansen (Columbus Blue Jackets) and Saskatoon Blades forward Curtis Hamilton (Edmonton Oilers) recorded multi-point games in Canada’s first loss of the tournament to Sweden on Friday in a shootout. Johansen ranks third on the team with seven points (one goal, six assists) and Hamilton buried two of his three tournament goals against the Swedes.

Canada kicks off the quarterfinal round on Sunday at 3:30 ET against the Swiss.

Cunningham Making Good Impression

In just his third game for the Portland Winterhawks since being traded from the Vancouver Giants, forward Craig Cunningham (drafted 97th overall by the Boston Bruins in this year’s draft) notched a hat-trick in a 4-3 loss to Seattle on Friday night.

A finalist for the 2009-10 WHL Player of the Year, Cunningham had 45 points (10 goals, 35 assists) in 36 games before Vancouver decided to ship him to Portland.

Vancouver will receive a package that includes forward Spencer Bennett — a fifth-round pick of the Calgary Flames in 2009. He had 12 goals and nine helpers in his second season in Portland and has a goal in each of his first two games for the Giants.

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