By Carter Brooks
Photo provided by the St. Louis Blues
The St. Louis Blues have decided to extend the season of 2016 fourth round draft pick Tanner Kaspick. And in doing so, the management team of the Blues also did Kaspick and his family a huge favour, in sending him to his home province's American Hockey League correspondent.
Kaspick will suit up with the Manitoba Moose as a way to continue playing professional hockey later into the spring than he would be if he just finished the year with the Victoria Royals, who were eliminated from the Western Hockey League playoffs earlier this past week.
Kaspick, 20, spent the last four years playing for his hometown Brandon Wheat Kings, captaining the team for his final season. However, the Brandon product found himself traded to Victoria in early January on the same day that the Wheat Kings dealt top defenceman Kale Clague to Moose Jaw.
With Kaspick's WHL season coming to a close, he will join Manitoba as they prepare for their first round best-of-five playoff matchup with the Grand Rapids Griffins, beginning Saturday, April 21st.
As the St. Louis Blues do not own an AHL affiliate, and the Moose happened to have room on their roster, so the fit seemed natural. Kaspick signed his NHL entry level contract last season.
Although recently being called up to Winnipeg Jets, all indications are that all-star rookie defenceman Sami Niku will be returned to the Moose for the Calder Cup Playoffs as well.
It was also announced on Wednesday that Manitoba signed 2017 seventh round draft pick Skyler McKenzie to an amateur tryout contract. Another standout 20-year-old WHL star, McKenzie put up 47 goals and 87 points with the Portland Winterhawks this past season. The left winger has seen a steady progression in terms of goals and points over his past four WHL seasons.
Tickets are still available for Manitoba's first two playoff games, held at Bell MTS Place on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Visit moosehockey.com/tickets for information.