By Kevin Mitchell
Vernon Vipers’ Hot Stove Leagues around town had plenty to talk about Monday.
Forward Demico Hannoun’s name was on the NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary list, released Monday, for the 2014 entry draft in Philadelphia.
A few hours later, word got out that the Vipers were signing 19-year-old defenceman Riley Guenther, a late cut by the Western League’s Prince Albert Raiders.
Hannoun, who turns 18 next week, is one of 11 Canadian Junior A players identified by Central Scouting as a possible draft choice. The North Delta product is rated a ‘C’ prospect, thought to be taken in rounds four through six next June.
Powell River Kings’ d-man Luke Ripley is also ranked as a ‘C’ prospect, while Penticton Vees’ blueliner Jack Ramsey is classed a ‘B’ skater, meaning he’s considered a second- or third-round pick.
“Now that he’s (Hannoun) on the list, it’s our job and his to develop his game to where he’s a complete player,” said Viper head coach/GM Jason Williamson. “He wants to get drafted and he wants to play in the NHL. He skates well and he’s talented as they come. He just has to work on his consistency, like all young players.”
Hannoun compiled 14 goals and 33 points with the BCHL champion Surrey Eagles last year, adding five goals and 14 points in the playoffs. He had 12 goals as a 16-year-old rookie in Surrey after recording 17 goals and 41 points with the Major Midget Greater Vancouver Canadians.
The 6-foot, 185-pound forward was a ninth-round pick of the Regina Pats in the 2010 WHL Bantam draft.
Meanwhile, Guenther is expected to make his Viper debut tonight against the Vees (Kal Tire Place) after playing 83 games over three years with Prince Albert and Tri-City Americans of the WHL.
“I watched him on-line and he’s a pretty steady d-man,” said Williamson, who released one d-man Tuesday night. “People we’ve talked to say he should be a top-four d-man with us. We’ll ask him to be a steadying influence back there and use him in all situations.”
Guenther was named Chrysler Division First Team All-Star in 2010-11 while playing for the Calgary Northstars of the Alberta Midget League. He also helped Team Alberta win the 2009 Western Canada U-16 Challenge Cup. Tri-City took him in round three of the WHL Bantam draft.
“He’s a hard-working, character kid who is a pleasure to have around,” Raiders’ GM Bruno Campese told The Prince Albert Daily Herald.