October 12 2016 09:00AM
The CHL season is a go, and the contenders are already separating themselves from the pretenders. And as with any league, these discrepancies usually result in player movement. In that light, Carl Neill's status is especially interesting given his current team's (Sherbrooke Phoenix -- AKA Carl Neills) situation
Drafted in the 5th round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Neill has shown fairly well for the Sherbrooke Phoenix since the Canucks selected him. But the Phoenix are already looking to rebuild, which is fairly common in the CHL since you only have your players for 3-4 years. That kind of expedited timeline presses teams to maximize value on their assets wherever and whenever possible.
One such asset for the struggling Phoenix is their captain, Neill. Given his status as a productive, two-way, overage defenceman, Neill has the potential to haul in a serious return. For context, Neill is among the QMJHL's best overage players and a top-ten defenceman, too.
That's not just theoretical, either. Speaking with Francois Carignan who covers the Phoenix, he confirmed through sources that Sherbrooke was taking trade calls on Neill no sooner than his QMJHL reassignment.
As the season progresses, Carignan suggests it's likely more teams could inquire on Neill. In Carignan's opinion, at this moment, the Shawinigan Cataractes are a leading candidate to land Neill. But they would need to rid themselves of an over-age player to add Neill.
From a Canucks perspective, Neill playing for a contender would be an added benefit to his development. No matter what team he gets moved to, he would be a top four defenceman on a team challenging for the QMJHL title. That kind of situation is always good for young players, and something that the Canucks probably considered when sending the young rearguard back to the Q.
Carignan's sources added that the Canucks and Neill have already begun the process of signing an entry level contract. It's not happening anytime soon, but it may something that will be completed prior to Christmas.
Neill has to round out his game, but he's shown enough to merit an ELC. It will be interesting to see how he handles a move to another organization, if it does happen, and then how he will adjust to professional hockey next year.