MacGregor Sharp and the Trials of the Minor League

 

 
 
When you hear about loans, you figure the usuals: cars, library books, money to bail people out of jail — that kind of thing. Loaning players? Sounds a bit odd.

But that’s what happened in MacGregor Sharp’s case. After playing 50 games with the Syracuse Crunch, the Anaheim Ducks farm club, his cell phone buzzed before the NHL trade deadline to inform him that he’d been traded to the Vancouver Canucks.

Thennn….. a few days later, Sharp fielded another call that he’d been "loaned" to the Abbotsford Heat for defenceman Keith Seabrook.

"I joined (Manitoba) on the road in Peoria, practised for a day there, then before I even played a game, I got the call that I’d been loaned to Abbotsford," said Sharp, a good ol’ Alberta boy from Red Deer. "I’ve only just got settled in now. The Moose needed a ‘D’ man and were pretty deep at forward.

"I’m still Vancouver property … at the end of the year, I’ll still be a restricted free agent. It works pretty well for me here."

And with Abbotsford suddenly short a forward — welcome back to Calgary, Ales Kotalik —- the six-foot-one, 180-pound pivot is a good candidate to throw into the team’s rotation.

But what does this mean for the Calgary Flames? Absolutely nothing, really. Well, not directly. It’s a good chance for Sharp to get some experience with another organization — and it’s an extra body for the oft-injured Heat lineup as they gun towards playoffs — but the Flames technically can’t call him up. His rights are still owned by the Canucks, even though he hasn’t played a game for their organization yet.

"Fresh start, for me," he said. "It’s a good chance for another team to give me a look. They haven’t told me a ton. The biggest thing is just working hard every day.

"It’s playoff hockey for us, right now. Everybody’s really focused and working towards playoffs."

Quick specs on him: he’s 25-years-old, a product of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Camrose Kodiaks and spent four years at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. In his last season of NCAA hockey, he racked up 26 goals and 50 points in 43 games. Since then, he’s been bouncing around in the Ducks’ system mostly, having made eight NHL appearances last season and after that, he split the year with the San Antonio Rampage (AHL) and the Bakersfield Condors (ECHL).

It’s an interesting story, to say the least; one that involved a lot of dues being paid.

But for Sharp, it’s all part of the territory.

"Oh yeah, it’s part of the business," Sharp said. "You’ve just gotta deal with it and make the best out of every situation you have. It’s pretty good for me, I’m getting good ice time.

"It’s tough getting bounced around but you’ve just gotta try to make the best of it."

Fun fact: when Sharp was looking for roomies in Abbotsford, he was able to hook up with his college roommate and Minnesota native Josh Meyers and move into a house with him, Carter Bancks, and ECHL call-up Ryan MacMurchy who was signed to a professional tryout last month.

As for his on-ice life, in five games with the Heat, he has yet to record a point. In fact, he hasn’t scored since Feb. 19.

So … that begs the question: will Sharp be a potential full-time NHL-er? Like most, his skating could improve. More strength, too, would be a plus. But as for being an everyday pro? Time will tell what he does with this opportunity — with Abbotsford and in the Canucks’ organization. And, keep in mind, not every player takes the easy way up the ladder.

  • T&A4Flames

    Ok so he was loaned in exchange for Seabrook. What I want to know is what this means for Seabrook. Is he expendable and if so, could he help fetch a good young forward prospect in return?

    • T&A4Flames

      Well it certainly doesn’t bode well for Seabrook… it means Seabrook was deemed as expendable at the AHL level. And considering that we got him for seemingly nothing (Future Considerations that have never been claimed) I doubt that he has much trade value at all.

  • Vintage Flame

    I have to agree. This really doesn’t bode well for Keith. Too bad cause I really like this kid. He was an animal for the Hitmen and I was quite happy when I learned the Flames got him out of Wash for nothing.

    Given that his AHL stock has taken a hit, I would have to assume it had an exponential affect on his NHL stock.That would make it even more difficult to get a prospective forward for him, trade wise.

    Hopefully he gets a new lift while on loan and he returns to that expected level of play. I know one thing is that he needs to bulk up. While with the Hitmen he was a big player, but in the NHL, not so much. To be effective at his style of play, he needs to put on some weight and muscle.

    Good luck Keith! You’re a good kid.

  • T&A4Flames

    Yea that’s to bad. I know he was touted as a good offensive weapon from the back end. With our plethora of defensive prospects it would have been nice if we could move someone that is still looked at with some potential. Prior to the trade deadline I wondered if Seabrook (+ if necessary) could have been moved to Boston for Colbourne. Oh well.

  • everton fc

    I had posted a while ago a comment Playfair made about Seabrook… I’ll try to find it… Issues about not playing physical, conditioning issues… length of strides… Once I dig it up, I’ll link it here.

    I agree – this does not bode well for Seabrook…

  • Seabrook is certainly going to need to improve his all round game in a hurry, because he is falling out of favor with the organization.

    He was always awful defensively with the Hitmen, but it’s a whole lot more glaring in the pros.

  • icedawg_42

    Yup – gotta agree with Pat here, Seabrook was always the D man that had us gritting our teeth with the Hitmen, out of position and downright scary on the back end. Luckily he had more than enough skill around him to make up for it. To be honest I was very surprised the Flames picked him up, given Darryl’s penchant for defensemen. Of course I am rooting for him to pick it up and improve his overall game.

  • Though I appreciate the article, I would have to agree with ol’ Domebeers. No need to write for the sake of just writing, especially about a player for a rival team like the Canuckleheads.

    However, it has spurred discussion on the future of Keith Seabrook, which is good. He’s no Brent and I doubt he’ll ever make the show. Another lost “prospect” in an increasingly bare cupboard.