Born: January 23, 1979
Hometown: Golitsino, Russia
Position: Right Wing
Weight: 200 lbs
The other day, a thought came to my mind. It must be tough for a junior aged player to come to North America from other countries to play hockey. Let’s think about it for a second. They have to learn a new language, adapt to a rougher style of play and adapt to a smaller ice surface.
Well, Ivan Novoseltsev of the Sarnia Sting has adjusted to the North American style of play quite nicely. He has great speed and has size that makes him look more like a Canadian player than a Russian player. During the past two seasons I have been very impressed with his play.
Usually European players need a season or two to adapt to the new style of play before they start to realize their true potential. Novoseltsev proved everybody wrong in his rookie season. He had a very impressive year. During the 1997-98 season Novoseltsev dazzled everybody with his skills. His totals were pretty high. He scored 26 goals and 48 points in just 53 games. During that first season he played alongside a great group of players. He played alongside players like Darren Mortier, Jeff Heerema, Jon Sim and Chad Cavanagh.
The totals he put up in 1997-98 were nothing compared to the totals he put up during the 1998-99 season. Novoseltsev put up 57 goals and 96 points in 68 games. The 57 goals that he scored were second to Harold Druken’s 58 in the league goal scoring race. Novoseltsev could have easily won the goal scoring title had Druken not played with the Plymouth Whalers. Don’t get me wrong, Novoseltsev played with some very talented players in Sarnia (Peter Sarno, Peter Cava), but Druken played on an all-star team, so to speak. Druken played with the likes of Adam Colagiacomo, Jason Ward, Nikos Tselios and Paul Mara. I’m surprised that Druken didn’t score more goals.
Novoseltsev, as mentioned earlier in the article, has great speed and is pretty large by European standards. I think that once he starts to throw the body more he could be even more of a threat when he comes onto the ice. Novoseltsev was drafted in the fourth round of the 1997 NHL draft. That doesn’t surprise me too much. Probably the only thing about his selection that does surprise me is the fact that all of the other NHL teams passed him up. They probably had their reasons though. I think that Novoseltsev has all of the tools to crack the Panthers lineup a few years down the road. I must say that I have really enjoyed watching him play over the past two seasons. I always looked forward to when I got a chance to see the Sting play because of Novoseltsev.
In my last article (the one about Dan Passero), there was a mistake that I missed. I reported that Dan had finished the season in the International Hockey League. I was mistaken. He, in fact, finished the season with the Birmingham Bulls of the East Coast League. I just thought that I would bring that mistake to everyone’s attention.
I want to take the chance now, to send my heartfelt condolences to the friends and family of those killed in the tragic high school shooting in Littleton, Colorado. I want all of you to know that my heart is with you and that you are all in my prayers.