The flip side of the Los Angeles Kings are the crop of freshmen in Colorado and in Florida. Part One referred to the downfall of mediocre teams giving no support to their rookies, namely the Toronto Maple Leafs and Mike Johnson. The Bruins on the other hand experienced many changes with their rookies Joe Thornton and last year’s Calder winner Sergei Samsonov. This week we will look at the possible future look of the NHL, by focusing on the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers.
Beginning with the Florida Panthers, this past weekend they experienced their biggest trade of their brief franchise history when they made a deal to acquire Pavel Bure. In exchange they got rid of Ed Jovanovski, Kevin Weekes, Mike Brown, and Dave Gagner. Jovanovski was an up and coming superstar who had the expectations of being a top-QB of the future, and the franchise of the team. He was touted to be the foundation of a building process which was supposed to be built upon, with the rise of this year’s rookies Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish. Kvasha is a skilled center who has all the tools to be a talented 35-goal scorer in the future. His three point outburst, left poolies and skeptics pondering on whether they have an early candidate for rookie of the year. A teammate of Kvasha, Mark Parrish, is having somewhat of a hot-cold year. It’s as if he’s on again-off again when it comes to producing. His big games so far has been a 4-goal breakout and a hat-trick. There are two things Oleg Kvasha and Mark Parrish have in common, and it’s that they’re highly capable of playing two-way hockey, and they know how to put the puck in the net. With the acquisition of Pavel Bure on Sunday look to see Kvasha get the upper hand and a rocket up in the Calder sweepstakes as he will be placed between Viktor Kozlov and Pavel Bure to create a Russian cocktail of goal scoring.
The Colorado Avalanche have a trio of freshmen. Chris Drury was an early candidate for rookie of the year before the season even started. The former Hobey Baker winner plays smart, and plays with victory on his mind. He plays alongside Rene Corbet on the third line, another smart player who can fight when the time is right. If Drury plays alongside Corbet all year expect him to finish the year with some grit and fire. Scott Parker is another player who knows how to use his size. The fourth pick in Colorado’s crop of first-rounder this year, Parker has been called up twice so far. And when he plays in the NHL he plays the role of the punisher. He really knows how to fight as proven in his first call-up when he challenged the entire Sharks team. Ronnie Stern rose to the challenge and learned the name of the bearded pugilist. Scott Parker can play, but he could fight much better which looks to be his only role as of now. The final rookie in the trio is Milan Hejduk, second-line specialist of the Avs. He is the biggest challenger for the Calder trophy next to Bill Muckalt of the Vancouver Canucks. The right-winger knows how to play; Peter Forsberg is the main reason why he’s the top dog of the crop. Bob Hartley gets credit for Hejduk’s rise when he experimented with Joe Sakic and Forsberg on the same line and put Hejduk on the right of them. But the experiment ended and Hejduk played alone with Peter Forsberg. In about three years expect this trio of Avs to have regular jobs in the NHL, and expect poolies to crawl around Milan Hejduk and Oleg Kvasha next year as they finally gel with their linemates of Forsberg and Pavel Bure.