Prospect news and notes

By Randy Nicholson

Antropov set to make 2000/01 debut: Nik Antropov has been cleared to play for approximately 10 days now but no formal date has yet been set for his return … unfortunately for Nik, the club has reeled of 3 straight impressive wins and Coach Quinn seems hesitant to disrupt the growing team chemistry at this juncture …

One defender short: Rookie blueliner Petr Svoboda is currently out of the Leafs’ line-up with a severe ankle bruise suffered against the Canadiens on November 18th … his injury leaves the team with only 6 healthy defenders at the NHL level … with the St. John’s Maple Leafs currently travelling in the Toronto vicinity, it might be a good chance to take a longer look at Nathan Dempsey who has perhaps been the best player in the entire AHL so far this year (see additional St. John’s coverage below) …

Tellqvist update: Following the National Team’s disastrous performance against Finland at the Karjala Cup, Tellqvist again struggled once back in the SEL – this time against AIK … despite outshooting the other Stockholm-based side by a wide margin, Djurgarden dropped a 4-3 decision … worse still for Mikael, rival goaltender Tim Thomas returned from injury for this match and was the far superior player on the night … things returned to normal later in the week, with Tellqvist back to standing on his head in twin 4-1 ins for Djurgarden over Bjorkloven and Brynas … at this stage in the season, Mikael still owns solid leads in every meaningful SEL goaltending category including a sparkling 1.85 GAA …

Prospect news: Observations from a 5-2 Baby Leafs victory in Hamilton on November 24th … though there are several solid veteran players throughout the line-up (House, Dempsey, Allan, Waite, Harlton) the most impressive aspect of the team on this night were the performances turned in by several young players … speedy winger Jeff Farkas scored 2 electrifying goals early in the game – each assisted by fellow top prospect and Hamilton native Adam Mair … both of these players supplied the main elements expected of them all evening long (with those elements being dash from Farkas and crash from Mair) … more importantly, slumping center Don MacLean (with only 1 goal in 12 previous games) accounted for all 3 remaining Leafs’ goals and may now be poised to resume his torrid scoring pace of last season … amongst the other Toronto prospects on display in this match, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Michal Travnicek and Konstantin Kalmikov were all outstanding for St. John’s … these three players demonstrated NHL calibre skills combined with a consistent application of effort, toughness and sound positional play … I suspect that Mikael Hakansson would also have made this list but, unfortunately, he missed the game with a shoulder injury … I can’t recall any time in the recent past when Toronto’s main farm team deployed so many promising young players … by the way, the Leafs jumped back over .500 (12-11-2) for new Coach Lou Crawford with this win …

More prospect news: Down in the OHL, Brad Boyes continues to burn up the loop with 47 points (27-20) in 25 games played … Brad is currently tied for the league’s scoring lead with Kyle Wellwood of Belleville … Ottawa’s Jon Zion (see thumbnail below) is tied for seventh place in league scoring with 36 point (12-24) in 26 games – a full 10 points more than the next highest scoring defender … Miguel Delisle (20-14-10-24) and Vadim Sozinov (25-10-9-19) also continue to perform well for the 67’s …

Prospect thumbnail – Jonathan Zion (D): Blueliner Zion is clearly in the process of realizing the promise displayed throughout the Rookie Camp and Tournament in September … at that time, we predicted that Jon could top 100 points as the quarterback of a solid team in Ottawa his season and he is now well on the way to easily surpassing this total … as stated earlier, Zion does not possess classic NHL proportions and will need to perfect his positional play in order to succeed at that level … he does own extraordinary skating, playmaking and attacking skills and it is very fortunate for Zion that the Maple Leafs value these skills in their defenders more than most other NHL team do … it might take a little while to develop but it certainly seems as though Jonathan Zion can have a big league career if he wants it badly enough …

Thanks again to European correspondent, Jan Buben for this week’s update from the Swedish Elite League.