Name, Age, Summer signing status, Team Last Year
Jan Hrdina, 25, Signed, Pittsburgh/Dainius Zubrus, 23, Waiting for arbiter, May be traded to the Pens for Hrdina, Washington
Alexei Kovalev, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Milan Kraft, 21, Signed, Pittsburgh
Robert Lang, 30, Signed, Pittsburgh
Mario Lemieux, 35, Taking whatever money is left over, Pittsburgh
Aleksey Morozov, 24, Signed, Pittsburgh
Krzysztof Oliwa, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Wayne Primeau, 25, Talking with Patrick on a contract, Pittsburgh
Kevin Stevens, 36, Signed, Pittsburgh
Martin Straka, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Fighting for the 3 remaining forward positions –
Kris Beech, 20, Signed, Calgary (WHL), 5.5
Beech is a very solid hockey player. He plays a two-way game and is not afraid to mix it up. To go along with his tenacity, he is also a gifted skater with soft hands. His versatility and pure skill will make him an
ideal fourth liner. If given the chance, by season’s end, he could make
his way onto the second line. Although some say he needs more time to mature and grow into his big frame, I would be willing to put him on the big roster for this upcoming season. However, in order to find his way onto the team, he has to battle it out with Dome, Lacouture, Peterson, and Tibbetts. The new possibility of the comeback of Stephane Richer also hurts his chances. Even if he does not make the roster this year, he still has a very bright future in the NHL.
Robert Dome, 22, Signed, Kladno (Cze.), 4
Dome has always been said to be a powerful skater that plays a finesse
game. However, last season, Dome showed us a feisty side in the Czech league. He started a few fights, while putting up some nice numbers (9-12-21 in 29 games). Although many consider him a bust, I am not willing to quit on him. I think that he is definitely ready for the NHL, but I do not know how he will match up to his competition. Beech is a budding star. Lacouture and Tibbetts are typical 4th liners. Peterson showed management in the call-up last year that he is ready to move up from the minors, and who knows how well Richer will play? In my opinion, right now, all of these players have the inside track on him. However, I think that Dome has something to prove after fleeing to Europe last year. He has strong motivation to make the team. So, I would not be too surprised to see him on the roster.
Konstantin Koltsov, 20, Signed, Kazan (Rus.), 3
Koltsov, like Dome, is also known for his blazing speed, which has often resulted in some very pretty goals. Although he does not play a rough style, the Pens’ management may want to take a look at him. Scoring 15 points in 18 games in the Russian mens’ league, he has shown that he can play with others almost twice his age. However, realistically, he still needs to get used to the North American game. He needs to learn how to play a rougher game if he wants to jump right in at his age.
Tom Kostopoulos, 22, Signed, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 2.5
Kostopoulos plays a rough, in your face game that is suitable for a fourth liner. He is known for knocking a few goals in every once in a while, too. Last season, he scored 52 points in 80 games. Although his progress has regressed, he is still worth mentioning. He is ready to muck it up as a fourth liner, and he deserves a chance. However, this year does not look like his year. There are too many other talented prospects ready to jump in.
Dan Lacouture, 24, Signed, Pittsburgh, 4
Lacouture accomplished something last year when he stayed out of the
minors and played in the big leagues all season. He has been trying to do it for years. Despite his commendable efforts, I think he will be sent back down to the minors at the start of the 2001-2002 season. The reason? Towards the end of the regular season and the playoffs, Lacouture did not do much. He was a healthy scratch numerous times, and when he wasn’t, little was accomplished. In the 11 final regular season games that he played with the Pens, he posted no points and averaged 5:22 on the ice. In the play-offs, he also recorded no points. In addition, he did not fulfill his role as a fourth liner. He only got into 2 fights and did not do much else. I think there are better players in the Penguins’ system for the job. In many other systems, he would be a lock for a spot, but the Pens’ farm system is particularly strong for this coming year. It isn’t all that much his play that I think will keep him off the team; it is just the circumstances.
Eric Meloche, 25, Signed, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 3
Although many people do not consider Meloche a possibility for the Pens’ roster for the 2001-2002 season, I do. He drives hard to the net and uses his skating and power to drive through his opponents. Like Kostopoulos, he also finds time to put a few points on the score sheet (20-20-40 in 79 games last season). However, his chances of making it this year are slim. There are just too many players ahead of him in the pecking order right now. On the other hand, the pecking order can easily change after training camp.
Toby Peterson, 22, Signed, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 7.5
Peterson had an amazing, breakthrough season last year. He proved all of his critics wrong, scoring 67 points in 73 games for the Baby Pens. However, that is not the most impressive feat that he accomplished last season. In a twelve-game call-up to the Pens, he scored 2 goals and eight points. He looked like a second liner and was depended upon by Hlinka in almost every situation: power play, penalty kill, etc. He has impressed management with his vision and soft hands. Right now, I think he has a great chance of making the team.
Stephane Richer, 36, Signed a try-out contract, Did not play, ?
Richer is the wild card of the Pens’ training camp. The information
available on the shape he is in is limited. He definitely has the skill
to come back and be a great player again. During his career, he had 50-goal seasons and was often the best player on the ice. However, one year away from the NHL is a long time, unless you are Mario. Who knows what kind of shape he is in? He could have been working out the last few months or eating potato chips in front of the TV. Due to this limited information, it would be unfair to give him a grade.
Michal Sivek, 20, Signed, Sparta Praha (Cze.), 3
Although many people have talked about Sivek making the team for this
upcoming season, I have my doubts. Do not get me wrong, he is a great
player and has star potential. He possesses dazzling skills and skating ability. However, like so many other Pens’ prospects, his competition is too great this year. The players that he is competing with are more experienced and can play a rough style, which Sivek seems to shy away from, despite his big frame. I would give him one more year to develop.
Billy Tibbetts, 26, Signed, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 8.5
Like Peterson, Tibbetts had a breakthrough year last season. After
spending time in prison for several years, it seems that he has turned his life around. I think that this is his year to make the big team. His toughness and tenacity is something that you just do not see in many players nowadays. He is a fearless fighter and takes on the other teams’ top enforcers day in and day out. In the AHL last season, he recorded 185 penalty minutes in only 38 games. Also, in a twenty-nine game call-up to the Pens, he racked up 79 penalty minutes. He is one of those players that can intimidate everyone. In addition, he has a nice scoring touch. For Wilkes-Barre, he was a dependable point-per-game player. In my opinion, he has the greatest chance of making the team of any of his competitors. He plays with an edge that is ideal for a fourth liner.
Andrew Ference, 22, Signed, Pittsburgh
Hans Jonsson, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Darius Kasparaitis, 28, Waiting for arbiter, Pittsburgh
Janne Laukkanen, 31, Signed, Pittsburgh
Mike Wilson, 26, Signed, Florida
Fighting the 2 remaining defensive positions-
Ross Lupaschuk, 20, Signed, Red Deer (WHL), 2
Lupaschuk is the power play quarter back of the future for the Pens. His playmaking ability is above average, and he sees the ice very well. In addition to his offensive ability, Lupaschuck is an aggressive player who is not afraid to drop his gloves. However, he is not a complete player. In his own end, he makes mistakes and gets caught out of position. Right now, he is not mature enough to play in the NHL. Plus, in my opinion, Melichar, Moran, Orpik, and Rozsival are way ahead of him in development. I would give him two years to make the roster.
Josef Melichar, 22, Signed, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 4.5
If I could sum Melichar up in one word, it would be solid. He is a
typical, stay-at-home defenseman that rarely makes a mistake and takes very little chances. His skating is pretty good for a big man. He is listed as 6’2, 214, but he looks more like 6’3, 220 on the ice. He uses his frame effectively and hits when it is needed. He is a smart player, who does not like to take risks. He is without a doubt ready for the NHL. The only problem is that he will have to fight with Moran, Orpik, and Rozsival for a spot.
Ian Moran, 29, Signed, Pittsburgh, 8.5
Although many think he is a lock, I do not consider him one. In my
opinion, Melichar, Orpik, and Rozsival are better defensemen. Last year, he made some mistakes that ultimately cost the Penguins the game. For example, in a mid-season game against Minnesota, he went down to block a shot too early. The Minnesota player puck handled around his body and scored the game-winning goal. He has made many other plays like that where he does something too early or too late. In my opinion, he does not have the sense for the game that the other defensive candidates have. His skating and skills are pretty good, and he has a mean streak but is not very smart. However, I still think that he will make the team just because Patrick likes him, but if it were up to me, I would leave room for the young guys.
Brooks Orpik, 20, Signed, Boston College (HE), 4.5
I think that if given the chance, Orpik could fulfill Boughner’s roll on the Pens’ blueline this year. He plays an aggressive game and smashes forwards with his huge frame (6’3, 230 lbs). He takes care of business in front of his goalie and is not afraid to drop the gloves, which can be shown by looking at the fact that he had 124 penalty minutes in 40 games last season at BC. He skates well and makes good breakout passes. His puck handling is below average, but that is only a minor issue. He is a solid player that is confident that he can crack the Pens’ roster right out of college.
Michal Rozsival, 22, Signed, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton (AHL), 5.5
In my opinion, Rozsival has the best shot of making the roster out of the three young defensemen on the bubble. He plays a solid game and makes good decisions in his own end; although, he is not the most aggressive defenseman. Do not get me wrong, he hits, just not like Melichar, Moran, or Orpik. He prefers to give his opponents a slight jolt along the boards, and then, take the puck. He makes good passes to his forwards heading up the ice and is a pretty good point man. He has all the tools to take the puck end to end: speed, nice stick work, and a keen sense for the game; although, he has not really done it much with the big team. It does not matter, though. He is a complete defenseman that is ready to move up the NHL, plain and simple.
Jean-Sebastien Aubin, 24, Signed, Pittsburgh
Johan Hedberg, 28, Talking with Patrick on a contract, Pittsburgh
Rob Tallas, 28, Signed, Chicago
Chances of making the team are numbered 1-10.
1- Very slim chance of making it.
2- Slim chance of making it.
3- Small possibility of cracking the roster.
4- Definitely a possibility of making the roster.
5- About a fifty-fifty chance of making it.
6- Has the inside shot at cracking the roster.
7- Probably should make it.
8- If he does not make it, it is a disappointment.
9- If he does not make it, training camp must have been a disaster.
10- Practically a lock for the team.