YEAR END REVIEW: PART ONE – FORWARDS
Brad had yet another superb season for Erie of the OHL in 2001-2002. His season started with a bang as he recorded nine goals and 21 points in his first nine games. He was awarded CHL player of the week honours in October. However things tuck a turn for the worse late in 2001 when Brad was diagnosed with Mononucleosis weeks before the World Junior Tournament. Brad however had an extremely quick recovery and shocked most by returning in time for the International Tournament. Brad was a lock for the team, and was paired with Mike Cammalleri and Jared Aulin on Canada’s top line. It also became the tournament’s top line, as the three superstars led scoring throughout most of the tournament. Brad recorded five goals and nine points in seven games in the tournament. Brad was named to the CHL All Star Tournament upon his return from the Juniors. Boyes picked up where he left off in the league as well. Brad recorded five goals and twelve points in four games the first full week back and was named CHL player of the week for the second time in the season. Boyes continued on his tear, winning multiple player of the week nominations in the OHL and ending the season with thirty-six goals and seventy-seven points in fourty-seven games. Brad was not done however, he lead Erie to their first OHL Championship recording twenty-two goals and fourty-one points in a mere twenty-one games. Boyes was named OHL Player Of The Week twice in the playoffs in April.
Boyes then received a lot of criticism for not doing more in the Memorial Cup, despite recording five points in the four games Erie played. Despite a tragic end to the playoffs with a blown lead late to Victoriaville, Brad’s season can be wrapped up as a success. Aside from numerous Player of the Week Honours, Brad was named Smartest Player, Best Playmaker, Best Stickhandler, and Best on Face-Offs in the OHL Coaches Poll. He was awarded the “Wayne Gretzky 99 Award” as OHL Playoff MVP for the first time in his junior career. Brad was the winner of the Red Tilson and William Hanley Trophies (for OHL MVP in the Season and OHL Most Sportsmanlike Player) both for the second year in a row. Brad also won Most Sportsmanlike Player in the CHL. Brad finally was honoured with an OHL First Team All-Star Birth. Quite the season for the Leafs top prospect.
Miguel had a breakthrough season in 2001-2002. He made his mark as a dominant sniper and aggressive offensive force. On December 28th, Miguel recorded a hat trick and five points in one game against Kingston in a 7 to 5 victory. Coach Kilrea said of him that night “I’ve never seen one player dominate the tempo of a game in my coaching history like Miguel did tonight”. Miguel reached the 50 goal plateau for the first time in his OHL career on March 2nd. Miguel got stronger as the season went on, scoring four goals in one game in early March. However, he was held scoreless in the last four games of the season. He ended the year with 55 goals and 95 points in 67 games and was an impressive plus 27 in those games. 19 of his goals were scored on the powerplay where he really became a threat to the opposition. Miguel had a good playoff run as well. He recorded six goals and 12 points in the 13 games the 67’s played in. Delisle was the OHL’s leading goal scorer this season, and was named Most Dangerous in the Goal Area, Best Shot and Hardest Shot in the OHL Coaches Poll.
Ivan’s season was filled with highs and lows. Playing for Trencin (Slovakian Extra League), Ivan managed only one goal in 31 games. His five points also represented hugely disappointing number for the left winger. However, Ivan was still named to the Slovakian entry in the World Junior Tournament. Despite being unexceptional in drawing notice to himself, he was very aggressive and cunning around the net, with decent mobility. He also played a very effective boring game along the boards hemming the opposition into their own zone. He scored two goals and added an assist in his seven games. Ivan however was overlooked in both the Olympic team selection and the World Championships selection, missing on a gold medal for Slovakia in the Worlds.
Jaroslav opted to remain in Europe this season, after only four games with the Ottawa 67’s. In those four games, he recorded a goal for his lone point. The move back to Europe was just the first of many for Sklenar this season. He split his season between three teams. In truth, the three different teams almost could have represented three different players. Sklenar was dominant for eDsystem of the CP liga. He recorded three goals and four points in only eight games with the team. However, while a member of Ytong Brno of the CP liga, Jaroslav was a totally different player, appearing invisible at times and recording no points in five games. Finally, Sklenar joined the Czech Extra League, for Znojemsti Orli. Again he was held pointless in four games, but showed promising signs of some defensive abilities. The highlight of Sklenar’s season came with his naming to the Czech World Junior team. He played well enough to earn regular second line duty, recording a goal and an assist in six games.
A former OHL Point Scoring leader, Kyle continued with his offensive displays in 2001/2002. While not coming close to his numbers of a year ago… he showed something Leaf management is much more excited about, playoff grit. During the regular season, Kyle recorded 30 goals, and 75 points in only 54 games. Kyle Wellwood however will probably be most remembered during the season for his trade from Belleville to Windsor in the deal that moved Jason Spezza to Belleville. Kyle capitalized on his new location by being named player of the week in the OHL during the first week of playoff action. He finished a great playoff run with an amazing 12 goals and 24 points in only 16 games.
Nicolas showed moderate improvement in his third year in the QMJHL. He increased his goal production by 8 in 6 less games. Nicolas continued to show a very feisty side for a smaller forward, coming one PIM shy of topping a hundred for his second year in a row. He finished the season with 41 goals, and 93 points in 62 games. However, his increase in ice-time failed to result in a large enough increase in production to be noticed in the offensive QMJHL.
Jonathan started the season being assigned to Memphis after a great rookie camp. He played great in Memphis, scoring his first career hat trick, and adding a second weeks later. He recorded 34 goals and 60 points in his 54 games with Memphis before being recalled to St. John’s. In St. John’s, Jonathan’s numbers plummeted back to Earth. He recorded only 3 assists in 12 games and then had no points in 8 playoff games, being benched half the playoffs.
Mike spent another season in Cornell’s collegiate program trying to find that breakout season. He managed however only 4 goals and 14 points in 34 games. He saw increased ice time from last season, but was unable to produce as expected. Some of his lack of success could be pinned on a lack of skilled players around him. Next year will be a make or break season for the young kid.
Alex split the season between Yulayev and St. Petersburg of the Russian Hockey League. While on the St. Petersburg team, Alex showed some offensive flair with 4 goals and 7 points in 18 games. His numbers dropped off a little in Yulayev, where he managed to score 3 times and add 2 assists in 27 contests. Alex’s best result from this season was an improved ability in his own zone. His improvement in the defensive end was the cause for his increased role on the St. Petersburg team before switching over to Yulayev.
Sozinov opted out of his OHL commitments (with the 67’s) and decided to return to Novokuznetsk of the Russian Hockey League. However, a combination of injuries and indecisiveness sent him to Shakhter Prokopievsk of the Vysshaya Liga. He played in 19 games and only managed one goal, one point. His heart was far from the game, as was his head. He participated for Kazakhstan in the IIHF World U20 Championship, recording 4 goals and 5 points in 7 games. It seems that this year has solidified the fact that Vadim is a big time player on a global stage when he wants to play, the problem is only he knows when that will be.
COAST TO COAST AND ACROSS THE POND
SPECIAL UNSIGNED PROSPECT EDITION
With the June 1st deadline upon us, I thought I would use the Coast to Coast segment this week to run through the prospects that are unsigned and in danger of no longer being Leaf property. However the first two ticker items are simply the usual news from the week.
Brad Boyes (C) – Erie Otters (OHL)
Brad finished his season with yet another honour, receiving the CHL award for most Sportsmanlike Player. He had signed a three year contract with the Leafs earlier this year to avoid re-entering the draft.
Regan Kelly (D) – Providence (HE)
Regan signed with the Maple Leafs this past Friday. He opted to pass on his final two years at Providence college for the opportunity to make the next step now. Regan came over from Philadelphia in the Chris McAllister deal
Russ Bartlett (C) – St. Lawerence (ECAC)
Russ finished his collegiate career at St. Lawrence this season. He remains unsigned and speculation is that he will become a free agent on June 1st. Unlikely to sign.
Peter Metcalf (D) – Maine Black Bears (NCAA)
Peter had not received a contract offer as of this past week, and with the early signing of Regan Kelly, speculation is that he will be not offered a contract. He would become a free agent on June 1st.
Jean-Francois Racine (G) – Drummondville Voltiguers (QMJHL)
JF has been inconsistent and unable to break the top ranks of the Leafs Goaltending prospects. Speculation is that he will not sign, and will re-enter the draft this season. If he is selected, he would be a late round pick. If he signs, he would likely start the year in Memphis.
Miguel Delisle (F) – Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Latest reports have the Leafs working towards signing Delisle before the June 1st deadline. If they failed to sign him however, reports say he would return to the OHL as an overager.
Jean-Philippe Cote (D) – Cape Breton (QMJHL)
JP has done little to make the Leafs feel a need to sign him, and likely will be a free agent if any team takes an interest as of June.
Vadim Sozinov (C) – Novokunetsk (RHL)
Since deciding to return to Europe rather than play his final year of juniors in the OHL, the Leafs have seemed uninterested in signing Vadim. He will re-enter this year’s draft.