AHL Prospect Profile:Derek Armstrong

By Adam Loss

DEREK ARMSTRONG


POSITION: CENTER
SHOOTS: RIGHT
HEIGHT: 6-1
WEIGHT: 193
BIRTHDATE: APRIL 23, 1973
BIRTHPLACE: OTTAWA, ONTARIO

HISTORY:

During his stellar junior career with the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario
Hockey League, Derek Armstrong was drafted in the fifth-round of the 1992
National Hockey League Entry Draft by the New York Islanders. Now in his
seventh professional season, he has played 82 NHL games with the Islanders
(1993-94, 95-96, 96-97), Ottawa Senators (1997-98) and New York Rangers
(1998-99), totalling 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) and 56 penalty
minutes. In 359 minor league games with Salt Lake (1993-94), Denver
(1994-95), Utah (1996-97) and Detroit (1997-98) of the International Hockey
League, and Worcester (1995-96) and Hartford (1997 ? present) of the American
Hockey League, Armstrong has 108 goals, 182 assists and 328 penalty minutes.
In 1995, he was a member of the IHL Turner Cup Champion Denver Grizzlies. He
is a two-time AHL All-Star (1999, 2000), who was the Bauer Canadian Player of
the Game in 1999. His 105 assists and 162 points for the Hartford WolfPack
are all-time club records, and last season’s 80 points (29 goals, 51 assists)
are a single-season club record, as well as a personal high.

TALENT ANALYSIS:

Armstrong is the WolfPack’s first-line center, as well as a regular
member of the power-play and penalty killing units. He is a strong
all-around player who exhibits tenacity and passion when he plays. Armstrong
is described by teammate Brad Smyth as possibly “the best two-way player in
the AHL. He’s solid in all facets of the game. He’s a pretty good passer,
plays both ends of the ice and does a lot of the dirty work in our own end.”
He is a gamer, who rarely takes a shift off. Counted upon to take all
important face-offs, Armstrong’s technique and strength allow him to win many
more than he looses. His passion to win drives his physical play, which is
above-average. Although not involved in abundance of physical play,
Armstrong can more than hold his own with the toughest players in the AHL.
Perhaps the only thing impeding Armstrong from becoming an NHL regular is his
skating. WolfPack coach John Paddock notes that he is “not a bad skater, but
he stops moving his feet at the blue-line and starts looking away to make a
pass.”

FUTURE:

At 26, Armstrong is running out of time being known as a prospect.
However, since joining the WolfPack early in the 1997-98 season, he has
played his best and most productive hockey. He is currently second in
scoring for Hartford with 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists). He is tied for
third in the AHL in assists and seventh in points. It is hard to believe
that Armstrong is still in the AHL, as many nights he looks far too complete
a hockey player to be in the minors. Paddock adds that Armstrong’s “smart,
he can check and he has a good work ethic.” I believe Armstrong is a
prototypical third-line center in the NHL, who can score 15-20 goals and
kills penalties. He reminds me a lot of Tim Taylor of the New York Rangers,
but with possibly a better offensive upside.

CAREER STATISTICS:


YEAR TEAM LGE. GP G A PTS PIM
1993-94 ISLANDERS NHL 1 0 0 0 0
1993-94 SALT LAKE IHL 76 23 35 58 61
1994-95 DENVER IHL 59 13 18 31 65
1995-96 ISLANDERS NHL 19 1 3 4 14
1995-96 WORCESTER AHL 51 11 15 26 33
1996-97 ISLANDERS NHL 50 6 7 13 33
1996-97 UTAH IHL 17 4 8 12 10
1997-98 OTTAWA NHL 9 2 0 2 9
1997-98 DETROIT IHL 10 0 1 1 2
1997-98 HARTFORD AHL 54 16 30 46 40
1998-99 RANGERS NHL 3 0 0 0 0
1998-99 HARTFORD AHL 59 29 51 80 73
1999-00 HARTFORD AHL 35 12 24 36 44
MINOR LEAGUE TOTALS 361 108 182 290 328
HARTFORD TOTALS 148 57 105 162 157
NHL TOTALS 82 9 10 19 56

STATS THRU 1-3-2000