Lighting It Up – October Edition

By George Bachul

Welcome to the first installment of Lighting It Up: News from the World of Prospects. We are looking up, down and all around for news, notes and information on the worlds most notable young hockey players. If you have something that you might want mentioned, drop me a line.

So the WHL has suspended Kamloops Blazer right wing Rick Kozak 15 games for an altercation in the tunnel that ended up with Everett Silvertips trainer Bob Hamre needing stitches. I like a decent rue but when you punch a trainer off the ice isn’t that assault?

US College Hockey Online had University of Michigan ranked No. 1 in the nation heading into this season. With 14 NHL draftees on the club, it comes as no surprise.

The NHL lockout was supposed to create a better landscape financially on which the clubs could move forward. One likely result is a reduced rookie salary cap and limits on bonuses. If that is the case, why did teams run out and sign all of their top prospects such as Ryan Suter, Corey Perry and Braydon Coburn before the CBA expired?

Minnesota Wild prospect Mikko Koivu’s long awaited arrival in North America has come to pass, with Koivu attending the Houston Aeros training camp. He didn’t look out of place at the World Cup of Hockey, so the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens star Saku Koivu likely will not look out of place in the American Hockey League.

Dan Blackburn is still a few months away from being cleared to play because of a nerve injury in his shoulder. It is hoped that he might be ready to resume practice by December.

Alexander Semin was recently suspended by the Washington Capitals for not reporting to their AHL affiliate in Portland. His agent told the Washington Times that when Semin tried to leave the country, the Russian government served him with papers informing him of obligatory military service. The Times speculated that the difference between making $90,000 in Portland or $300,000 tax free in Togliatti might have been a factor as well.

Word is that Lauri Korpikoski continues to impress in the SM-Liga while Petteri Nokelainen and Lauri Tukonen are off to slow starts.

There is actually a hockey player in the Swedish Elite League named Boo Ahl. I imagine there is no reason to wonder why he never came to North America.

A rough start for Red Wings prospect Stefan Liv. After four games in the Swedish Elite League he has been roughed up for a 4.50 GAA and .865 save percentage.

Poor Robert Nilsson. First, he has a poor year with Leksands in the Swedish Elite League, finally finishing last season in Switzerland. He has returned to the Swedish Elite League this season, but now, with the NHL lockout, is playing behind players like Nils Ekman, Marcus Nilson, and Mariusz Czerkawski.

One group of people that is getting a benefit from the NHL lockout is the AHL season ticket holders. Nearly two thirds of the 90 first-rounders of the last three years are on AHL preseason rosters. With players such as Jason Spezza, Jay Bouwmeester and Eric Staal on the ice in the AHL, it should be a banner year for that league if the NHL continues to implode.

PEI Rocket goalie (a fourth-round draft pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning) Jonathan Boutin has been named QMJHL defensive player of the week twice already this season. Boutin has a 6-0-1 record, a 1.12 goals-against average and a .958 save percentage so far.

Igor Grigorenko continues his comeback after a life threatening car accident in May of 2003. According to Russianprospects.com he has yet to score a point in 9 games with Lada Togliatti of the Russian Super League.

There are definitely some young players that were on the cusp of making their NHL squads this year that have to be disappointed with the labor strife. Good bets to have been on NHL starting line ups this year? Dion Phaneuf, Ryan Suter, and Zach Parise. Flyers GM Bobby Clarke has also stated that if the NHL would have started on time, prospects Jeff Carter and Mike Richards were good bets for opening night.

Speaking of lighting it up…who the heck is Stanislav Lascek?

Best wishes go out to Brandon Wheat Kings Mark Derlago who sustained a season ending injury in mid-September.