Lighting It Up – November Edition

By George Bachul

Out of the gates like wildfire? Dennis Wideman. In his first two games with the Worcester IceCats of the American Hockey League, the rookie defenseman has five points. Signed as a free agent by the St. Louis Blues in June of 2004, Wideman is no stranger to putting up numbers after chipping in 251 points in his 292 game Ontario Hockey League career. Not bad for a blueliner.

In the old habits die hard department, physical Binghamton Senators goalie Ray Emery has a poor outing in his season debut with the club and gets pulled after 23:33 of work after giving up 4 goals on 12 shots. He was given a 10 minute misconduct in the third period for pushing Rob Skrlac from the bench. Sugar Ray might have to contact his agent about getting a gig with Oscar Delahoya in the offseason.

The reason Jamie Lundmark is playing in Italy? He couldn’t come to an agreement with the Rangers to cover his NHL contract if he got injured playing in the AHL.

Phil Kessel (2006 draft eligible USNTDP) is accelerating his high school so he can attend university next year has narrowed it down to six schools according to the Minnesota Startribune. Boston College, Boston University, Michigan, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Minnesota are all in the running.

I am not out to get on the NHLPA’s bad side, but it is getting so they are sounding like the Iraqi Information Minister every time a player speaks out. First John Madden of the New Jersey Devils and now Florida Panthers prospect Juraj Kolnik somehow are mistaken when they come out against the union’s hard-line stance in negotiations. After being very candid suggesting that the $10 million dollar players are running the union, and that he was willing to be a replacement, all of a sudden the Slovakian has had a misunderstanding of what an impasse is and suddenly there is a “language barrier.” I doubt two things. 1. That this won’t be the last player who speaks up against the union. 2. That he will be mistaken the next day.

Rough start? Highly touted Ryan Whitney of the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Zeros across the board in the stats department for his first four games…except for the -8 in the plus/minus column.

Au contraire: Yann Danis of the Hamilton Bulldogs. The Brown University star and 2004 Hobey Baker candidate has come out of the blocks with a 4-0-0 start.

Is there a more underrated prospect than Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers? He leads the Swedish Elite League in numerous goaltending categories, including: goals against average (1.33), save percentage (.954), shutouts (2) and minutes played (540:38).

The Wisconsin State Journal is reporting that Garrett Suter (Ryan Suter’s brother) has been offered a full scholarship and will play with the University of Wisconsin next season.

Hot shots: Alex Bourret (2005 NHL Draft eligible) and Alexandre Picard (8th overall pick 2004 by Columbus) both set team records on October 22 as the Lewiston MAINE-iacs drubbed Rimouski Oceanic 10-2. Bourret had six assists in the contest while Picard was the first MAINE-iac to score four goals in the contest.

Tony Martensson (Anaheim 7th round 2001) is playing very well for Linkoping of the Swedish Elite League. He has scored once and added 8 assists in 12 games this year.

I may be wrong but I believe that St. Louis goalie prospect Chris Beckford-Tseu (2003 5th Round) is the only touted NHL prospect of either Jamaican or Chinese decent. He is both.

Does every prospect compare themself to Joe Sakic in an interview? I want to see someone say that they are going to be the next Darcy Tucker.

Name to remember in hockey circles…Stuart Hyman. Toronto real estate broker has interest in over 100 Ontario minor hockey teams and anticipates owning an Ontario Hockey League team and an interest in an NHL team in the future.

Maybe it is just me, but I expected Phoenix’s Blake Wheeler to be more dominant than six points in seven games in the USHL.

Is there a better name in hockey than Wacey Rabbit (2005 draft eligible)? The wascally kid continues his fast start with 18 points in 12 games and is tied for second in Western Hockey League scoring with Nigel Dawes (NY Rangers 5th round 2003).

The toughest part of being a top prospect playing in the minors? No charter airplane. This scribe flew with Petr Taticek, Jay Bouwmeester and Stephen Weiss after the San Antonio Rampage (Florida Panthers affiliate) after back-to-back losses to the Edmonton Roadrunners. Either the aforementioned players looked dejected because of the defeats or the fact that they were flying commercial.

Kudos to the NCAA who actually have the cajones to enforce a no obstruction policy. Watching a few of their games if there is ANY impediment of another player by body or stick a minor is undoubtedly called.

The NHL lockout’s trickle-down affect goes to every level of hockey. Everything from overage juniors heading back to the Canadian Hockey League to prospects Connor James and Yutaka Fukufuji of the Los Angeles Kings being sent to the unaffiliated Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL just to find places for them to play.

Leading the entire Finnish Elite League in scoring? New York Rangers prospect Jarkko Immonen.

The top four listed scorers in the NCAA are 5’10 or less. Hopefully the NHL makes room for more small skilled players as time goes on.

Nowhere to be seen in the top 20 goaltenders of the NCAA thus far? Jim Howard and Alvaro Montoya.

Well they might not all be brothers, but maybe one day the NHL could see three Stastnys again. Peter Stastny has sons Yan (Nuernberg Ice Tigers of the German League) and Paul (Denver University NCAA) as NHL prospects while Anton Stastny has son Matt is playing in the Eastern Junior Hockey League.

Great article on Eurohockey.net about how prospects are being affected by NHLer coming over to Europe. You can find that article here.

The QMJHL, WHL and OHL named the greater portion of their rosters for the upcoming RE/MAX 2004 CHL Canada/Russia Series. No glaring surprises on any of the teams so far. The CHL leagues are hoping that the Russian team will be more skilled than the team that was 1-5 last year.

Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.