Oilers AHL prospects midseason update

By Guy Flaming






AHL Prospect Update (Midseason Report Card)

With 40 games now behind them, the Edmonton Road Runners
have reached and past the midpoint of the 2004-05 AHL schedule. While some prospects have performed as
expected, others have failed to deliver or have simply struggled and then there
are those who have far surpassed all preseason expectations.

 

Sweater Number – Name (Position) – Age

 

#5 Jeff Woywitka (D) – 21

 

Let’s call a spade a spade here and admit that Jeff Woywitka
has not performed up to expectations this year. After terrific Oiler Rookie and Road Runner training camps, the
Vermilion native was expected to not only lead the Edmonton blueline in the
AHL, but there was the thought that he could crack the NHL roster too if that
league hadn’t taken an extended summer holiday.

 

Battling consistency all year and only recently beginning to
play with more confidence and composure, Woywitka is counting on a strong
second half to erase some of the criticisms that have stuck with him through
the first 40 games of the schedule. For
an offensive defenseman, not scoring a goal until the New Year simply isn’t
good enough, but give the young man credit because he can own up to that and
accepts the negative critiques with the right attitude.

 

“I think maybe earlier in the season I was trying to play
too safe defensively, but when I see the opportunity I have to make things
happen,” said the 21-year-old. “I’m
getting my chances by joining the rush and making things happen so it’s
something that’s going to come for me.”

 

Paired with captain Dan Smith for the entire season provides
him with a solid stay at home partner that can cover for him when he makes his
rushes and as his confidence grows, Woywitka is taking more chances. Defensively he has been average but where he
struggles the most is in the speed of his decision-making. Under pressure, Woywitka can cough up the
puck in the worst ways and for a guy that is supposed to have puck-moving as a
strength, that will have to be a major focus for him in the second half.

 

After finally scoring in Manitoba on January 8th
Woywitka has raised his season point totals to 11, which is good enough for
second on the team amongst blueliners.
That said, it’s also a pace that would have him finish with fewer points
than the 28 he had in his rookie season.

Grade: C+

 

#7 Doug Lynch (D) – 21

 

After his AHL All-Star season of last year, would it be fair
to say that Doug Lynch is not playing to the level he did a year ago? Well, he’s probably not an All-Star this
year so in that respect it would seem so.
Statistically, Lynch’s 10 points at the midpoint of the schedule has him
well off his pace from last year when he finished with 36.

 

While the point production isn’t there like it was a season
ago, Lynch is progressing in other ways, most notably in his defensive game. The native of British Columbia is bigger,
stronger and more experienced than a year ago and it’s showing in his fierce
competitiveness in front of the net and in the corners.

 

Paired with Rocky Thompson since opening night, Lynch has
been a physical force and a deterrent for the opposing forwards once they enter
his ice space. Quite often this year
the Road Runners have used Lynch and his large caliber point shot on the power
play and because he can move the puck pretty well, he has fit in nicely on the
special teams unit.

 

One the negative side, Lynch is far from playing mistake
free hockey. Mental errors like poor
breakout or outlet passes in his own zone are an area of concern as is his
defensive positioning at times, especially under pressure. What’s refreshing to see about Lynch is that
when he is guilty of a making a costly error you can visibly see the
determination to make up for the blunder and more than a few times this year he
has bounced back to help the team after such a situation.

 

In short, there is far more ‘good’ than ‘bad’ to Lynch’s
performance this season but this is a young player who is benefiting from the
NHL lockout because the temptation might have been there in October to move him
up to the big club and he doesn’t appear to be completely ready just yet.

 

Grade: B-

 

#8 Tony Salmelainen (RW)

 

What can be said about the Finnish speedster who leads the
Road Runners in scoring that hasn’t already been said? His speed is legendary and yet because it’s
his greatest asset, it has to be pointed out time and time again. The fact that he might possibly be the
fastest player in both the AHL and the NHL assures him that he’ll get his
opportunity with the big club sooner rather than later.

 

The downside to Salmelainen is two fold, his size and his
hands. At 5’9 and 185 lbs, Salmelainen
is clearly at a physical disadvantage although he obviously is able to overcome
that at the AHL level. Will he be able
to do it in the NHL? Time will tell.

 

As outlined in the recent Top
20 Oiler Prospects
story, Salmelainen can definitely score but is neither
consistent nor proficient enough to be considered an offensive dynamo in the
mold of smaller players like Pavel Bure or Paul Kariya. He has a very good shot, hard and accurate
but seldom uses it if the opportunity to deke is there as well. Unfortunately, because he’s usually moving
so fast, Salmelainen can’t control the puck when making a shifty move and the
scoring opportunity is lost. More often
than not, if Salmelainen scores a goal in a game, it’s off an odd man rush or a
broken play in the offensive end, not on his multitude of breakaway chances.

 

He’s a scorer at the American League level but will need to
get much more prolific to be so in the NHL.
His speed will give him opportunities, but it’s his hands that will
decide whether or not he’s an NHL player or not.

 

Grade: A-

 

#9 Joe Cullen (C) – 23

 

After a promising rookie campaign a year ago, this has not
been the sequel Joe Cullen had hoped for.
After scoring Edmonton’s first goal of the season on the team’s first
shot, the Minnesota-born center failed to find the back of the net for over a
month. Thought of as a solid checking
line center with some offensive upside, Cullen found himself in the doghouse
and the pressbox in November because he was failing to live up to expectations
and also because of the plethora of centers with the team.

 

“I think it’s a combination of
both, but they had a lot of guys to choose from as to who to sit out so I’m
sure there was a reason that they picked me,” Cullen said at the time. “As far as I am concerned my play has to
improve a lot. My confidence level
isn’t as high as it should be and I’m just not making the right plays at the
right time.”

 

After continuing to struggle in
December it was the team that decided to make a move and they dealt Cullen to
San Antonio in exchange for big winger Eric Beaudoin. Although the Oilers and Florida Panthers still own the rights to
the players they had, sources tell Hockey’s Future that the deal could become
permanent once the NHL’s CBA issues are resolved. Both teams have the right to reevaluate the deal and reverse it
at that time if they want to but a recent story in a local Florida paper seemed
to indicate that the Panthers were already saying goodbye to Beaudoin.

 

With the Oilers being extremely
deep at the center position, especially in the third to fourth line roles, it
would be very hard for Cullen to make the Oiler roster and this move allows him
to move to a team where he is expected to get more ice time than he was with
the Runners and that will be good for his development. The Oilers can always bring him back, but at
this point it doesn’t appear that will be the case.

 

Grade: D

#10 Brad Winchester (RW) – 23

 

One of the few bright spots on this year’s Road Runners
roster, right-winger Brad Winchester has performed about as well as anyone
could have expected he would in his second year of professional hockey. The 6’5 230 lb Wisconsin captain has taken
his game to another level this year by using his size and strength to his
benefit. When he’s on his game, he’s a
dominant player at the AHL level.

 

The down side to Winchester is still his consistency. The nights when he isn’t playing physically,
getting in the occasional fight and aggressively driving to the net he looks
very uninspired and becomes a complete non-factor. Thankfully Winchester is ‘on’ more often than he is ‘off’ hence
the reason why he’s currently fifth on the team in scoring. In fact, at the midpoint of the year he has
already matched his previous season’s totals and could realistically double
them by the time game 80 comes to a close.

 

He’s not a sure fire bet to be a regular NHL player one day
but he definitely is on the radar for at least getting an audition at the top
level. Winchester is a player who could
eventually supplant someone like Brad Isbister as both are in the same mold as
power forwards.

 

To begin the year Winchester was placed on a line along with
Mike Bishai and Jamie Wright, a trio that enjoyed late season success a year
ago in Toronto. Recently Geoff Ward has
juggled lines resulting in Winchester playing with J.J. Hunter and Nate DiCasmirro. In the half dozen games the threesome has
been together, they have been very impressive and dangerous, often the most
affective the Runners had on the night.

 

Grade: B+

 

#15 Dan Baum – (C/W) – 21

 

No one is expecting Dan Baum to produce offensively so the
fact that his scoring is down from last year, six points compared to 10 in the
same number of games, is not a concern for the club. What Baum is doing is the job he knows he’s there to do. He gets under the skin of the opposition and
is more than willing to go a few rounds with anyone wearing a different colored
jersey.

 

At 6’1 and 194 lbs, Baum has fought Manitoba’s Wade
Brookbank who tilts the scales at 6’4 and 225 lbs while players his own size
such as Milwaukee’s Jordan Tootoo and Hamilton’s Steve Ott have not only
backed down but have steered clear.

 

Baum had to overcome mysterious headaches through training
camp and more recently a bruised hand, a souvenir from his bout with Brookbank.

 

With 152 penalty minutes already chalked up to his name,
Baum has reminded Edmonton fans what it’s like seeing a tough guy doing his job
on a nightly basis.

 

Grade: C+

 

#18 Marty St. Pierre – (C) – 21

 

Although he scored in his first game with the Road Runners,
it would not be possible to grade him as an AHL player so a closer look at St.
Pierre will come in February’s ECHL update.

 

#21 Kyle Brodziak – (C) – 20

 

In limited action this season Kyle Brodziak has shown that
he deserves to play more. In the
majority of the 20 games he has played in the forward has made it easy for the
coaching staff to put him back in the line-up for the next night. Brodziak is a rookie and so he is being
brought along at a leisurely pace but on the ice, the kid has shown more than
flashes of steady and reliable play.

 

Brodziak’s pair of goals and six assists don’t really
reflect how well he has played and he is showing levels of play that only come
with a certain amount of confidence.

 

“I’m starting to feel comfortable
out there and I still know what I need to do but my main goal is to prove to
the coaches that I deserve to be out there and try to stay in the line up,”
Brodziak told Hockey’s Future in December.

 

What is most striking about the way
Brodziak has played has been his patience with the puck when creating plays,
especially on the power play where Geoff Ward has often used the
20-year-old. Brodziak could be a player
to keep an eye on in the second half of the season.

 

Grade: C+

 

#25 J.J. Hunter (C) – 24

 

Few Edmonton players have surpassed the preseason
expectations anyone had of them but J.J. Hunter is one of the names on that
short list. The center from small town
Saskatchewan is one of the feel good stories of the year inside the Road
Runners dressing room simply because Hunter is a full time AHL player. What’s so special about that you ask?

 

I’ve always kind
of gone through the back door my entire career; I was never drafted in the
Bantam draft and in fact before the WHL I had never even played AAA hockey at
all,” Hunter told Hockey’s Future in the fall.
“I got an opportunity from the Oilers as a free agent to come out, that
was three years ago and luckily they’ve stuck with me and we’ve kind of grown
together.”

 

A very solid
checking line player, Hunter has basically filled the role previously held by
Chad Hinz with the exception that the current Road Runner player has shown much
more offensive upside that the former did.
Hunter is currently eighth on the team in scoring although he has missed
11 games with two separate shoulder injuries.

 

Hunter can play all
three forward positions making him a valuable player on a team that has upwards
of eight middlemen on the roster.
Lately Hunter has been centering Winchester and DiCasmirro but after
re-aggravating his early season shoulder problems, the kid from Saskatchewan
will be sidelined for a while.

 

Grade: B

 

#28 Jason Platt

(D) – 21

 

At the beginning of
the season, the last thing on Jason Platt’s mind was playing hockey in
Edmonton, not because he didn’t want to but because it just wasn’t the most
important thing going on at the time.
During training camp the blueliner’s brother, Bryce Platt, was involved
in a horrific car accident in British Columbia and big brother Jason left to be
with his family at the teen’s bedside.
Remarkably, Bryce made a speedy recovery and when Jason returned to Edmonton
there was a visible difference in his persona.
No longer was he the rookie with big wide eyes at Rexall Place, he was
walking with a jump in his step and a new outlook on life.

 

The Road Runners
kept eight defenders out of camp and many thought that was because cutting
Platt while he was tending to his brother would simply be wrong. It was expected that Platt would get into a
few games with Edmonton and then be reassigned to Greenville, but that’s not
what happened at all. Platt played and
has been more impressive the more he gets the chance to suit up. He’s very physical and responsible
defensively and is slowly learning to step up for his teammates when need be
too.

 

I want to
show the guys I’m not going to back down no matter who it is,” said Platt
recently after the fight filled game against the St. John’s Maple Leafs that
saw him involved with Jason MacDonald. I was trying to clear the front and
gave him a few crosschecks, I was almost kind of asking for it because earlier
in the game one of our guys got roughed up and I didn’t step in and I needed to
redeem myself.”

 

Grade: C+

 

 

#36 Mathieu Roy
(D) – 21

 

A scouting report
on Mathieu Roy would probably contain words and phrases like defensively
reliable, cannon of a shot, physical but not overpowering and even underrated
skating ability. You can now add to
that list a few surprises from this season like offensive upside and willing
combatant.

 

After 25 games Roy
has 11 points, he only had five points all last year in 40 games, and more
importantly his development curve has continued to curl upwards.

 

Roy’s had a couple
multiple point games this year but the one he’ll probably be most remembered
for came against St. John’s in November when he had a pair of collisions with
Matt Stajan that left the Leafs forward writhing in pain both times. The Leafs felt both hits were dangerous
blows but Roy feels that if they were, Stajan himself shares some of the blame
for them.

 

I was just
racing for the puck and so I just tried to hit him clean but he turned his
back,” Roy said innocently about the first check before describing the second
incident. “(The second hit) was a clean
hit though, it was just in a bad position because he was trying to reach for
the puck and I was coming from the blueline.”

 

Unlike some players in the league who like to deliver big
hits, Roy will stand up and drop the mitts when he needs to defend himself like
every tough player eventually must do.
He’s not a fighter and doesn’t always do very well, but give him the
credit for taking his lumps like a man and not backing down.

 

Grade: C

 

 

#38 Mike Bishai (C) – 25

 

When does a player go from being described as ‘struggling’
to something less positive, perhaps harsh sounding like ‘failure’? Mike Bishai was pegged before the season
began by the coach as the player he expected to have a breakout year and take
his game to a new level.

 

It’s an understatement to say that statistically, Bishai’s
production this half-year is a fraction of what was hoped for. Are just 4 goals in 33 games or 17 points
enough for someone supposedly on the NHL bubble? No it isn’t and the center from Edmonton will be the first one to
admit that.

 

The best way is to
relax and get as many shots as I can,” said Bishai in December at the height of
his productive slump. “When you haven’t
been scoring you obviously grip the stick too tight and it’s something to
overcome.”

 

In the final year
of his contract with the Oilers, Bishai needs to have a season impressive
enough to convince the Oilers that they need to exercise their one-way option
on him next year but that’s going to be a difficult task in the second
half.

 

While he hasn’t
scored much, his chances have been plentiful and while he might not be burying
his chances, others are getting goals from his failed tries so all is not
completely disastrous for Bishai. That
said, failure to improve his numbers could mean that his 15 minutes of fame as
an Oiler could be just about ready to expire.

 

Grade C+

 

#40 Jeff
Drouin-Deslauriers
(G) – 20

 

With just 12 appearances
so far this year and only four wins to his credit, no one can say that Jeff
Drouin-Deslauriers’ rookie campaign has been a smashing success. JDD’s numbers don’t really give an accurate
portrayal of how the 20-year-old has played over the course of his 12 starts
because thanks to a couple brutal games, his save percentage (.889) and goals
against average (2.86) have taken a beating.

 

In the games
Drouin-Deslauriers has played in, his performance has been very good for the
most part. Of course he isn’t immune to
the occasional rookie mistake or bad goal but no one in the system is
suggesting any level of disappointment.
Visiting scouts to Road Runner games have noted an improvement in the
goalie’s play from his days in Chicoutimi so despite an apparent lack of AHL
success, the big picture still looks good.

 

Since taking a puck
off the shin in practice when his goal pad got twisted around on his leg, JDD
has been out of action and Greenville goalie Mike Morrison has been
recalled. The possibility exists,
although it’s not expected, that Drouin-Deslauriers could be sent down to the
ECHL in order to play more games. With
the drying up of work visasfor US-bound Canadian players, that appears to be an
improbable scenario though.

 

Grade: C+

 

#43 Brent Henley
(D) – 24

 

Having played in
only a dozen games so far this year, partly due to injury but mostly due to
numbers, Brent Henley hasn’t been able to get into any kind of rhythm or
routine. Well known as a fighter,
finding a dance partner has been a challenge for Henley who outweighs and sees
over the top of the heads of most people.
When it comes to fighting a Road Runner, opponents would rather risk
losing a bout to a legend like Rocky Thompson than to a relative newcomer who
just might destroy them in the process.

 

Hockey-wise Henley
has been pretty solid. He’s nowhere
close to NHL ready but he certainly hasn’t embarrassed himself by any stretch
of the imagination. Because of his 6’7
frame and the massive wingspan that goes with it, Henley is a formidable
defender to try and beat one-on-one.
His puckhandling is average, his mobility maybe slightly more so but his
physical play is a definite strength.

 

Grade: C

 

#44 Jesse
Niinimaki
(C) – 21

 

Is it fair to judge
a player who has only played in eight games?
In the case of first round pick Jesse Niinimaki it is.

 

After leaving
Finland and joining the Road Runners in mid season, a decision sources tell
Hockey’s Future was initiated by the player; Niinimaki has yet to play his
tenth game in North America although he’s been here for six weeks. Recently it has been widely reported that
the reason Niinimaki has been a healthy scratch more often than not is because
of an apparent lack of conditioning and desire.

 

Geoff Ward has used
skating as an example of one area Niinimaki must improve on in practice before
he becomes a regular in the line up.
The club has challenged the Finn to show more drive and passion in his
play because up to now he has looked indifferent.

 

Of course I want to play as much as I can, but let’s see what
comes,” Niinimaki said, “They just want me to play the way I can.”

 

“He’s got to get in a little bit
better condition and we’ve talked about that.

He’s close that way and I think he’s pretty comfortable in our systems
but when he’s got the opportunity to play he’s got to show that he’s making a
positive impact on the game,” Ward explained.
“We just have to keep working with Jesse. It’s a two-part process; he’s got to bring more and show
us a bit more that he wants to compete, have more passion when he plays and we
have to keep teaching him how to do that by showing him video of himself and of
other guys on the team and how they play so that he can make the
comparison. He’s a talented player but
right now he’s a guy trying to break into the lineup at our deepest position
and that’s center.”

 

As for the skating critique,
Niinimaki says that Ward isn’t the first to have pointed that out to him.

 

“He’s not the first one to say
that!” he laughed before attempting to explain that it’s an issue with his body
type more than a lack of effort. “My
arms and legs are so long. I
have a problem gaining weight, it’s hereditary; my mother is tall with long
legs, like me, but my father is short as is my big brother.”

 

There’s no questioning his puck
control skills as he displayed when he scored a goal during an overtime
shootout by unveiling a move that no one else of the Road Runners is capable of
pulling off. With the injury to Hunter
and the trading of Cullen, Niinimaki will get his chance now and it will be up
to him to capitalize on it.

 

Grade: C-


Quotes From the Road Runners

 

One thing I have to do more this year is shoot, I like to pass a lot
because I’m more of a dish man or set up guy but in pro hockey you have to be
shooting.”

Mike Bishai on October 1st on what his game
plan was to be this year.

 

“You’re only as strong as your
weakest link. It doesn’t matter how
many good things you do sometimes, hockey’s like a pool game; it’s what you
leave, it’s not what you make and tonight we left some things there that they
pounced on.”

         
Head Coach Geoff Ward on Nov 23 after a loss to St.
John’s.

 

“We have to understand that we
can’t put ourselves in dangerous situations when the game is on the line. We’ve been guilty of taking some stupid
penalties at times this year. As
unfortunate as that call was we turned right around and take a boarding call
during 4-on-4 to put us down 5-3, to me that’s just selfish.”

         
Ward commenting the same night on Tony Salmelainen
taking a bad penalty in an important game against the Leafs.

 

“To me it’s a stupid way to decide
a hockey game.”

         
Ward on his distain for the shootout rule.

 

“Yeah, that’s unbelievable! He showed me that as soon as he came in
while I was still rehabbing and I thought ‘Oh man, that could have been me!’ so
I’m pretty thankful right now.”

         
J.J. Hunter when asked if Jesse Niinimaki
had shown him the souvenir scar from his major shoulder surgery form last
year. Hunter missed 9 games earlier
this season with a shoulder dislocation.

 

“We only played against him once or
twice in junior and I seen him get spanked by a couple guys on my team when he
actually squared off with them but the only time he actually (wins fights) is
when he jumps guys like he did to me.
He jumped (Winchester) the last game and it was the same thing. We saw it last year when (Jarome) Iginla was
ranting about him. Iginla would spank
that kid! Iggy would give it to him so
instead (Tootoo) goes out and grabs him from behind, looks like he beats him up
on the highlights and Iginla’s mad just like me. I’ve talked to guys around the league and it’s the same thing…
he’s chicken.”

         

An incensed Dan Baum spitting venom about
Milwaukee’s Jordan Tootoo on November 26th.

 

“I went out there and asked him to
square off near the end of the game and instead he goes and tried to run a
couple guys and points at a couple of us on the bench and goes and sits
down. I don’t know what he’s
thinking. I don’t know how you’re going
to get respect if you’re going to do something like that. I have respect for players that do my role
and I’m best friends with them off the ice but if I run into him don’t
expect me to buy him a drink.”

         
More Baum gems in regards to Tootoo.

 

“It’s fun, playing in front of a
lot of people is fun. It doesn’t
matter if they’re cheering for you or if you’re on the road and they’re booing
you, you feed off that energy and atmosphere.

Being in Edmonton we’re thrilled and we’re hoping the fans keep coming
out. We have a great team here and we
can win so hopefully the fans keep coming.”

         
Doug Lynch November 26th.

 

If I really had to point at one guy… Jason Platt has really
emerged as a guy who is ahead of where we thought he would be at this
point. With a shortened training camp
he’s done a heck of a job coming back from that set back with getting back into
shape quickly, and being able to translate that into the minutes that he has
played for us and played effectively.

For us he’s been a real nice surprise.”

         
Geoff Ward
November 29th when asked privately to single out a player he felt
was exceeding expectations.

 

You don’t want to try and tell those guys what to do on a shot;
they decide before they go in there what they’re going to do on a shot and the
last thing you want to do is get into their kitchen when they’re in a moment
like that.”

         
Ward when asked if he ever suggests to players what to
do in the shootout.

 

“He’s become an elite player at this
level now and that’s the next step to making the NHL. He’s not a one-dimensional player; he does provide offense but
he’s good away from the puck as well.
His development is certainly going in the right direction and he’s
gotten better every year in the league.”

         
Scott Howson Dec. 6th

describing Tony Salmelainen’s status with the team.

 

“I think he’s probably squeezing his
stick too hard right now and things haven’t gone his way. He’s got the talent to work his way out of
it, he’s proven himself at this level and in stretches last year he was clearly
a No. 1 center in the AHL. Everyone
goes through it and he’ll fight his way out of it.”

         

Scott Howson
Dec. 6th on Mike Bishai and his continuing struggle to score.

 

“When you look at it, it’s a tough
league and there are a lot of really good players so sometimes maybe the points
don’t bounce your way but the team is doing good and that’s all that really
matters right now.”

         
Jeff Woywitka December 10th

addressing his lack of offensive production.
The blueliner had just five points at that point, two months into the
schedule. Woywitka has notched 6 more
points since then.

 

“My tendency is to be angry and I’m
sure that play will go through my head more than a few times tonight but you
can’t dwell on those things. If you
beat yourself up too much over negative plays your attitude and things aren’t
going to be good. Sometimes losses like
this are stepping-stones to something great.
The saying is that you have to lose to learn to win.”

         
J.J. Hunter December 10th after a
golden opportunity went unsuccessful and the Runners lost 3-2 to Manitoba.

 

I tried a one-piece stick a couple of times but I didn’t like it. I’m more comfortable with wood, it’s a
softer feel, and I can feel the puck better.

It’s heavier but I’m used to it, I’ve played with one almost all my
life. If I was used to a one-piece then
maybe I could use it but I would have to play a whole summer with it to get
used to it.

         
Jesse Niinimaki on why he uses a wooden stick,
the only Road Runner using one.

 

There’s a lot of hockey left, but you do have to realize that every game
is going to be a battle. In our
division there are a lot of good teams, last year was the same thing where
you’d be in second one day and in fourth the next so this is nothing new.”

         
Brad
Winchester
Dec 12th
as the team lost control of first place in the North Division and slid to
fourth.

 

“Yeah it did, that it was the Oilers
it did. There were teams I knew that
were going to pick me in the first round.

Ottawa, St. Louis, Islanders, Columbus… there were four or five. I think San Jose was the only team I didn’t
have an interview with.”

         
Jesse Niinimaki December 20th when
asked by Hockey’s Future if it surprised him to be picked by the Oilers in the
first round.

 

“I’m playing hard, playing better,
making the right play where as maybe before I was trying to make a pretty play
and it wouldn’t work out and I’d turn it over.
I’m starting to make the simpler play because at the next level you
can’t make those mistakes because they’ll bury them on you.”

         
Jeff Woywitka December 20th
describing his slow improvement since just before Christmas.

 

“I went to play a two-on-one in
front of the net there and the puck went off of my stick. You’re heart just sinks and you feel so
bad. It’s a lucky bounce for them and
we played so well and so hard and I certainly didn’t want to see that one be
the winner. I was just sick to my
stomach and was trying to focus for the rest of the game. It was nice that we got the big power play
goal at the end… I had to redeem myself.”

         
Doug Lynch describing how he scored on his own
net December 20th against Hamilton.

 

“We had two or three chances to put
it away but you have to give them credit; they’re a trapping team and we knew
that going in, they wait for their chances.
They got a breakaway goal to make it 1-0 and then they just trap it up
and their other goal was a lucky bounce.
They just try to bore you to death but give them credit because they
play their system well.”

         
Lynch describing the playing style of the Habs’
farm club.

 

“With Tony leaving, that was
definitely an opportunity for me and we’ll see what happens Wednesday and go
from there after that. I know I have to
make the best of the opportunity. I got
one point tonight and one in Anaheim so it’s nice to be able to contribute a
little bit and hopefully it keeps coming.”

         
Kyle Brodziak December 20th on
getting into the line up while Tony Salmelainen went to Russia to play
in the Rosno Cup.

 

“We got a memo from the league
about they’re cracking down on obstruction again and I thought it was
unbelievable. Like that call in the
third period on Stoll where the guy dropped his stick and they made the call
that it was a slash. It’s frustrating
but let’s just say I expected it to be a tall total tonight.”

         
Ward December 22nd in regards to fluctuating
officiating in the AHL.

 

“I think it only happened twice in
college and here I think I’m in my 14th game and I’m a star of a
game and I don’t think I even had a point tonight. It’s a nice honor.”

         
Jason Platt after being named the third star
against Hamilton going pointless but logging a ton of minutes and being a +2.

 

“He was chirping me the whole first
period because I was laying hits on guys and he came in and ran me from behind
with a big elbow, we got to chirping at each other and stuck each other at the
end of our shift. I was exhausted but
he kept saying ‘let’s go right now! Let’s go right now!’ and I said ‘next
shift’ but he said no and flinched and I’ve always been told that when a guy
flinches you don’t mess around. I
dropped my gloves but he didn’t and that’s just the type of guy he is. He chirps all game, he’s good at drawing
penalties but he’s not the tough guy that he pretends to be.”

         
Platt after the same game talking about Dallas
property Steve Ott.

 

“I can’t explain why (the previous
game) was a bad game but sometimes it’s like that. I wanted to show some character that I am able to rebound after
that game so I prepared myself very hard for this game and the result was
there. This was a team win but it was
very nice.”

         
Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers Dec 22nd

getting a win after a horrible game against Cincinnati earlier that week.

 

“We’ve got 5 or 6 natural centers
when you put Baum, Brodziak, Stoll, Niinimaki, Hunter, Petersen and Bishai so
we wanted to create a little room there and San Antonio was looking for a
center.”

         
Runners GM Scott Howson about why Joe Cullen was
dealt to Florida’s farm team.

 

“Probably junior, USHL, before
college but that still wasn’t close to this.”

         
Jason Platt after the fight fest against St.
John’s on January 10th when asked when the last time he played in a
similar game.

 

“Tonight I kind of let my team
down, I got a five-minute major and one of the main reasons they have me
dressed is to kill penalties and they scored two against me tonight. That’s what I bring to the team is killing
penalties and playing rough hockey and if I’m not doing it then we need to have
other guys in there.”

         
Platt criticizing himself after a loss to the
Leafs.

 

 

Comment on this story at the Oilers section of the Hockey’s Future
Message Boards
.

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