Justin Keller, LW – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Height: 5’11, Weight: 190 lbs., DOB: March 4, 1986
In his third season in the WHL with the Kelowna
Rockets, Justin Keller has shown consistency and improvement. His hard work paid
off, earning him a spot on Team WHL at the 2005 ADT Canada-Russia Challenge as
well as the Western Conference First All-Star team. Keller competes hard and for
the third straight year he played in all 72 games for the Rockets. His downside
has been his small size at 5’11 and 190 pounds, but he has proven himself
by putting up strong numbers. He was the only player in the WHL in 2005-06 to
net more than 50 goals, he had 51 — a 20-goal improvement on last season’s
total, and he led the Rockets in scoring with 88 points. His offensive numbers
were good enough to put him fifth overall in the league in scoring. Known as a
hero for his efforts in the 2004 Memorial Cup win for the Rockets, Keller will
look to lead the team in that direction again this season. The Rockets have one
win in three games against the Kootenay Ice in the first round of the playoffs.
Keller has one goal, two points and a +1 rating in the series.
Blair Jones, C – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Height: 6’2, Weight: 207 lbs., DOB: September 27, 1986
Blair Jones joined the East Division-leading
Moose Jaw Warriors last season in a trade from the Red Deer Rebels and he hasn’t
looked back. He fit right in with the Warriors and was a factor in their
late-season surge. In 2005-06 he continued his strong play and was named to Team
WHL at the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge and was also named to the Eastern Conference Second All-Star team. On a team with solid offensive talent, with the likes of
Chicago prospect and winner of the Bob Clarke Trophy for top scorer in the WHL
Troy Brouwer and Flames prospect Dustin Boyd, Jones stayed with the leaders. Playing in all 72 games for the club he posted 50 assists, second only to
Brouwer on the team, and had 85 points, which surpassed his previous high of 50 last season. Jones will look to cap off a strong season with a good playoff run. He has two goals, three points and a +2 rating so far in the postseason. The Warriors have lost two of three in their opening-round series against the Brandon Wheat Kings.
|Moose Jaw Warriors||GP||G||A||PTS||+/-||PIM|
Andy Rogers, D – Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Height: 6’5, Weight: 206 lbs., DOB: August 25, 1986
The 2005-06 season was a short one for Andy Rogers. The Prince George Cougars defenseman saw action in only 21 games due to an injury. He was a member of Team WHL at the ADT Canada-Russia Challenge and was invited to Canada’s selection camp for the 2006 World Junior Championship. Known for strong play in his own end, Rogers is physical and uses his size, at 6’5 and 206 pounds, to his advantage. He had three assists and 51 penalty minutes this season for the
Cougars. Prince George has won one of three games in the first round against the Vancouver Giants.
|Prince George Cougars||GP||G||A||PTS||+/-||PIM|
Vladimir Mihalik, D – Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Height: 6’8, Weight: 234 lbs., DOB: January 29, 1987
Vladimir Mihalik, a native of Slovakia, was a rookie in the WHL in 2005-06
with the Red Deer Rebels. A large defenseman, at 6’8 and 234 pounds, he
managed to come in second in scoring for a defenseman on the Rebels behind
Brennan Chapman. Mihalik had three goals, 12 points and a -12 rating in 62
games. The Rebels did not make the playoffs.
|Red Deer Rebels||GP||G||A||PTS||+/-||PIM|
Stanislav Lascek, RW – Chicoutimi Sagueneens (QMJHL)
Height: 6’0, Weight: 188 lbs., DOB: Jan. 17, 1986
Stanislav Lascek has shown steady improvement
during his previous two seasons in the QMJHL and the third was no different.
Playing for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, Lascek managed to place first on his team
in scoring and second overall in the league behind Nashville prospect Alexander
Radulov. In 53 games last season he had 18 goals and 90 points — good for third
on the team. In 2005-06 he exploded with 47 goals, 135 points and a +42 rating
in 64 games. After falling to No. 1 teams in the semifinals the previous two
seasons, Gatineau in 2004 and the Sidney Crosby-led Rimouski Oceanic in 2005,
Lascek will be looking to play strong in the 2006 playoffs and help the
Sagueneens capture the QMJHL crown. Lascek has two goals and five points in
three playoff games and the Sagueneens are leading the Baie-Comeau Drakkar three games to none.
Mark Tobin, LW – Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
Height: 6’3, Weight: 215 lbs., DOB: November 26, 1985
In 2005-06 Mark Tobin’s offensive numbers were
consistent with last season, but the defending QMJHL champion Rimouski Oceanic’s
were not. After winning 45 games in 2004-05 and going the distance in the
Memorial Cup, losing to the London Knights in the championship game, the Oceanic
won only 10 games this season and finished dead last in the league. The loss of
Sidney Crosby, Dany Roussin (FLA) and Marc-Antoine Pouliot (EDM) was a blow to the Oceanic and Tobin could not fill the gap on his own. A hardworking, gritty player, Tobin has good hockey sense and defensive abilities. In 67 games in 2005-06 Tobin was second on the team in scoring with 26 goals and 51 points, but his -51 rating was the worst in the league.
Radek Smolenak, LW – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Height: 6’3, Weight: 204 lbs., DOB: December 3, 1986
In his second season in the OHL with the Kingston
Frontenacs, Radek Smolenak showed he has consistency. In his rookie season in
2004-05 he led all rookies in the OHL with 31 goals and his 60 points were
fourth-best for a first-year player. This season he was third on the Frontenacs
in scoring with 84 points. He had a team-high 42 goals and a +19 rating.
Smolenak was named OHL player-of-the-week Mar. 13 for an eight-point
performance in three games. Kingston is currently trailing their first-round
playoff series against the Sudbury Wolves with one win in three tries. Smolenak
has two assists and a -3 rating in the series.
RW – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Height: 6’3, Weight: 208 lbs., DOB: February 13,
Marek Bartanus joined the Owen Sound Attack in
2005-06, his first season in the OHL and North America. The native of Slovakia
has been criticized in the past for his lack of leadership and laziness.
Bartanus possesses a good set of skills; a hard slap shot, smooth stickhandling
and the ability to drive hard to the net, but his lack of intensity has brought
his stock down. In 49 games this season he had seven goals, 19 points and a -14
rating. Owen Sound leads their playoff series against the Kitchener Rangers two
games to one. Bartanus has been valuable to the Attack in the series scoring two
goals and one assist.
|Owen Sound Attack||GP||G||A||PTS||+/-||PIM|
RW – Mississauga IceDogs (OHL)
Height: 6’4, Weight: 217 lbs., DOB: February 5, 1987
On Dec. 5, 2005, Chris Lawrence was part of a
three-player deal that saw him head to the Mississauga IceDogs from the Sault
Ste. Marie Greyhounds. In 68 games with the Greyhounds in 2004-05 he had 11
goals and 51 points, good for third on the team. Lawrence has a lot of potential
and could see that develop with work on his strength and physical play. The
trade did boost his numbers this season. In 29 games with the Greyhounds prior
to the deal he had three goals and 17 points and in 38 games with the IceDogs he
had 20 goals and 36 points. His 53 points in total were good for third on the
team. Mississauga failed to make the playoffs this season.
Kevin Beech, G – Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
Height: 6’4, Weight: 177 lbs., DOB: September 23, 1986
After a tough start to the season Kevin Beech
improved on his play this season with the Sudbury Wolves. In 21 games last
season he had nine wins, a 2.65 goals against average and two shutouts. Known to
have problems with consistency and a lanky frame, Beech played his first season
with the Wolves as a starter in 2005-06. In 63 games he had 33 wins, a 2.94
goals against average and a .906 save percentage. Beech has backstopped the
Wolves to a two and one record in the playoffs, leading the Kingston Frontenacs.
His postseason play so far has left him with a .941 save percentage, 2.00 goals
against average and one shutout.
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