Joni Pitkanen is 2002 eligible Finnish defenceman, who is playing for his
hometown Oulu in Finnish SM-liiga. Many experts believe that Pitkanen is
one of the best Finnish defenceman prospects ever.
Here are some parts of the interview done by
Kari Heikkinen and that was originally
published in Finnish hockey site Jatkoaika.com
before the Four Nations U20 tournament that was played in Vaasa, Finland last week.
Q: What are your first memories of hockey?
A: There is a long winter in Oulu, and we used to live near the Rannanperä rink.
First I just wwent to to rink with boots to hustle, but later we bought a skates for me.
I remember that I listened Karpatgames from radio and there was a lot of hockey on TV,
so that has had an influence on me. My dad or my bother didn’t play, so I didn’t get
the spark from there.
I started playing at the age of five and joined a team when I was seven.
I was a bid nervous about joining a real team, but then I encouraged myself and now I’m
Q: Who are your idols in hockey and sports all in all? Reijo Ruotsalainen? Janne Niinimaa?
A: There are many of them, but maybe Reijo Ruotsalainen, as he is from Oulu. And Mario
Lemieux, altough he is a forward. When I started to follow NHL he had just won two
Stanley Cups. Niinimaa is still quite young, but when he trains with us I follow
what he does. He is quite a player.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a player? How about in five years time?< Read more »
Born in Jihlava, Czech Republic, Marian Havel is the latest gem from the once hockey famous
city. Thirty years ago the mighty Jihlava dynasty ruled the Czechoslovakian First League
(the same level as the Czech Extraleague right now), winning an unprecendented number
of championship titles. Generation of players like the Jiri and Jaroslav Holik (father of
Devils’ Bobby Holik), current Czech senior national team coach Josef Augusta or defenseman
Jan Suchy is unforgettable in the minds of fans of the Jihlava team. After winning the last of
the 11 championship titles in early 90’s the level of hockey in Jihlava began slowly to decrease and
after some time the team found itself in the Czech Div I league, where it is till now. Still,
solid players learned the tools of the hockey trade in Jihlava and quality players were risen.
For example Josef Marha, the former NHLer, now in the Swiss Elite League. When looking
at the rearguards, then you can see Marek Posmyk, the Tampa Bay Lightining player, who
is now playing for Zlin, but is from Jihlava, or Petr Svoboda, in the system of Toronto Maple
Leafs. The last one with very solid chances on a NHL career is without doubt the offensive
sparkplug Marian Havel.
Marian Havel was the youngster of a hockey family. His dad, a hockey coach, brought both his
sons to the game. The older Lukas just like the three years younger Marian. So Marian had
hockey all around him and it was only a question of time before he also starts to attend
regular hockey practices. He could see his brother taking the first strides and his dad Read more »
Johnny Boychuk, a right-handed shooting defenseman with the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen. Boychuk is a player who delivers crushing body checks, has good overall mobility, and a hard low slap-shot from the point. His biggest asset is that he consistently makes smart plays with or without the puck in his own zone. In this installment of a series of interviews with the top players in the juniors, Hockey’s Future sits down with this potential top 15 first round draft pick for next years NHL Entry Draft.
Hockey’s Future: Even with the NHL Entry Draft 7 months away, does your potential ranking among the first round have any effect on your play this season?
Johnny Boychuk: I try to do as much as I can while still playing my position, not allow my thoughts to wander on things I cannot control.
HF: Are their any attributes about your game that you think would be appealing to NHL scouts?
Johnny Boychuk: Definitely my physical play and making good first passes out of the defensive zone.
HF: After having a pretty successful rookie season, what are your biggest challenges coming into this season?
Johnny Boychuk: There is a challenge for me to show that last season was not a fluke.
HF: By showing the coaching staff your dependable play early in the season, your ice time in all situations has increased especially in penalty killing. Does that give you the confidence that you can be relied upon in key times during the game?
Johnny Boychuk: I believe my attention to detail is the lar Read more »
In their short history, the OHL’s Erie Otters have developed several fine NHL prospects for the pro game. Former Otters stars such as Tim Connolly, Nikita Alexeev and Michael Rupp have had their names called in the 1st round of the NHL Draft, while current standouts Brad Boyes and Carlo Colaiacovo both have more recently had that honor bestowed upon them by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
While Erie may not continue their string of 1st round magic in this year’s draft, there will be at least 2 or 3 names called from the Otters’ roster at the 2002 NHL Draft in June. One of those players, U.S.-born defenseman Brian Lee (6’2″, 187 lbs.), could have his name called in the 2nd or 3rd round. The Michigan native was ranked 50th amongst North American skaters on the Central Scouting Bureau’s Mid-Season Rankings.
After a season in which Brian saw limited ice time, he has come on during the 2001-02 campaign to provide solid defensive play for the Otters. The left-shooting rearguard won’t necessarily break any scoring records, but Lee’s steady style of play should catch the eye of a NHL GM looking for a defensive defenseman with a little skill and size.
I spoke with Brian prior to a recent Otters game, with the transcript of that conversation appearing below. “HF” represents the questions asked by the interviewer, while “BL” denotes Brian’s answers.
: You didn’t get to play a lot last year, but this year, you’ve really made great strides. To what do you attribu Read more »
I’ve recently had the opportunity to ask Minnesota High School Hockey standout and Coleraine native, Gino Guyer, a few questions. He was a dominant force at Greenway High School, notching 81 points in 24 regular season games. Next year Guyer will be attending the University of Minnesota with fellow high school teammate Andy Sertich. Guyer is ranked #40 in the mid-term CSB rankings among North American skaters.
Q. In today’s game many players skip junior or senior years to play juniors or go to the NTDP, do you think not doing this has affected you in any way?
A. I think in some ways it may have affected me, but I knew that by not playing juniors I would have to work harder during the season and the off season. So, in a way it has been a motivator for me. It may take me a little longer to adjust to the college game but I feel I can do it.
Q. Was Major Juniors ever an option or were you decided it was the NCAA route all the way?
A. I met with a coach about Major Juniors in my sophomore year because the team had me protected. I thought about it for a little bit but I felt a college education was more important.
Q. Why did you chose the University of Minnesota and how difficult was it to select a college?
A. I chose Minnesota because in the end that’s what felt right. It was a tough decision. All the places were great schools and hockey programs but it was just a feeling I had.
Q. What are your goals at University of Minnesota next year?
A. My goals are to try and be an impact player as quick as possible. I want to be able to Read more »
The statistics are SM-Liiga (Finnish elite league) regular season statistics unless specified otherwise. Some of the players may not fit the prospect criteria, but that doesn’t mean they won’t be future NHL players. I will post a summary of the top Finnish prospects’ performances in about four weeks from now after the playoffs are over. In the meantime, feel free to jump to all kinds of colorful conclusions when analyzing the statistics. Mikko Koivu, for one, is a particularly juicy target.
Mikael Holmqvist, C
TPS: 56 GP, 9 G, 13 A, 22 P, 16 PIM, +17
Samu Isosalo, LW
Lukko: 4 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 P, 2 PIM, -2
Lukko (Jr.A): 2 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 P, 2 PIM, +1
Tommi Santala, C
HPK: 17 GP, 6 G, 16 A, 22 P, 14 PIM, +20
Vladimir Sicak, D
HPK: 55 GP, 10 G, 8 A, 18 P, 20 PIM, +4
Zdenek Smid, G
HPK: 18 GP, 10-4-3, 2 SO, 2.50 GAA, .896 SV%
Jaakko Harikkala, D
Lukko: 47 GP, 4 G, 8 A, 12 P, 40 PIM, -12
Tuukka Mäkelä, D
HPK: 49 GP, 2 G, 3 A, 5 P, 44 PIM, +6
HPK (Jr.A): 12 GP, 3 G, 0 A, 3 P, 26 PIM, +12
Ville Hämäläinen*, C
SaiPa: 53 GP, 4 G, 9 A, 13 P, 21 PIM, -10
Tomi Mäki, LW
Jokerit: 8 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, 2 PIM, even Read more »
It’s been a hockey story eighteen years in the making and although the plot has been it’s juiciest the past three or four winters, the book is within just months of it’s climax, at least of volume one. This story is about a kid out of Edmonton who they say can skate as effortlessly as water flowing down a river, has all the modern tools of the game in his shot and natural size and seemingly can control or change the outcome of game if he so desires.
His name is Jay Bouwmeester (pronounced Boo-meester) and this year is his official breaking out, or rather the breaking in party to possible stardom in the NHL.
Ever since the Medicine Hat Tigers drafted the kid that had many scrambling how to pronounce his vowel-filled last name with the first overall pick in the 1998 WHL Bantam Draft, Bouwmeester has been high on the radar of every NHL Scout on the continent. And from game one with the Tigers the defensive prodigy that had scouts dropping their donuts and spilling their coffees did not disappoint, nor would he for the next three WHL seasons, one more than most highly-touted draft picks get because of two days. Bouwmeester was born two days shy of the September 25 deadline for players eligible for the NHL Draft the year they turn eighteen and hence was not part of a stellar 1983-born NHL Draft class that included the likes of Dan Blackburn, Dan Hamhuis, Shaonne Morrison and Colby Armstrong.
Pegged to go number one in the 2001 Draft for the last three years, you might think the pressure could get to a teenager treated like the second coming of Coffey or perha Read more »
The small city Tabor in the south of the Czech Republic isn’t well-known outside the Czech
borders. History fans may know that in the 15th century the city was the main base of the
Husits, people fighting against all the evil in the catholic church in the Czech countries,
and also leaving a waste land on the places, where the battles took place. After they were
finally defeated in 1434, there was nothing for what Tabor would be known for. But die-hard
NHL fans may be aware of the fact, that some quality prospects who turned into NHLers were
born in Tabor. Just as the case is by New York Rangers’ Radek Dvorak or former Tampa Bay
Lightning Jaroslav Svejkovsky, both of them being first-rounders. And coming 2002, there is
another prospect for the draft, who has the tools to develop into a solid NHL player. Even
if he doesn’t look like a sure-fire first round talent. The guy I’m talking about is
defenseman Michal Barinka, a standout for the Ceske Budejovice juniors and the Czech Under-18
Michal Barinka was born in a family, where not his father, but his mother was involved in
hockey action. She was a teacher at an elementary school for sports, where hockey is the
main subject. She loved the game and her biggest dream was having her little son playing
hockey. So it was quite logical, that she brought him to the game very soon and Michal was
admitted to play for the C team of the youngest kids in Tabor when he was five years old.
As a tall guy, Michal was put by coach Rene Skalicky to the defenseman position and he felt
very comfortale there. He had Read more »