1296 games, 3888 periods, 233,280 minutes of play (not counting overtime), over two million fans and now the fun begins. With the second season upon us, it just wouldn’t be the playoffs if we didn’t have predictions. So without further adieu, I submit for your perusal a glimpse of the first round match-ups of the 2001 edition of the WHL Playoffs. Of course as always, these predictions are solely for the purpose of entertainment and in no way are they to be taken seriously. Unless, of course, I get them right.
Western Conference - In the wacky West, where the difference from first to worst was only a handful of points all season long, the clubs’ position in the standings was as volatile as the stock market. You never knew which one was going to go up or go down. Take into consideration that at Press time, the match-ups for the Western Division clubs could still change. With two or three games left to played for most of the clubs in the West, it accentuates how close the teams really are.
Kelowna/Prince George - It would be easy to pick the top-seeded Rockets in this clash if only because of the Cougars being something of an enigma this season. Starting out the season with four wins in their first twenty games and then picking it up to go on a seventeen-game undefeated streak only to slump in the last quarter of the season. The Rockets have been steady all season long and even if the Cougars get hot. the only thing they’ll do is prolong the series. Rockets get their first-ever franchise playoff series win in six games.
Portland/Seattle – Read more »
Otter on Fire Again
Windor Spitfires forward Steve Ott has had a fantastic week and half. In each of his last three games (OHL), Ott has scored a hat trick (and two game winning goals). For his 6 goals and 7 points last week Steve Ott has also earned “Mac’s OHL Player of the Week” recognition for the week ending Sunday March 18, 2001.
18-year-old Ott, improved his season total to 49 goals and 37 assists for 86 points in 54 games
The left wing position has always been a difficult one to fill for the Buffalo Sabres, at least via the draft. Buffalo has had a handful of successes at the draft table when drafting for the left side, with the most notable choices being Rick Martin, Craig Ramsay and Tony McKegney, but those picks were made many years ago. Most of the Sabres’ LW choices have instead been of the journeyman variety, at best, or the picks have simply never made it past the minors.
Buffalo currently has some quantity when it comes to LW prospects, but few are blessed with great skill, and at least one will likely not become a part of the organization. That one black sheep, Barrett Heisten, also happens to be Buffalo’s best prospect at this position. Barrett has yet to sign a contract with the Sabres, so, due to the Mike Van Ryn loophole in the CBA, should Barrett not sign by 6/1/01, he will become a free agent available to the highest bidder. Buffalo would receive compensation should Barrett sign with another team (probably a 2nd Round compensation pick), so the blow of losing Heisten would be somewhat softened.
Given that Barrett is technically still a Buffalo prospect (and he could certainly still sign with the Sabres), it should be noted that Heisten is having a productive, though not spectacular, 1st junior season. Heisten is playing for the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, where he is currently 3rd in scoring for that team. Barrett got off to a hot start Read more »
See Prospect Ranking for more information on this future Ranger. Thank you Eugene Belashenko for the information and please visit his site for more information on Russian prospects www.russianprospects.com
Defenceman Kent Huskins helped Clarkson to a 4-1 over Vermont on Friday as he had two assists. The 1998 draftpick has a total of 5 goals and 26 assists in 31 games… Austrian forward Matthias Trattnig had two assists as he helped his Maine to a 4-2 win over Providence. The senior has now scored 9 goals and added 10 assists for 19 points in 31 games… Freshman goalie Adam Berkhoel won his 7th game of the season as he made 29 saves in Denver’s 8-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth. Berkhoel improved his record to 7-4-1 with a 2.89 GAA… After losing four straight, goalie Michael Leighton picked up his 27th win on Friday as Windsor won 5-1 over Guelph. Leighton made 31 saves and his record now stands at 27-12-4 with a 2.78 GAA…
Kent Huskins (5+27 in 32 games) had an assist as he helped Clarkson to a 4-2 win over Dartmouth on Saturday. With the win Clarkson captured the ECAC regular-season title and will host Vermont in the first playoff-round… Forward Mattias Wennerberg scored once and added an assist as his Boden won 6-3 over Tierp lastnight. Wennerberg, who has scored 5 points (3+2) in his last 3 games, has a total of 9 goals and 4 assists in 27 games… Forward Tyler Arnason scored his 24th goal of the season and added two assists in St. Clouds 5-2 win over Minnesota and now has 45 points (24+21) in 36 games… Goalie Michael Leighton followed up his 31 saves performance on Friday with a 30 saves performance lastnight as he lead his Windsor to a 4-1 win over Owen Sound. With the win Leighton won his 28th game (28-12-4) and lowered his GAA to 2.74…
Read more »
The playoffs are a month away. The postseason roster is set; the Washington Capitals have arguably given up on the team as far as this season is concerned; the Pirates are hanging on to the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with the skin of their teeth; and the defense might be in the worst shape of the season. If this were the movies, the Portland Pirates would be a shoo-in for the Calder Cup. Unfortunately, Emilio Estevez is now where to be seen, and it’s going to take a lot of hard work and a pinch of luck for the Pirates to make a run for it.
Defensive woes have been this season’s theme. Despite remarkable goal-scoring capabilities from nearly every member of the team, scoring four or five goals a night has not been securing enough wins. The arrival of goaltender Corey Hirsch helped to restore confidence, and there have been more patches of solid defensive work, but the team remains the most scored upon in the league.
The Portland Pirates announced their Playoff Clear Day Roster earlier this week. Currently, the defense consists of Patrick Boileau, Mike Farrell, Jakub Ficenec, Nathan Forster, Jean-François Fortin, Jamie Huscroft, Dean Melanson, and Todd Rohloff. There is the possibility of the addition of up to two players from the junior leagues and two more from Europe. This could include defensemen Steve Shirreffs returning from Finland and Michael Sivek from the Czech Republic, both of whom would be huge boosts for the roster.
Unfortunately, the return o Read more »
In case you don’t read much about hockey or have been living in a cave, the Capitals made a couple of moves that could turn out to have a serious impact on the upcoming postseason. The one that really sticks out is the acquisition of Trevor Linden and Danius Zubrus from Montreal in exchange for Richard Zednik and Jan Bulis. The Capitals also traded their first round pick in the upcoming draft in exchange for New Jersey’s second round pick to sweeten the deal for Montreal. Washington also acquired Jason Marshall from Anaheim in exchange for Alexei Tezikov and a fourth-round pick, and swapped AHLers by trading Matt Herr to the Flyers for defenseman Dean Melanson. John and I will look at these deals and try to see what they mean for the Capitals and their affiliates, both in the short and long term.
The Deal With Montreal:
Washington gets: Trevor Linden (some salary picked up by Montreal), Danius Zubrus, New Jersey’s 2001 second round pick
Montreal gets: Richard Zednik, Jan Bulis, Washington’s 2001 first round pick
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Pre-Mike Smith picks who may help.
Mark Bell is the flat out best prospect picked by anyone besides Mike Smith. The Hawks were able to trade up with Toronto since the leafs felt that no one suspected they would reach with Nicky Antropov, so the Leafs felt comfortable dropping down two slots.
Mark was pressured early to contribute two bad Hawk clubs and the speed of the NHL game and expectations viewing him a regular were factors Mark had trouble overcoming.
Although Kent Huskin’s Clarkson team did not survive the first round of the ECAC Tournament, he is another Ottawa born player who has the size and abilities that make the parent club take notice. He is not yet 21 and will probably be again selected to the ECAC All-Star team.
Another college player making noise in heard by the Hawk brass is Centre Tyler Arnason of St. Cloud. He has improved in his goal scoring with 14, 19, and 24 goals in the WCHA. His father scored 109 goals in the NHL from 1972-79, so his bloodlines are good. He is a good face-off man with scoring touch. His passing ability is why he has been asked to play the point on the power play i Read more »
Assignment to Norfolk has enabled him to develop and return to playing without thinking, something he said he was guilty of doing in his Blackhawk tryout. It would be no surprise to this writer if Bell eventually ends up as one of the Hawk four centres. The Blackhawk commitment to Zhamnov, Nylander, and the emergence of Chris Herperger, leaves Bell in a position where he must show he is better than other proven vets already established.
Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.
Blueline makeover continues: After studying several other market opportunities, the Maple Leafs opted to stay with the organization’s long term focus on deadline day … rather than chasing any of the veteran blueliners available (Lumme, Housley, Houlder, Leschyshyn, Slegr, Svehla, Hedican etc.), Toronto obtained a player whose best years are still decidedly in front of him … Aki-Petteri Berg was selected 3rd overall by Los Angeles in the 1995 Entry Draft, behind only fellow defenders Bryan Berard and Wade Redden … a 5 year NHL veteran at the tender age of 23, Berg has thus far failed to live up to the lofty expectations attached to him during his junior career … Aki certainly has prototypical NHL size (6-3, 220) and is an extremely fast and agile skater … these two factors have allowed the strapping Finn to deliver many devastating hits already during his young career … it would be fair to say that Berg is mainly a “non-factor” on the attack at this point and that he still has much to learn about defensive play as well … during the 1998/1999 season, Aki played for Turku in the Finnish League following a nasty and prolonged contract dispute with the Kings … Berg joins a burgeoning group of young blueliners in the Toronto organization (Kaberle, McCabe, Markov, Belak, Svoboda, Rourke, Zion, Zavoral and others) and this key position could Read more »
Ernst Höfner, coach from the under-20 german national-team, rated the
players, who played at the B-junior-world-junior-championship.
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G Dimitri Pätzold (TSV Erding Jets/Second League)
+ many self-confidence
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G Dimitrij Kotschnew (Crocodiles Hamburg/Third League)