Part 1: The background.
Flash back to the 1997 Frozen Four championship game. A sophomore at North Dakota, named Adam Calder was given the assignment of Hobey Baker Runner-Up and Boston University junior Chris Drury. Alongside Jeff Ulmer and Matt Henderson, Drury was taken from Hobey Baker runner-up to virtual anonymity on the score sheet. After that game, and through the next two years, Calder helped North Dakota become poised for another title, which they won in 2000. Every year Calder played, the Fighting Sioux made it to the Frozen Four, benefited by his strong two-way play. In 2000, Calder had moved on to help rebuild a team for a Championship.
In 1997, eight weeks after the Fighting Sioux won their NCAA Championship, the South Carolina Stingrays won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup, becoming the first team in the league to win both the regular season and playoff crowns. Four years later, Calder and Drury both played for championships in their respective leagues, and both were successful in their endeavors, but the question that still remains is why a very talented two-way forward with an excellent hockey IQ remains in the lower echelons, while other players with less talent and lighter work ethics have made the jump to the AHL and NHL.
Calder, a 5’11 185lb. forward, went undrafted and was found by South Carolina Stingrays head coach Rick Adduono three weeks before the ECHL began training camp. Calder had an immediate impact on the Stingrays, despite missing almost two months of the season with a knee injury and Call-up to Rochester. On the first road trip of Read more »
What promises to be one of the busiest and most interesting off-seasons ever has gotten started early here in Toronto. The Maple Leafs have already completed a trade that was disallowed by the NHL (but may yet happen), signed a coveted junior free agent (more on this tomorrow) and have now completed a second very significant transaction with the Coyotes. Coming to Toronto are centermen Robert Reichel and Travis Green along with minor league right winger Craig Mills. Both Reichel and Green were immediately signed to new multi-year deals by the Maple Leafs.
Robert Reichel, who had been a restricted free agent, has been playing in the Czech Extra League for the past 2 seasons after failing to come to terms with the Coyotes in 1999. This hiatus, by the way, marked the second time that Reichel had been motivated by a contract impasse with his NHL team to play in Europe. Jan Buben, HF’s European Correspondent, calls Reichel an “electrifying offensive talent with superlative playmaking skills” and further states that his stature in the Czech Republic rivals that of anyone ever produced by that hockey mad nation – including Pittsburgh’s Jaromir Jagr. Reichel has recently served as the captain of both his club team in Litvinov and also of the Czech National Team. His presence in the Toronto line-up next season greatly improves the team’s chances of opening up a consistent second offensive front behind the Mats Sundin troika.
Travis Green brings a very different set of skills to the Maple Leafs. Although he has scored 20 or more goals in 3 different NHL seaso Read more »
The Vancouver Canucks are selecting 16th in the 2001 NHL entry draft.
With this pick they don’t have much of a chance at getting a goalie that will help them in the long run. Dan Blackburn and Pascal Leclaire are two goalies that are highly rated and have been highly scouted. They both have promising careers in the NHL. With the Canucks selecting 16th this year, the chances of either one of them getting drafted by Brian Burke and the Canucks very unlikely.
The only way that the Canucks would have a chance at getting either one of them was if a team like the New York Rangers made a deal. Since the Rangers are in need of a young goalie in their system, this is very unlikely. The Canucks need a team that does not need a goalie to make a deal with a team that needs a young goalie. Rumors are already swirling about the possibility of Jagr going to the Rangers, but there also is the possibility that Mike Peca or one of the Sabres many good young goalies to be dealt. Anything is possible. But the chances of the Canucks getting either Blackburn or Leclaire are very unlikely.
I also think that the possibility or the Canucks trading their pick if a goalie is not available a very likely situation. The Canucks obviously lack penalty killing strength, and a point man on the power play. With the pick they have this year it is possible that the Canucks could deal it for a power forward type right winger. Someone like a Brad Isbister.
Short preview of Slovak players mentioned in CSB ranking:
North America - players
#33 Tomas Malec 13/05/1982 6'1" 185 D Rimouski QMJHL
#36 Igor Pohanka 05/07/1983 6'3" 185 C Prince Albert WHL
#73 Marek Svatos 17/07/1982 5'9" 170 RW Kootenay WHL
#103 Frantisek Skladany 22/04/1982 5'11" 180 LW Boston Univ. HE
#117 Milan Jurcina 07/06/1983 6'4" 190 D Halifax QMJHL
North America - goalies
#8 Peter Budaj 18/09/1982 6'0" 200 G Toronto OHL
#14 Jan Chovan 07/09/1983 5'11" 178 G Belleville OHL
Europe - players
#21 Tomas Slovak 05/04/1983 6'1" 191 D Kosice Extraliga
#48 Tomas Surovy 24/09/1981 6'0" 191 C/W Poprad Extraliga
#60 Ivan Kolozvary 16/02/1983 6'0" 169 W Trencin Jr. Juniors
#73 Peter Polcik 23/07/1983 6'4" 187 LW Nitra Jr. Juniors
#83 Michal Kolarik 08/10/1982 6'3" 196 C Trinec Jr. Czech Jrs.
#87 Peter Macek 13/05/1983 6'1" 165 D B.Bystrica Division I
#96 Lukas Srnka 25/02/1982 6'3" 176 W Trencin Jr. Juniors
#108 Rene Jarolin 16/09/1981 6'3" 191 C S.N.Ves Division I
#109 Dominik Granak 11/06/1983 5'11" 163 D Trencin Jr. Juniors
#113 Martin Zajac 25/10/1981 6'2" 212 D Trencin Extraliga
#121 Tomas Frolo 26/01/1982 6'1" 194 D Vsetin Jr. Czech Jrs.
#122 Karol Sloboda 16/05/1983 6'0" 172 D Trencin Jr. Juniors
In spi Read more »
Big Change in Utah
A week ago, the Stars completely vaporized the Grizzlies coaching staff. Head coach Bob Bourne and assistant coach Jason Taylor were both fired, while popular assistant coach Craig Ludwig was promoted to the Dallas Stars organization as an assitant. Now, ex-Calgary Flames coach Don Hay, who is a good friend of Stars coach Ken Hitchcock, is rumored to be one of
the leading candidates to take over the job. Ex-Islanders coach Butch Goring, another member of the Islanders dynasty team,
has also been mentioned as a possibility.
More shockingly, in the wake of these events inthecrease.com is reporting that the Stars are in the midst of dramtically scaling back
their minor league operations. The Stars are expected to share their affliate Utah Grizzlies, who have just moved from the disbanded IHL to the AHL, with the Florida Panthers.
Apparently, the Stars will join forces with Florida in running the team and stocking it with
talent next year, and Dallas is now expected to scale back the number of under-contract minor leaguers — keeping only a handful
signed for next year. The money they will save is reportedly going to be used to help Dallas sign free agents this summer
and increase the salaries of their NHL’ers. This combined with the expected 10% budget increase (around $5 million) and the money
saved on players like Hull (over $7 million), Donato, Maclean, and Ledyard should free up serious budgetary room for Gainey.
Read more »
The Canucks have been a very poor drafting team in their history, but they are very much a team on the rise. Since Brian Burke took over, he has been able to instill in level of confidence in the Canucks system, and despite making a few questionable trades in the past, he has a good record as the Canucks’ General Manager.
Burke’s drafting record has been very solid in his three seasons in running the Canucks. He has drafted some very good players in the first round, such as Bryan Allen, and the Sedins, and some solid hopes for the future in the later rounds, such as Rene Vydareny, Brandon Reid, and Artem Chubarov.
The Canucks, despite being the team who has the most going for them, going into this draft, are still very much a work in progress. There are still some very pressing needs which need to be addressed through immediate action (Free-Agency) or through the future. (Draft)
One position which the Canucks need some immediate help in is in net. They continue to have break hearts with poor goaltending. The Canucks haven’t drafted a goaltender since Kevin Swanson in 1999, and he has panned out just fine, but more is needed.
The Canucks are pretty deep on the wings, and rather solid on D, with prospects such as Zenith Komarniski and others down in Manitoba, who are NHL-ready. There is a lot of depth at centre in the minors, with guys like Chubarov and Holden, but this is an area of possible need.
The Chicago Wolves begin play in a new league and have a new NHL affiliation for next season.
They were one of six teams that moved to the American Hockey League from the International Hockey League, which officially folded. The Wolves confirmed they will be an affiliate of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers.
At least three key players from the Wolves’ IHL days will remain. Right wing Rob Brown, defenseman Bob Nardella and left wing and captain Steve Maltais signed contracts for next season.
The Wolves will operate under new rules when the AHL begins its 67th season in October. The AHL allows a team to dress only seven players who have played more than 260 professional games.
“That’ll be a huge change,” said Brown, an 11-year NHL veteran who has played three seasons with the Wolves. “We’ll get a lot of young kids who are just starting out. They will energize us.”
Wolves chairman Don Levin long has been against a full affiliation with an NHL club, but the AHL requires it. Last season the Wolves had a partial affiliation with the New York Islanders but also took players on loan from six other NHL teams.
“I consider it a full affiliation when [the NHL club] unloads a truck and brings in all the players and coaches,” Levin said. “I’m still against that. But we still have our own general manager [Kevin Cheveldayoff] and our own coach [John Anderson].”
Don Waddell, the Thrashers’ general manager, said he and Cheveldayoff will work together to determine the Wolves’ roster.
“This cou Read more »
Kootenay’s move greeted with cautious optimism
When the notion of the Kootenay ICE
moving to the WHL’s West Division
surfaced, there were two main concerns,
rivalries and cost. With the
announcement this past week that
Kootenay had been realigned by the
WHL to the new B.C. Division of the
Western Conference, the development
of an unbalanced schedule would ensure
that the ICE would maintain established
rivalries with Calgary, Red Deer,
Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.
Addressing the issue of cost with the
increased travel into the B.C. Interior
and the U.S. with its currency
discrepancy however, is something that
won’t be gauged until the end of the
In the eyes of ICE vice-president Jeff
Chynoweth, the move is something that
will benefit the league as a whole, even
if all the benefits don’t immediately fall
on the side of the Kootenay ICE. “It’s
always been the way we’ve operated,”
said Chynoweth of the hockey club. “I
think it’s going to be good for the
league. When you’re one member of
nineteen teams, the old cliche applies in
that you’re only as strong as your
weakest link and if this will strengthen
the whole chain then will all be better for
Chynoweth noted that maintaining the
already established rivalries of the ICE
was key to any move of the ICE to the
West. “For us, it’s always been the
rivalries,” remarked Chynoweth. “We
just can’t lose Calgary. If you look at
our four games here last year, they were
all sold-out. Their four games t Read more »
Neither Pavel Brendl or Jamie Lundmark have ever played in a regular
season NHL game. Yet that might not matter. One of them might be the reason
Jaromir Jagr becomes a New York Ranger. Many sources sight the Rangers have
already offered Mike York and Tomas Kloucek for Jagr. Pens GM Craig Patrick
is said to be holding out for either Lundmark or Brendl to be added to the
deal. The decision then falls on Rangers GM Glen Sather.
With the recent signings of Barrett Heisten and Matt Kinch and the
possible addition of Layne Ulmer, the Rangers could mortgage either Brendl or
Lundmark. In my opinion I would hand away Lundmark first. The Rangers who
never score much , could use the instant offense Brendl is known for. Yet
with all those prospects just signed, a deep crop to begin with and the 10th
overall pick in the 2001 Entry Draft, this deal seems like a no brainer to
Pens fans should be very happy if this deal goes through. Your getting a
great young two way player in York, a injured , yet solid 6’3 defenseman in
Kloucek and one of the best prospects in all of the NHL. All this for a guy
your team can’t sign anyway. Both teams are winners if this deal happens.
Keyword, IF this deal happens.
The Pittsburgh Penguins draft time strategy has been announced by General Mannager Craig Patrick and as usual it remains cliche. Patrick has said that the team will select the best player available regardless of position or team needs. However, insiders have a different notion as to which direction Patrick may lean.
Seven of Pittsburgh’s last eleven first round selections have been Europeans. Four of that group have been Czech. That is why many believe that with a Czech head coach and definitive pattern for picking Euro bred talent, the Pens will be seeking one of the following prospects.
A glaring lack of offense from the blue line lead some to speculate that the Pens will be looking at mobile defenseman Lukas Krojicek. Lukas, a 6’1″ 180lbs. rear guard, hails from Prostajov in the Czech Republic. The 18 year old spent the 00-01 season with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes where he compiled 8 goals and 27 assists in 61 matches. He posted 27 points in 53 games for his junior club in 99-00.
If Lukas is unavailable at the time of Pittsburgh’s pick, look for them to chase Pardubice, Czech Republic native Ales Hemsky. The 5’11” 173lbs. right wing notched 36 goals for the QMJHL’s Hull Olympiques last season. He also managed 64 assists in his 68 appearances. Scouts have noted that the winger is not that tough, but he possesses lots of scoring prowess. Some go as far as saying that he exhibits several traits similar to his NHL idol, Jaromir Jagr.
Although Patrick holds true to form and claims that his staff have no clear cut Read more »