The European regular seasons start up to a month earlier than the North American leagues. Here are current updates on the performances of some Flyers prospects playing in Europe.
Antero Niittymäki- One of the frustrating aspects of European hockey is that young players typically have difficulty getting ice time over veterans unless the vet is injured or plays himself out of the job. By all rights, the TPS Turku starting goaltending job should have belonged to Antero Niittymäki at the start of this season. After winning the league rookie of the year honors and backstopping his team to the Finnish championship last season, there was scarcely more that Niittymäki could have done to prove his worthiness of being the full-time TPS starter. Instead, veteran Fredrik Norrena has once again resumed duties as the #1 goalie for TPS. Niittymäki only played one full game coming into this past week, looking poor in a TPS loss. However, Niittymäki finally got the nod for his second start of the season and put up a 20 save shutout. He has played 140 minutes so far on the season.
Marko Kauppinen- Kauppinen has started 7 of Jokerit’s 8 games so far. He scored a goal in the first week of the season, his only point to date. Kauppinen has been getting steadier ice time but still does not play heavy minutes. He has only been on the ice for one goal against so far.
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Those mysterious forces that have moved so many from Toronto to the Windy City during the past several months have now borne Alexander Karpovtsev away. In truth, Potsie’s fate was all but sealed when he announced to the assembled Leafs’ brass last spring that he intended to become an unrestricted free agent at the conclusion of the 2000/2001 season. Several reasonably generous multi-year offers from the club in the ensuing months failed to alter the big Russian’s mindset. Thus, it was certainly no surprise when the Maple Leafs dealt Karpovtsev to Chicago today, bringing to an end a very long and sometimes acrimonious impasse. It has been reported that the Black Hawks have already agreed on a new 4 year, 12 million dollar deal with their new blueliner.
With the regular season fast approaching and the team’s other defenders performing at something less than top form of late, Toronto clearly was not in a mood to wait much longer. That being the case, it is rather amazing that the Leafs were able to engineer such a useful trade. In exchange for a 30 year old, free agency bound, often injured, slow footed, stay-at-home defenseman Toronto receives a highly regarded 25 year-old replacement.
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Going into this training camp, there were realistically 2-3 open spots for new blood to make their mark on a rapidly improving Panther team. With their last pre-season game in Louisville tonight, the Panthers headed back to Florida with what is essentially their final roster.
After a very competitive rookie camp at all positions, 3 of the 6 players in contention for the job will start the season in the NHL.
Denis Shvidki beat out Ivan Novoseltsev in a highly entertaining pre-season showdown. Both players were among the scoring leaders in the pre-season, and both impressed Bryan Murray enough that he is fairly confident that both of them will be stars in the NHL. Denis was slightly favored in this competition due to his all-around game, as opposed to Ivan’s emphasis toward being a one-dimensional goal scorer. Shvidki was able to play on all 4 lines and contribute offensively in scoring goals and setting them up, and he scored 8 points in 7 games. He shared 2 games playing with Bure and Larionov, and also played several games sharing his line with the grinders, such as Paul Laus and Marcus Nilson. Bottom line on Shvidki…he simply showed the Panthers that he can bring slightly more to the roster at this point that Ivan was able to. This battle was won by the slimmest of margins.
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The Nashville Predators finalized their regular season roster last night, as the final cuts were made and a pair of rookies got some very good news. Scott Hartnell, Nashville’s first round pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft, and Greg Classen, a free agent signee from Merrimack College, both made the team and will make the trip to Japan as the Predators begin the 2000-01 season with a pair of games against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Hartnell made the team through hard work and determination. He came to camp intent on winning a roster spot and forcing the Predators to go against their usual policy of being patient and letting players develop in juniors or the minors. It helped that Hartnell finally got his first goal of the pre-season on Friday night against Chicago. Hartnell finished the pre-season with a goal and an assist in five games, but it was his steady performance in practice and scrimmages that convinced head coach Barry Trotz that he is ready for the NHL.
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Marc-Andre Thinel -F (Drafted-99(5/145))
The 5’11″, 170 Lbs. Thinel has played 6 games with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL. He has 3 goals and 7 assists, including three consecutive 3-point games. He is +1, with 8 penalty minutes. Two of his goals were scored on the powerplay, while 1 was scored short-handed.
Jerome Marois -LW (Drafted-99(9/253))
An off-season trade brought the 6’0″, 190 Lbs. Marois from Cape Breton to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Marois must feel comfortable with his new team, as he has started the season well above his pace of a year ago. Through 7 games he has 5 goals and 7 assists, and he currently sits in 6th place among QMJHL scorers. He is +7, with 4 penalty minutes, and he has scored 2 short-handed goals.
Dusty Jamieson -LW (Drafted-99(5/136))
The 6’2″, 185 Lbs. Jamieson’s NHL training camp was cut short by a concussion he suffered during the Prospect Tournament in Hull. He did however, return to the ice in time for the Sarnia Sting’s season opener. Through 3 games Jamieson has 2 assists. He is +2, with no penalty minutes.
Alexander Buturlin -RW (Drafted-99(2/39))
The 6’0″, 187 Lbs. Buturlin is coming off his first season in North America. Look for him to have a break-out season. Through 3 games he has 2 goals and 1 assist. He is a strong +3, and both his goals were scored at even-strength.
Sean Dixon -D (Drafted-99(6/167)) Read more »
There are still a few players on the bubble. Drury, Harkins, Vyborny, Maltais, Maneluk, Spanhel and Nielsen up front, and Klesla, Robertsson, Nummelin, and Grand-Pierre on the blueline are all fighting for the remaining spots; or perhaps they’re not.
Doug MacLean has stated that he already has his opening-nigth roster in mind. Figure that Neilsen and Spanhel will be sent to Syracuse to see plenty of ice time since they don’t have to pass through waivers. Maneluk should be sent down, along with Harkins. Maltais has really played his way onto the Blue Jackets, providing timely scoring and decent defensive play. On defense expect to see Bert Robertsson sent down.
The rest of the defense is more closely debated. Nummelin has skill rarely seen on expansion bluelines and figures to stay in Columbus. Klesla, who is close to signing a contract will probably stay for a 10-game stint before being returned to Brampton to log lots of ice time. Grand-Pierre has seen some time on the wing during the preseason and could stick due to his versatility but will start the season in Syracuse.
This is what the opening day roster should look like:
Forwards Kron, Sanderson, Adams, Aubin, Dineen, Wright, Heinze, Oliwa, Knutsen, Vyborny, Gardner, Maltais.
Defense Odelein, Heward, Kucera, Bicanek, Nummelin, Quint, Timander, Klesla.
Goalies Tugnutt, Denis.
*Note this is from last weeks game*
After our first road trip in the USHL, I think the team has realized what we need to do in order to be successful. In a penalty filled weekend, our Power Play and Penalty Kill were both not up to par resulting in several missed power play chances and several PP Goals against. When we we’re playing even strength we were the dominant team on the ice in all three games. Once everyone starts producing and the team gets into a flow, we should be a very tough team to beat. We also showed some resiliency by striking a comeback against Cedar Rapids. After going down three goals in the first ten minutes of the game, we worked hard to come back and take the lead. Once again two PP goals tied the game at six and resulted in a shoot out loss for the NTDP. Hard work and training will pay off as we will only get better.
This is the season that Dan Cleary drops the rock of his doubters and the rest of the league. Drafted 13th overall in 1997 by the Chicago Blackhawks the world seemed to be smiling on him and was to be the next great power type forward in the organization.
However things soured a little for him for a couple years which stemmed from being brought up to the NHL too early in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons instead of allowing him to stay in the farm system and grow.
All the bouncing around from Chicago to Bellville to Indianapolis back to Chicago than to Portland before being part of a trade that brought him to the Oilers at the trading dead line in March of 1998, stunted his development and confidence.
After a full season in Hamilton with regular linemates Brian Swanson and Michel Riesen where he displayed the reasons why he was picked so high in the draft. After producing 74 points in 58 games in Hamilton and 3 goals and 2 helpers in 17 games in Edmonton he did not look out of place on a line with Doug Weight and Billy Guerin in the playoff’s. His performance was enough to garner a second chance by the brass in Edmonton to crack the line up this season but he had to come in great shape display heart and desire that was lacking in the past.
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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.
Camp cuts – round two: The Toronto Maple Leafs this week announced that five additional players have been assigned to St. John’s of the AHL … they are forwards Konstantin Kalmikov, Shawn Thornton and Michel Travnicek and defencemen Petr Svoboda and Dimitri Yakushin … Kalmikov played with St. John’s last season and scored a career high 28 points (8G,20A) in 78 games … Thornton also played with St. John’s last year, scoring 16 points (4G,12A) in 60 games and leading the team in penalty minutes for the third straight year with 316 … Travnicek, who was Toronto’s 9th choice 1998, played with Litinov of the Czech Elite League last season and scored 9 points (3G,6A) in 51 games …Yakushin is also starting his third season with St. John’s, where he scored 14 points (G,13A) in 64 games last season … Svoboda, the most surprising name to be included on this list, played with Trinec of the Czech Elite League last season and has been a standout at the Leafs’ Main Camp this month … Toronto’s rationale seems to be that they want the young Czech blueliner to log heavy ice time early in the season while they are in the process of settling personnel on their NHL roster …
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Strength down the middle is a necessity to succeed in many aspects in the game of hockey and Oilers organization has been lacking depth and talent in area for some time. But that is not the case anymore after top brass got a good look at some up and comers over training camp and the preseason.
A pleasant surprise was the play and maturity of Mike Comrie a 3rd round pick in 1999 who has play the last couple seasons with Michigan. An exceptional playmaker with great vision he often draws players to him to allow his linemates space. Despite his size at 5-9/175 he shows tremendous grit and tenacity and is willing to get his nose dirty and roam in traffic. Has the skills and desire to become a solid center but needs to bulk up to 190 lbs to handle the day to day pounding.
His rival in the college ranks Michigan Spartan stand out Shawn Horcoff received rave reviews as well. Displaying the defensive awareness that made him the defensive forward of the year and showed the spark of offensive prowess he had last season while battling Mike Comrie for the scoring title in CCHA. Has an ideal combination of size and quickness with good face off capabilities and together they should make a solid one-two counter punch at center in the near future.
The third player that came out of the U.S. college ranks was Alaska born Brian Swanson. Had great career at Colorado College compiling 88 goals and 144 assists in four years, solid first year as a pro in Hamilton. Read more »