The Kings are coming off their most successful season in years and are looking for two things this season. Firstly, they would like to win a playoff game and perhaps move into the next round. Secondly, develop some of the young talent that is starting to replenish the Kings system. With that in mind, here are a few predictions and things to watch for the 2000 season.
Firstly, which Russian will progress the most? If it is Alexander Frolov, the Kings will have a bona fide top forward prospect. Andrei Shefer is back in Russia this season and you have to wonder how, after a season in Halifax, that will affect his development to the NHL game. Alexey Volkov moves to the AHL where his netminding talents will be showcased in a more NHL-like setting. His development will help the Kings make a decision at the NHL level- if he is a few season’s away, than the younger Storr will likely stay. If he can play sooner, than Fiset can hold down the fort until his arrival.
Look for Kings prospect Kevin Baker to have a big season. His game is well suited for the NHL game and his grit will complement his nose for the net.
Kip Brennan will lead the AHL in PIM’s. The only thing that can stop this is a call-up to the big club. Kip’s game will also develop and he will finish with 15 goals.
The Kings will officially give up on the talented Scott Barney. His back injury seems to be career threatening.
Eric Belanger will return to his top prospect form. Hopefully he will do it as a King.
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The Ducks have traded University of Minnesota defenseman Jordan Leopold to Calgary. They got Andrei Nazarov and a ghost of the future in a draft choice. But they gave up a sure-fire NHLer. Arguably, one of the best d-man in all of college hockey.
It’s very easy to defend this trade. The Ducks received “The Most Dangerous Man in Hockey.” Andrei Nazarov brings a player for today into the fold. He’ll be right there joining Jim Cummins as a tag team of sorts. He can fight well not to mention be one of the most brutal players the NHL has ever seen. Just ask his victims. But is he a defenseman that will be around as a potential anchor? Hardly. In fact, he’s your basic role player whom the Ducks love to have a surplus of.
The theory that Nazarov will protect Selanne and Kariya is a good one. But he may not bring enough else to the game. Of course, the Ducks received a second round draft choice as well. It can’t be forgotten that Leopold was a second round draft choice himself. This way, the claim is the Ducks at least made the trade even if not the better end of the deal. It makes no difference if another Nik Tsulygin is chosen with that choice.
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Contract problems kept 22 year old Boston College graduate Mike Mottau
out of camp for the first few weeks, but since coming to camp on a tryout
agreement last week, Mottau has made a huge splash in only 2 games.
Although I did not get to see Mottau’s first preseason game, a 2-1 loss
to the Dallas Stars, I heard Mike played excellent in that game…even better
than in last night’s 8-2 loss against the Devils. If if Mottau played better
than he did last night in Dallas, I can’t wait to see what the future holds
for this potential Brian Leetch clone. Although Mottau is only 6’0 192, he
plays like he’s 5 inches taller and 20 pounds heavier. He is a great open ice
checker, and reminds me of Mike Peca a little bit. His offensive talent is
probably the best part of his game, as he impressed me on the power play last
night. He made quick tape to tape passes in the offensive zone, and read the
play very well. He knew where to be at every moment, and even snuck behind
the New Jersey defense and was alone in front of the crease, but the Rangers
were unable to feed him the puck, or he would have had an easy tap in. One of
the most surprising things from that game was that he wasn’t on the ice for
any of the 8 goals against. And this isn’t saying much since practically the
whole team played poorly, but Mottau was clearly the best player on the ice
for the Rangers, with the possible exception of sophomore Michael York, who I Read more »
September 19, 2000
It took an exhibition game between a mediocre, depleted San Jose Sharks squad and the expansion Minnesota Wild to bring NHL Hockey to the Rose Garden in Portland, OR on Tuesday night. Portland hockey fans finally got to witness what has been dangled under their noses for the past 5 years; whether they have liked it or not. The 8,124 in attendance were treated to an entertaining contest despite the absence of many key Shark players and a Minnesota roster that more resembles that of an IHL team than a competitive NHL team. San Jose took the ice without notables such as Owen Nolan, Patrick Marleau, Gary Suter and Brad Stuart due to reasons ranging from contract squabbles to minor injuries.
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On September, 7th, 2000, was the game over. On that day Czech star Jiri Dopita signed a two-year contract with HC Slovnaft Vsetin of the Czech Elite league. Good news for National team coach Josef Augusta, bad news for the Florida Panthers staff. The negotations lasted for four months, no conclusion. The Czech National team captain stays at home. Panthers assistant coach, Czech Slavomir Lener, knows what they have lost. Lener tried hard to change Dopita’s mind (he found a good school for Jiri’s son) and guaranteed him a roster spot. Not to say, it was the center position next to superstar Pavel Bure, the famed Russian sniper. Not every player would be able to support Pavel. Jiri would. A great leader, Jiri is a superb mix of size (6’4”, 210 lbs.) and skill. Nearly 32 years old, Jiri is a mature player with lots of experience, who could easily play 5-6 years in the NHL. Regarded as one of the top players not playing in the NHL, Jiri is excellent in playing in front the opponents net from where he scores a lot of goals. He is a feared checker, almost unable to be knocked off the puck, and is a king along the boards. Jiri, nicknamed “Dopi” uses his size well and is one of the strongest players in Europe. He can hold two opponents only with his arms. You can see, he is a power forward, but highly skilled. Posesses great passing skills, very good vision and is confident. Vsetin center has respect in the locker room, is a natural leader and leads by example. He simply seems always to see a way how to get the puck into the opponents net or how to make a great pass. Read more »
Every day we read in the newspaper, or see on TV, some professional sports person getting an outrageous contract for playing his chosen sport. I agree that it seems out of line that somebody should be paid millions of dollars a year to play a kid’s game, while the majority of the work force has to grind out a living day in and day out.
As we hear about these sports/entertainment millionaires, we should remember that for every multi-million dollar contract there are thousands of players who are just making what we might consider a good living. With the help of Matt Bradley, I would like to take you on a journey. We will take a look at how this young man went from his first pair of skates in his backyard in Stittsville, Ontario, Canada, to a professional hockey contract with the San Jose Sharks.
Matt started skating at the age of 4. “I started on skates with 2 blades on each of them. I was pretty much just walking on the ice. That’s how both of my sisters, Cassie and Paula, and myself all learned how to skate. As I started to get a feel for the ice I moved to the one blade skates. I remember seeing pictures of how bent my ankles were. My ankles weren’t strong enough, but that’s how you have to learn. You start taking small steps, then you are walking around on the ice, eventually you glide a bit and then one day you suddenly start skating around.” As you can see Matt already had an interest in hockey. Read more »
The Blues are fortunate in having a very deep team consisting of mostly young players, under the age of 25. The four players that were left available are forwards Chris Murray, Pascal Rheaume, Stephane Roy and netminder Dwayne Roloson.
Murray, 25, was signed as a unrestricted free agent by the blues this summer to add toughness up front. He was recently assigned to Worcester of the AHL along with Dwayne Roloson. Both players were really brought in to make things a little more competitive in training camp this fall.
Rheaume, 27, is the most likely candidate to be lost in the waiver draft. He played in a limited number games last season due to shoulder surgery. He was likely going to be cut from the current roster to make room for the likes of Reid Simpson, Reed Low or Ladislav Nagy.
Roy, 24, played last season with the Quebec Citadelles of the AHL. Roy was originally draft by the blues back in 94.
Look for Rheaume to be taken by an expansion team and well this could make things a little easier for Larry Pleau by having another team make a cut for him.
The blues roster is now down to 28 including the injured Bergevin and Reirden. This roster must be down to 23 players by Monday so this weekends games should be exciting as the rookies in camp will be giving it their all in the hopes of landing a spot on the final roster which begins play on October 5th in Phoenix, Arizona.
The OHL is off and running for the 2000-01 season, and as usual
I will be monitoring the progress of the players eligible for
2001 NHL Draft. This years crop already has one very high-
profile name, a few prospects that went straight to National
Junior Camps and by-passed younger National Teams, and as a
whole seems to have more depth when compared to the 2000
draft-class. Here’s a pre-season look at the Top 15 Prospects,
well as some other names to keep an eye on.
1. JASON SPEZZA C – Mississauga : No surprise here. As the
season progresses knocks against his skating will be heard. He
won’t get many breakaways but make no mistake about it, once
in the offensive zone he is a goal-producing machine with a
special talent level.
2. STEPHEN WEISS C – Plymouth : There may be some
perceptions that perhaps Weiss benefited from playing with top
notch line mates such as Tomas Kurka, but if anything it was the
other way around. A creative, highly skilled center with good
wheels, puck-handling ability, and vision.
3. MARK POPOVIC D – St. Michaels : The new captain of the
Majors, Popovic put up an impressive 40 points last year and
would be close to a point-per-game this year if his supporting
cast was better. He is improving his play in his own end of the
rink, and it remains the one area needing continual improvement.
Offensively he has all the tools.
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The rivalry is dead, long live the rivalry.
Two different games, two different
cities, two entirely different results. The
Kootenay ICE opened the 2000-01
WHL season in Calgary and Red Deer
this past weekend and on the surface,
things are definitely not as they seem.
The season opener in Calgary was a
textbook display of the offensive
powerhouse the Kootenay ICE could be
this season. Perhaps lending credence to
the pundits, polls and prognosticators
that have the ICE pegged to be the
number one club in the WHL this
season. The result? A 7-2 dismantling
of the Calgary Hitmen. In the tilt the
next afternoon against the Red Deer
Rebels in the Central Alberta city,
someone obviously forgot to inform the
Rebels on the ICE’ coronation as
preordained favorites. Lending further
belief that perhaps preseason predictions
and prognostications are better left to
astrologists and fortune tellers, the
Rebels served notice that they will be a
force to be reckoned within the WHL’s
Central division this year with a 4-3
decision over the Kootenay ICE.
The Hitmen however, was not exactly a
replica of the powerhouse club that has
been evident in the last few seasons as
the line-up was devoid of WHL
experience as six major contributors to
the Hitmen powerhouse of the last few
seasons were still away at NHL camps.
Missing in action were Matt Kinch,
Pavel Brendl, Sean McAslan (injured), Read more »
Maple Leafs remain unbeaten in preseason.
The St. John’s Maple Leafs improved their record to 2-0-0 in the preseason with a 5-4 overtime victory against the Hamilton Bulldogs on Friday. Bobby House (2G,A) and rookie, Alexei Ponikarovsky (G,2A), led the club with 3 points each. Other goal scorers for St. John’s were David Cooper and Chad Allan. Jason Sessa had a pair of assists in the win. Mike Minard played the entire game for St. John’s, stopping 27 of the 31 shots he faced. The Maple Leafs led 3-2 after the first period and held a 4-2 lead after two periods. St. John’s also outshot Hamilton 44-31. Referee, Mike Hasenfrantz, handed out 112 minutes in penalties, including 57PIM to the Maple Leafs and 55PIM to the Bulldogs. Overall St. John’s was 2 for 13 with the man advantage, while Hamilton went 4 for 14.
* St. John’s outshot Hamilton 18-4 in the second period of Friday’s game.
* Bobby House and Alexei Ponikarovsky lead the club in preseason scoring with 3 points each.
* David Cooper has scored in both preseason games for St. John’s.
* There were 3 fights in the Hamilton contest, including 2 involving Jacques Lariviere.
* Lance Galbraith leads the team in penalty minutes with 14.
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