By Al Alven
There was a time not too long ago when even the thought of the Philadelphia Flyers owning the rights to several promising European prospects seemed unrealistic. Times and the NHL have changed, however, and the team now boasts a number of non-North American-born hopefuls on its depth chart.
Without question, Pavel Brendl heads the list. The 20-year-old right winger from the Czech Republic has been the Flyers’ most pleasant preseason surprise to this point. In fact, he currently leads the team with six points (three goals, three assists) in just three exhibition games. The wildcard in the big Eric Lindros deal with the Rangers, Brendl has grabbed the majority of the headlines from other Flyers prospects and rightfully so. He’s been that good so far.
For three of his fellow countrymen, however, the accolades have been more difficult to come by. In this report, we’ll examine the progress of 21-year-old forwards Tomas Divisek, Petr Hubacek and Vaclav Pletka. All three spent all or most of last season with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL. Barring something extraordinary, that’s where they’ll start the 2001-02 season as well.
The furthest developed of the Flyers’ three Czech prospects playing with the Phantoms, Divisek could see some time with the big club this season. Like any Flyers prospect, Divisek faces the unenviable task of attempting to crack a lineup that is literally stacked with quality forwards. Should the Flyers run into injury problems, Divisek could be a call-up candidate be Read more »
The regular season is underway in Europe. Here is how some of the Flyers prospects playing in Europe have done so far (note: no reports available yet on players from the RSL– Alexander Drozdetsky (CSKA), Konstantin Rudenko (Yaroslavl), and 2001 overage draftee Andrei Razin (Dynamo)).
Roman Malek: Malek, the starting goaltender for Slavia Prague, suffered a frightening injury this weekend. Losing his mask in a scramble around the crease, he was struck flush in the face moments later by a slapshot. The initial report I have heard is that his cheekbone was shattered and he suffered a concussion from his head hitting the ice.
Milan Kopecky: Kopecky is on loan from Extraliga’s Slavia Prague to talent-starved Division One Beroun.
Pavel Kasparik : Kasparik, who struggled almost all of last season, is off to a much better start in the early going of the 2001-02 Extraliga campaign. In 5 games played for Sparta Prague, he has 3 goals.
Radovan Somik : The Slovakian winger, who would have been with the Phantoms this season had he been able to come to contract terms with the Flyers, is still playing for Zlin. He missed the start of the season with a minor injury, but has played in the last two games. He has a goal and an assist.
Antero Niittymäki: Defending champion TPS Turku has stumbled out of the gates, winning just one of their first five games. Fredrik Norrena started in goal the first several games. Niittymäki has started the last two. Both have Read more »
Fantasy Hockey Goalies 2001-2002
1. Martin Brodeur- (Devils) Brodeur is arguably the best goalie in the league, and playing behind one of the NHL’s top defenses make’s him a top fantasy value. Brodeur has some of the best reflexes in the league and uses the butterfly style. Brodeur, who is now in the prime of his career, should have a 40-win season.
2. Roman Chechmanek- (Flyers) Chechmanek accomplished many things this past season. He took Brian Boucher’s spot as the Flyers top goalie and made the All-Star Team. Not only did he win 35 of the 57 games he started, but he also had a .921 Save Percentage and 10 Shutouts. The only question to be answered is if he can do it again.
3. Dominik Hasek- (Red Wings) Scotty Bowman was recently quoted comparing Dominik Hasek’s determination to win the cup, to that of Ray Bourque’s last year with the Colorado Avalanche. If Hasek can stay healthy, there is a reason to believe that Hasek could lead Detroit back to the Stanley Cup.
4. Olaf Kolzig- (Capitals) With the Capitals acquisition of Jarmior Jagr the Caps are expected to win more games this year. Also, Kolzig signed a contract extension this summer and with a better team around him, there is no reason “Olie the goalie” won’t be a top tier net minder this season.
5. Patrick Roy- (Avalanche) At age 35, one would have to expect Roy to show some signs of slowing down. But the superhuman Roy, who won his third Conn Smyth trophy last year, continues to get better, as he had Read more »
After sparkling in his first ever NHL action against the Detroit Red Wings last Monday, stopping 25 of 27 shots in about 30 minutes of action to earn a 3-2 win, Dan Blackburn followed that up with another excellent performance, this time against the New Jersey Devils at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.
The game was a significant one to begin with, considering that it was the first major sporting event played in New York since the terrorists attacks took place a week before. With all the pre-game ceremonies finished, it was time to drop the puck. Eric Lindros was making his first appearance as a New York Ranger, and Brian Leetch also saw action for the first time this pre-season. For New Jersey, their lineup consisted of a lot of rookies and hopefuls, as Patrik Elias, Petr Sykora, Jason Arnott, Martin Brodeur and Scott Stevens were some of the players who did not suit up for the contest.
Blackburn had a solid game, stopping 15 of 16 shots before being relieved in the middle of the second period by Johan Holmqvist. Blackburn played a poised, focused game and showed flashes of what to expect in the future. He robbed one of the Devils on a point blank shot with his glove, flashing it in the air kinda like Patrick Roy. He did a good keeping the Rangers in the game early, as the Devils put on a lot of pressure in the offensive zone and were awarded for their efforts as the Rangers took two penalties, leading to a 5 on 3 advantage for New Jersey. Blackburn turned away everything that was thrown at him, and wasn’t beaten until the 2nd period when Read more »
Another Brother-In-Law for Tucker?
Ask Sherbrooke Castors Coach Jos Canale about Nicolas Corbeil and the one thing that becomes readily apparent is that despite his 5’11” 172 pound size he is not in the mold of what many believe to be the ‘typical’ Q forward: All speed and finesse, little gumption when it comes to the rough stuff. His coach readily admits that his pivot “likes taking runs at guys (and) will take the odd slashing or charging call.” A belligerent player who “can let (his) emotions detract from his play”, this very quality serves him well along the boards. Canale points out that Corbeil is “very good at (this aspect of the game). (He is) persistent, tough, and quick.” In front of the net the Leaf pick, is more of a “darter who slides into empty spots well and who has to keep his feet moving” which serves him well. While his shot from the top of the circle could improve he is “very handy close in.”
That being said his coach observes that “the things that got Nicolas drafted were his skating and passing ability. Skating is definitely a strength in his game. He has a good burst to the outside which he likes to use and also has a crossover move to the inside which he uses as well.” He ability with the puck similarly draws rave reviews from Canale. “Nicolas sees the ice well and puts the puck in good places where a teammate can use it immediately.” And while his charge can go after the home run occasionally the coach states unequivocally “I feel safe that if something bad happens with one of Nick’s passes it’s not going to be a scoring c Read more »
The BCHL added two new teams over the off season. Coquitlam and Salmon Arm are now in the league. Early on, both teams have posted wins. I guess the owners won`t have to become head coach like Don Cherry. For the first article of the new season here is a look at three players. One from the Prince George Spruce Kings and two from the Vernon Vipers.
Nick Binder(83) Vernon Vipers:
Nick is a rookie in the BCHL but looks good. He plays right wing and has OK size. Nick looks like the type of player that coaches like.He plays his position and does it well. Being that he is a rookie nothing too fancy so far but this guy isn`t going to hurt you out there on the sheet. He has a point a game in the early going. With his solid two way play and if he keeps up the point pace he`ll earn a scholarship one day in the future.
David Morelli(83) Vernon Vipers:
Morelli will attend Nebraska at Omaha next season and you can see why. He is only 5’10”-180 but this kid can power past players 40 pounds heavier than him. Not much bad you can say about Morelli. He can pass, skate, shoot. Dave plays center and has a bright future ahead of him. He is impressive He doesn`t take nights off and that`s why he has a scholarship before the season begins.
Josh Ciocco(83) Prince George Spruce Kings: Read more »
by Dan Perrault
The hockey season is 2 weeks from its start and the Thrashers have some big decisions to make. A lot of players are under close evaluation as the pre-season camp and games are currently undergoing. Ilya Kovalchuck, the team’s 1st choice and, 1st drafted overall in this year’s expansion draft, is impressing quite a few so far, and so is last year’s first pick for the Thrashers, (2nd overall) Dany Heatly.
The team lacks experience and most of the battles for spots on the team, will be between young guns. The only true veteran, leader Ray Ferraro, is most unlikely to reproduce the numbers he put up last year, one of his best season’s in his career. Someone needs to put up numbers for this team, who has many prospects.
Let’s take a look at every position and who stands a chance to make the team:
Tomi Kallio and Lubos Bartecko, are talented veterans who have a spot on the team. Dany Heatley, stands quite a big chance to make the team this season. He is much more talented than both Bartecko and Kallio, but possibly lacks experience. Scouts say he was the best sniper in the 2000 draft, and has shown fans on Monday, in an exhibition game, against Nashville, a small touch of what he can do. He scored 2 goals, including the game-winner in a 4-3 win over the Predators. Shean Donovan and Jeff Odgers should compete for the remaining spot on the team, unless Brad Tapper explodes with energy in the week to come.
Patrik Stefan, who was a top pi Read more »
SOUND TIGERS COACHES OPTIMISTIC
A day after conducting the first official practice session for the team,
Bridgeport Sound Tigers head coach Steve Stirling took some time out
Saturday morning to meet and greet fans arriving at the Arena at Harbor Yard
to purchase tickets for the Tigers’ inaugural season.
Once at the box office, fans had the opportunity to buy team merchandise and
speak with various team representatives. But Stirling, who was an assiatant
coach with the Islanders last year, was by far the main attraction. The
former Boston University captain answered various questions from fans eager
to get the inside scoop on the team.
Prior to becoming an assistant coach on Long Island, Stirling, 51, served as
as assistant for the Islanders’ AHL affiliate in Lowell, Mass., for three
years. During that time, the Islanders and Los Angeles Kings had a
duel-affiliation with Lowell. The Islander brass, particularly Mike
Milbury, became very dissatisfied with the limited ice-time New York
prospects were getting in Lowell this past season, which resulted in
Milbury’s removing all Islander-owner players from the team.
Stirling believes having a primary affiliate will greatly benefit the
“It’ll make a difference,’ he said. ‘The younger kids will be able to
develop because we can control their ice time.”
“Now that (the Islanders) have a primary affiliate, it will help them
because they won’t have to rush an 18-year old kid into the lineup,’ sa Read more »
This year at Devils training camp, there will be many battles for open positions on the big club. Among them are the back-up goaltender position, the 7th defenseman spot and the most important of all, two forward positions, including the one that Alexander Mogilny and his 43 goals left vacant after leaving for the Maple Leafs. Here is breakdown of the position battles, who the candidates for the open positions are and what they have to offer.
Battle #1: Back-Up Goaltender
For the first time in a while, the man chosen to back up Martin Brodeur will not have any NHL experience under his belt. Martin seemed to show signs of wear and tear in the finals last year so finding a quality back-up that the team can have confidence in is very important.
Early favorite: JF Damphousse as it stands right now is the favorite to win the back up job behind Brodeur. JF, the Devils ’97 1st rounder, put up very respectable numbers for a weak Albany River Rats AHL squad last season (2.86 GAA and .914 Sv%). The agile, butterfly style goalie has earned the first chance to win the back-up spot due to his strong play last season.
Others to watch: The club is very high on 20 year old Finnish prospect Ari Ahonen, who is bar none, the team’s goaltender of the future. However it would be better for him to get a full season of pro experience in Albany, rather than only play in 15 or so games at the NHL level. If Ari does out perform JF though, the Devils may have no choice but to give him a shot. Frederic Henry is a long shot at best right now, but he has t Read more »
The Kings are moving along in their preseason schedule, and there have been some surprises – both good and bad. With two cuts already having been made, here is where the Kings are.
First, the development, or lack thereof, of Jaroslav Bednar has to be the primary concern. No matter what anyone says now, the Kings planned on having Bednar on one of their top two lines. After spending the summer saying that he was not like Tomas Vlasak, Bednar has spent the last two weeks proving that he might be exactly like him.
The play of some young forwards has been encouraging. Even though they will likely not make the team, Yannick Lehoux and Jared Aulin have shown that they have NHL-caliber stuff and will be here soon enough. Add to that the surprise play of Chris Schmidt and Derek Bekar along with solid play by Adam Mair and the Kings have the chance to have a young prospect crack the everyday lineup. It will likely be Mair or even Bekar, but the once written-off Schmidt has shown some signs of life and he may finish the season with the big club. Young tough guy Ryan Flinn is battling the likely enforcer Ken Belanger for the muscle spot and if nothing else, he has a steel dome and fears no one on the ice which has been a successful formula for more than one tough guy in the league.
Young defensemen Joe Rullier, Richard Seeley, Tomas Zizka and even Andreas Lilja have shown some spark. Lilja appears to be too slow to be the player they once thought, but he could be a player in the mold of Sean O’Donnell, and those kind of defensemen are valuable. Zizka looks Read more »