With four games under their belt, the first phase of training camp is now behind the Canadiens. The early part of camp has produced some positives and some negatives. With most of the media and fans focussing on the negatives.
Andrei Markov’s play can only be described as a positive. His offensive talent, specifically on the powerplay, has been a pleasant surprise. Particularly on a roster lacking anyone capable of quarterbacking the powerplay. Playing alongside a defensively responsible, and veteran partner in Eric Weinrich, should help Markov’s defensive shortcomings.
Markov’s talent has produced success on the powerplay. Although it has only been four games, the powerplay has been running at a success rate of 27.3%; Compared to 16.7% last season.
As a result the team’s offence has been successful; Averaging 3.25 goals per game. An exceptional upswing compared to last season’s average of 2.39. The League’s desire to clamp down on stick-fouls has helped bring about the offensive success. The Habs are averaging 8 powerplay chances per game; Compared with just under 4 chances per game last season.
The Habs’ five-on-five play has been less than stellar. They’ve been outscored 13 to 3 at even strength. Last season they were outscored 142 to 154 at even strength. Solid defensive play was the team’s bread and butter. Giving up 3 even-strength goals per game is not going to win games. Read more »
Training camp has generated a number of surprises for the Nashville Predators this season. As camp began earlier this month, there were several favorites to challenge for roster spots, including newly signed Russian center Denis Arkhipov, Swedish winger Jonas Andersson and right wing Scott Hartnell, who was Nashville’s fifth overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Arkhipov and Hartnell have not disappointed and both have had strong training camps. Arkhipov has shown the skill and sniping ability that has quietly made him one of the better prospects in the NHL, while Hartnell has impressed the organization enough with his hard work and tenacious play to warrant an immediate contract and a long look in training camp from the Predators.
Andersson, however, was surprisingly sent down to Milwaukee of the IHL yesterday. Entering the pre-season, Andersson was considered to be the most NHL-ready prospect in the Nashville system. He has a full season of North American hockey under him, after spending last season with North Bay of the OHL, and he is also a tremendous skater who has no problem keeping up with NHL-calibre players. But the unexpected success of other players in camp has pushed Andersson out of the picture for now.
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The St. Louis Blues assigned Darren Rumble and Dale Clarke to Worcester of the AHL as well as returned Barret Jackman to the Regina Pats of the WHL.
This now leaves 11 defensemen in camp fighting for 7 spots. Don’t forget that the injured Marc Bergevin and Todd Reirden are included in these 11 players, which breaks down to two more cuts prior to the first game of the regular season.
Rumble and Clarke having been cut was expected and Jackman is likely very disappointed, but should have a great year in Regina. He’ll now have the chance to play in the World Junior Championships as well the Memorial Cup, which his junior team, the Regina Pats, is hosting.
A little prediction for everyone, Jackman will be in the Blues’ line-up come opening day of the 2001-02 season.
A few players will make the jump from the farm to play significant roles in the upcoming season. Two of Hamilton’s top point producers Dan Cleary and Michel Riesen are poised to grab vacancies on the top two lines. With Alexander Selivanov and German Titov not being resigned due to inconsistency and salaries their spots could be taken by these two skilled goal scorers.
Both Dan and Michel are having an excellent camp and preseason with Riesen picking up 3 goals and 1 assist in 3 games while showing more resiliency in the physical game than in the past. A power play ace in the Swiss League and in Hamilton Michel may replace Selivanov’s goals on the power play and give Edmonton a legitimate sniper to patrol the slot and perimeter. Even though he lacks the physical grittiness the coach and general manager desire in their players he can make up for it in goal production and being defensively responsible.
Finally it looks like Dan is beginning to take his game to the next level after being brought up too early by Chicago when he was drafted. He possess the size and skill to potentially be a regular 25 goal scorer with grittiness and toughness to complete the package. Has driven to the net with authority and displayed strong play along the boards and down low over the past three games. His desire and determination that was thought to be lacking in the past is bubbling over and that alone is the determining factor that makes him a solid two-way winger.
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The Rangers continued to downsize their roster by sending veteran AHLer`s Kenny Gernander and Brad Smyth to Connecticut for reassignment. Moments after the Rangers announced prized rookie Mike Mottau would attend camp on a tryout basis after a call from Glen Sather. For Mottau he will be on ice with the Rangers in Rye on Wednesday and will likely play against Atlanta and Milan Hnilinka later this week. Sather commented that negotiations are tough when you have never seen a guy play…so this will be the chance for Mottau to shine and earn a spot. Mottau has added 11 pounds to his frame since the start of the 99-00 season at Boston College and looks more and more like a NHLer. Mottau will compete not only for a roster spot but a contract which may be a lot for a rookie to handle on one plate.
Competition for the final spots on defense remain between Dale Purinton (1 game-NHL), Jason Doig(NHL -Rangers) and Tomas Kloucek. All three would rather develop in New York than Hartford. While Purinton brings personality, a physical presence and some skill, Jason Doig, who struggled in scrimmage brings a hard shot, size and some offensive ability… Kloucek does nothing great… but almost never makes mistakes. This will be interesting up until Game 1, year 2000-01.
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Congratulations! Somehow you’ve all managed to get through three long months without hockey. Now the boys of winter are back on the ice and another season of exciting Maple Leafs’ action looms. Toronto’s line-up for the upcoming season looks to be both deep and talented. There are more experienced NHL players on hand at the club’s Training Camp than there are jobs to be filled. To further complicate matters, an improving farm system has produced several hopeful youngsters determined to push some familiar names out of the picture. Expect lots of spirited competition for NHL jobs, the emergence of some surprising newcomers and maybe even a trade or two before the 2000 / 2001 roster is finally set.
While acknowledging that these factors make the team rather difficult to handicap at this early stage, here is a preliminary position-by-position look at the 2000 / 2001 Toronto Maple Leafs:
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The Swedish Elitserien started today with two games. Newly promoted Timrå beat reigning champions Djurgården in overtime, 3-2, after 20-year-old starlet Henrik Zetterberg beat goalie Mikael Tellqvist with a low wristshot. AIK defeated MoDo 3-1 on home ice in the other game.
Hopefully, the Timrå – Djurgården game was a sign of things to come in the Elitserien. It was a free-flowing game filled with scoring-chances created by two teams that seemingly couldn´t even spell ”trap”. Considering the increase in odd-man rushes and the effectiveness of quick passing, maybe it´s time for the NHL to follow in the IIHF’s footprints and remove the red line.
The story of the game was highly touted Henrik Zetterberg, the early favourite to win the ”Rookie of the year” award in Sweden. Zetterberg, a 7th round steal by the Detroit Red Wings in 1999, is a 5’11, 180 pound speed-demon oozing of offensive flair.
Another Detroit draft-pick, Djurgården defenseman Niklas Kronwall, is also on the fast track to stardom. The 2000 Entry Draft first round pick (29th overall) is being cast in a more offensive role this season and will make huge improvements on his five point total from the 1999/2000-season.
The early favourites to win the championship this season are Färjestad and Luleå, boosted by the return of former NHLers Jörgen Jönsson and Mikael Renberg, respectively.
Like most teams, the Blues carry a roster of 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goaltenders. From the 38 players left in camp after yesterdays cuts, there are 15 cuts left with the exception of the two defensemen who will be replacing the injured Marc Bergevin and Todd Reirden.
There is all but one forward spot locked up as thirteen players on the current roster would have to clear waivers if they were to be sent down to
the minors. The Blues can’t afford losing any of these players for nothing and trades could open more spots but for the time being, there is one remaining forward spot. This spot may be filled by one of, Derek Bekar, Reed Low, Ladislav Nagy, Chris Murray, Andrei Podkonicky, Jame Pollock or Reid Simpson. Because of the need of toughness up
front and lack there of on the current roster, it will likely be one of Simpson, Murray or Low. All three players have two-way contracts, and well, these three will likely go down to the wire.
On Defense, the battle got even more interesting for the young prospects with the news of Reirden and Bergevin being out for extended periods. It is
almost guaranteed that Dale Clarke and Darren Rumble will soon be assigned to Worcester, leaving Vladimir Chebaturkin, Alex Khavanov, Jaroslav Obsut, Bryce Salvador, and Mike Van Ryn to fight over the final three spots. A recent addition to that list is 1999 1st round pick, Barret Jackman, who began skating with the team yesterday. His finger has healed sooner than expected and although he is a week behind the rest, he Read more »
With Calgary midway through their preseason schedule, some candidates
gunning for the big club have been impressive. With only a few positions up
for grabs, Flames staff have some tough decisions to make.
Stillman, Savard, Shantz, Wiemer, Wilm, and Bureau are all listed
centres. However, Shantz and Wiemer have been experimented on the wing.
Tkaczuk has played well in his games, improving on his two-way game, but
hasn’t been a standout. Another year in Saint John wouldn’t hurt Tkaczuk. The
story is a little different when talking of Marty Murray. In his two games in
Toronto and Ottawa, Murray was impressive. Faceoffs were dreadful last year
for Calgary and Murray has been outstanding in that category. Playing on a
line with Iginla and Saprykin, Murray was the playmaker, while Saprykin and
Iginla where the snipers. If Murray’s play continues he just may have a spot
with the team.
There is a little more room on the left side. Nazarov, Lindsay, and
Lowry all are sure fires for Calgary. Saprykin, Elomo, Botterill, Cowan,
Varlamov, and Roche all fighting for a spot. Of all names mentioned Saprykin
is the most impressive. In Calgary’s first game against Montreal, Saprykin
netted a pair of goals in a outstanding outing, helping the Flames to a 4-2
victory. In the second tilt against Toronto, Saprykin had another solid
effort, playing with Murray and Iginla. A game Calgary should have won. Coach Read more »
Where did we leave off last year? Something about a tough season for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Funny, I did not see it that way. What I saw was the exciting possibilities of the next year. Through all the losing, injuries and fan anger, if one looked objectively at the quality of the young players of the Brandon Wheat Kings last year, they would have had the same wait until next year attitude.
Simply put, Brandon’s best players was their young players. I was amazed at how such a young and undersized team competed and never quit in spite of all the obstacles. Furthermore, if the ordinary fan understood even more depth and talent was still not here yet, but a 15 or 16 year old playing Midget or Tier 2 junior somewhere else, they would have been quietly excited like I was.
Here is an overview of that talent I knew was on the way:
Let’s start with those that didn’t even make it to preliminary season roster.
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