Pack your bags boys… Play time’s over. The brief glimpse of your potential future in the big league has come to an end.
Twenty-six players reported to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s B Camp in Brandon last Tuesday, hoping to walk away with a little more than a pat on the back and a “maybe next time.” Even though 23 of the 26 were handed their plane tickets this morning, they have more than fond memories to return with.
“If nothing works out here, I will be better wherever I end up,” said Brad Yeo, a 20-year old winger from Erie (OHL). After posting 69 points and 186 penalty minutes in 66 games with the Otters last season and then going undrafted, Yeo received an invitation to Tampa Bay’s training camp, where he was reunited with Erie teammate, Nikita Alexeev.
The camp itself wasn’t exactly a picnic for the twenty Lightning players and six invitees in attendance. “The skating drills are the toughest, but nothing is easy,” said Yeo, who used his invitee status as motivation.
“I have to excel against the guys I am playing against,” he explained. “They are pretty much here on a free ride, whereas I come in working extra hard to get a contract.”
A contract is the primary goal, but if not attained there is a consolation prize. The players released were not only competing for a roster spot, but also learning there is an entirely different level of play that must be reached before making it in the big league.
“The intense workouts after the exhibition games are excruciating, but they help you a l Read more »
Stoll Back in the saddle with the ICE
The return of Jarrett Stoll back to the Kootenay ICE from the Calgary Flames training camp produces some obvious mixed emotions for both the player and his Kootenay fans. The ardent process of the junior game is to ready the player for the inevitable next step in hockey, the professional ranks. But at the same time from a fan’s standpoint it’s hard to see them go any earlier than the graduated age of twenty.
It appears as though ICE fans will get their wish and have last season’s leading point-getter in the Blue, White and Bronze for at least one more season.
Although returned from his second NHL training camp after being drafted in the second round (46th overall) in the 2000 NHL Draft by the Flames, disappointment wasn’t foremost on the mind of the Yorkton, Saskatchewan native. “There’s a little bit,” said Stoll of the disappointment of being sent back. “But going there I just wanted to have a better camp than I did last year and I think that I showed I had improved. I think I did that by playing really well, every part of my game improved and they (the Flames) were really happy so, coming back is a little bit disappointing but I don’t think it’s going to hurt me by any means.
“It’s also good to get back and not miss any games and get right into it and see the guys again.”
Going into Flames camp Stoll had no reservations even though the pro club had added to its depth at Stoll’s natural position, center. Not the least of which was Cranbrook native Rob Neider Read more »
Philadelphia Flyers – Top 5 Call-UP Prospects for the 2001 Season
The Philadelphia Flyers head into the 2001 – 2002 season with one of their deepest teams ever since the trade of their former franchise player to the Rangers. The landscape of their rookies has change drastically. In June there were thoughts that one or two young defenseman would make the roster on opening night, oh how one trade can change things. The Flyers are in a position to let their farm system grow and mature. All the prospects will not be rushed along to fill any holes on the Flyers. A big part of a team’s success is their call – ups during the season. Currently at training camp the youth is clearly shinning.All teams have injuries to deal with in a course of a season. The teams that have players that can step in and serve a role are the teams that are most often in first place. The players listed below are prospects fans might see at some point this season. Flyer fans will see plenty of the players listed in this preseason.
Francis Lessard – Francis was thought to be the front runner for either the 6th or 7th defenseman on the opening night roster. The trade that netted Kim Johnsson has changed that now. He still has a chance to be their 7th blue liner. The Flyers seem to be in the mood to carry an extra tough guy this season. Francis could serve that role well on the nights that the big club plays the tougher teams. Bill Barber loves the toughness he brings to the table. I expect Lessard this season to once again be on the farm, however he may be a call Read more »
Hats off to Hagman
Panther prospect Niklas Hagman just started his call-out to earn a spot on the 2001 version of the Panthers. Already considered one of the players to be counted on in the future to complete the roster of highly skilled forwards, Hagman brings the rare combination of skill and just enough power that makes GM’s drool.
Playing last night against the Hurricanes on the sleepy west coast of Florida, the Panthers kicked off their pre-season with a 3-1 win that showcased the young Finn, as well as a young Russian and young Swede. Carolina went with a veteran matchup, playing Irbe, Francis, Ozolinsh, Kapanen, O’Neill, and Ward among others. The Panthers relied mainly on their young veterans and rookies such as Worrell, Herr, Weiss, Payer, Shvikdi, Morisset, etc.
This young line-up was able to outpace and outlast the Hurricanes, and the scoring started on the power-play at 6:27. With Huselius running the PP from the point, where he was able to keep the puck away from any challenges, he passed the puck to Novoseltsev at the left circle. Novo had a lot of room to himself so he teed up a shot ear-marked for the top shelf when Hagman tipped the puck down to beat a hand-cuffed Irbe.
After this goal, the game got quite ugly with both teams going back and forth with no discernable cohesion. But at 16:00, Carolina was able to come back on a broken play to beat Flaherty on a two-on-one to even the game up.
The second period was highly an unremarkable period, highlighted by the strong physical play of Read more »
The Rangers kicked off the month of September with a three game rookie tournament held in Kitchener, Ontario. A team of Rangers’ prospects and hopefuls competed against rookies from three other teams, which included the Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes. The Rangers had a roster consisting of 14 players who were there on a try-out basis, and two big guns in Jamie Lundmark and Barrett Heisten did not play. They easily had the weakest team in the tournament, although they finished with 1 win and 2 losses.
To open the tournament, the Rangers fell to the Boston Bruins by a score of 4-1. Ryan Hollweg, an 8th round selection by the Rangers in this past entry draft, scored the only goal. Undrafted free agent Scott Meyer split time between the pipes with Dan Blackburn, the Rangers 1st round pick this year. Both goalies gave up 2 goals each in the loss.
The next day the Rangers were back on the ice, this time to face off against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They were overpowered by a strong Leafs’ team that consisted of a few top young players, including Brad Boyes. The final score was 7-2 in favor of the Leafs, with defensemen Filip Novak and Jason Jaffray (playing on a try-out basis) netting the only two goals for New York.
The Rangers finished the tournament the following day with a 6-5 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, a game won in a shootout. Petr Preucil, drafted this past year from the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, scored the winning goal. Garth Murray, a 3rd round pick this year, chipped in a goal and Juris Stals, the Read more »
In today’s NHL, every team’s blueprint for success includes a puck-moving defenseman. It’s no different in fantasy hockey. A mobile, offensive defenseman can add a whole new dimension to your team, bringing offense from a traditionally unexpected source.
You will find a noticeable lack of young defensemen among my top 20. Defensemen usually take more time to develop, and the present guard is lasting longer than ever (see Bourque, Ray) and contributing regularly in the offensive zone. The only rookie to make the list is Columbus wonder kid Rusty Klesla, and he’s pretty far down the list. Most players who are top offensive defensemen have honed their craft for several seasons.
Since there are so many defensemen available, I expanded my list to include the top 40. Enjoy.
1. Niklas Lidstrom, Detroit
Bar none, the NHL’s premier offensive defensemen. He’s the cog that gets the Wings’ transition game going, and with Scotty Bowman planning to adopt the attacking Torpedo style offensive scheme, his point totals could increase. As if he needs any more motivation, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this year.
2. Chris Pronger, St.Louis
His points per game have risen every year. An absolute workhorse who will log a ton of ice time again this season. Amazingly enough, he’s still one of the more underrated offensive defensemen in the game. The addition of Doug Weight, and Tkachuk’s PP ability will improve Prongers numbers even more. If he stays free of injury, he could lead all defensemen in scor Read more »
The Blackhawks met the Dallas Stars in Monday -Tuesday exhibition games and the fans were treated with some prospect views but little in immediate help. The first game gave first glimpses at the progress of Mark Bell, Mike Souza, and new pros Kent Huskins and Mike Leighton, and amateur Igor Radulov.
Of this group, the guy closest to making the roster is Mark Bell. Mark Bell will be an NHLer player – that seems decided. On Monday night he showed improved speed, positioning and continued aggressive play. He scored after carrying in down the left wing in traffic and scored on a sharp angle almost over the goal line with and hard snap shot.
Prior to this season, Bell seemed a step behind the action and tentative. Tonight he showed controlled aggression, and he came to play. Bell was still at Left wing. He looked disciplined on the wing and made few errors in coverage and on offense.
Mike Souza reminded me of the Mark Bell of a year ago. Souza played well on a 3rd line and played well along the wall displaying good balance and physical board work. He gets were he is going, but just didn’t display quick feet. He just seemed behind the speed of the game in many instances. It moved at bit faster than he anticipated.
Kent Huskins had trouble with the strength of the attacking forwards. He also was unable to compensate for the speed the pro game is played. He can the puck better than he showed. Often, in his effort to speed it up. he was inaccurate. He has good size, used it on occasion, but wasn’t able to handle the stronger NHLers.
Mike Leighton came in and Read more »
From the aftermath of a tumultuous season has emerged a leader in one of the most unlikely of candidates: Sheldon Keefe.
Resigned to the Lightning’s B Camp, filled with mostly young prospects, Keefe is taking his experience from last season and putting it to good use. “There are a lot of young guys. Not many have been through what I have,” Keefe said when asked of his leadership role. Then again, few players in the entire league have had to deal with the issues or make the decisions that Keefe has faced throughout his career. Nonetheless, Keefe is still working hard and returning to the leadership role, which he played through his junior career, especially while in Barrie. Keefe, who has more NHL experience than the entire B Camp combined, says he tries to lead by example.
“I talk to them a lot on the ice, try to keep them relaxed,” said Keefe, who has been noticeably vocal on the ice during camp. He has taken a special liking to Russian Evgeni Artukhin, who speaks little English. Keefe has shown a great deal of patience in working with Artukhin and helping him to understand the drills and exercises.
Some could view Keefe’s being assigned to Springfield as a demotion. And in a sense it is, though it does have its perks…like seeing him go head-to-head with former teammate and close friend Mike Jefferson. Keefe and Jefferson were the driving force behind the Barrie Colts’ Memorial Cup run two seasons back.
“Mike has a good chance of making the team in New Jersey,” Keefe explained. Should he not, he will be assigned to the Alban Read more »
On Tuesday, September, 11th, the puck dropped in 7 Czech arenas to start the regular season
of the Extraleague. Every team faces a 52-game schedule with the playoffs following. The
Extraleague consists of 14 teams and the teams fight for 8 playoff spots. The team which
finishes at the last place has to face the winner of the Div I league in the relegation
series. This year the teams face a more grueling schedule than in the other years. That’s due
to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. This year the teams have to play on Tuesdays, Fridays
and Sundays compared to the Friday-Sunday schedule used in the previous non-olympic years.
Pardubice and Ceske Budejovice have to start the season in other arenas than their home
buildings because their home arenas are rebuilded. Like every year, lots of stars including
Robert Reichel (Toronto) or Jiri Dopita (Philadelphia) left for the NHL, other European
leagues or lower North American leagues. The biggest addition should be Michal Sykora,
released by the Philadelphia Flyers, who boosts the Pardubice roster, but lots of promising
young players fight for the free spots and hope that they can impress enough to catch the
eye of NHL scouts as late-bloomers, like Karel Pilar, now with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Let’s
have a look at the chances of every team!
The mighty Vsetin team (won seven of the last eight Extraleague seasons) faced serious trouble
during the offseason, it wasn’t even sure that Vsetin will play in the Extraleague, but they
soluted the problems in time. However, there is almos Read more »