With the losses of Valeri Kamensky, Theo Fleury, and Sylvain Lefebvre to free agency (or should I say the Rangers?) and Billington in a trade, the Avalanche are going to have some tough decisions to make this season. As well, the loss of Forsberg for the first few months, and Hejduk throughout training camp will leave some rather large holes in the Avalanche offense. This means that the Avalanche are going to have to call on some of their highly regarded prospects to pick up the slack, if the Avs are to avoid a start like they had in 98-99.
The first void to fill is going to be at center. Forsberg is going to be rehabbing until at least December, and it would be best for all involved if Forsberg were to take his time in recovering. After seeing what he can do after playing a full season, imagine what he could do with a full tank going into the playoffs… The player most likely to step in would be Alex Tanguay.
Tanguay, who spent last season with Halifax in the QMJHL, is a highly skilled center, in the mold of Joe Sakic. Widely regarded as one of the top prospects in the NHL, Tanguay scored 61 points in 30 games with the Mooseheads last season, after coming back from a concussion. These concussions are the question mark regarding Tanguay, as several careers have been cut short the past few years by concussions.
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Two of the most promising players the Sabres picked up in the 1999 draft are Buffalo’s first round selection Barrett Heisten (Left Wing, 20th overall), and one of their second round picks, Doug Janik (Defense, 55th overall). The two draft Sabre picks were both freshman standouts at the University of Maine and were cornerstones of the Black Bears’ 1999 NCAA Championship season. Heisten and Janik also played together in a National Development Program held last year.
Heisten, an Anchorage, Alaska native, seems to be a prototypical Buffalo Sabre. He turned down offers to play Major Junior so he could come to Maine. A lot of people were interested in him, as he is a player who can score and has speed, yet also possesses a nasty side. Sabres GM Darcy Regier stated that he “has some Rasmussen and Varada in him” (referring to gritty wingers Erik Rasmussen and Vaclav Varada). He stands at 6′ 1″, 191 lbs. and needs to work on his scoring; like the aforementioned Varada and Rasmussen, Heisten can score at times but can be very streaky. One has to keep in mind that the Barrett is only 18 and has time to develop. Up to this point he has tried to make up for a lack of scoring with speed, grit and tenacity and has been fairly successful at it. Heisten struggled early on in the 98-99 season but, after a strong performance at the ’99 World Junior Championships, he picked up his game tremendously and was named the Hockey East Player of the Month for his strong play during January.
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Here is a ranking and look at some of the top prospects from the OHL who are eligible for the 2000 Entry Draft. (NOTE: A player without comments has already had an in-depth accurate profile written on them. Just click on their respective link to view their profile)
1. Darryl Bootland – Toronto St. Mike’s
2. Lou Dickenson – Mississauga
3. Chris Eade – North Bay
4. Brad Boyes – Erie
5. Dan Growden – Windsor
6. Nikita Alexeev – Erie
7. Raffi Torres – Brampton
Comments: Finished second in team and rookie scoring to phenom Jason Spezza, a
pure sniper who also likes to crash the net. A fine two-way player who is
as steady as a rock, and is difficult to knock off his skates.
8. Bobby Turner – London
9. Jared Newman – Plymouth
10. Ryan Hare – Sarnia
Comments: A center/winger, this hometown product was Sting’s first round pick in
1998. Rookie season was marred by back injury, but that still did not slow
down this road-runner. An OHL scoring champion in the making once he
11. Chris Berti – Sarnia
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The Los Angeles Kings thought they had their center of the future in Olli Jokinen as recently as last Spring. He was exactly what the Kings had longed for- a big, physical centerman with playmaking ability. Whenever teams called for trades, they were told that Jokinen was off limits. Now he is gone as part of the Palffy trade, and the Kings have quickly become thin at a key position- center ice.
While they did get the enigmatic Bryan Smolinski as part of the trade, the loss of Jokinen, Ferraro (free agency) and Perrault (trade last season) have left the Kings with an opening for one of their young center prospects. Much like defense, the Kings drafts and trades of the past will have to produce a player this season, furthering the need for Dave Taylor to face the music. The success or failures of some of these young forwards may well determine Taylor’s future as General Manager of the Kings.
The Kings are set with three centermen, Josef Stumpel on the first line, Smolinski on the second and crowd favorite Ian Lapperiere as the center on the checking line. That would likely leave two center positions available, one third line center and one reserve. The Kings signed journeyman center Len Barrie who has played in Europe the last two seasons and is 30 years old. He would appear to be the safety net in case the young players cannot handle the rigors of the NHL. These are the rest of the centers with shots at the roster:
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With no less than 10 NHL drafted players and a few other interesting names, such as 2000 entry draft top prospect Lasse Kukkonen on the ice, this is one of the first and most important games to report from this season. Reason being that in preseason games such as this one, young promising players often get a chance to show what they are made of. Luleå gave two players from their U20 team a chance, although they weren’t played very much. Defenseman Anders Sundvall hardly played all. Winger Daniel Lundholm only played the first half, in which he was close to scoring for the first time in senior hockey. Kärpät is a team that has an amazing number of good prospects, and many of them really showed why they are prospects in this game. A sad thing, however, was that the Toronto 1997 draft pick Jonathan Hedström wasn’t able to play due to an injury he suffered earlier this week in a charity soccer game. This was supposed to be his first game in the Luleå jersey, but that has been put on the back burner as he recovers. Below is a report from this game. The players whose names are written in bold text are those mentioned in the ”Player comments” section.
Luleå started the game with an early goal at the expense of hot 2000 prospect, Lasse Kukkonen. Read more »
It was a subtle, but straight-forward statement made by then Leafs’ GM and current president, Ken Dryden. “If you look at the best teams in the NHL, like Dallas, they have a corps of defensemen who excel at moving the puck out of their own zone.” The transition game. Puck movement. Getting the puck out of the defensive zone from the defensemen to the forwards, who can then attack in waves.
NHL hockey in the 1990′s may have become known as the “era of the neutral zone trap”, but the transition game, largely fueled by defensemen who can move the puck, may be the strategy which reverses the “swing of the pendulum” as the league looks to add scoring back to its game. As Dryden astutely observed, the Dallas Stars did “do it right” as their transition game helped to lead them to a Stanley Cup victory. During the 1998-99 season, an improved transition game helped the Toronto Maple Leafs lead the league in scoring with 268 goals.
Three, young, NHL players, Bryan Berard, Daniil Markov and Tomas Kaberle provide the core of the Toronto Maple Leafs defense as the team heads into the new millenium. Three young “guns” upon which much is expected over the next 10 years in “blue and white”.
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The Calgary Flames have developed a habit in the past three seasons. This habit, of turning young, previously unheralded, inexperienced players into NHL regulars, is set to continue as the young club continues to mature its talent. Last season it was Clarke Wilm who surprised observers by sticking with the club for the entire season. Who will be this seasons’ Clarke Wilm?
In 1996/97 this trend started with defenceman Todd Simpson and winger Jarome Iginla both making the Flames, and playing in the entire 82 game schedule. Simpson was more of a surprise than Jarome Iginla. Iginla had already grabbed headlines twice during the previous season. First he was the compensation for Joe Nieuwendyk in a deal with the Dallas Stars. Secondly, he scored a goal in his first NHL game, in game 3 of that seasons unsuccessful playoff series against Chicago.
In 1997/98, Steve Begin and Derek Morris, both recent draft picks, started the season in Calgary, with only Morris managing to both survive and thrive in the NHL in his first attempt.
In 1998/99, Clake Wilm won his roster spot over players like Sergei Varlamov and Travis Brigley. Rico Fata and Martin St. Louis began the journey but both returned to junior and the minors respectively, leaving Wilm to carry the torch of the rookies forward. Wilm played consistently well all season long, showing an occasional offensive touch, but developing as a strong third line defensive forward, often playing in key situations and against the opponents best players.
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Part IV: The First Clarke Administration
Although Sinisalo, Lindbergh, and Eklund blossomed during Bob Clarke’s first tenure as the Flyers general manager, they were initially drafted and/or signed to the organization while Keith Allen was still the general manager and Clarke was an active player. This was also the case for the vast majority of key North American players from the Keenan/Clarke era Flyers; including draftees Ron Hextall, Brian Propp, Rick Tocchet, Ron Sutter, Peter Zezel, Derek Smith, Lindsay Carson, and enforcer Dave Brown; undrafted rookies such as Tim Kerr and Dave Poulin (signed after playing with the Division One Rögle club in Sweden); and key trade acquisitions such as Mark Howe, Brad McCrimmon, and Brad Marsh. Thus, it was actually Keith Allen, rather than Clarke, who was the primary architect of the Flyers success in the mid-1980s. Clarke’s main contributions to the strong teams of the mid-1980s were the hiring of Keenan and the trades that brought Murray Craven and Kjell Samuelsson to Philly. Read more »
Part III: Ilkka and the Pelles
By the time Miro Dvorak joined the Flyers from Czechoslovakia, the Flyers had already begun to reap their first dividends of European scouting, landing their first players from Scandinavia and Finland. (In hockey terms, “Scandinavian” scouting really means scouting in Sweden because Norway and Denmark (and Iceland) are minor hockey countries. Although often classified as such, Finland is not a Scandinavian country). The early history of Flyers efforts in Finland and Sweden Finland will be recounted separately.
The whole of Flyers history in regard to drafting and/or signing Finnish players remains rather limited even to this day. In the two decades since Swedes and Finns started to be selected regularly in the NHL draft, the Flyers have made only six total entry draft selections from Finland. Moreover, to date, only two Finns have ever worn a Flyers uniform in a regular season or playoff game. For over a decade, the entire history of Finnish Flyers could literally have been summed up in one name: Ilkka Sinisalo.
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The 1998-99 hockey season was filled with ups and downs for Peter Ferraro. From being signed as a free agent by the Boston Bruins during the offseason, to making the starting line-up with the Bruins, to fighting through a string of injuries over a four month period, to being reassigned to Providence in the American Hockey League in early March, to leading Providence to the Calder Cup Championship and winning the Jack Butterfield Trophy as Playoff Most Valuable Player. Peter showed drive and determination to overcome the hard times and he ended the season on a very positive note.
Ferraro signed on with the Boston Bruins as a free agent on July 21, 1998. After spending the better part of three seasons (1995-96 through 1997-98) shuffling between the NHL and AHL, that road taking him from the New York Rangers to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and back to the Rangers organization, the stage was set for Peter to prove that he belonged in the ‘big show’.
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