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Pens Mid-Season Prospect Ranking Update

by Erik Johnson
on

1. Milan Kraft, C

Has done nothing to remove himself from the top spot in the Pens prospect list. Very solid player, makes very few mistakes. Reminds a lot of people of a young Ron Francis with a better scoring touch, although he’s not the playmaker that Francis is.


2. Sebastian Caron, G

Sebastian has been hot and cold for the Pens in his rookie season. Named AHL Goaltender of the month for November, but has had some bad performances in Oct and Dec. A .886 SvPct isn’t great, but for a rookie, it’s not bad and he’s learning on the job.


3. Konstantin Koltsov, LW


When he plays for his Russian squad, he’s played well. A bit inconsistant, which causes him to be benched (or scratched) at times. Played well for a very bad Belarus team in the World Junior Championships.


4. Josef Melichar, D


Played well enough in camp to eearn a spot with the NHL club, but after the first few games, was in and out of the lineup. Sent back to Wilkes-Barre after the Pens acquired a few “veteran” defenseman and Kasparaitis and Laukkanen came back from injuries. He’s still quite young and has plenty of time to get himself back into the lineup. Will defintely be a part of the Pens future on defense, along with Ference and Rozsival.


5. Andrew Ference, D


They all said he was too small. Fortunately for the Pens, they forgot to tell Andy. It unfortunate that they can’t find a spot for him on the NHL squad, because he deserves it. Solid offensively, solid defensively. Strong power play pointman. 1 of 4 WBS Read more »

ICE G.M. confident about club without Comrie

by Jeff Bromley
on
With the loss of ICE captain Mike Comrie to the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers, many detractors would say it is a blow that the ICE cannot overcome. Not so says ICE G.M. Bob Tory.

Proving the club depth over the weekend double header against the Brandon Wheat Kings, with at least ten regulars out of the line-up, the team managed to capture three of a possible four points against the Wheaties. Throw in another big win with nine regulars out of the line-up against the Tigers on Wednesday, the ICE have begun the second half of the 2000-01 season answering soundly the question of whether or not the ICE will be the force they were in the first half of the season. “Sure it’s a setback when you lose the leading scorer on your team and the leading scorer in the league, but that’s all it is, a setback, you adjust. It doesn’t mean that the team won’t work harder and give everything we got,” said Tory. “I don’t thing anything changes with Mike leaving. There’s some opportunities for some guys to increase their role with the hockey club but it’s no different than when Steve McCarthy got injured last year going into the playoffs. It’s a little bit of adversity and we have to try and deal with it and not let it affect us and I thought we did a good job of it this weekend with the number of guys at the World Juniors, the under-17 tournament and the injuries.”

With Comrie gone to the NHL, it raises some key issues with the ICE. Namely, who’s going to fill the captaincy on the club and, with Comrie being a twenty-year-old player, it reduces the number of overage players on th Read more »

WJC Final Game Recap

by Robert Neuhauser
on
The most attractive part of the WJC was scheduled on Friday, January, 5th, 2001 to the
Luzhniki Arena in Moscow. The final battle of the WJC, one of the two teams will always
remain in the history of hockey as the winner, remembered by the fans, the other won’t be
well known after some time. Of course each of the teams wanted to be the “unforgetable” and
celebrate the victory, what can be better? On one side the Czechs, a team led by
strong personalities and future NHLers, on top with the super first line consisting of
defensemen Rostislav Klesla and Libor Ustrnul and forwards Pavel Brendl – Vaclav Nedorost -
Zdenek Blatny. Those five guys combined for nearly 60 per cent of the goals scored by the
Czech team.

The Finnish side presented top WJC sniper Jani Rita, one of top 1982 born
defensemen in the world, Tero Maatta, and all three top 2001 Finnish prospects, Tuomo Ruutu,
Saku Koivu’s younger brother Mikko Koivu, and left winger Tuomas Pihlman. Pihlman and Ruutu
played on the first line along with the sniper Rita, Mikko Koivu was the center of the line
with wingers Ville Hamalainen and Tony Salmelainen. And one had the teams the same. Great
goaltenders. Well-known New Jersey Devils prospect Ari Ahonen in the net for Finland and
undrafted HC Sparta Praha goalie Tomas Duba playing for the Czech Republic. So this were the
top Under-20 teams of the 2000-2001 season, now competing for gold.

Both of the teams have built their strategy on defense. The Finnish players forechecked hard,
but after they felt, that they can’t win the puck, th Read more »

Czech Republic vs. Sweden WJC Semifinal Game Recap

by Robert Neuhauser
on
Every semifinal game is a battle. Now it time for all teams to be serious. It’s time to play
for the medals. This game will decide who will play for gold and who can eventually finish
without a medal. The Czech team realized that. They’ve had only about 20 hours after the
quarterfinal game to prepare for the semifinal game against Swedes, who sent the host Russians
to play for the fifth place best when they defeated them 3:2 in their quarterfinal game. Both
teams met in the first game of the tournament and the Czechs have won that tight defensive game
2:1 when Martin Erat scored the game winner with just three minutes left in the game. It was
obvious that this game won’t be different, it’ll be a serious playoff game with defense first.
The Czechs have great defensive corps and so do the Swedes. They’re led by Detroit Red Wings
draftee Nicklas Kronwall, who already played for the senior national team at the Pragobanka Cup.
Fowards are very good on the Swedish team, too, and the eyes of the NHL scouts would probably
focus on Fredrik Sjostrom, a highly touted 2001 prospect, who already scored twice during the
tournament. Both teams are equally good, have excellent goaltending provided by Tomas Duba
and Henrik Lundqvist, mobile defensemen and scoring forwards. In a game like that can every
detail decide. A very bad thing for the Czech team happened the night before this match when
three forwards, Ivan Rachunek, Marek Tomica and Ladislav Vlcek felt sick and the doctor sent
them back to bed because of a flu. But the Czechs are used to play on three lines so th Read more »

The Weekend Warrior

by Randy Nicholson
on

Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.

Decision time: It seems to me as though the Toronto Maple Leafs have reached a point in time when significant determinations must be made … even an optimistic person can clearly see that the club trails the Devils in terms of championship potential – especially if Jersey can somehow acquire Rob Blake (see below) … the Leafs are essentially equal to division rivals Ottawa and Buffalo – no worse but certainly not significantly better either … to make matters even more complicated, previously dormant teams such as Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Washington have recently sprung to life and now trail the overall conference leaders by a very narrow margin … the situation could be much different if Toronto had performed up to expectations against several of the league’s doormats during the Christmas period … on a more positive note, the team is currently on a pace to match last season’s point total although very few players are enjoying what could be considered “career” seasons … in spite of this, all signs point to a notable player move (or moves) designed to vault the team up into the NHL’s highest echelon … Leafs’ ownership is more than willing to spend the dollars needed to improve their chances of a Cup challenge this spring and this is an option not readily available to rivals such as the Sabres and Senators … the dilemma, of co Read more »

Czech Republic vs. Slovakia WJC game recap

by Robert Neuhauser
on
On the last day of the 20th century, December 31st, 2000, the Czech squad had to face the
last opponent in the round robin system of the Group A. The Slovakian squad isn’t playing
really well at the WJC this year, but they might have regained their confidence with a 7:0
win over Kazakhstan. The Czechs were already sure winners of the group and they didn’t need to
play on full speed. So the coaches had to warn the team not to take this game easy because
a loss would damage the confidence before the quarterfinal match. The Czechs are running
high this time with a perfect 3-0-0 record and the Slovakian team wasn’t supposed to be of
any trouble. But they can always surprise and have their leading duo in Portland Winterhawks
forwards and Montreal Canadiens draft picks Marcel Hossa and Jozef Balej, who play along with
Kingston Frontenacs’ Tomas Skvaridlo on the first line. Skvaridlo was drafted by the Pittsburgh
Penguins in 1999 and he plays very solid at the WJC. The defense has its star in Rene Vydareny,
a Vancouver Canucks prospect, who had trouble with his former Slovakian team and wasn’t
permitted to play for the Canucks till late December. Rumors say that with a good performance at the WJC
he should see some ice time with the Canucks already this season, but he is heading for the
Kansas City Blades most likely. Two players of this Slovakian squad could hear their names
called in June – defenseman Tomas Slovak of Kosice is the top Slovakian prospect and he’ll be
drafted sure and goalie Peter Budaj, a Toronto St.Michael’s Majors player, who may be a late
Read more »

Czech Republic vs. Switzerland WJC Quarterfinal Game Recap

by Robert Neuhauser
on
As winners of the Group A at the WJC the Czech team faced the fourth placed team of the Group
B, team of Switzerland. This was an advantage for the Czechs who avoided meeting Finland,
Russia or Canada in the quarterfinals. But this opponent can’t be taken easy. Many of the
fans would say, that Switzerland is no problem for the Czech team loaded by future NHL regulars,
but that is not the case. The Swiss guys are gritty players who play together for 4 years and
even if they have no potential superstar on their roster, they often cause trouble to the top
teams. This is what they showed during their games in the Group B, they managed to play a tie
game with the host Russians, 3:3, trailed Finland only by one goal, 2:3, won over Belarus
and only their last game was a clear loss, 4:8 to Canada. But every of their four goals was
scored on the powerplay and the first line plays some pretty good hockey. They’re well
organised, play good defensively and are waiting for the mistakes of the opponent.

The physically good Swiss guys can make every mistake of the opponent to their advantage,
that’s exactly what the Czech coaches have seen when they attended the game against Canada.
The coaches did everything that was possible to prepare the team for this game of high
importance. They even had a secret videotape with the practices of the Swiss team. That’s
something the Swiss coaches wouldn’t like to hear. So the Czechs were ready and went out
on the ice willing to show the others who is better.

At the beginning was everything going easy. Atlanta Read more »

Kings Getting a Glimpse of the Future

by Tony Calfo
on
The Kings season has been a mystery. Poor goaltending, an unresolved Blake situation and home losses to the worst team in hockey have clouded what seemed to be a breakthrough season. Despite all of this, the Kings can see the future right now in the play of Steve Reinprecht, Lubomir Visnovsky and Eric Belanger.

Eric Belanger came out of nowhere to claim a roster spot and has adjusted his game to fit the NHL style of play. Belanger has always had tremendous skill. He has shown his playmaking ability when filling in for Josef Stumpel and the start of the season. But when Stumpie returned, Belanger was returned to Lowell. Injuries lead to his recall and his centering the fourth line, flanked by tough guys Stu Grimson and Ian Lapperierre. Belanger has shown some solid defensive play and the grit that Kings management thought he lacked. Granted, he gets alot more room on the ice because of his linemates, but Belanger has shown that he can adapt his game to whatever situation is needed. After being labeled a flop last season, Belanger’s development may move him into a second or third line center for years to come.

Steve Reinprecht has fooled this fan. Rhino has emerged as a second line center and is among the leaders in rookie scoring. I for one thought he would struggle this season, but his amazing hands and playmaking ability have lead to unexpected scoring chances. He has the ability to dig the puck out of the corners, make moves on a dime, and find the open skater. Rhino is solid on both sides of the ice and is a playmaking center that the Read more »

Final WJC Stats For Rangers Prospects

by Brandon LeBourveau
on

World Junior Championships

  • Jamie Lundmark and team Canada won the Bronze medal today as they defeated Sweden 2-1 in overtime. Jamie Lundmark didn’t register a point or penalty for the Canadians. Raffi Torres, an Islanders prospect, got the game winning goal in overtime to give Canada their second straight Bronze medal. Canada also is the only team to win a medal in each tournament the past three years. Lundmark’s final stats are 7 points (4 goals, 3 assists) and 6 penalty minutes in 7 games. Here is where he finished among everyone in the tournament: 1st in scoring for Canada, tied for 7th in the tournament with his 7 points, tied for 6th in the tourney with 4 goals, 6th in the tourney with a 22.22 shooting percentage, tied for 12th with 3 assists and 1st in face off winning percentage with a 67.78 percentage. He will soon be heading back to Seattle to continue to lead them towards the WHL playoffs and keep racking up points at a rapid pace.
  • Read more »

Flyers Rumor Is News To Zultek

by Shane Walsh
on

When Bruins prospect Matt Zultek left St. Thomas University on November 30, trade rumors involving the Philadelphia Flyers began to flare up. Zultek, a second round draft pick of the Bruins, re-entered the 1999 draft after failing to agree to terms with the Los Angeles Kings. For those who don’t remember, Zultek was unable to attend training that fall because of a severe knee injury. He spent most of 1999-00 in rehab to strengthen the knee, and was fortunate to play the last 28 games of the season with the OHL’s Ottawa 67′s.

Primed and ready for his 1st Bruins training camp last fall, Zultek had been going back and forth to Boston to do routine fitness tests. At the time Zultek was excited, he felt his knee was strong and was enthusiastic about agreeing on a contract.

Training camp came and went and Zultek was still without a contract.

“I thought I had a great camp,” said Zultek from his Ontario home. “I did all of things they asked me to. I was really upset with the way they handled things, they wanted me to play for Greenville of the ECHL. I didn’t have a problem with playing in the ECHL, I just looked at the $150,000 contract offer, which didn’t include any bonuses, and decided it would be better for me to further my education.”

“St. Thomas University is a great school, and the coach gave me a lot of ice time and an opportunity to play. But because of my contract situation, I had to leave school. If I stayed at school past November 30th, the Bruins would retain my rights for an additional 180 days.”

Waiting till December 28 Read more »