Have you read this before: “The Lightning are putting together an
impressive collection of talent that will get them out of the NHL basement.”
Well unfortunately those statements have gone without results from the
players themselves. However all the blame can’t be placed on the players
alone. Changes in ownership, front office, coach and staff have resulted in
a massive overhaul in the Lightning roster. Out is owner Art Williams, in is…
Davidson. Out is GM Phil Esposito, in is Rick Dudley. Out is coach
Jacques Demers, in is Steve Ludzik. To put it in a nut shell the Lightning
upgraded to a more hockey smart (and professional sports smart) owner, a GM
that won’t use aging veterans to band aid the roster, and a coach that
combines his ability to discipline while relate to his players. This new
staff has been given the challenge to rebuild the last rebuilding process of
the Bolt roster. And they are doing a good job of it. Out are big and slow
talent. Dudley has replaced that with big and fast, really fast, talent.
Most of this talent comes on the blueline. Dudley is developing a nucleus of
young defensemen comparable to the New York Islanders of a few seasons ago.
Below is more is a more in-depth look at the defensemen in the Lightning
This has quickly become the organizational strength as far as talent is
concerned. Following graduated prospects Andrei Zyuzin, Sergey Gusev, Pavel Read more »
Hello and welcome to the latest Capitals Prospect Update. In addition to all the news and
notes, I will give you up-to-date stats on all of the players on the top 50 list.
The Portland Pirates continued to slide after sitting atop the AHL for a couple of months.
Their record stands at 40-20-9 (90 pts.) and puts them 4 points behind Hartford (N.Y.R.) in the
divisional race and for the overall lead. The Pirates have clinched a playoff spot however, and
will start the post season in a couple of weeks. Leading scorer Glen Metropolit is back with
the Capitals, but may be back down to the AHL for the playoffs. The Pirates have six players
assigned to Hampton Roads (ECHL): Forwards Mike Omicioli and Mike Siklenka, Defensemen Gerad
Adams, Steve Shirreffs and Dean Sork, and Goaltender Curtis Cruickshank – who are all in their
first professional season.
The season is over for some of the Capitals’ North American prospects, as the College league
playoffs have finished. Princeton (Chris Corrinet) and Harvard (Kyle Clark) lost in the first
round of the ECAC playoffs. In the Hockey East playoffs, Providence (Michael Farrell) lost in
the first round and Boston College (Kevin Caulfield) made it to the finals but lost to Maine.
Finally, Minnesota (Erik Wendell) lost in the semi-finals of the WCHA tournament. In the OHL,
London (Krys Barch) missed the post-season, losing the last playoff berth to Guelph (Charlie Read more »
The regular season has ended and the playoffs begin on Sunday. Eight teams still have
a chance to play hockey, while the London Knights and Owen Sound Platers have been
relegated to the sidelines, after being the in the conference finals the year before. Such is life in the OHL, where the cycles can be wicked if proper steps are not taken. The Platers tried to make a move up when they grabbed Kenny Coroupe at the trading deadline, but they never got a sniff of the playoffs. They have no drafted players and their top prospect for being drafted this June is Latvian defender Agris Saviels. Their offseason could be turmuoltuos as they may be moving to Cornwall. This is a team that I wouldn’t expect to be very strong next year, based on their current roster.
Read more »
The Thunder Bay Flyers wrapped up their 16th and what looks to be final
season over the weekend with a sweep of the Dubuque Fighting Saints. Scoring
for the Flyers in there 7-4 victory on Saturday night was Aaron Grynol with
the hat trick, Pat Sharp with a pair and Murray MaGill and Jamie Young with
singles. Ken Ritson picked up what could possible be the last win in Flyers
history in the net. Thunder Bay finished with a 18-39-1 record good for 37
points and 13th place in the 14 team league. Thirty-nine losses breaks the
old club record of 33 set in 1985-86 season and the 1996-97 season. The team
leaders for the season where: Aaron Grynol 22 goals, Pat Sharp 25 assists,
Pat Sharp 55 points, Jesse Baraniuk 267 PIM to lead the USHL, Ken Ritson 4.07
gaa 0.888 save percentage, 3 shutouts.
The team is rumored to be folding and moving to Aurora, Ill for the 2001-2002
season. There is however a 60-day window of opportunity for local ownership
to step up and purchase the team. The current owner Ted Carlson is asking
$300,000 US which seems to be a steep price for any local groups. With this
said it looks like Thunder Bay has seen its final days in the United States
Thunder Bay has played in the USHL for 16 years as the only Canadian team in
the league. The Flyers captured four regular season championships and two
playoff titles in this time. The club from the Lakehead also captured two Read more »
The Philadelphia Phantoms have enjoyed a good deal of success during their
brief AHL existence. Most of their success, however, has been due to the
play of minor league veterans. Some of the minor league vets, most notably
Vaclav Prospal, Craig Darby and Mike Maneluk, were still young enough
during their Phantoms stay to still be considered of NHL prospect age.
More typically, however, the Phantoms have relied upon older, “career” minor
leaguers such as Peter White, Jim Montgomery, Shawn McCosh and Bruce
While the team has had a handful of standout rookies along the way
(Jean-Marc Pelletier and Mark Eaton come to mind), the team’s first year
players have more typically been eased slowly into the lineup by coach
Bill Barber. Before they earn steady ice time, they must show across-the-board
improvement in their game. If they do not show the all-around development
that Barber demands, the coach will not hesitate to bench them or have
them demoted to a club in a lower league; Francis Belanger being a perfect case
in point. If the young player succeeds in gaining Barber’s confidence with
his work habits and willingness to take criticism, he will see increasing
ice time over the second half of the season.
This season, the Phantoms have had two rookies (Francis Lessard and Tomas
Divisek) who almost immediately became integral parts of the hockey team
and a third (Ruslan Fedotenko) who responded very well to an early season Read more »
With players like Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk, Alexei Zhamnov, the Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg
Jets franchise had at one moment assembled one of the deepest talent pools in the NHL.
Were they that adapt at drafting or did it just happen that they got lucky?
The Coyotes/Jets franchise has been unable to rebuild their franchise effectively through the draft. A lot of this lack of success can be directly attributed to their poor use of their first round selections.
After drafting Keith Tkachuk in 1990, it has a long time before the Coyotes drafted anyone of significance with their first round pick. Case and point was the Sergei Bautin fiasco back in 1993. Back in 1992 Mike Smith then GM of the Jets decided that the best player available with their 17th pick overall was the then 25 year-old Sergei Bautin a rugged defensive defenseman. Needless to say, that move backfired and within four seasons and a trade to Detroit, Sergei was out of the NHL entirely. He will go down in history for the Jets/Coyotes as the worst draft pick in franchise history (Some Jimmy Mann critics may disagree) and provides a clear example of how pathetic this team was at the draft table during the first round for much of the decade. Read more »
While the season has been a success for the Los Angeles Kings, there has been one area where the Kings may not have played their cards correctly. That is at the goaltender position.
Earlier in the season I wrote an article calling for a Jamie Storr trade. While this may not have been the best move, the alternative could not have been. Firstly, Storr has been at the heart of the Kings hot streak of late. Through Stephane Fiset’s injury, Storr has played well offering the big saves that never seem to come when Stephane Fiset is in the pipes. Jamie still has the lapses that have plagued him his entire career, but his record is much better than Fiset’s and he is much more likely to dominate a game that Stephane. Storr also remains injury prone and while he is getting better, he still is shaky handling the puck. All in all, Storr has proven himself to be the number one goalie. That may be the bad news.
Read more »
With the regular season coming to a close in most leagues, many Islanders prospects put the finishing touches on strong seasons. The Isles boast top 15 scorers in all three major junior leagues as well as in the Swedish junior League.
The Isles hottest prospect has been without a doubt Taylor Pyatt. After a slow start the year he has really come on and has been on a tear to end the regular season. Pyatt posted 10 points in 3 games earning him player of the week honors and finished the season with 40 goals and 89 points in 68 games, good for 8th in the league in scoring. He also led the league in plus/minus at +47. Pyatt is showcasing all the skills that will make him an elite power forward in the NHL.
Justin Mapletoft currently stands 7th in the WHL in scoring with 3 games to play. He leads his team in every offensive category and has earned praise for his outstanding defensive play. His totals stand at 37 goals, 91 points, and 131 PIM in 69 games.
In the QMJHL, Juraj Kolnik was dominant all year. Despite missing time with a shoulder injury and to play at the WJC, Kolnik finished 15th in scoring. In only 47 games he lit the lamp 53 times and had 106 points. His shooting percentage has been around 30 percent all year and is a true sniper. His skating still needs a little work, but he has a nose for the net and a tremendous release.
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Bryce Wandler is a kid who was passed up in the NHL draft since first eligible back in ’97. He has descent size and good ability. Sometimes it takes a trade to get a kid going and in Wandler’s case his trade to the Swift Current Broncos was one that possibly set forward in motion a potential career. He does have talent but has been on a rather mediocre at best team. He is a signing that doesn’t hurt the Rangers and at the very least gives them some depth. You have to remember that Dan Cloutier was the goalie of the future and so now the Rangers are trying to get some options out there for the future.
It’s hard to say where exactly a kid like Wandler fits in. Labarbara has been good for horrible teams. Pay no attention to the win loss records or the GAA, the key is the save percentage and in the case of Labarbara it’s always been solid. Mike Richter’s numbers don’t catch the eye but everyone know how good he has been, it’s the same with Labarbara. Holmqvist has all the tools to be a number one goalie but one questions whether or not he wants to come to North America. What he does depends on how set the Rangers are in the net. McLean is a solid veteran who will serve good as an interim backup. Labbe was just a signing for the farm club, not seen as NHL material, plus he is already getting ready to turn 28. Hnilicka is already going to be 27. Both goalies are minor league types, not NHL prospects.
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The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim promised some minor deals this trade deadline and General Manager Pierre Gauthier delivered with the dealings of minor leaguers. The most notable of these players is Johan Davidsson.
The team dealt the once highly touted Davidsson to the Islanders for rookie and Euro veteran Jorgen Jonsson, the older brother of Isles captain Kenny Jonsson. The trade was a statement from Gauthier that the team needed help now not for the future as they try to squak into the playoffs.
Jonsson is having a highly productive season, scoring 11 goals in his first NHL season. He has been projected as a possible second line center down the road. For now though, the Ducks could use his skill. A strong skater and good playmaker, his abilities should add some depth overall to a team that lacks consistency.
One of the key selling points is Jonsson’s strong penalty-killing. He racked up two shorthanded goals with the Isles and since the Ducks have struggled all year shorthanded, he will be a welcomed addition. Anothe selling point is his good speed which fits in perfectly for the fleet footed Ducks team. As an added bonus, Jonsson is good defensively which is perfect for Coach Craig Harstburg who has preached team defense to his team this season.
Read more »