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Czech NHL rookies – Milan Kraft

by Robert Neuhauser
on
Following the career of the Pittsburgh Penguins center Milan Kraft is following the career of a future phenom. Milan was an outstanding prospect back home in the Czech Republic and he shows a lot of promises in North America, too. The world championship title of the Czechoslovakia team in 1985, coached by Ludek Bukac, impressed Milan just like most 5-year old kids. And because he wanted to be like his heroes, so started Milan, a native of Tymakov, Czech Republic, playing hockey in the nearby city of Plzen. The son of the boss of a building company quickly blossomed into one of the top kids in the Czech hockey. Milan showed his great smarts, passing skills, vision and a sense for the game. You’ve got to be born with this. Milan obviously was. Always played with guys older than him, where he had to fight against guys bigger and stronger than him, but he was simply too good to play with guys of his own age. Milan needn’t to be afraid that it’ll be too hard for him, he was always a solid sized guy. And he is a leader, both on and off the ice, a natural captain. His only drawback was, that he sometimes played inconsistently and wasn’t a top skater. But otherwise everyone had to admit that he is great. Milan Kraft soon became the label Top 1980 born prospect and he really was. A leader of the Plzen team, and the best player in many tournaments.
In the 1994-95 season he performed really well at the selection tournaments for the new Under-16 team. And so in the fall of 1995 Milan became a consistent member of the Under-16 team. Not to say – the captain, due to his leader Read more »

Rangers and Pack Take Hits…Stats and More…

by Evan Andriopoulos
on
The season began not unlike anyother…some questions at the NHL level and some at the AHL level. Vladimir Malakhov went down quickly thus allowing the entry of NHL journeymen Drew Bannister and David Wilkie to get a shot… followed by Jason Doig, Tomas Kloucek and Dale Purinton. Even Mike Mottau was called upon to lighten the offensive workload of Brian Leetch… but to date only Purinton has been able to gain countable ice time due to his toughness and pro-team mentality that the 1999-00 Rangers so lacked. Eric LaCroix then was felled by an injury allowing Johan Witehall to earn some NHL icetime as well as recently acquired pseudo-prospect Bert Robertsson (ex.Vancouver,Edmonton and Columbus-prospect). Let us not forget Mike Richter`s recovery from last seasons knee surgery which thrust Kirk McLean and a host of others into the nets at MSG, see..Johan Holmqvist and Jason Labarbera.

While the players benefit from gaining valuable minutes in the NHL veteran and rookie AHLers in Hartford have been called upon to carry a large, large workload. Jason Dawe joined Jason Doig with long term injuries or season ending… this forcing G.M. Al Coates to search the leagues for players. Bryce Wandler, Goaltender was summoned from nearby New Haven of the UHL to guard the pipes while the Rangers AHL netminders toiled in New York.

The additions of Ryan Bast (ex Islanders), Boyd Kane(ECHL) and Richard Scott added to the Pack`s aggressiveness, however four of the team’s most physical players last season – Dale Purinton(NYR), P.J. Stock(MTL), Chris Kenady and Chris Read more »

Brian McGratten- Top Prospect?

by Tony Calfo
on
Power forward is a key position for any NHL team and one that the Kings have needed for some time. With the emergence of Steve Reinprecht, the Kings seems happy with their centermen, but a strong power forward still eludes the Kings wishes.

As most NHL teams know, the power forward with grit and scoring ability is paramount to achieving success in the pro game. With the emphasis moving away from the “goon” and to the power forward, players like Tie Domi, Chris Simon and Darren McCarty are the envy of the league. The Kings have no one in that mold, or at least until this season.

Kings prospect Brian McGratten is making a new name for himself. The former enforcer seemed more likely to punch a face than punch one past a goalie. This season however is another story. McGratten is still one tough hombre. His 57 PIM’s are still impressive, but not as much as his scoring line. McGratten has 17 goals and 6 assists for Missisauga this season. While the team is not what anyone would call a great one, Brian is the leading goal scorer. Perhaps most impressive is the 10 power play goals McGratten has posted.

Going into the season, McGratten seemed to be battling Kip Brennan for the right to be the next enforcer. With Brennan in Lowell still finding his game, McGratten has turned his game into something that the Kings need- a powerful game with a scoring touch around the net. Make no mistake, McGratten is not NHL ready, but the Kings have to be elated with his progress. He has the size and the grit to match this newfound scoring touch and the Kings will g Read more »

IHL: The Moose Are On The Loose

by Chad Cranmer
on
The Manitoba Moose have been stampeding over their opponents this year. Their 13-5-2 record is the best in the IHL’s Western Conference and second in the league to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Right wing Scott Thomas and defenseman Brett Hauer are pacing the team with 16 points each. Rusty Fitzgerald is Manitoba’s leading goal scorer with nine. Goaltender Johan Hedberg has an impressive 10-2-2 record with a 2.50 goals against average and a .912 save percentage.


IHL notes

The defending Turner Cup Champion Chicago Wolves are struggling through the first quarter of the season. The Wolves have a disappointing 10-8-2 record and are third in the Western Conference standings. Chicago has scored 72 goals in 20 games, which is second only to Cleveland’s 78 goals in 24 games. The Wolves are having trouble defensively, giving up 68 goals.

A rash of injuries that have hit their parent Ottawa Senators have forced the Grand Rapids Griffins to use 30 different players in 22 games this year. Seven different players who have played at least one game in Grand Rapids this season are currently in the NHL. Defenseman Joel Bouchard, who was on loan from the Phoenix Coyotes, was recalled by Phoenix. Goaltender Mathieu Chouinard, forwards Petr Shastlivy, John Emmons and David Oliver, and defensemen Jamie Rivers, and Shane Hnidy are all with the Senators.

Rangers WHL report

by Michael Theodore
on

Pavel Brendl: Looks solid so far this season, his imporved conditioning is
obvious and though it would be hard for him to take his scoring up even
higher, his defense is noticeably better. He will never be a Selke candidate
but he is getting stronger in his own end and has actually assumed a position
of leadership on the Hitmen. If he shows up at camp he could easily win a
roster spot next season. Has proved that he never lost his scoring touch and
his showing in training camp was indeed just him showing his defensive
improvement. First line winger someday.

Jamie Lundmark: Appears more determined then ever to show why he was drafted
9th overall. Despite playing on a team that is not necessarily better then
his old one {Moose Jaw} he is by far and away Seattle’s best player. Two way
hockey, with an aggressive touch and leadership. He is on pace to break 100
points despite only playing in 64 games {max}. Has played on every line for
Seattle, and played all three foward positions. Is proving that his poor
perfomance in camp was a result of the injury nothing more. Looks like the
Rangers first line center of the future.

Filip Novak: A surprise at camp and a solid pickup by the Sather
administration. Is bigger then his listed size and appears to be around 6’1,
maybe 6’2 and about 185- 190 pounds. Will probably play at around 6’2, 200.
He plays a similar game to Kim Johnnson but may be a little bit more
aggresive. Doesn’t really look like a number one defenseman but a solid
number two guy. He has done everythi Read more »

Sabres Report: Artem of Hooks and Other European Tales

by Ken McKenna
on

In my search for information on some of the Buffalo Sabres’ European prospects, I sometimes make use of a language translation web site. In particular, this site features a Russian-to-English translation feature which, when translating the name of Buffalo’s 2000 1st pick Artem Kriukov, spits out the curious moniker “Artem Of Hooks”. Perhaps Artem’s ancestors envisioned future generations of Kriukov’s spending large blocks of time in the penalty box, but I’m sure the Sabres would rather see Artem’s name appearing amongst the NHL’s scoring leaders at some future time.

In spite of the available translation site, however, finding information on both Artem and Buffalo’s 2000 5th Round pick, D Denis Denisov, has been difficult. With regard to Kriukov, he is currently playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Superleague (RHL), which is Russia’s equivalent to the NHL. Artem began the 2000-01 season playing for Yaroslavl of the RHL, where he appeared in just 2 games, registering no points. He also spent some time with Yaroslavl’s farm team, where he apparently registered 5 goals in 9 games. Prior to moving to St. Petersburg, Artem played for Russia in the Four Nations Cup Tournament which took place in Uddevalla, Sweden November 10-12. The Russian team finished the tournament 2-1, with Artem registering no points in the 3 games played.

Now that Artem is playing for St. Petersburg, he should receive more playing time than he would have received in Yaroslavl. The experience may not be the most pl Read more »

Bolt Prospects Earn Honors

by Megan Sexton
on
Detroit Vipers Nils Ekman and Martin Cibak were named International Hockey League Player of the Week and Rookie of the Week, respectively.

The announcement came Monday, just four days after Ekman notched the teams first hattrick of the season, in the Viper’s 5-3 home win over the Cleveland Lumberjacks. Ekman leads the team in goals scored (12) and total points (21).

Cibak earned the top rookie honors for the third time this season. He leads all rookies in scoring with 4 goals and 14 assists. He is also an impressive plus-12.

Weistche A Pleasant Surprise

by Brad Coccimiglio
on
Name: Ryan Weistche
Team: Soo Greyhounds
Height: 5'10"
Weight: 168 lbs
Hometown: Waskaganish, Quebec
Position: Centre
Last season Ryan Weistche was playing hockey in a bush league in
Northern Quebec. This season Weistche is one step away from the NHL.
Talk about change.

Weistche (pronounced Wee-chee) was invited to the Soo Greyhounds 2000
training camp on the advice of Greyhound assistant coach Bill Hughes.
Hughes saw Weistche playing in a tournament in Timmins, Ontario.

Weistche has seen his ice time with the Greyhounds fluctuate since the
start of the season. He is a mainstay in the Greyhounds lineup though
seeing time on the fourth line and he also sees limited time on the
Greyhounds power play along with some time killing penalties. He has
also played in overtime situations.

Weistche came to the Greyhounds training camp virtually unheralded. Not
very many people, except for those in the Greyhounds organization, knew
much, if anything, about Weistche when he first came to camp.

Weistche, 18, is currently undrafted. He did attend a hockey camp in
the Czech Republic during the summer that seemed to help him prepare for
his first junior hockey training camp.

All of his teammates were impressed with his ability. They all
commented on his vision of the ice and his passing ability. His
playmaking abilities are impressive. He is also very quick which makes
him a good fit with players like Cory Pecker and Martin Bonda who are
very qu Read more »