With Sean O’Donnell signing with the Boston Bruins and Ken Sutton making the jump to play for Mike Milbury on the Island, the Devils defense will have a good mix of seasoned veterans with younger talent, with a bright future ahead.
Yes, yes, I know, …you are already laughing about how ridiculous this sounds and are about to go back to the Devils main page never to read another one of my articles. But before you head over to the message boards and start posting, continue reading and think about what I have to say for a while. Now, I have read several posts on various Devils message boards saying how the Devils defense is too old and there isn’t much left in the tank. I have also read other things like, Devils should have kept O’Donnell or tried to sign Erin Weinrich. I was particularly fond of the more sarcastic posts like maybe we should see what Paul Coffey is doing in the fall or maybe Robinson will get nostalgic and strap on the skates and throw on a sweater for old times’ sake.
Before you actually start ripping on the Devils’ Defense, lets look at the personnel who make up the core of blueliners. First, Scott Stevens, who turned 37 in April is the captain of the team and the unchallenged leader of the squad on and off the ice. He is and will be a presence in the NHL this coming year and years to follow. He played 81 games last year and expect him to play another 80 this year. Ken Daneyko is also 37 years young, but is in the prime of his career. He is skating better (but not faster), more confident with the puck and is very important on the p Read more »
After two years of controversy, the Ottawa Senators finally shipped the disgruntled Russian center Alexei Yashin to the New York Islanders on draft day, in return for a package including Jason Spezza. The trade put an end to Yashin’s troubled nine-year stay in the nation’s capital. As soon as the news came out, the fans gave out a sigh of relief, uttering “good riddance” about his departure.
It is interesting to point out that both teams received intriguing packages in return. Ottawa, unable to afford Yashin’s estimated $8-10 million a year, received a top prospect, a third-line winger and a physical defenseman. The Islanders now have the services of a proven 40-goal 90-point center, which could foreshadow the franchises first playoff birth in years.
Ottawa, Canada – A lot of excitement has spread over the capital’s hockey community. The trade of Alexei Yashin was a win-win situation for the team, as well as for the fans. Jason Spezza, thus far, seems to be a perfect fit in the community. He’s made appearances on radio, televison; gave interviews and completed practices in front of excited crowds of fans. Spezza’s poster boy style has already won over the city, bringing back memories of the younger Yashin being treated like a king in his early days in Ottawa. He is a great interview; he talks to the media with great confidence and ease. Comparisons to players like Mario Lemieux and, to a lesser extent, Jason Allison have only added to the excitement.
Although it might be too early to predict Spezza’s future in the NH Read more »
Goaltenders Michal Lanicek and Alexander Polukeyev, and defenseman Marek Priechodsky all signed standard three-year rookie contracts today.
Lanicek spent the season with HC Berounsti Medvedi of the Czech 1st league. In 17 regular season games, he recorded a 2.44 goals against average and a .922 save percentage. He appeared in 7 playoff games and had a 2.28 GAA and .877 save percentage.
Polukeyev played five games in the Russian Super League with SKA St. Petersburg. He had a 4.55 GAA and .852 save percentage. He spent the rest of the season with St. Petersburg’s junior club.
Priechodsky played 43 games with HC Slovan Bratislava of the Slovakian Extraleague. He had five assists and a plus-18 rating.
A Knight in Shining Feathers?
Lubos Velebny was selected by the Leafs in the seventh round of the 2000 Entry Draft as a little known blueliner from Slovakia and remained so through last season as the focus of most fans attention turned to Mikael Tellqvist, Brad Boyes, Petr Svoboda and Jeff Farkas. However, one person who didn’t lose sight of the rearguard was the coach of the USHL’s Waterloo Blackhawks, Scott Koberinski. The reason being of course, was that Velebny came over to North America and spent the season learning the finer points of hockey on this side of the pond under the aforementioned bench boss. Now that he has been nabbed by the London Knights in the CHL’s Import Draft, his progress will be more easily followed by Leaf fans in Southwestern Ontario. That said, in a recent conversation with Koberinski, who compares him to a young Lubomir Sekeras (Minnesota Wild) in style, he described a player that while a work in progress, is further ahead in that progress than most defensemen his age.
Offensively minded, Velebny’s main weapon is a devastating slapshot from the point which he doesn’t hesitate to use, especially on the powerplay. Koberinski goes on to say that had he stayed in the USHL this season “he would have easily been the best powerplay quarterback in the league”. In addition to that his first pass out of the zone is almost always flawless and he has adapted to the rougher game over here faster than one would have expected. However, like all wild young horses, there is a downside and that downside is in his decisio Read more »
As the final picks were decided for the 2001 draft, it was evident that the event embodied an outstanding depth of skilled prospects, arguably the best since the 1991 draft. Russian prospects lead the way with Ilya Kovalchuk going 1st overall, followed by Alexander Svitov at # 3 and Stanislav Chistov at #5. Kovalchuk became the first Russian prospect ever to go first overall, as he had become the clear-cut #1 choice in the minds of General Managers and the media.
A large variety of Russian youngsters were drafted. In fact, Russia represented the highest percentage of European prospects as expected. However, not since the early nineties was it that Russia showcased not only such skill but undeniably a large amount of youth. The country has visibly recovered from the recession of prospect depth through the mid-nineties.
In 2002, Russia will be represented with a new row of eligible players. Although the choice is not as deep as in 2001, the talent level is visible, no doubt about it. As expected, the variety is based on skill, speed and skating, the factors which ideally epitomized Russian hockey for decades. However, as of now there is a touch of grit, size and intensity, the words which before were not associated with the Russian style of the game. With prospects such as Ilya Kovalchuk, Alexander Svitov, Pavel Vorobiev and Alexei Semenov, it is becoming clear that over the years the North American influence has largely impacted the game of hockey not only in Russia, but in Europe as a whole. The 2002 class is represented by several bigg Read more »
All-Star Traded in for Experienced Face-Off Man
Kyle Freadrich and Nils Ekman seem to have lost their place in the
organization, as they were traded to the New York Rangers on June 30th
for experienced centerman Tim Taylor.
seemed to be caught in a numbers game, but appeared to have proved his worth in
his 43 games with the Lightning throughout the 2000-01 season. A two-time IHL All-Star, Ekman tallied 9
goals and 11 assist while with Tampa and another 22 goals and 14 assists in 33
games with the Detroit Vipers (IHL).
only appeared in 13 games with the big club and suffered through an
injury-plagued season while in Detroit.
His notorious battle with Chicago heavyweight Ryan VandenBussche game
him a name late in the 1999-00 season, but he failed to keep the intimidation
factor going. He squared off when given
the opportunity, but never put on much of a show. With the acquisition of Matthew Barnaby and Gordie Dwyer still in
the ranks, Freadrich was quickly ousted from the tough-guy r Read more »
Overall view of the Philadelphia Flyers defensive prospects
Although critics may say otherwise, the blueline is now one of the Flyers organizational strengths. The difference was the 2001 draft. I think the current draft yielded at least 3 rearguards that may make the NHL with in 4 years. Before the draft, I thought the Flyers had average defensive talent, but now they have seem to have above-average talent system-wide.
In the system, Philadelphia has plenty of big defensive blue liners. At the draft, they added more rearguards that can skate and handle the puck. Bruno St. Jacques will be probably the first one of the prospects to make the Flyers. A lot of that, however, depends on what the Flyers get in return for Eric Lindros. Flyer fans can rest assured that defense will soon not be a problem any longer. While most of the regulars on the Flyers blueline are getting up there in age, the kids in the system should be ready to step up and play well by the time the current veterans are gone.
Read more »
The Pittsburgh Penguins shocked the media and fans, dealing scoring champ Jagr to frequent playoff matchup Washington Capitals. Many critics speculated that Jagr was headed for New York or Los Angeles this week. Pens GM Craig Patrick surprised all by moving Jagr to the Caps for three prospects and future considerations.
Frantisek Kucera was also included in the package as obvious salary relief. The little used defenseman was a late pickup last season and hardly saw the ice.
The Pens get in exchange three top 35 1999 draft picks from Washington :
1. Kris Beech 20 6’3″ 200lbs. C Calgary Hitmen (WHL) – Scoring centerman.
2. Ross Lupaschuk 20 6’1″ 215lbs. D Red Deer Rebels (WHL) – Physical blueliner.
3. Michal Sivek 20 6’3″ 209lbs. C Sparta Praha (Czech Rep.) – Two-way center.
Future Considerations are expected to include cash.
Former first round selection (1997), Robert Dome has agreed to a one year contract to play for the Penguins. Dome, who was touted as a talented prospect but never materialized, will get one last opportunity.
The 22 year old Slovak has made a habit of reporting to camp out of shape and has yet to produce at the level the Pens hoped he could. After a dispute with management a year ago, Dome chose to play for Kladno of the Czech Elite League. He posted 9 goals and 12 assists with 57 PIM in 29 appearances.
The 6’0″ 210lbs. Dome will have one last chance to make a positive impression on Penguins officials this fall.
People on both sides of the ocean may say what they want about the European players playing
in the CHL, but the fact is, that if the CHL will exist, the young Czech players will be
eager to try their luck in the junior leagues. They want to get used to another lifestyle,
another style of play and play in front of NHL scouts every game. In Europe hockey involved
people rave about young kids leaving for the CHL after their parent clubs invest lots of
money into their development since they start playing at 6 and get nothing in return. In
America people complain about the Euros taking spots which could be filled by home Canadians.
Everyone knows those disputes. The fact is, that from the last year’s CHL crop lots of Czech
players made a name for themselves and got drafted by NHL teams (Hemsky, Krajicek, Podlesak, Mojzis,
Lukes, Jakes, Platil). It is very likely that this situation will be repeated next year,
because CHL teams selected some top-notch prospects from the Czech developmental system.
Now look who is it!
No. 1 Marian Havel – Vancouver Giants (WHL)
Team: HC Dukla Jihlava
Born: January, 26th, 1984
Weight: 180 lbs.
NHL draft: 2002 eligible Read more »