The Ontario Hockey League’s class of 2001 is looking very promising. With a solid core of
offensive gems and reliable rearguards, this year might be the most productive in recent memory
when it comes to the players developing into quality NHL players. Leading the pack is the highly
touted Jason Spezza of the Mississauga Ice Dogs. Spezza, in his 3rd full OHL season, has a very
good chance of being chosen 1st overall, and making an impact in the not so distant future in
the NHL. Also rated is Stephen Weiss of the Plymouth Whalers. As a rookie last season, Weiss
turned heads with his excellent on-ice vision, and maturity. These 2 players will certainly lead
the OHL into next year’s draft, and represent the offensive capabilities of the league, but the
show will then be focused over to four of the most talented defensemen that the OHL has ever
Leading the crop is Tim Gleason of the Windsor Spitfires. Gleason, in his 2nd season, can do it
all. His speed is his best asset, with end to end capabilities. Make sure to watch for him when
he visits your team’s rink. I can assure you that you have never seen a more powerful, more
agile skater. He is excellent in his own end, making the big plays in front of the net and in
the corners. He is not afraid to mix it up, as his grit and toughness aids well in making him a
solid defensive defenceman. A good example of this is last year’s 1st round playoff matchup vs. Read more »
Preparing for the festivities, the Blue Jackets re-assigned four and placed Espen Knutsen on the injured reserved list.
Deron Quint went to the Syracuse Crunch (AHL). Mike Maneluk went to the Chicago Wolves (IHL). Center Brett Harkins and defenseman Bert Robertsson went to the Houston Aeros (IHL). Center Espen Knutsen is on injured reserve retroactive to September 20, when he suffered a broken finger against the Detroit Red Wings. Defenseman Radim Bicanek was placed on waivers to make room for Steve Maltais, who recently signed a contract. Maltais attended camp on a trial contract.
Team lines should look something like this tonight with Maltais, Drury and Dineen mixing things up. My apologies, last issue I forgot to mention Jan Caloun on my projected line-up.
The defense pairings are not set.
The Rangers needed to make room for newly acquired Michal Grosek at
forward, and instead of trading an old veteran like John MacLean or Eric
Lacroix, they took a chance on losing Johan Witehall on waivers by sending
him down to Hartford of the AHL. Luckily no one picked up Witehall, and he
was assigned to Hartford yesterday. The Rangers roster is now down to 23 for
tonight’s game against Atlanta. Here is the roster, which includes 3
goaltenders, 7 defenseman and 13 forwards.
Goalies: Mike Richter (injured), Kirk McLean, Jason Labarbera (rookie)
Defenseman: Brian Leetch, Vladamir Malakhov, Sylvain Lefebvre, Rich Pilon,
Kim Johnsson, Brad Brown, Jason Doig
Forwards: Theoren Fleury, Adam Graves, Mark Messier, Valeri Kamensky, Mike
York, Michal Grosek, Petr Nedved, Radek Dvorak, Jan Hlavac, John MacLean,
Eric Lacroix, Tim Taylor, Sandy McCarthy
In other news, SLAM! is reporting that there has been talks about a
blockbuster trade between the Rangers and the Phoenix Coyotes. In this
proposed trade, the Rangers would send Mike Richter, Theoren Fleury, and top
prospects Jamie Lundmark and Pavel Brendl to Phoenix for Keith Tkachuk and
Nikolai Khabibulin. Although SLAM! says NHL insiders have said these talks
have taken place, Glen Sather has denied it. Thank Goodness! If the Rangers
pulled off that trade, I would be one pissed of hockey fan. Not only is that
deal totally one-sided in favor of Phoenix, we give up both our top prospects Read more »
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.
The final cuts: The Maple Leafs pared their roster down to the required 23 healthy bodies on the October 2nd deadline by assigning defensemen D. J. Smith and Nathan Dempsey along with forward Jeff Farkas to St. John’s of the AHL … all three players performed well in camp and are considered to be viable call-up options should the Leafs run into any injury problems later on … when newly acquired Bryan McCabe officially arrived from Chicago later in the week, the team was once again over the roster limit and therefore forced to demote one more player … Adam Mair was ultimately selected, not because he hadn’t clearly played his way onto the team this fall, but simply because he was one of the few remaining players not subject to league waivers prior to a minor league assignment … Mair shouldn’t get too used to life on the Rock as he’ll undoubtedly be back as soon as the Leafs move out an extra veteran or two … this could happen very soon …
Read more »
On the night when Daniel and Henrik Sedin made their long-anticipated NHL debut, two less-heralded Philadelphia Flyers rookies, Justin Williams (the Flyers 2000 first round pick) and Petr Hubacek (a 1998 9th rounder) grabbed the spotlight. Both Philadelphia players scored a goal in their first NHL game and Williams, the game’s first star, also added two powerplay assists.
Williams, playing on the first line with Keith Primeau and John LeClair, had the type of night that every young player grows up dreaming about. Everything he touched turned to gold.
At the 3:14 mark of the first period, Williams found a free lane to the net and scored the first goal of the game.
Said Williams, “We had a little separation out there and Johnny just chipped the puck in the middle. I got a shot off but it was blocked. It kicked around a little bit and found my stick. I just kind of whacked it in.”
Read more »
Two weeks into the OHL season and a disturbing message has already been sent from the Plymouth
Whalers to the rest of the league: We are back.
The Plymouth Whalers franchise seems to never do wrong. As their website once read, “A Decade of
Excellence,” Plymouth seems to stand by the statement, and looks to continue into a new
millennium. Off to a quick 4-0 start, with wins over teams such as Erie and Ottawa, the Whalers
return many of the same faces which brought success last year, and reveal a few new more, ready
to make their mark in the league. 1st round selection James Wisniewski looks to be a bright gem
in the Whalers system. As a defenceman, he leads the team with 4 goals and looks to be the next
person to carry the Whalers blazing torch. As a Windsor supporter, I will be quick to state that
I have never seen an average Plymouth Whalers performance. Year in and year out the Whalers
continue to mold their team around hard work and perseverance. Take last year’s squad for
example. Not expected to make it into the playoffs, the Whalers shocked everyone around the
league and won 17 straight games en route to the best record overall in the league, and an
upsetting loss in the OHL Final to Barrie. Experience might have been the ultimate decider in
their fate, but there is no need to feel down for Whalers fans and players because every
key player from last year’s ‘miracle’ season returns. Led by former 1st rounder Kris Vernarsky Read more »
Some more moves have been made by the Rangers, as this has been a very
exciting week in New York. With the trade of Quintal to Chicago for Grosek
and Brown yesterday, the Rangers roster got a little bigger and they needed
to make some moves.
Defensemen Mike Mottau and Dale Purinton were both assigned to Hartford
of the AHL yesterday, with Purinton being sent there on a 2 week conditioning
stint. Purinton can’t be sent to Hartford without passing through waivers, so
the Rangers just sent him there for 2 weeks while they possibly try and trade
another defenseman to make room for him on the pro club. I really thought
Mottau played well in the 6 games he played. He will definitely get called up
and play in New York this season, but for now the Rangers’ roster is loaded
and he’ll get some time to develop in Hartford. He should get loads of ice
time, and the Rangers management will be keeping a close eye on him. Purinton
should be on the Rangers as well, but there’s a log jam at defense. Either
the Rangers will have to trade another defenseman to make room for Purinton,
or, they’ll have to trade Purinton. But it’s most likely they won’t trade the
In other news, Jamie Lundmark has stated publicly that he will not report
to Moose Jaw of the WHL. He wants to be traded from Moose Jaw to a contender,
and he’s sitting at home while he’s waiting for a trade. This is the wrong Read more »
Our look at the top players to watch in the CCHA continues with an analysis of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Under head coach Dave Poulin, the Irish have improved considerably, but this season may be a true breakthrough year for the team. Notre Dame has 17 letterwinners returning from its CCHA semi-finals squad of last season, including several players who are finally coming into their own. The Irish have 10 players on their roster who have played either with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program or the U.S. World Junior squad. Notre Dame has more players from the NTDP on its roster than any other school in college hockey. A good recruiting class helped bolster that impressive number over the summer and should keep the Irish strong in the years to come.
Seniors Dan Carlson and Ryan Dolder will be the clear leaders on this young team and should also be among the team’s top scorers. Carlson led the Irish in scoring with 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points in 42 games. Carlson is undersized at 5-9 and 190 pounds, but he is very strong for his stature. He plays in all situations and shows some of his best work for the power play, where he is an excellent playmaker and is often the Notre Dame point man.
Dobler is a former walk-on who is now the team captain. He is a 6-0 195-pound left wing and while his offensive production is limited, his leadership and work ethic are critical to the team’s success. Dobler scored 10 goals and added 14 assists for 24 points last season.
Read more »
The fantasy league that is the NHL’s 2000 preseason has come to an end, with the Buffalo Sabres sporting a very impressive 7-1-0 record. Winning records in the preseason aren’t necessarily the stuff of legends, but even the most jaded Sabres fan has to go into the regular season feeling that Buffalo will be an improved team in 2000-01.
The major reason for the feeling of optimism is the play of some of the younger prospects in the organization, particularly that of Jean-Pierre Dumont, Dimitri Kalinin and Mika Noronen. These 3 youngsters all played a major role in crafting Buffalo’s winning preseason record, as they displayed the skills and maturity of veteran NHL performers. They, along with Denis Hamel, Eric Boulton and Jason Holland, made the final cutdown to 23 players, with Dumont, Kalinin, Boulton and Noronen almost certain to be in the opening night lineup vs. Chicago.
Another young prospect, Brian Campbell, appeared to shake off his forgettable performance of last season by displaying the considerable offensive skills that had been his bread-and-butter during his junior career. Brian was returned to Rochester for the start of the 2000-01 season, but he is certain to be the first call-up should an injury be suffered in the defensive ranks.
Read more »
The parent Calgary Flames have made their final cuts and the roster
for this season’s installment of Saint John Flames has taken shape.
The result is a team with 8 or 12 forwards with prior NHL experience and
a goaltending staff including last year’s AHL most valuable player.
The defence may need an extra name with Toni Lydman impressing in
Calgary, but all in all this is a team that has the potential
to go all the way this season.
Starting on left wing you have Jason Botterill, Miikka Elomo, Dave
Roche, and Benoit Gratton. Elomo and Gratton are solid AHL veterans
that have shown above average offencive capabilities in prior seasons.
Botterill and Roche add toughness on the third and fourth lines which
provides for a good mix.
The centre position features Daniel Tkaczuk, Marc Bureau, Steve Begin,
and rookie Blair Betts. Daniel Tkaczuk has impressed in exhibition
play and the future NHL star looks like he will be among the highest
scoring players in the AHL this season. Bureau was a surprise cut in
Calgary. His defencive capabilities and years of NHL experience will help
the young Flames progress. Steve Begin, in his third season in a baby Flames
uniform, will continue to be the go-to-man on the faceoffs and in penalty
kill situations. Among the only “frosh” in the Flames lineup the injury
plagued Blair Betts will be a welcome addition in the two-way department.
Read more »