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Flyers Top 5 call-ups candidates

by Al Alven

Philadelphia Flyers – Top 5 Call-UP Prospects for the 2001 Season

The Philadelphia Flyers head into the 2001 – 2002 season with one of their deepest teams ever since the trade of their former franchise player to the Rangers. The landscape of their rookies has change drastically. In June there were thoughts that one or two young defenseman would make the roster on opening night, oh how one trade can change things. The Flyers are in a position to let their farm system grow and mature. All the prospects will not be rushed along to fill any holes on the Flyers. A big part of a team’s success is their call – ups during the season. Currently at training camp the youth is clearly shinning.All teams have injuries to deal with in a course of a season. The teams that have players that can step in and serve a role are the teams that are most often in first place. The players listed below are prospects fans might see at some point this season. Flyer fans will see plenty of the players listed in this preseason.

Francis Lessard – Francis was thought to be the front runner for either the 6th or 7th defenseman on the opening night roster. The trade that netted Kim Johnsson has changed that now. He still has a chance to be their 7th blue liner. The Flyers seem to be in the mood to carry an extra tough guy this season. Francis could serve that role well on the nights that the big club plays the tougher teams. Bill Barber loves the toughness he brings to the table. I expect Lessard this season to once again be on the farm, however he may be a call Read more »

Hats off for Hagman

by Mark Fischel

Hats off to Hagman

Panther prospect Niklas Hagman just started his call-out to earn a spot on the 2001 version of the Panthers. Already considered one of the players to be counted on in the future to complete the roster of highly skilled forwards, Hagman brings the rare combination of skill and just enough power that makes GM’s drool.

Playing last night against the Hurricanes on the sleepy west coast of Florida, the Panthers kicked off their pre-season with a 3-1 win that showcased the young Finn, as well as a young Russian and young Swede. Carolina went with a veteran matchup, playing Irbe, Francis, Ozolinsh, Kapanen, O’Neill, and Ward among others. The Panthers relied mainly on their young veterans and rookies such as Worrell, Herr, Weiss, Payer, Shvikdi, Morisset, etc.

This young line-up was able to outpace and outlast the Hurricanes, and the scoring started on the power-play at 6:27. With Huselius running the PP from the point, where he was able to keep the puck away from any challenges, he passed the puck to Novoseltsev at the left circle. Novo had a lot of room to himself so he teed up a shot ear-marked for the top shelf when Hagman tipped the puck down to beat a hand-cuffed Irbe.

After this goal, the game got quite ugly with both teams going back and forth with no discernable cohesion. But at 16:00, Carolina was able to come back on a broken play to beat Flaherty on a two-on-one to even the game up.

The second period was highly an unremarkable period, highlighted by the strong physical play of Read more »

Fantasy Hockey: 2001-2002 Defenseman

by Curtis Allen

In today’s NHL, every team’s blueprint for success includes a puck-moving defenseman. It’s no different in fantasy hockey. A mobile, offensive defenseman can add a whole new dimension to your team, bringing offense from a traditionally unexpected source.

You will find a noticeable lack of young defensemen among my top 20. Defensemen usually take more time to develop, and the present guard is lasting longer than ever (see Bourque, Ray) and contributing regularly in the offensive zone. The only rookie to make the list is Columbus wonder kid Rusty Klesla, and he’s pretty far down the list. Most players who are top offensive defensemen have honed their craft for several seasons.

Since there are so many defensemen available, I expanded my list to include the top 40. Enjoy.

1. Niklas Lidstrom, Detroit
Bar none, the NHL’s premier offensive defensemen. He’s the cog that gets the Wings’ transition game going, and with Scotty Bowman planning to adopt the attacking Torpedo style offensive scheme, his point totals could increase. As if he needs any more motivation, he’ll be an unrestricted free agent after this year.

2. Chris Pronger, St.Louis

His points per game have risen every year. An absolute workhorse who will log a ton of ice time again this season. Amazingly enough, he’s still one of the more underrated offensive defensemen in the game. The addition of Doug Weight, and Tkachuk’s PP ability will improve Prongers numbers even more. If he stays free of injury, he could lead all defensemen in scor Read more »

Blackhawks First Exhibitions Show Little

by Bill Placzek

The Blackhawks met the Dallas Stars in Monday -Tuesday exhibition games and the fans were treated with some prospect views but little in immediate help. The first game gave first glimpses at the progress of Mark Bell, Mike Souza, and new pros Kent Huskins and Mike Leighton, and amateur Igor Radulov.

Of this group, the guy closest to making the roster is Mark Bell. Mark Bell will be an NHLer player – that seems decided. On Monday night he showed improved speed, positioning and continued aggressive play. He scored after carrying in down the left wing in traffic and scored on a sharp angle almost over the goal line with and hard snap shot.

Prior to this season, Bell seemed a step behind the action and tentative. Tonight he showed controlled aggression, and he came to play. Bell was still at Left wing. He looked disciplined on the wing and made few errors in coverage and on offense.
Mike Souza reminded me of the Mark Bell of a year ago. Souza played well on a 3rd line and played well along the wall displaying good balance and physical board work. He gets were he is going, but just didn’t display quick feet. He just seemed behind the speed of the game in many instances. It moved at bit faster than he anticipated.

Kent Huskins had trouble with the strength of the attacking forwards. He also was unable to compensate for the speed the pro game is played. He can the puck better than he showed. Often, in his effort to speed it up. he was inaccurate. He has good size, used it on occasion, but wasn’t able to handle the stronger NHLers.

Mike Leighton came in and Read more »

Keefe Making the Most of Camp

by Megan Sexton

From the aftermath of a tumultuous season has emerged a leader in one of the most unlikely of candidates: Sheldon Keefe.

Resigned to the Lightning’s B Camp, filled with mostly young prospects, Keefe is taking his experience from last season and putting it to good use. “There are a lot of young guys. Not many have been through what I have,” Keefe said when asked of his leadership role. Then again, few players in the entire league have had to deal with the issues or make the decisions that Keefe has faced throughout his career. Nonetheless, Keefe is still working hard and returning to the leadership role, which he played through his junior career, especially while in Barrie. Keefe, who has more NHL experience than the entire B Camp combined, says he tries to lead by example.

“I talk to them a lot on the ice, try to keep them relaxed,” said Keefe, who has been noticeably vocal on the ice during camp. He has taken a special liking to Russian Evgeni Artukhin, who speaks little English. Keefe has shown a great deal of patience in working with Artukhin and helping him to understand the drills and exercises.

Some could view Keefe’s being assigned to Springfield as a demotion. And in a sense it is, though it does have its perks…like seeing him go head-to-head with former teammate and close friend Mike Jefferson. Keefe and Jefferson were the driving force behind the Barrie Colts’ Memorial Cup run two seasons back.

“Mike has a good chance of making the team in New Jersey,” Keefe explained. Should he not, he will be assigned to the Alban Read more »

Czech Extraleague preview

by Robert Neuhauser
On Tuesday, September, 11th, the puck dropped in 7 Czech arenas to start the regular season
of the Extraleague. Every team faces a 52-game schedule with the playoffs following. The
Extraleague consists of 14 teams and the teams fight for 8 playoff spots. The team which
finishes at the last place has to face the winner of the Div I league in the relegation
series. This year the teams face a more grueling schedule than in the other years. That’s due
to the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. This year the teams have to play on Tuesdays, Fridays
and Sundays compared to the Friday-Sunday schedule used in the previous non-olympic years.
Pardubice and Ceske Budejovice have to start the season in other arenas than their home
buildings because their home arenas are rebuilded. Like every year, lots of stars including
Robert Reichel (Toronto) or Jiri Dopita (Philadelphia) left for the NHL, other European
leagues or lower North American leagues. The biggest addition should be Michal Sykora,
released by the Philadelphia Flyers, who boosts the Pardubice roster, but lots of promising
young players fight for the free spots and hope that they can impress enough to catch the
eye of NHL scouts as late-bloomers, like Karel Pilar, now with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Let’s
have a look at the chances of every team!

HC Vsetin

The mighty Vsetin team (won seven of the last eight Extraleague seasons) faced serious trouble
during the offseason, it wasn’t even sure that Vsetin will play in the Extraleague, but they
soluted the problems in time. However, there is almos Read more »

HF Profiles Rick Nash

by Jason Ahrens

The London Knights are currently in their second year of management by the Hunter family and the last year playing at the IceHouse. A number of excellent players have donned the Knights uniform in the old barn, and we may be seeing the best of the bunch this year in Rick Nash. Pretty strong statement considering Jason Allison and Brendan Shanahan among others are alumni.

Nash stands six foot four inches and weighs in at 180 pounds. He shoots left and plays left wing. He is a probable top 5 pick for the 2002 entry draft and will challenge for the top spot. He will face great scrutiny this year, as numerous scouts pick apart his game, looking for flaws real and imagined, comparing him to the other elite players around the globe. Toss in going to school, dealing with teen age problems, and oh yeah, being the go to guy on an OHL team for the second year in a row and there will be a lot of pressure on his shoulders.

Nash has a number of things going for him, and lets start with his size. He is already a big man and one can imagine what he may look like in a few years when he is done filling out. But the amazing part is that he is totally comfortable with his body and shows no signs of the awkwardness that other teenagers do when they have grown rapidly. He is a magician with the puck and uses his long reach to his total advantage. He can stickhandle laterally with ease, and loves to pull the puck back to his body, leaving opponents lunging futilely in search of the puck. With his size he can turn a corner and shield the puck with one arm off his stick Read more »

Aaron Lobb…. A Big Hit At Camp

by Megan Sexton

Just ask Henrik Bergfors, or anyone else in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s B Camp, for that matter. Nearly all of them have felt the effects of Aaron Lobb’s wrath.

It’s funny: The guy who was highly criticized for his lack of physical play at draft time is by far the most aggressive player in the Lightning’s B Camp. That knock—lack of physical play—was probably a considerable factor in his dropping to the forth round in the draft, though his consistency was also questioned. Whatever the reason, this kid appears to be the complete package, and he was a steal in the late fourth round.

Lobb opened camp with a bang, getting into a scrum with Swedish defenseman Bergfors just minutes into the first scrimmage. Though no punches were thrown before Lobb lost his balance and pulled Berfgors to the ice with him, it showed Lobb’s willingness and ability to handle the rougher side of the game.

Since then, he has thrown his body around at every opportunity—which at 6’4”, 198 is a lot of body to throw around. But, as Lobb says, “It’s just a part of the game.” When a ruckus arises, Lobb is one of the first ones on the scene. “I try to play the power forward role. By being that type of player, it comes with it.”

There is more to Lobb than his punishing hits. He has also impressed with his offensive skills and tremendous attitude, and he has been working hard while in Tampa Bay.

“We have really hard workouts, but the harder it is, the better it is,” he says. Hard does not even begin to describe the regimen that Brad Shaw, who will se Read more »

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