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.
Scouting staff prepares for D-Day: While the Maple Leafs may have permanently suspended efforts to acquire Eric Lindros, the team’s scouting staff is in the field preparing data on other potential trade acquisitions as March 13th nears … led by personnel director Mike Penny, the club held its mid-season scouting meetings during the 3rd week of February … pro scouts Murray Oliver, Floyd Smith and Mark Yannetti have been particularly busy around the league as the deadline approaches … in recent days, Toronto’s bird dogs have been most prominent at games involving Anaheim, Calgary, Long Island and Phoenix … this also is an important time of year for Toronto’s amateur scouts, who are making final evaluations for the upcoming Entry Draft in Sunrise, Florida … under the leadership of new amateur scouting director Mark Hillier, Toronto’s 5 North American-based scouts are now evaluating the players likely to be available when the Maple Leafs exercise 5 picks somewhere between numbers 15 and 55 … in Europe, where Thommie Bergman and Leonid Vaysfeld maintain the highly effective operation started by Anders Hedberg, Leafs’ scouts will be out in force at the European junior championships in April …
Rumours: There is much to talk about as we enter the final week of NHL trade speculation for the 2000/2001 season … whispers floating ba Read more »
Everyone around the NHL knew that the re-signing of goaltender Sean Burke to a 3 year contract officially meant that the Phoenix Coyotes decided to start taking offers on goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who hasn’t played a game in the NHL since the ’98-’99 season because of a contract dispute. Right from the get-go lots of teams were interested in acquiring the Russian netminder’s services, with the front-runners being the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Atlanta Thrashers. Coyotes’ General Manager Cliff Fletcher was offered a deal by the Tampa Bay Lightning that he couldn’t refuse.
Heading to the Tampa Bay Lightning is of course Nikolai Khabibulin, along with defenseman Stanislav Neckar. In return the Coyotes acquired an excellent group of young players in defenseman Paul Mara, forwards Mike Johnson and Ruslan Zainullin, and a 2nd round draft pick in the up-coming 2001 Entry Draft. In my opinion, this was a great deal for the Coyotes. They acquired some great young players for a guy that was sitting at home and wasn’t helping their team.
Paul Mara is a 6’4 205 pound, 21 year old steady two-way defenseman with a good offensive upside. He was drafted 7th overall in the 1997 Draft by the Lightning, and he was highly regarded in their organization until this season, when they grew tired of Mara’s lack of development. They felt he hasn’t been improving much over the last year or so and don’t envision him becoming the Brian Leetch/Chris Chelios type of defenseman he has been compared to. With the depth at defense in the Tampa Bay organization, they felt it wo Read more »
I am one of the many who did not like the Rob Blake trade. Rob Blake is a one-of-a-kind player who will never be replaced by another player. Even as the Kings prosper since his trade, that big force on the blue line is absent.
As time goes on and the trade is further dissected, it is becoming obvious that the Kings had two goals from this trade: 1- Make up for Blake with a solid defenseman and a forward who is defensively responsible. 2- Take a huge step towards resurrecting the farm system by adding as many as three top draft picks. All in all, it seems to be a good idea.
The Kings were faced with the fact that Blake would not resign. The blame may lie with both parties, but the fact was that Blake would not sign with the Kings. Most King fans thought that Taylor would use Blake to get a goaltender. When he didn’t, the Kings were left without their top defenseman and without a goalie who could keep them in games. The acquisition of the steady Aaron Miller and addition of an experienced goaltender in Felix Potvin has at worst put a band-aid on the problem. Potvin may not be as quick with the glove, but he is seldom out of position the way Fiset and Storr often are, and the Kings defensemen have made a commitment to protecting their zone. The result has been the best play by the Kings all season, and maybe even back to last season.
As for the system, it can really feel the effects of the Kings trade. If DT can select the right prospect and draft two more quality players in the first round, the Kings could add these picks to the ot Read more »
As I correctly predicted in my article yesterday, Vitali Yeremeyev was re-assigned to the minors today because of the pickup of veteran goaltender Guy Hebert. Hopefully Yeremeyev can continue his great success in the AHL and work on a few things in his game and improve while he is down there.
The move I didn’t see coming is that the Rangers sent down forward Jeff Ulmer, and called up Michal Grosek. Grosek was sent down in mid-February after the Rangers were unhappy with his lackluster play. Grosek has been on fire in the minors, registering 8 goals and 7 assists in 11 games for the Wolf Pack. I’m not sure whether the Rangers have plans to bring Ulmer back this season, but he sure did impress me in the 13 games that he played, tallying 3 goals. All his goals came from right in front of the net, a spot where the Rangers forwards have seemed to stay away from this season, aside from Adam Graves. I hope Ulmer gets re-called in a couple of games, but if he doesn’t, he’ll have a good opportunity to make the team full-time next season.
As for the Rangers also sending down defenseman Mike Mottau, this was expected. Mottau was called up because of some injuries on the blue-line, but he didn’t dress in any games. The Rangers want him to gain some experience in the AHL playoffs as the Wolf Pack try to win a second straight Calder cup.
These next few days will be interesting as the trade deadline approaches. I would like to see a couple of moves, but I’m gonna be one mad man if the Rangers deal any of their young gems for has-beens like Keith Tkachuk. Stay tuned..
NEW LOOK ICEDOGS KEEPING IT CLOSE
With the late season addition of three Mississauga Chargers (Provincial Junior A), the Mississauga IceDogs have put together respectable back-to-back efforts in front of the Hersey Centre faithful. Newcomers Mike Oliveria, Chris Curran and Jason Francis, fresh from a semi-final battle with the Milton Merchants, have been asked to fill the IceDogs roster for the remaining part of the OHL season. Their gritty, “nothing to loose” attitude has been a welcome ingredient to a wounded Mississauga squad that just hasn’t had the man power to stay close in recent games.
Mike Oliveria is a talented centre who led the Chargers in scoring this season with 80 points in 48 games. He plays a very determined brand of hockey and is tough to check off the puck. The shifty forward has a great imagination and anticipates the play well at both ends of the ice. IceDogs’ head coach Rick Vaive displayed much confidence in Oliveria, sending the rookie out to centre a five on three penalty kill in his first game against the Sarnia Sting.
Left winger Chris Curran was the IceDogs’ seventh pick (9th round, 167 overall) at the 2000 OHL Priority Selection. He is a product of the Mississauga Senators midget system and made the jump to the Mississauga Chargers this season. The two-way winger had a strong season posting 44 points in the 45 games he played. The six-foot, 160 pounder lead the Chargers in penalty minutes for 2000-2001 spending 112 minutes in the “sin bin”.
Jason Francis is a diminutive (5’ 6”) Read more »
Glen Sather`s pick up of kids like Ryan Tobler a tough 220 pounder, international veteran via St.Louis Petr Smrek and NHL young journeyman Colin Forbes appears to be leading the Rangers to a restocking of inventory which in modern day sports management would lead us to believe something big may happen.
While it appears Sather has lost the opportunity to deal with Gretzky for that ever elusive Keith Tkachuk package there are still possibilities out there as it appears Sather has grown tired of waiting for the Brendls, Mottaus, Lundmarks and Yeremeyevs to jump up and say “I am ready…let me lead”… Sather appears to have offered the above named, ex.Yeremeyev in each and every deal for someone of value today and for the future. Even fan favorite and work horse Mike York has been mentioned in possible deals. But Sather keeps working at rebuilding Hartford of the AHL for a run at another AHL championship and maybe restocking the talent that has not yet been traded away.
The pick up of Guy Hebert could be either of two things… one, a move to give the Rangers a last effort at decency…or two, a move to push Kirk McLean out and Mike Richter to a stronger return next season. While stunting the growth of Yeremeyev, still a bright spot in the eyes of the scouts, Yeremeyev has been treated the same as was Milan Hnilinka before him…without any sign of defense. The system still features many bright prospects of which some may be dealt sooner than later…but those from Europe (Lundqvist and Asplund) the Rangers would get a better return by showcasing th Read more »
Les ducks sont arrivé dans la NHL pour la saison 93-94. Pour une équipe d’expansion, la venu d’une vedette est une chance incroyable d’associé son publique à ce ou ces joueurs.
En quelque jours seulement, les Ducks se sont départi de 2 joueurs qui ont été pendant quelques années, toute la concession.
En 1993, lors du repêchage d’expansion, les Mighty Ducks mettent la main sur Guy Hebert. Un gardiens qui avait a peine joué 40 match dans la NHL. Deux ans plus tard, Jack Ferreira réussi a faire l’acquisition de Teemu Selanne, une excellente prise pour les fans de l’équipe.
Mais voilà que le mois de mars fût catastrophique pour les conservateurs, et un pas en avant pour les plus positifs. Teemu Selanne , l’auteur de 423 points en 333 matchs avec les Mighty Ducks a été échanger au Sharks en retour de Steve Shields et Jeff Friesen. Deux joueurs qui peuvent connaître des hauts et des bas. Shields est réputé pour être inconstant. Friesen se veut plus une valeurs sûre dans cet échange.
Le lendemain, Guy Hébert a été pris du ballotage par les Rangers de New-York. Hebert s ‘était avéré le gardiens #1 de l’équipe depuis les débuts de la concession.
En 2 jours, ce qu’avait été la concession pendant 4-5 ans a été démolie. Il reste a voir si Pierre Gauthier a eu raison de bougé comme il l’a fait. Et si c’est la fin des changements, parce que sa commence a grondé à Anaheim. L’équipe en est à sa huitième saison et les résultats ne sont pas encore la, et nous somme Read more »
It looks like the Czech great hockey prospect Vaclav Nedorost became a wrong surname. Nedorost,
meaning non-grown in Czech, has no signs of a small frame or a small talent. In fact, this
center is the future star of the Colorado Avalanche…
No doubt, Joe Sakic will depart or hang his skates sometimes. So will Peter Forsberg. After that
it’ll be time for Vaclav Nedorost to take over as the No.1 center for the Avs. Pierre Lacroix
knows which players are among the Colorado prospects and he can count on Vaclav already by this
Vaclav started playing hockey as a small kid for Ceske Budejovice when he was five. He followed
the footsteps of his one year older brother David. The Nedorost guys went together to the rink
and competed in every hockey skill. Of course younger Vaclav wanted to skate faster, shoot more
accurate and be stronger than his older brother. And so they competed, besides the coaches
immediately recognized what a natural talent do these two have. This lasted till Vaclav was
nine. That year David suffered a very serious injury which prevented him from playing hockey
for years till he was eligible to play in the midget league. So Vaclav went to the rink alone.
Soon he played against guys older than him and he was able to dominate also at this level.
Vaclav wasn’t a kid who would love sitting at home and learning, instead of it he played sports.
Till midget age he played soccer besides hockey and is an accomplished player.
He is also a
huge NHL fan who is interested in the theoretical part of hockey. He likes the Read more »
Notebook — 3/7/2001
Utah Grizzlies Notes
The Utah Grizzlies are presently mired in a long, so far winless, road trip (0-2-1) that
doesn’t end until three games from now in Chicago (on Sunday). Coach Bourne had publically stated that he expected a
big pick up from the team, given the recent seasoned NHL additions: Roman Lyashenko
and Tyler Bouck. Unfortunately, though Bouck and Lyashenko provided a little offense
in yesterday’s 5-4 loss to the Aeros, the Grizzlies continued their four game losing
In one interesting Hitchcock-esque move from the game, however, Coach Bourne placed
Richard Jackman (one of the hottest, most dominant players on the Grizzlies) at a
forward wing position for the 3rd period — sparking two additional Utah goals in the 3rd.
Jackman, though he has yet to make his mark as a solid NHL player, has been one of the best
Grizzlies this year in the 40 games he has played, averaging about a point every two games
as a defenseman. Furthermore, defensive coach Craig Ludwig continues to rave about how
solid Jackman has become behind his own blue line.
Read more »