Part 1: The background.
Flash back to the 1997 Frozen Four championship game. A sophomore at North Dakota, named Adam Calder was given the assignment of Hobey Baker Runner-Up and Boston University junior Chris Drury. Alongside Jeff Ulmer and Matt Henderson, Drury was taken from Hobey Baker runner-up to virtual anonymity on the score sheet. After that game, and through the next two years, Calder helped North Dakota become poised for another title, which they won in 2000. Every year Calder played, the Fighting Sioux made it to the Frozen Four, benefited by his strong two-way play. In 2000, Calder had moved on to help rebuild a team for a Championship.
In 1997, eight weeks after the Fighting Sioux won their NCAA Championship, the South Carolina Stingrays won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup, becoming the first team in the league to win both the regular season and playoff crowns. Four years later, Calder and Drury both played for championships in their respective leagues, and both were successful in their endeavors, but the question that still remains is why a very talented two-way forward with an excellent hockey IQ remains in the lower echelons, while other players with less talent and lighter work ethics have made the jump to the AHL and NHL.
Calder, a 5’11 185lb. forward, went undrafted and was found by South Carolina Stingrays head coach Rick Adduono three weeks before the ECHL began training camp. Calder had an immediate impact on the Stingrays, despite missing almost two months of the season with a knee injury and Call-up to Rochester. On the first road trip of Read more »
What promises to be one of the busiest and most interesting off-seasons ever has gotten started early here in Toronto. The Maple Leafs have already completed a trade that was disallowed by the NHL (but may yet happen), signed a coveted junior free agent (more on this tomorrow) and have now completed a second very significant transaction with the Coyotes. Coming to Toronto are centermen Robert Reichel and Travis Green along with minor league right winger Craig Mills. Both Reichel and Green were immediately signed to new multi-year deals by the Maple Leafs.
Robert Reichel, who had been a restricted free agent, has been playing in the Czech Extra League for the past 2 seasons after failing to come to terms with the Coyotes in 1999. This hiatus, by the way, marked the second time that Reichel had been motivated by a contract impasse with his NHL team to play in Europe. Jan Buben, HF’s European Correspondent, calls Reichel an “electrifying offensive talent with superlative playmaking skills” and further states that his stature in the Czech Republic rivals that of anyone ever produced by that hockey mad nation – including Pittsburgh’s Jaromir Jagr. Reichel has recently served as the captain of both his club team in Litvinov and also of the Czech National Team. His presence in the Toronto line-up next season greatly improves the team’s chances of opening up a consistent second offensive front behind the Mats Sundin troika.
Travis Green brings a very different set of skills to the Maple Leafs. Although he has scored 20 or more goals in 3 different NHL seaso Read more »
The Chicago Wolves begin play in a new league and have a new NHL affiliation for next season.
They were one of six teams that moved to the American Hockey League from the International Hockey League, which officially folded. The Wolves confirmed they will be an affiliate of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers.
At least three key players from the Wolves’ IHL days will remain. Right wing Rob Brown, defenseman Bob Nardella and left wing and captain Steve Maltais signed contracts for next season.
The Wolves will operate under new rules when the AHL begins its 67th season in October. The AHL allows a team to dress only seven players who have played more than 260 professional games.
“That’ll be a huge change,” said Brown, an 11-year NHL veteran who has played three seasons with the Wolves. “We’ll get a lot of young kids who are just starting out. They will energize us.”
Wolves chairman Don Levin long has been against a full affiliation with an NHL club, but the AHL requires it. Last season the Wolves had a partial affiliation with the New York Islanders but also took players on loan from six other NHL teams.
“I consider it a full affiliation when [the NHL club] unloads a truck and brings in all the players and coaches,” Levin said. “I’m still against that. But we still have our own general manager [Kevin Cheveldayoff] and our own coach [John Anderson].”
Don Waddell, the Thrashers’ general manager, said he and Cheveldayoff will work together to determine the Wolves’ roster.
“This cou Read more »
Kootenay’s move greeted with cautious optimism
When the notion of the Kootenay ICE
moving to the WHL’s West Division
surfaced, there were two main concerns,
rivalries and cost. With the
announcement this past week that
Kootenay had been realigned by the
WHL to the new B.C. Division of the
Western Conference, the development
of an unbalanced schedule would ensure
that the ICE would maintain established
rivalries with Calgary, Red Deer,
Medicine Hat and Lethbridge.
Addressing the issue of cost with the
increased travel into the B.C. Interior
and the U.S. with its currency
discrepancy however, is something that
won’t be gauged until the end of the
In the eyes of ICE vice-president Jeff
Chynoweth, the move is something that
will benefit the league as a whole, even
if all the benefits don’t immediately fall
on the side of the Kootenay ICE. “It’s
always been the way we’ve operated,”
said Chynoweth of the hockey club. “I
think it’s going to be good for the
league. When you’re one member of
nineteen teams, the old cliche applies in
that you’re only as strong as your
weakest link and if this will strengthen
the whole chain then will all be better for
Chynoweth noted that maintaining the
already established rivalries of the ICE
was key to any move of the ICE to the
West. “For us, it’s always been the
rivalries,” remarked Chynoweth. “We
just can’t lose Calgary. If you look at
our four games here last year, they were
all sold-out. Their four games t Read more »
Neither Pavel Brendl or Jamie Lundmark have ever played in a regular
season NHL game. Yet that might not matter. One of them might be the reason
Jaromir Jagr becomes a New York Ranger. Many sources sight the Rangers have
already offered Mike York and Tomas Kloucek for Jagr. Pens GM Craig Patrick
is said to be holding out for either Lundmark or Brendl to be added to the
deal. The decision then falls on Rangers GM Glen Sather.
With the recent signings of Barrett Heisten and Matt Kinch and the
possible addition of Layne Ulmer, the Rangers could mortgage either Brendl or
Lundmark. In my opinion I would hand away Lundmark first. The Rangers who
never score much , could use the instant offense Brendl is known for. Yet
with all those prospects just signed, a deep crop to begin with and the 10th
overall pick in the 2001 Entry Draft, this deal seems like a no brainer to
Pens fans should be very happy if this deal goes through. Your getting a
great young two way player in York, a injured , yet solid 6’3 defenseman in
Kloucek and one of the best prospects in all of the NHL. All this for a guy
your team can’t sign anyway. Both teams are winners if this deal happens.
Keyword, IF this deal happens.
The Pittsburgh Penguins draft time strategy has been announced by General Mannager Craig Patrick and as usual it remains cliche. Patrick has said that the team will select the best player available regardless of position or team needs. However, insiders have a different notion as to which direction Patrick may lean.
Seven of Pittsburgh’s last eleven first round selections have been Europeans. Four of that group have been Czech. That is why many believe that with a Czech head coach and definitive pattern for picking Euro bred talent, the Pens will be seeking one of the following prospects.
A glaring lack of offense from the blue line lead some to speculate that the Pens will be looking at mobile defenseman Lukas Krojicek. Lukas, a 6’1″ 180lbs. rear guard, hails from Prostajov in the Czech Republic. The 18 year old spent the 00-01 season with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes where he compiled 8 goals and 27 assists in 61 matches. He posted 27 points in 53 games for his junior club in 99-00.
If Lukas is unavailable at the time of Pittsburgh’s pick, look for them to chase Pardubice, Czech Republic native Ales Hemsky. The 5’11” 173lbs. right wing notched 36 goals for the QMJHL’s Hull Olympiques last season. He also managed 64 assists in his 68 appearances. Scouts have noted that the winger is not that tough, but he possesses lots of scoring prowess. Some go as far as saying that he exhibits several traits similar to his NHL idol, Jaromir Jagr.
Although Patrick holds true to form and claims that his staff have no clear cut Read more »
With the Rangers holding the 10th overall pick, the needs are clear, first a banging, physical forward with size and skill. In order to show what the Rangers really need one has to analyze what they have as of draft day.
The prospect roster is stocked with goaltending with Johan Holmqvist, Vitali Yeremeyev, Johan Asplund and Jason Labarbera leading the list. This is an area that does not need any tinkering and any one of these can step in as back up to a “healthy” Mike Richter or whomever G.M. Sather crowns as No.1 in 2001-02.
DEFENSE: The defense has some solid prospects in Mike Mottau, Pat Aufiero, Filip Novak and recovering Tomas Kloucek but this area is not as deep as one would like either. As we wait for Wes Jarvis and Burke Henry to develop one knows that with each passing month they are not with the big club, chances are they will not make a steady contribution to the Rangers in the “show”.
Forward: The Rangers forward stock is thin at best. An active off season will have to me made via free agency and trade and not less important via the draft to fill the cabinets not only in NY but for their AHL affiliate in Hartford, Connecticut. The past year’s drafts of smallish players like Christian Dube (Switzerland) and Marc Savard (traded to Calgary) must shift to a higher gear, one that looks for bigger players that CAN contribute at the NHL level.
The NHL Entry Draft is an event which is, first and foremost, about the future. Teams are attempting to bolster their organizational depth and set their organizations on a course which should keep them competitive into the next decade and beyond. The stars of the day are young players who won’t impress themselves into the minds of casual hockey fans for years, if at all. Despite that, winning now will always be the primary issue in the eyes of NHL General Managers, and after the TV cameras are shut off and the National Car Rental Center in Miami begins to empty, teams will have an opportunity to address their current rosters by delving into the ranks of European players they’ve ignored in the past. Players initially deemed too small, too slow, or lacking the skill to succeed in North America continue to hone their skills in their respective domestic leagues, and every year a substantial group will advance to the point at which they’ll merit a draft selection and receive chance to prove themselves in the NHL.
It wasn’t always this way – the top European players were drafted into NHL organizations as teenagers, and those who were passed over would be extremely unlikely ever to get another chance. However, as the NHL reached the mid-1990s, this suddenly began to change. The calibre of the top European leagues was continuing to rise while the pace of the NHL was dropping due to expansion and a diluted talent pool so the gap between the level of play on the two continents narrowed like never before. Those teams on the cutting edge who came to this realization fir Read more »
The Tampa Bay Lightning has entered into a one-year affiliation agreement with the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the East Coast Hockey League.
Less than a month ago the Lightning signed an affiliation agreement with the Springfield Falcons of the American Hockey League. The Lightning are expected to supply Springfield with ten players, as will Phoenix, who shares the affiliation. They will send an unspecified number to Pensacola.
“There are several reasons why we are very happy to be entering into this agreement with the Pensacola Ice Pilots,” General Manager Rick Dudley said.“The first is that I have a great deal of respect for new Ice Pilots head coach Todd Gordon and I was very pleased by the way he’s treated our young players in the past.”
“Additionally, the Ice Pilots are a first-class operation and one of the premiere franchises in the ECHL. Finally, the geography of the relationships is good for us, as it will afford us the opportunity to see our players on a regular basis.”
Tampa Bay was previously affiliated with the Johnstown Chiefs of the ECHL and Detroit Vipers of the IHL.
According to John Dellapina of the New York Daily News, defenseman Matt Kinch and forward Layne Ulmer are both close to signing with the New York Rangers. The signings could be announced as early as today
Matt Kinch is a small, mobile defenseman with solid offensive ability. He played with Pavel Brendl in Calgary of the Western Hockey League, and he would add more depth to our young defense. Although he may not have the ability to play in the NHL, the Rangers would like to develop him in Hartford and hope one day he could wear the Broadway blue. Kinch was drafted in the 5th round in ’99 by the Buffalo Sabres, but failed to come to terms with the team.
As for Layne Ulmer, he has been an offensive force in the WHL for the last couple of years. Over the last 3 seasons, he has scored more goals than anyone else in the WHL, besides Pavel Brendl. Drafted in the 7th round of the ’99 draft by the Ottawa Senators, Ulmer was not signed by the Senators as they felt he would not be a future NHLer.