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.
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After talking with last years coach in Hamilton Walt Kyle and watching these youngsters play together in the American Hockey League it was though they might reproduce thier chemistry in the National Hockey League.
Very few people have heard of Brian Swanson, Michel Riesen and Dan Cleary and as of yet, they are not house hold names but all can be changed this year.
With the training camp and preseason over the test is on the trio to come up with similar statistics against the big boys. All three had good statistics over the preseason while showing fine defensive play and a willingness to go in the corners and fight for the puck.
All three come from different hockey backgrounds and each has it’s own talents but they seem to mesh on the ice extreamly well. The centerman of the group is a product from U.S. college hockey at Colorado College where he became a Hobey Baker finalist. Possessed with good playmaking skills and a nack for finding teammates at oppertune times he brings some much needed offensive abilities at the second line center position.
Swiss born player Michel Riesen adjusted farely quickly
to the North American style of play and has found a niche on the line as the trigger man cruising around the net and in the slot finding seems in the defense to use his deadly accurate shot. Currently is the highest drafted Swiss player in history being taken by Edmonton 14th overall in 1997 one spot behind linemate Dan Cleary whom has taken by Chicago at lucky number 13.
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Finally today all the Stephane Quintal rumors to Chicago came true as the
Rangers and ‘Hawks found a loophole in the rules and pulled off a very
interesting trade. Stephane Quintal has a clause in his contract that if he
is traded, another year automatically gets added on. So to avoid trading him
and getting his contract extended, the Rangers and ‘Hawks worked out a side
deal. The Rangers placed Quintal on waivers so that the ‘Hawks could claim
him. As soon as Quintal was claimed, Chicago would send compensation to the
Rangers for “future considerations.” Today the deal was finalized, as the
Rangers received 25 year old Left Winger Michal Grosek and 24 year old
defenseman Brad Brown from Chicago for “future considerations”, which in
reality is Stephane Quintal. Some people have been saying that the future
considerations in this deal will turn out to be something very good in favor
of Chicago, but I think at best the ‘Hawks will get someone like Eric
Lacroix, John MacLean, a mid-round draft pick or a mid-level prospect such as
Brandon Deitrich, Jeff Ulmer, David Inman, etc. It was reported in Newsday
today in New York that the Rangers would pay about 1 million of the 7+
million left on Quintal’s contract over the next 3 years.
I think Glen Sather and the Rangers came away with a huge steal in this
deal. Although it was very surprising to see the Blackhawks trade Grosek Read more »
Today Terry Murray ended all the speculation about who would be starting in the nets on opening night. Both goalies are coming off years that could be considered their announcement for the rest of the league to stand up and take notice.
In Florida’s pipes last year, Trevor Kidd started out the season with a bang. Trevor was playing with all-star form, sometimes single-handedly keeping the Panthers in games. His numbers were also All-star numbers before he dislocated his shoulder on Dec. 13th. Kidd ranked first in the NHL in save percentage (.930) and was tied for fourth in goals-against (2.08) and wins (13). Trevor rehabbed his shoulder and came back by the end of the year, but was a shadow of his former self and struggled mightily.
In previous years with Carolina, Trevor got into zones where he did appear unbeatable for games on end, but the nagging question was there….how long would that last?
In the pre-season, Trevor looked very sharp and seemed to have no mental worries about his shoulder. He went 1-2 in the pre-season with 2.80 GAA, 11 GA and a 92.6 SP%, but the poor numbers can be attributed to playing with a pre-season roster of defenseman.
Roberto Luongo came to the Panthers in a much publicized off-season trade and promptly showed some skeptical fans the reason he is perhaps the most touted goalie prospect ever.
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Who would have figured this? After struggling in early USHL action, no one figured the U18 NTDP team would actually have a shot at beating CCHA powerhouse Michigan State. Led by Barry Tallackson with 2 goals, the U18′s played a great game. Tallackson, who’s been on a tear with 5 goals in the last 2 games, is playing extremely well. Look for many recruiters to be calling and trying to sign him up before the early signing period ends. Bryan Miller, a Boston University recruit, took the puck off the draw and fired home the game winner. Brian McConnell assisted on the play. Other goal scorers include Eric Nystrom, Lee Falardeau, and Matt Gens. Dwight Helminen had 2 helpers. Travis Weber played stellar between the pipes making 39 saves. Weber, another top recruit still unsigned is looking better and better as the season progresses. Look for an annoucement from him in the near future as he has a few official visits lined up. Eric Nystrom had to say this about the game, “We had a great team effort and everyone played hard. This is a huge win for us and a huge confidence builder. As for Travis Weber, he played one heckuva game for us and made many tough saves.” Even though this is just an exhibition game it still was a huge win for NTDP as a whole. The U18′s continue with college competition as they face Western Michigan Saturday night.
After a disappointing 1999/2000 season, the Riverhawks begin another
season in the lower tier of Hockey East. The Hawks hope to end a two
year streak in which they haven’t made the Hockey East semifinals, after
having done it 7 years in a row. The young team is slowly starting to
age, as the large recruiting classes of the last three years head
further away from their rookie years. This is the first year in a while
that UML has a majority of players that are upperclassmen. Lowell
finished a Hockey East worst 5-16-3 in league play (9-22-3 overall) last
year, returns 20 lettermen after losing just 4 seniors last year. Gone
from a team that averaged less than 3 goals per game last year are
forwards Chris Bell (9 goals, 21 assists, 30 points), John Campbell
(4-13-17) and Craig Brown (4-5-9) along with defenseman Kevin Bertram
(10-8-18). Five other players left with eligibility still left,
including forwards Jeremy Kyte, Mark Fontas and Mike Sgroi (both of whom
left during the season last year), defenseman Andy Wozniewski and
goaltender Dan Weinreib. The Riverhawks bring in what for them is a small
class this year, including three forwards, a defenseman and one
goaltender. For a change, Lowell brings back a lot of experience, with
only 4 seniors, but 10 juniors and 6 sophomores as well. The best news
for the team was that sophomore blue liner Ron Hainsey would return to
the team this year, even though he was the first ever Lowell player Read more »
With the trimming of the roster yesterday, the 2000 Edition NY Rangers appear to be set as expected. With the exception of Swede Johan Witehall, enforcer Dale Purinton, Jason Doig, Mike Mottau, and new short term back up goalie Jason Labarbera, the Rangers team was set the day Mark Messier and Vladirmir Malakhov signed.
What the final lines will be is as good a guess as any chemist could levy. The center slot is filled with Mark Messier, Petr Nedved, Mike York and Tim Taylor. Messier will probably be side anchored by Theo Fleury and Adam Graves, Nedved with countrymen Jan Hlavac and Radek Dvorak, followed by the third line of Mike York, John MacLean and probably Valeri Kamensky. The fourth line will likely consist of oft-injured Tim Taylor – Sandy McCarthy/Johan Witehall and Eric Lacroix.
If the Messier line can produce 20-30 goals each, which they are capable of, they will be an effective line. The questions are the heart of Fleury, the back of Graves and the age of Messier. Simply asked, difficult to answer. Time will tell.
The Czechmates are a fast moving, puck control, prototypical European unit that has one issue to concern themselves with… their backs. Can Dale Purinton effectively scare off other teams hitmen? Will a fourth line wing in McCarthy be enough to keep these Czechmates safe? Questions all to be answered. Look for close to 30 goals from Nedved and Hlavac and Dvorak somewhat less as he has had some trouble in finding his “niche”.
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Many of you may ask “who?” when reading the article header. In two years, it’s almost certain you won’t ask any more. A new junior superstar began to shine in the Czech Republic, and this one is something special.
Jiri is really a rare talent who at the age of 16 makes an impression that can only be compared to “Number 68″ Jaromir Jagr when he was 16. Jiri plays regularly as a third-line center with the HC Slovnaft Vsetin of the Elite league and scored 4 points (1+3) in a single pre-season game! He was 0+2 after the first two games of the regular season schedule. And playing against men sometimes 20 years older than Jiri! It looks like it won’t take a lot of time before he’ll be nicknamed “Number 42″, the jersey he wears.
In the pregame skate he looks like a boy among men, he is just 5’9” and 155 lbs. That’s right now but the size may come as his body develops more. His parents aren’t smallish either so that bodes well.
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Well, one day after the Rangers announced their final cuts, they made
some more big news as well. Mike Mottau, Last year’s Hobey Baker winner,
finally came to terms on a contract with the Rangers according to ESPN. Terms
of the deal have not been disclosed. This is good news for the Rangers, as Mottau could have left as a
free agent if he stayed un-signed all season. He’ll stay with the Rangers
until Brian Leetch returns from his groin injury, and then he’ll be assigned
to Hartford of the AHL, unless he plays extremely well in the first few games
of the season.
According to the New York Times, Stephane Quintal
has been put on waivers. The Rangers needed to get rid of Quintal to make room
for Jason Doig, Dale Purinton and Mottau on the pro club. Reports indicate that Quintal will be picked up by the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Rangers will get two players to be named from Chicago as future considerations.
The Rangers open up the season this Saturday in Atlanta. The Rangers had
a perfect 4-0-0 record vs. the Thrashers last season, and they’ll try and run
that number to 5 straight wins. The Rangers need to get off to a good start
or they’ll be playing catch up in the standings like the past 3 years..
Today the downward spiral of the S.S. Blackhawk continued with the dispatching of Byran McCabe to the Toronto Maple Leafs for Alexander Karpovtsev and a 4th round pick.
This trade makes the Blackhawks older,and in my estimation, further away from G.M. Mike Smith’s goal of becoming one of the leagues upper third teams.
Luck in the lottery dropped the Hawks down into the top four picks for the 1999 draft.
The 1999 draft was one of the stronger drafts in years, boasting four almost can’t miss NHLers and a dozen and a half players who are destined to solid NHL careers.
The Sedin twins, who wanted to start in the NHL together. Would making a move to acquire another top three pick be too closely for the wealthy Hawk management both in terms of money and players?
Why would this franchise, with a dwindling fan base want to bring two of the most publicized promising young players to town?
What if the failed? With this #4 pick, there was the chance to acquire a possible first line centre, something lacking in Chicago since Jeremy Roenick departed.
Hawk fan faithful bombarded the Hawk website with requests to keep and use the pick. (I pleaded that same case in articles you can read below prior to the McCabe trade.) Read more »