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.
Camp cuts – round two: The Toronto Maple Leafs this week announced that five additional players have been assigned to St. John’s of the AHL … they are forwards Konstantin Kalmikov, Shawn Thornton and Michel Travnicek and defencemen Petr Svoboda and Dimitri Yakushin … Kalmikov played with St. John’s last season and scored a career high 28 points (8G,20A) in 78 games … Thornton also played with St. John’s last year, scoring 16 points (4G,12A) in 60 games and leading the team in penalty minutes for the third straight year with 316 … Travnicek, who was Toronto’s 9th choice 1998, played with Litinov of the Czech Elite League last season and scored 9 points (3G,6A) in 51 games …Yakushin is also starting his third season with St. John’s, where he scored 14 points (G,13A) in 64 games last season … Svoboda, the most surprising name to be included on this list, played with Trinec of the Czech Elite League last season and has been a standout at the Leafs’ Main Camp this month … Toronto’s rationale seems to be that they want the young Czech blueliner to log heavy ice time early in the season while they are in the process of settling personnel on their NHL roster …
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Strength down the middle is a necessity to succeed in many aspects in the game of hockey and Oilers organization has been lacking depth and talent in area for some time. But that is not the case anymore after top brass got a good look at some up and comers over training camp and the preseason.
A pleasant surprise was the play and maturity of Mike Comrie a 3rd round pick in 1999 who has play the last couple seasons with Michigan. An exceptional playmaker with great vision he often draws players to him to allow his linemates space. Despite his size at 5-9/175 he shows tremendous grit and tenacity and is willing to get his nose dirty and roam in traffic. Has the skills and desire to become a solid center but needs to bulk up to 190 lbs to handle the day to day pounding.
His rival in the college ranks Michigan Spartan stand out Shawn Horcoff received rave reviews as well. Displaying the defensive awareness that made him the defensive forward of the year and showed the spark of offensive prowess he had last season while battling Mike Comrie for the scoring title in CCHA. Has an ideal combination of size and quickness with good face off capabilities and together they should make a solid one-two counter punch at center in the near future.
The third player that came out of the U.S. college ranks was Alaska born Brian Swanson. Had great career at Colorado College compiling 88 goals and 144 assists in four years, solid first year as a pro in Hamilton. Read more »
This is the season that Dan Cleary drops the rock of his doubters and the rest of the league. Drafted 13th overall in 1997 by the Chicago Blackhawks the world seemed to be smiling on him and was to be the next great power type forward in the organization.
However things soured a little for him for a couple years which stemmed from being brought up to the NHL too early in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons instead of allowing him to stay in the farm system and grow.
All the bouncing around from Chicago to Bellville to Indianapolis back to Chicago than to Portland before being part of a trade that brought him to the Oilers at the trading dead line in March of 1998, stunted his development and confidence.
After a full season in Hamilton with regular linemates Brian Swanson and Michel Riesen where he displayed the reasons why he was picked so high in the draft. After producing 74 points in 58 games in Hamilton and 3 goals and 2 helpers in 17 games in Edmonton he did not look out of place on a line with Doug Weight and Billy Guerin in the playoff’s. His performance was enough to garner a second chance by the brass in Edmonton to crack the line up this season but he had to come in great shape display heart and desire that was lacking in the past.
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Well, the waiver draft came and went, and like I said in my early
article, not many players change teams and only 5 did this year. I’m very
pleased to see no one got taken from the Rangers, especially JF Labbe who I
thought for sure would be taken. I might have liked to see Rich Pilon or John
MacLean be selected, but because of their age and salaries, all 29 teams
passed. However, the Rangers did select a player, 27 yr. old Swede Andreas
Johansson. Johansson spent the ’99-00 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning and
then the Calgary Flames. But don’t expect Johansson to be a Ranger any time
soon, as he signed with a team in Sweden for this upcoming season. Maybe he
has a job with the Rangers in the future, but not as of now.
To touch up on an earlier note, JF Labbe now will likely be the backup to
McLean on the opening night roster because stud prospect Johan Holmqvist, who
I thought played well enough to make it, was sent to Hartford of the AHL on
Wednesday. I am kind of disappointed by the move, however it probably will be
best for Holmqvist so spend this season in the AHL, than fight for the backup
job next season when McLean likely won’t be a Ranger as he is in the last
year of a 2 year contract.
I didn’t get to see last night’s 2-2 tie with New Jersey, but I heard
that Jason Labarbera, who was called up when Holmqvist was sent down, had a
great game. He gave up 2 soft goals in the first period, but shutout the Read more »
Some of the names we have heard for the past few years in Canadian Junior
Hockey, we will not hear this year. We will hear about them in the National
Hockey League. They are a select few that you hear about every season. Then
there are the players who should be out of CHL but aren’t. The Chicago
Blackhawks are in good shape, and the Kootenay Ice and Ottawa 67′s are not.
Both defensemen Steve McCarthy and center Mark Bell (Concussions Pending)
should make the opening night roster. McCarthy could even be on the number 1
defense pair. Most of the Islanders prospects haven’t gotten it done. This
includes Raffi Torres, Juraj Kolnik and Branislav Mezei. Yet it appears
Taylor Pyatt has graduated from the Sudbury Wolves and will be playing on the
Island this season. Brad Richards (Rimouski Oceanic QMJHL) should be the
center of Tampa Bay’s 2nd line. Sheldon Keefe is also on the line between
Tampa and Barrie. Prince Albert’s Milan Kraft should be centering Jaromir
Jagr or Alexei Kovalev this year. And you don’t hear those names in the CHL,
so we know where he is going. Other players like Ramzi Abid in Phoenix,
Barrett Jackman and Mike Van Ryn in St.Louis and Kris Beech in Washington are
on the right track. Other players appear to have their ticket back to Canada
all set. Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark of the NY Rangers are part of this
group. The Rangers star in camp has been 18 year-old defensemen Filip Novak, Read more »
HOUSE LEADS MAPLE LEAFS PAST SAINT JOHN FLAMES
Club Finishes Preseason with a 3-1-0 Record
Bobby House scored three goals and added an assist to lead the St. John’s Maple Leafs past the Saint John Flames 4-1 tonight in American Hockey League preseason action. Michael Hakansson scored the other goal for the Maple Leafs, while Michael Travnicek recorded 2 assists. David Cooper also recorded an assist, giving him points in all four preseason games. The Maple Leafs were outshot 34-29 by the Flames with Mike Minard making 33 saves to record the win.
The game was scoreless after one period and the Maple Leafs led 1-0 after two periods. St. John’s was 1 for 7 on the powerplay, while Saint John was 0 for 7. The win gave St. John’s a 3-1-0 record in 4 preseason games. The club now returns home to play its first game of the 2000-2001 AHL season on Friday, October 6 against the Saint John Flames.
This press release was provided to Hockey’s Future by the St. John’s Maple Leafs Hockey Club.
With only one preseason game remaining before the start of the regular season, the story of the Philadelphia Flyers training camp has been the rapid emergence of a corps of young players. The Flyers are faced with a number of roster decisions that they did not initially anticipate having to make for at least one more season. From the looks of things now, their minds seem almost made up to open the season with up to three rookies on the team- 2000 first round pick Justin Williams (about to turn 19), 1999 first rounder Maxime Ouellet (age 19), and 21 year old Czech center Petr Hubacek. Hopefully, the Flyers will keep their young players’ long term development in mind when they make their decision.
At the Flyers rookie camp before the start of training camp, the most impressive position players by far were Williams, Hubacek, and Vaclav Pletka. All three showed above average skating ability and soft hands.
Pletka was no surprise, having been one of the top scorers in the Czech Extraleague last season. The degree of skill refinement shown by Williams and Hubacek were more surprising.
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The NHL released the protection lists for the upcoming Waiver Draft on
Friday, and there are a few players left available by the Rangers who might
get taken. Here is a look at the list of protected and unprotected players.
Teams were allowed to protect 18 skaters and 2 goalies from their crop of
Protected Players: Jason Doig, Radek Dvorak, Theoren Fleury, Adam Graves, Jan
Hlavac, Kim Johnsson, Valeri Kamensky, Eric Lacroix, Brian Leetch, Sylvain
Lefebvre, Vladimir Malakhov, Sandy McCarthy, Mark Messier, Petr Nedved,
Stephane Quintal, Tim Taylor, Johan Witehall, Mike York, Kirk McLean, Mike
Available Players: Derek Armstrong, Drew Bannister, Jason Dawe, Ken
Gernander, Daniel Goneau, Mike Harder, Johan Lindbom, John MacLean, Jan
Mertzig, Rich Pilon, Brad Smyth, Ronnie Sundin, Terry Virtue, David Wilkie,
Analysis: I’m very surprised to see the Rangers exposed JF Labbe for the
Waiver Draft. I know there was no way to protect him, but, he will probably
get taken. The Rangers are hoping they play their cards right and Labbe
doesn’t get taken, but In my opinion I think they should have dealt him for a
draft choice instead of taking a chance on losing him for nothing. If Labbe
does get selected, than 22 year old Swede Johan Holmqvist will get back-up
duty to start the season with Kirk McLean. I haven’t heard anything yet on Read more »
He’s one of the youngest players in the league. He was 5th on his team
in scoring. He just became eligible to drink liquor in the United
States less than a month ago. At 21 years old, he’s already earned more
money than most people will see in a lifetime.
For most people his age, their biggest worries are cramming for the
college exam they didn’t study for, and which party they’ll be going to
the next night. For Patrick Marleau of the San Jose Sharks, his worries
far exceed the average 21 year old student.
After a disappointing junior year, the Sharks young center may already
be facing a make or break year. If he struggles this year, there will
undoubtedly be comparisons to former Shark poster-boy, Pat Falloon. If
he does in fact struggle, those comparisons very well be justified.
However, if he rebounds, last year will be remembered as nothing more
than a bump along the road.
Entering the league in his rookie year at just 18 years old, Marleau had
what can be best described as an “expected” season. No one expected him
to jump out and score 30 goals. The Sharks simply hoped he would chime
in about a dozen goals and show signs of the brilliance he showed in
junior hockey and that’s exactly what he did. He scored 13 goals and 19
assists, and showed signs of the brilliance that he showed in Seattle of
For his second year, the Sharks hoped he would continue to build on his Read more »
The pre-season schedule is only six games, with two of them before the veterans were ready to play, and the rest scheduled so far apart that it would not allow the team to play under game conditions on a regular basis.
Two very early pre-season games against Philadelphia, and two very late games against the Rangers and New Jersey, many decisions had to be made based on the practices.
It clearly cost Rick DiPietro an opportunity to get in a game this week because John Vanbiesbrouck (three starts) and Wade Flaherty (one start) need to play the final two games just to stay sharp and DiPietro did let his feelings be known about being sent down without a chance to play in one game, and in a half-joking comment told Mike Milbury the team has not won a pre-season game yet (0-3-1).
For Islander fans the good news is that DiPietro has recovered from his injury with no setbacks.
DiPietro was assigned to the Chicago Wolves (IHL), where he will share the duties with veteran Wendell Young. This is a veteran team that won the Turner Cup last season and should be able to protect Di Pietro and give him the experience of playing against many former NHL veterans.
Lowell was not a consideration for DiPietro with the Kings two goaltending prospects in place.
Springfield (AHL) is not a primary Islanders affiliate. Trenton (ECHL) is where Steve Valiquette will be starting.
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