He had the smile of an eighteen-year old kid…partly because he had just been selected number two overall in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft…and party because he was eighteen years old. David Legwand…the first draft selection in Nashville Predators history. Legwand automatically became the “cornerstone of the Nashville franchise for years to come.” His blazing speed and lightning quick hands landed him a spot on the Nashville pro roster less than a year after he was drafted.
He was called the “best goaltender in the world for his age.” He was one of only a handful of goaltenders to be selected in the top ten in the history of the NHL Entry Draft. Brian Finley…chosen sixth overall in the 1999 Entry Draft. One year and an OHL MVP later, Finley is the future number one butterfly goalie for the Preds.
Now think, how many big time free agents have the Predators signed in their history? How many blockbuster trades have the Preds been a part of? If you answered zero to both of those questions, then you are correct. The Predators are using a very painstaking system of building their team into playoff contenders. However, they are using a system that has been used before.
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The Ottawa Senators blue line is a very crowed place; it has been so for a few years now. Ever since the Nashville expansion draft, protecting the plethora of defenseman has been a major concern for management. Coach Jacques Martin likes to play six defensemen
(and often times seven). Laukkanen was off loaded to Pittsburgh, and Kravchuk will probably not be resigned. That leaves youngsters Redden, Philips, Salo, and Traverse along with the ageing York. Forget about Grant Ledyard who is referred by teammates to as old yellar. He will most likely retire. Salo and Traverse are now everyday players. This leaves Karel Rachunek as the only prospect left. John Gruden was recalled from Grand Rapids a few times, but injury problems were not kind to the former Bruin. (Rachunek has been a pleasant surprise. The ninth round, 229th ’97 draft pick was not supposed to be in camp that first year and certainly was not supposed to make it as deep into camp as he did the year after that. There is nothing flashy about this player but the most off-putting thing about him is his confidence. Rachunek did not look out of place back there. He was more defensively sound then Philips or Salo. He is progressing at the usual pace, and unless the inevitable Yashin trade brings a solid NHL defenseman, Rachunek will most likely find himself playing 50 games in the frigid capital this winter.)
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Despite a first round exit to the Buffalo Sabre’s in the ’99 playoffs Ottawa fans were very optimistic. The team had clinched the NorthEast Division pennant and broken the hundred point barrier for the first time. The optimism didn’t last long; there was dark
cumulus off in the distance. It began with mumblings of yet another Alexi Yashin holdout, and as then with a thunderous flash, general manager Rick Dudley fled for last place Tampa Bay. It was as if the team was itself struck by lighting. The shock of Pierre “the ghost”
Gautier leaving for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks was one thing, but now the Ottawa Senators had lost their second GM in one year. Worse still was the mid season departure of Ray Shero to Nashville. Groomed as a future Ottawa GM Mr. Shero had been an assistant GM
with the Ottawa Senators since the time of Randy Sexton. The only hockey man left in town was Marshall Johnstone. By all accounts Johnstone is a very knowledgeable scout and player personal director. He worked in the Devils and Red Wings systems previous to
Ottawa’s, but he is a man who hasn’t be in full control of a team since the days of the Don Cherry and the Colorado Rockies; a very different NHL indeed. The Read more »
Nashville Predators GM David Poile has done it once again. He’s plucked
someone else’s castoffs in the hope of rejuvenating them. This time it’s
two players off the waiver wire from the New York Islanders. Mike Watt and
Sean Haggerty – two 24 year old underachievers – were acquired this week off
the waiver wire. Both forwards, they have struggled to gain a foothold in
the NHL but Poile is ready to give them a shot.
The reasons are quite obvious. Watt and Haggerty are both highly
talented even if they have bounced around through the NHL and minor leagues.
As second round draft picks in 1994, both have had minimal shots at the NHL
with Watt faring the best. In 1999-2000, Watt played in 45 games. In those
games, he had 11 points while spending part of the year with Lowell in the
AHL. With a salary of only $375,000 the upside is obvious. Watt has
proven he can play but on an inconsistent basis. His large size and hard
play should help his case to be an NHL regular. The hope is as he matures,
he will perform better and hopefully battle for a roster spot during
Haggerty was a prolific scorer in juniors and continued on to do that in
the minors, only to struggle in his brief NHL stays. He has only played 11
games at the NHL level so most would argue that he has yet to receive a fair
shot. His blazing speed should fit in well with the speedy Preds, giving Read more »
For the last several years, the staple of the Sharks future has been with their defensive prowess. Even though names such as Patrick Marleau, Marco Sturm, and Jonathan Cheechoo give Shark fans reason for hope up front, there are many players that give reason for being ecstatic on defense.
This year saw the emergence of two players on defense with the Sharks. The first of course is Brad Stuart who was nothing short of incredible. While he had down times throughout the year like any rookie, his year as a whole was spectacular.
Throughout the year, Stuart made his presence known. His offensive abilities are proven by the fact that all season long, he only had two times when he was held scoreless 5 games or more in a row (7 and 13 game stretches). As the year progressed, it was clear that Stuart was becoming more and more comfortable with his role not only on defense, but also as part of the offense. Next year, expect to see further strides from Stuart, as he ventures a little further into the offensive zone.
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Due to the depth throughout the Washington Capitals organization, they will most likely lose a
talented player in the upcoming expansion draft. However, because the Caps have quite a few
Free Agents, the players that Columbus and Minnesota may be interested in will not necessarily
be under contract for next season. In this latest round of expansion, the Capitals have lost a
young player with potential (Andrew Brunette – Nashville ’98) and an unsigned veteran (Mark
Tinordi – Atlanta ’99). Although both players were missed in DC, they were not irreplaceable;
this season is very similar in that the Caps will not be crippled by any selection the Wild and
Blue Jackets make.
Let’s get the eligibility criteria out of the way first, and all first and second year pros
are exempt. That means that twelve players in the Capitals organization do not have to be
protected: Forwards Jeff Halpern, Matt Herr, Mike Peluso and Trent Whitfield, Defensemen
Michael Farrell, J.F. Fortin, Steve Shirreffs, Mike Siklenka, Dean Stork, Scott Swanson and
Alexei Tezikov, and Goaltender Curtis Cruickshank. The Capitals also have thirteen Unrestricted and Minor League Free Agents, and since unsigned players are of little value to the expansion clubs, they will
all probably be left unprotected. They include: Forwards Mike Eagles, Trevor Halverson, Jim
McKenzie, Barrie Moore, Ryan Mulhern, Joe Murphy, Joe Sacco, and Jeff Toms, Defensemen Patrick Read more »
Welcome to the fifth and final edition of my positional reviews of the Washington Capitals
prospects. Today I will give you all the info you need on the goaltenders.
Rastislav Stana – Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
Stana turned some heads with his performance this season. He had done well last year, but
showed the potential to be a number one goalie down the line in the second half of this year. He
started the season playing for the Moose Jaw Warriors, but was dealt to the number-one ranked
Hitmen at the trading deadline. As good as the numbers he put up in the regular season were, he
absolutely shone in the playoffs. Rastislav must be signed in the off-season or he will re-enter
this year’s draft. The Capitals might take the rarely used route of signing him and returning
him to junior.
GP GAA W-L-T SV% SO
MooseJaw/Calgary (WHL) 30 3.00 17-11-1 .908 1
WHL PLAYOFFS 9 2.40 7-2-0 .911 1
Martin Brochu – Portland Pirates (AHL)
The only things Martin didn’t do this year were: solve world hunger and bring peace to the
Middle East. In one of the most spectacular seasons in recent memory, Brochu won: AHL All-Star
Game MVP, AHL Top Goaltender, AHL MVP and Portland MVP. The only down note of the season was an
injury late in the year that kept him out during the stretch drive and seriously affected his Read more »
Welcome to a new series here at Hockeys Future. We will take a look at some of the top high school, prep, and top players out in Ann Arbor at the National Development Program. The first player of the series is Justin Maiser.
Maiser is one of the top players for his age in the country. He spent the majority of the season with the U-17 team. He was second on the team in scoring with a 11-20-31 line. Maiser also played 13 games with the U-18 team, netting 8 points. Maiser has recently committed to Boston University. The other schools he was looking at where Michigan, Minnesota, Boston College, and Wisconsin. He was sold on Boston University though. He will be playing with his buddies Brian McConnel and Ryan Whitney. They have one of the top recruiting classes for 2001 with those three. As for the firings that recently happened, Maiser said, “I was shocked, I’ve learned a lot from both of them especially Mancini.” He thinks that Mike Eaves will be a strong addition to the program and he is looking forward to next season. Right now he and fellow teammates are strength training three times a week and playing other sports such as football or basketball on other days. Maiser said, “I get chills and it feels great knowing that you are representing the USA.” All and all Maiser is a top notch hockey player with NHL potential. He is a gritty forward who isn’t afraid to muck it up in the corners and has great offensive skills. Maiser will be expected to be a top scorer for the U-18 team. Keep an eye out for him, as he’s one of the top young players in the USA.
The 99-00 season didn’t offer a lot of roster spots to Panthers prospects and rookies because during the 1998-99 season the Panthers had 4 rookies play
complete seasons (Parrish, Worrell, Spacek, and Kvasha), and they all earned full-time roster spots that year. In addition, this
year saw the surprising resurrection of Cam Stewart, and the signing of veteran Ray Sheppard for a bargain basement price.
Add all of these factors together, combined with the AHL Louisville Panthers needing a full roster of prospects, and it didn’t give much chance for a
young player to earn a spot on the big club and make a noticeable contribution, ala Scott Gomez, Maxim Afigenenov, Brad
Stuart, or Michael York.
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Edmonton Oiler goaltending prospect Mike Minard was named man of the year in the American Hockey League, receiving the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award for his contributions in the community of Hamilton. This Hamilton Bulldog is an example of the good will and charity that hockey players sometime do not get credit for in this era of high salaries and larger ego’s. Mini Munchkin’s is one of the many programs that Mike is involved in where he has purchased a block of tickets for the childrens hospital so the families can attend the games together.
As well as being a honorary captian and spokesman for the Nike/American Hockey League Streetdogs program that helps children to learn more about the game of hockey, he has help raise $20,000 as a spokesperson and poster player for the Toronto Dominion Bank’s “smiles on ice”. With Bill Ranford retiring this season Mike has a chance at being the back up goaltender to Tommy Salo especially with his performance in the last game of the season against the Calgary Flames in Calgary where he made a strong showing in the second and third period to preserve the victory.
The city of Edmonton will be very fortunate have a player such as Mike Minard with his contributions on and off the ice, if he plays anything like his boyhood hero Grant Fuhr. The Oilers could have another fine goalie to add to their storied history.
I Wanna be like Mike!
Possibly in the near future the Oilers success could be in the hand’s of Mike or the Mike’s. With Michel Riesen, Micheal Henrich, Mike Comrie a Read more »