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Depth no longer a dirty word in Hab-land

by Chris Boucher
on
During each of the last two off-seasons the Canadiens have found themselves without enough experienced NHL players to fill their roster. Fortunately, André Savard has been able to solve this problem. The recent acquisitions of Juneau, Dackell, and Quintal have increased the number of players with tangible NHL-experience to twenty-five; not including goaltenders.

This bolds well not only in regards to the team’s depth , but also in terms of intra-roster competition. The increase in the number of experienced players should force those players who find themselves on the bubble to work that much harder. Roster spots will have to be earned, rather than just acquired by default.

Of these twenty-five players with NHL experience. Fifteen of them are forwards, and ten are defensemen. Joé Juneau is the most experienced forward (616 games), while Stephane Quintal is the most experienced defenseman (822 games).

There is however a lack of balance as far as the forwards are concerned. They now find themselves with five natural centers (Perreault, Koivu, Bulis, Kilger, Darby). Although, three of them also have experience playing left wing. Seven of the remaining ten forwards are natural left wingers (Savage, Rucinsky, Zednik, Poulin, Juneau, Brunet, Odjick), fortunately five of these players have also played right wing. That said, there remains only three players who are natural right wingers (Dackell, Petrov, Asham); two of which are right handed.

Confusion aside, the team should adjust well to their new roles. Recent injury-plagued seasons Read more »

Youngsters get invite to compete for Team Canada roster positions

by Jake Dole
on
According to numerous sources, Wade Redden, Eric Brewer, Ed Jovanovski, Alex Tanguay and Ryan Smyth, among others, have been invited to a summer orientation camp, in preparation for the 2002 Olympic games in Salt Lake City. There is a clear indication that Canada is making an attempt to add some speed and youthful enthusiasm to an all-new version of its Olympic hockey squad.
It will be a while before the deciding reserves are announced, but so far there is a clearer sense of the attempt to construct a faster, more energetic team. The memories of the failure in Nagano still come to minds of Canadian hockey fans when the world winter Olympics are mentioned. The attempt to assemble a team based on experience, failed miserably. The 1998 squad looked tired and slow, showing little ability of putting the puck in the net. Although the gold medal game did not seem far away, Canada failed to score when it mattered most.
The key for Canada, as well as for any other hockey nation participating, will be to build a team based centrally on speed. With the large Olympic ice surface, skating will dominate. The key is not to build a Stanley Cup contender (and the 1998 team seemed to be built according to that idea), but a gold medal contender; two distinct goals which cannot be achieved using the same mind set. Let’s think of some recent Stanley Cup winning teams: Dallas, New Jersey, Colorado. Main players involved being Scott Stevens, Joe Nieuwendyk, Bobby Holik, Ray Bourque to name a few. Recently it has been elementary to note that to succeed in the Read more »

Jakes goes one-on-one with Hockey’s Future

by pbadmin
on

Less than a month after being drafted by the Boston Bruins Jiri Jakes tells Peter Baptista of Hockey’s Future that he was surprised that he fell to the 5th round and would like a contract from Boston after this season.

PB: Were you surprised you slipped to the 5th round after being ranked 43rd among North American Skaters?
JJ: Quite surprised and nervous. I expected about 3rd, maybe 2nd but I was quite surprised but I can live with that.

PB: Had you spoken to the Bruins prior to the draft?
JJ: Not at all. No interview.

PB: Who did you have interviews with?
JJ: About 15, Columbus, Nashville, Chicago, Washington, Rangers. Can’t remember the rest.

PB: What is the biggest adjustment you had to make this year being your first year playing in North America?
JJ: Rink is smaller so have to play faster and be a little bit tougher. Have to move the puck a little bit quicker. Go to net a lot more.

PB: What is the strongest aspect of your game?
JJ: Make a good play. Make some good hits and score some goals

PB: What is the weakest aspect of your game?
JJ: I would think skating. I have to work on my skating.

PB: Will you be attending the Bruins training camp this year?
JJ: Yes I will.

PB: Describe your style. Read more »

Pens Prospect Update

by Richard A. Plisco
on

The Pittsburgh Penguins will recieve $4.9 Million in cash from Washington in addition to three prospects for Jagr and Kucera.
Konstantin Kolstov, the 1999 18th pick, will decide if he will remain in Russia or accept an invitation to Penguin training camp. His decision will be forthcoming according to his agent.
Brooks Orpick, the 2000 18th pick, will also decide relatively soon if he will complete his senior year at Boston College or accept an offer from the Pens.
Eric Meloche, the 1996 186th pick, has come to terms with Pittsburgh for the 2001-02 season. The 5’11” 195lbs. forward posted 20 goals and 20 assists for Wilkes-Barre last season in 79 contests.

Kings Goalie Prospect Matthew Yeats Interview

by Tony Calfo
on

Maine goalie Matthew Yeats answered some questions for Kings’ Editor Tony Calfo-

HF- When do you hope or plan to break into the NHL?

MY- I don’t plan on making an arrival into the NHL for a couple of years. I have one year left of college eligibility which I plan on using this coming year and will graduate in May. From there it is up in the air. I would guess that I would play a couple of years with the farm team and work my way up from there.

HF- What do you think of the Kings’ organization?

MY- I think the Kings organization is great. The three previous summers I have attended the rookie camp that they host, two were in Thunder Bay and last year in Los Angeles. Everything was done with class and everyone makes sure that you are happy and doing your best all the time. The Kings would be a great team to play for.

HF- Do you follow the Kings or their system?

MY- I don’t keep too close to what is going on in the Kings system, but I do like to see what they are doing and how their goaltending situation is from time to time. If I see a paper lying around or if someone is reading the hockey news, I will go right to the kings section to see what is new.

HF- Do the Kings keep in touch with you?

MY- The Kings don’t really keep in touch. I usually talk to one of the scouts once or twice a year, checking in to see how I am doing and to tell me what they thought of when they saw me play. Most of the time it is positive.

HF- How do you compare with Alexey Volkov?

MY- It is tough for me to say how I compare Read more »

Deadline to Sign Euro Draftees is Approaching

by Brandon LeBourveau
on
The deadline to sign players drafted from Europe is Sunday night, July 15th, at midnight. If you do not come to terms with a European draftee by then, he will remain in Europe for the upcoming 2001/2002 season and play hockey over there.

The Rangers have a couple of players that fit this category, most notably this year’s 6th round pick in defenseman Marek Zidlicky. Zidlicky is a 6’0 180 pound defenseman from the Czech Republic, who put up great numbers this season for HIFK of the Finnish Elite League. Zidlicky is 24 years old, and if he comes over to North America this season he could possibly make the team right out of training camp. His team in Finland, HIFK, is one of the only teams in Europe to play on an NHL sized rink. Having played a few seasons on an NHL sized rink, it shouldn’t take too long for Zidlicky to adapt to the NHL. Compared to his former teammate Brian Rafalski, Zidlicky is a physical force in the defensive end while also able to control a game offensively. He has great offensive abilities and a laser of a shot. A Finnish newspaper has been reporting that Marek is close to signing and the deal should be announced soon, so let’s hope that this is true.

Other European draftees such as Stefan Lundqvist, Sven Helfenstein, Tomi Kallarsson, Arto Laatikainen, Ilja Gorokhov and Henrik Lundqvist are unlikely candidates to be signed. Fedor Tyutin, Leonid Zhvachin and Juris Stals, who were all drafted this year, will come over to North America but they will all play in the OHL. Tyutin, drafted in the Read more »

Devils Defense Gets Younger

by Andrew Clark
on
With Sean O’Donnell signing with the Boston Bruins and Ken Sutton making the jump to play for Mike Milbury on the Island, the Devils defense will have a good mix of seasoned veterans with younger talent, with a bright future ahead.

Yes, yes, I know, …you are already laughing about how ridiculous this sounds and are about to go back to the Devils main page never to read another one of my articles. But before you head over to the message boards and start posting, continue reading and think about what I have to say for a while. Now, I have read several posts on various Devils message boards saying how the Devils defense is too old and there isn’t much left in the tank. I have also read other things like, Devils should have kept O’Donnell or tried to sign Erin Weinrich. I was particularly fond of the more sarcastic posts like maybe we should see what Paul Coffey is doing in the fall or maybe Robinson will get nostalgic and strap on the skates and throw on a sweater for old times’ sake.

Before you actually start ripping on the Devils’ Defense, lets look at the personnel who make up the core of blueliners. First, Scott Stevens, who turned 37 in April is the captain of the team and the unchallenged leader of the squad on and off the ice. He is and will be a presence in the NHL this coming year and years to follow. He played 81 games last year and expect him to play another 80 this year. Ken Daneyko is also 37 years young, but is in the prime of his career. He is skating better (but not faster), more confident with the puck and is very important on the p Read more »

Yashin traded for Spezza

by Jake Dole
on
After two years of controversy, the Ottawa Senators finally shipped the disgruntled Russian center Alexei Yashin to the New York Islanders on draft day, in return for a package including Jason Spezza. The trade put an end to Yashin’s troubled nine-year stay in the nation’s capital. As soon as the news came out, the fans gave out a sigh of relief, uttering “good riddance” about his departure.
It is interesting to point out that both teams received intriguing packages in return. Ottawa, unable to afford Yashin’s estimated $8-10 million a year, received a top prospect, a third-line winger and a physical defenseman. The Islanders now have the services of a proven 40-goal 90-point center, which could foreshadow the franchises first playoff birth in years.
Ottawa, Canada – A lot of excitement has spread over the capital’s hockey community. The trade of Alexei Yashin was a win-win situation for the team, as well as for the fans. Jason Spezza, thus far, seems to be a perfect fit in the community. He’s made appearances on radio, televison; gave interviews and completed practices in front of excited crowds of fans. Spezza’s poster boy style has already won over the city, bringing back memories of the younger Yashin being treated like a king in his early days in Ottawa. He is a great interview; he talks to the media with great confidence and ease. Comparisons to players like Mario Lemieux and, to a lesser extent, Jason Allison have only added to the excitement.
Although it might be too early to predict Spezza’s future in the NH Read more »

Tampa Bay Lightning sign Three Prospects

by pbadmin
on

Goaltenders Michal Lanicek and Alexander Polukeyev, and defenseman Marek Priechodsky all signed standard three-year rookie contracts today.

Lanicek spent the season with HC Berounsti Medvedi of the Czech 1st league. In 17 regular season games, he recorded a 2.44 goals against average and a .922 save percentage. He appeared in 7 playoff games and had a 2.28 GAA and .877 save percentage.

Lanicek Profile

Polukeyev played five games in the Russian Super League with SKA St. Petersburg. He had a 4.55 GAA and .852 save percentage. He spent the rest of the season with St. Petersburg’s junior club.

Polukeyev Profile

Priechodsky played 43 games with HC Slovan Bratislava of the Slovakian Extraleague. He had five assists and a plus-18 rating.

Priechodsky Profile

Lubos Velebny progressing

by Stephen J. Holodinsky
on


A Knight in Shining Feathers?

Lubos Velebny was selected by the Leafs in the seventh round of the 2000 Entry Draft as a little known blueliner from Slovakia and remained so through last season as the focus of most fans attention turned to Mikael Tellqvist, Brad Boyes, Petr Svoboda and Jeff Farkas. However, one person who didn’t lose sight of the rearguard was the coach of the USHL’s Waterloo Blackhawks, Scott Koberinski. The reason being of course, was that Velebny came over to North America and spent the season learning the finer points of hockey on this side of the pond under the aforementioned bench boss. Now that he has been nabbed by the London Knights in the CHL’s Import Draft, his progress will be more easily followed by Leaf fans in Southwestern Ontario. That said, in a recent conversation with Koberinski, who compares him to a young Lubomir Sekeras (Minnesota Wild) in style, he described a player that while a work in progress, is further ahead in that progress than most defensemen his age.

Offensively minded, Velebny’s main weapon is a devastating slapshot from the point which he doesn’t hesitate to use, especially on the powerplay. Koberinski goes on to say that had he stayed in the USHL this season “he would have easily been the best powerplay quarterback in the league”. In addition to that his first pass out of the zone is almost always flawless and he has adapted to the rougher game over here faster than one would have expected. However, like all wild young horses, there is a downside and that downside is in his decisio Read more »

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