Our look at the top players to watch in the CCHA continues with an analysis of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Under head coach Dave Poulin, the Irish have improved considerably, but this season may be a true breakthrough year for the team. Notre Dame has 17 letterwinners returning from its CCHA semi-finals squad of last season, including several players who are finally coming into their own. The Irish have 10 players on their roster who have played either with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program or the U.S. World Junior squad. Notre Dame has more players from the NTDP on its roster than any other school in college hockey. A good recruiting class helped bolster that impressive number over the summer and should keep the Irish strong in the years to come.
Seniors Dan Carlson and Ryan Dolder will be the clear leaders on this young team and should also be among the team’s top scorers. Carlson led the Irish in scoring with 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points in 42 games. Carlson is undersized at 5-9 and 190 pounds, but he is very strong for his stature. He plays in all situations and shows some of his best work for the power play, where he is an excellent playmaker and is often the Notre Dame point man.
Dobler is a former walk-on who is now the team captain. He is a 6-0 195-pound left wing and while his offensive production is limited, his leadership and work ethic are critical to the team’s success. Dobler scored 10 goals and added 14 assists for 24 points last season.
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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.
The final cuts: The Maple Leafs pared their roster down to the required 23 healthy bodies on the October 2nd deadline by assigning defensemen D. J. Smith and Nathan Dempsey along with forward Jeff Farkas to St. John’s of the AHL … all three players performed well in camp and are considered to be viable call-up options should the Leafs run into any injury problems later on … when newly acquired Bryan McCabe officially arrived from Chicago later in the week, the team was once again over the roster limit and therefore forced to demote one more player … Adam Mair was ultimately selected, not because he hadn’t clearly played his way onto the team this fall, but simply because he was one of the few remaining players not subject to league waivers prior to a minor league assignment … Mair shouldn’t get too used to life on the Rock as he’ll undoubtedly be back as soon as the Leafs move out an extra veteran or two … this could happen very soon …
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The fantasy league that is the NHL’s 2000 preseason has come to an end, with the Buffalo Sabres sporting a very impressive 7-1-0 record. Winning records in the preseason aren’t necessarily the stuff of legends, but even the most jaded Sabres fan has to go into the regular season feeling that Buffalo will be an improved team in 2000-01.
The major reason for the feeling of optimism is the play of some of the younger prospects in the organization, particularly that of Jean-Pierre Dumont, Dimitri Kalinin and Mika Noronen. These 3 youngsters all played a major role in crafting Buffalo’s winning preseason record, as they displayed the skills and maturity of veteran NHL performers. They, along with Denis Hamel, Eric Boulton and Jason Holland, made the final cutdown to 23 players, with Dumont, Kalinin, Boulton and Noronen almost certain to be in the opening night lineup vs. Chicago.
Another young prospect, Brian Campbell, appeared to shake off his forgettable performance of last season by displaying the considerable offensive skills that had been his bread-and-butter during his junior career. Brian was returned to Rochester for the start of the 2000-01 season, but he is certain to be the first call-up should an injury be suffered in the defensive ranks.
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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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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..