In 1999, if you were to ask me which position were the San Jose Sharks
weakest at I would have easily answered goaltending. With Miikka
Kiprusoff still in Europe and Evgeni Nabokov a serious question mark, it
was a concern.
Now fast-forwarding to 2001, one can make an easy case that the Sharks
are most comfortable between the pipes. With Nabokov winning the Calder
Trophy as the league’s best rookie in 2001 and Kiprusoff who is
considered one of the best young goalies in the game, the Sharks have
two young goaltenders considered at the top of their position among
young players. In addition, they have Vesa Toskala who will be the next
starting goaltender next season in Cleveland, the Sharks’ new AHL
affiliate, and Nolan Schaefer who is quickly turning heads at Providence
When a team drafts a player in the ninth round they hope that he will
make it to their AHL team. If he can make any kind of impact in the
AHL, that pick is considered a success. Rarely does a ninth round pick
make a serious impact in the NHL, in fact, most fans would be hard
pressed to name ten players currently making an impact in the NHL chosen
so late. However, Shark fans can easily name two, center Mark Smith
chosen in 1997, and Nabokov chosen with the 194th pick in 1994.
For a long time Nabokov was considered to be a typical ninth round
selection-a player who would struggle for a while and once he did make
it to Kentucky of the AHL, in all likelihood only make it as a backup.
He struggled immensely in his first season with Kentucky Read more »
The New York Rangers have some very good forward prospects in their organization. Although the overall depth at forward is not spectacular, it is solid to say the least. Most of the good young forwards in the Rangers’ organization are already playing in the NHL, in players such as Radek Dvorak, Jan Hlavac, Mike York and Manny Malhotra, but there are still the crown jewels in Jamie Lundmark and Pavel Brendl waiting in the wings, and other players with NHL potential.
Whether or not any rookies at forward make the Rangers this season remains to be seen. Everyone who participates in training camp will be given an equal opportunity to make the team. If a certain player steps up and shows that he is ready for the NHL and can contribute to the team, Glen Sather and the New York Rangers staff will not hold that player back. Jamie Lundmark and Pavel Brendl are heading into their 3rd training camp, and hopefully for the Rangers the saying “Three’s a charm” comes true.
Well, with that, I will now take a look at the forward prospects for the New York Rangers. (Note: Excluded from this article are Jay Dardis, Petter Henning, Brandon Dietrich and Alexei Bulatov, simply because I have not seen enough of them to give a fair assessment.)
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A total of 8 Russian players were picked in the 1st round of the 2000 draft. After several below-average draft years for Russia, the country had an abundance of rare talent to exhibit. In a draft year that deemed to be unpredictable, trying to foresee the draft positions of the higher touted Russians come June seemed like flipping a coin.
Despite an unquestionably rich flock of players, there was no consensus #1, nor a clear view of the true potential of the players available. The Russian prospects characterized talent, hope, potential, ability but also a great deal of unpredictability. For a whole bundle of the hockey season, the players’ stocks seemed to either rise or fall considerably. The year exemplified certain highly touted names grossly underachieve, while others with lower expectations unexpectedly entered the draft scene.
Alexei Smirnov’s apparent battle with Marian Gaborik for the clear-cut leader of the parade lasted for about half a year. While Gaborik surged, Smirnov’s questionable attitude, lackluster dedication to the sport and inconsistency came up as the draft day loomed. Smirnov wound up going 12th overall, while Gaborik dropped as well to the 3rd position of the podium. Two unexpected names led the way for Russia at the 2000 NHL draft: Going 8th to the Tampa Bay Lightning was Nikita Alexeev, while going 10th to the Chicago Blackhawks was Mikhail Yakubov. These were a couple of names that gradually rose in value during the year and ended up going high for particular reasons that will be discussed later on.
Right now, a Read more »
The Canadian Hockey Association announced the addition of center Joel Stepp to the Canadian National Junior Team Camp on Friday. The 18-year-old Torquay, Saskatchewan native played for the Memorial Cup Champion Red Deer Rebels of the WHL last season, his second full year in the league. A third round pick of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Stepp posted 24 goals and 37 points primarily as a defensive forward last season with the Rebels.
He joins teammates Colby Armstrong, Shane Bendera, Doug Lynch, and Jeff Woywitka in the current camp, which runs through August 10th at Father David Bauer Arena in Calgary, Alberta.
Year Team League GP G A Pts PIM
1998-99 Estevan Ban. AA 60 65 70 135 120
1998-99 Red Deer WHL 2 0 0 0 0
1999-00 Red Deer WHL 65 11 13 24 59
1999-00* Red Deer WHL 4 1 0 1 8
2000-01 Red Deer WHL 70 24 13 37 89
2000-01* Red Deer WHL 22 6 3 9 24
* = playoffs
Rutherford has made a good effort to try and solidify the future of this franchise for years to come. There is still work that must be done. Among other things, they need to bolster their defense, which they have tried to do, and drafting Russian backliner Igor Knyazev has been a giant step in the right direction. They also needed to try and get a decent back-up goaltender, to smooth over that position. They are still in need of a bit of work on the wings, in adding size, and Chris Dingman could possibly be the answer there, but he has been a big disappointment as a pro. The scoring touch he showed as a junior hasn’t been there, although he won’t be expected to score in a ‘Canes uniform, he can be more than a goon.
1. Zepp, Rob
Rob Zepp was in his final season with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL, which is also owned by ‘Canes owner Peter Karmanos, was a final cut from Canada’s National Junior Team. He put in his best season yet in Plymouth, and with the help of other ‘Cane prospects, including the likes of Damian Surma, Jared Newman and Tomas Kurka, took the Whalers to the OHL finals, only to lose to the Ottawa ’67’s, and a goal by their Captain, Joe Talbot. He failed to come to terms with his original drafting team, the Atlanta Thrashers, so he re-entered, and was selected almost exactly where the Thrashers took him in ’99, but eleven picks lower, at #110. He looks like a very good bet to be a big part of the ‘Canes future.
2000-01 Plymouth OHL 55GP 34W 18L 3T 2.26GAA .916SV%
2. DeFauw, Brad Read more »
The world championship and the NHL Entry Draft in this year let us say: Germany is back.
Next time to shine: the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City in February 2002. The rosters must be named till December, 22nd. The big nations currently named some players, Germany named nobody. And there will be much time go by till german national team coach Hans Zach name the first player. An interesting thing he said regarding the Olympic Games: All players with chances to be named will be watched, including the germans in the north american minor leagues. Read more »
The teams that meet in the Stanley Cup Finals this past June have something in common, besides from being excellent hockey teams with great players. Both the New Jersey Devils and the Colorado Avalanche have made some excellent draft picks, developed the prospects’ talents and abilities in the minor leagues, and have fostered and advanced their careers in the NHL. Arguably, the Devils have one of the best General Managers in professional sports today on a wide variety of levels in Lou Lamoriello. Without him, the architect of the system, the Devils would not have been so successful. Along with the assistance of Dave Conte, head of scouting and Claude Carrier, assistant director of scouting, the Devils have established an exceptional network of scouting throughout Europe, Russia, and North America including the collegiate ranks. They know what they are looking for in potential players, draft them and develop them in the juniors or in the AHL. It is very obvious that the success of the franchise depends upon it, however, what might not be too obvious is that the secret of the Devils success lies within the second round of every entry draft.
First, when a team like the New Jersey Devils experience so much success and accomplish so much, you are not going to be drafting high in the first round every year. Two Stanley Cup Championships, another Finals appearance, an Eastern Conference Finals birth, and several Atlantic Division Crowns, all of this since the early ‘90’s, is going to place you no higher than number 20 or 25 for your first selection. Since 1990, Read more »
To be sure, the logjam on the Toronto blueline with last year’s incumbents fighting it out for seven spots with this season’s new additions is going to be no easy task for those players involved. But if you think that’s bad, just take a look at the Baby Buds where it pales by comparison. As it stands right now Petr Svoboda, D.J. Smith, Tyler Harlton, Maxim Galanov , Dimitri Yakushin, Nathan Dempsey, Allan Rourke, David Cooper, Chad Allen, Francois Bouchard, and Christian Chartier will all be trying to earn a spot on that roster while trying to stave off whoever happens not to make the cut at the ACC. Suffice to say that one of Cory Cross, Wade Belak, or Karel Pilar will be added to this cauldron come September and one of the six spots will be held open for whoever it is. So who will make the grade and who will be packing a suitcase? For the answers to that, the field needs to be broken down some.
In the veteran powerplay quarterback category three candidates stick out. Nathan Dempsey and David Cooper were the two blueliners who kept that end of things on an even keel last season but Francois Bouchard, fresh from Djurgartens in the SEL, also figures into the mix here. It is highly unlikely that more than one of these three will be kept on the team. This will be due not so much because they have disappointed, but more because of the fact that St. John’s has a number of young defenders that need to develop their offensive skills and powerplay icetime is a precious commodity in that regard. The pick here is Francois Bouchard.
< Read more »
Recently, the Islanders announced some of the front office and
staff of their brand new AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport SoundTigers.
Gordie Clark was named the General Manager and Steve Stirling was hired
shortly after as the first head coach of the new franchise. David
Baseggio was hired as an assistant coach, with the expressed purpose of
working with the Isles young defensive prospects. Former Islanders
owner Roy Boe owns the SoundTigers. It is kind of weird how that worked
out; Boe left the Worcester Ice Cats organization (the St. Louis Blues
primary affiliate) to return to an Islanders organization that he
brought into the NHL.
I would like to look at the possible roster for the SoundTigers,
broken down by position. For the most part the list is done in no
particular order. Some of the players listed may stay in their native
countries or at college so this list could very well change before the
puck drops on the SoundTigers first game.
Along with defense and goaltending, this is one of the deepest
positions for the SoundTigers. Due to depth on the Islanders, some
possible NHLers will probably appear on the Tigers roster.
1. Justin Mapletoft – the Isles 5th pick in 1999 had a monster season
for the WHL Red Deer Rebels. He posted 43 goals and 120 points in 70
games. Under the tutelage of former Islanders great, Brent Sutter, the
5’11”, 207lb. center took his game to new heights. Originally thought
of as a defensive prospect, his offensive explosion was an unexpected
surprise. E Read more »
The Rangers failed in the free agent market this summer and they would not give up the talent Penguins GM Craig Patrick wanted in exchange for Jaromir Jagr. Well now that talent , mostly Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark must prove to GM Glen Sather , there future teammates and millions of Rangers fans that Sather made the right choice by keeping them.
Brendl and Lundmark although both forwards play a different style of game. Brendl is your typical sniper with a big shot , who it seems like can score from anywhere anytime. No one in the Western Hockey League has more goals over the past 3 seasons then Brendl. Yet some question his desire. 2 years ago he came to training camp out of shape and it showed. He played terrible and was sent back the juniors in Calgary without hesitation. Last year he was in better shape and his game improved but with the large amount of forwards on the Rangers he was sent back again. In the end though it was probably for the best as the Rangers didn’t make the playoffs and Brendl got much needed seasoning. He went on to lead all scorers in the 2000 World Junior Championships. A tournament that features all the top junior players in the world including Ilya Kovalchuk , Jason Spezza and Lundmark. The 4th overall pick on the 1998 NHL Entry Draft (Only Patrik Stefan and the Sedin Twins were chosen higher) Brendl is expected to produce and produce soon. The Rangers need his scoring touch. He is in New York almost a month before training camp begins , training with Lundmark and other Rangers prospects. All we know for sure this season is t Read more »