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Interview with Capitals Prospect Nathan Forster

by Jeff Charlesworth
on

Nathan Forster is a defenseman for the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) and a 1998 Washington Capitals draft pick. He just
completed his fourth season in Seattle, and should be ready to turn pro next season.

I want to thank Nathan for taking the time to answer my questions, and I would especially like to thank Peter Forster for his help
in making this possible.

Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a hockey player?

A: If I wasn’t playing I would be going to school and fishing and golfing everyday.

Q: What do you do during the offseason?

A: During the off-season I hit the gym everyday in the morning and have the rest of the day to fish or golf or just relax.

Q: Do you have any game day superstitions?

A: I don’t have any game day superstitions.

Q: What is the greatest moment of your career so far?

A: My greatest memory so far in my hockey career was being drafted to the Caps and also playing in the WHL finals against
Lethbridge in 1997.

Q: Did you expect to be drafted higher in 1998?

A: I didn’t expect much going into the draft because I didn’t have the best year my draft year. I was just happy to be drafted and
knew that this is only the first step to becoming a pro.

Q: What type of player do you describe yourself as?
Read more »

Senators Update – Part 3 (Forwards)

by Nathan Estabrooks
on

Forwards

The Ottawa Senators’ forward prospects fall into two main categories. Fast,offensively gifted forwards of European nationality and two-way North Americans.
Obviously there are some exceptions to this rule. Martin Havlat, last years 26th pick over all appears to have some defensive awareness. Although Havlat turns heads with his offence there is a well-rounded game underneath the flash. Occasionally Havlat appears to
lose focus and it is the back of his game that most suffers then. At 6’1″, 178 lbs. he’s got good size which should make defensive play easier, but to make the jump to the North American game Havlat must get used to the physical grind. Second behind Havlat on the
depth chart is Russian winger Petr Schastlivy. Many people got their first glimpse of Schastlivy at the ’98 World Junior Championships in Winnipeg. He is graced with good natural speed, balance and the sort of scoring touch you can’t teach. Mid season play with Read more »

Future Watch – Brian McConnell

by Erik Freeman
on
It’s yet again time for the future watch once again. This time it’s Brian McConnell, the bruising power forward who spent last season at the NTDP in Ann Arbor playing with the Under 17 team. McConnell, is a physical player with a mean streak and has good offensive skills but must work on his skating skills. He had a 8-11-19 line with 76 penalty minutes, he decided to leave Thayer Academy to head to Ann Arbor because he felt it was the best decision to further his hockey career. He said, “It’s been great and it’s really helped me adjust to a higher level of competition.” Having selected Boston University over Maine, Boston College, and New Hampshire because, “Coach Parker is the best coach in the country and they have such a great winning tradition.” McConnell, Ryan Whitney, and Justin Maiser have all selected Boston University and they all feel they have a great chance to win the NCAA title and are looking forward playing together for Jack Parker. He is excited about playing for new coach Mike Eaves but will miss the old coaches especially Bob Mancini. This summer McConnell is skating a few times a week and working on a strength training program to add more muscle to his 6’1” 195lb frame. McConnell is part of one of the top recruiting classes in 2001, expect big things from this power forward.

Predators: Cloning the Dallas Stars

by Brian Roe
on
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.

Read more »

Senators Update – Part 2 (Defense & Goaltending)

by Nathan Estabrooks
on

Defence

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.)
Read more »

Senators Update – Part 1 (Overview)

by Nathan Estabrooks
on
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 »

Preds Look for Late Bloomers

by Martin Dittman
on
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
training camp.

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 »

Washington Capitals Expansion Draft Preview

by Jeff Charlesworth
on

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 »

Sharks update – Defensive Analysis

by Mike Delfino
on

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.

Read more »

Washington Capitals End Of Season Prospect Report (Goaltenders)

by Jeff Charlesworth
on

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.

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 »