It is Time for the Flyers to Produce from Within
A HF’s look at the prospects in Philadelphia by John A. D’Amico
Losing in the first round of the NHL playoffs in consecutive years is bad enough. But doing it while spending enough money to dwarf the gross national product of a small European country makes it that much worse. Flyers GM Bobby Clarke has tried to build a winner by buying the priciest free agents that the sport had to offer. Unfortunately for Clarke, a bloated price tag does not assure success. And unfortunately for the Flyers season ticketholders, (after taking the gaspipe in back to back playoff years), all they have to show for their ticket buying dollar is a rather substantial price hike for their seats.
A concerted effort to build from within is now a priority for Clarke and it looks as though he does have some nice talent on the way up. This crop of prospects could be the best group that the Flyers have had stabled since the early eighties when Hextall, Tocchet, Zezel and Smith danced their way on to Broad Street to carry the team to two NHL Finals later in the decade.
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As the Detroit Red Wings’ training camp got underway in Traverse City on Sunday, there were several unexpected faces of note. Sandy Moger, Randy Burridge, and Jeff Sharples were all late invites to camp, and along with a half dozen other hopefuls, they will battle in search of a Red Wing contract. Because the team does not have a dedicated minor league affiliate this year, the Red Wings’ are only expected to sign one or two players. The competition in Traverse City should reach a very high level as contract hopefuls try to get an edge.
The most noteable player in search of a contract is 30 year old Sandy Moger. At 6’3″ and 218 lb., Moger is ideal for the Wings’ fourth line with Darren McCarty holding out. Moger spent last season with the Los Angeles Kings, appearing in 42 games but notching only 5 points. Moger has good hands and an excellent release, and he plays a strong physical game. Although his skating is weak, he is strong on his skates and has good balance. With a solid training camp he could begin the season with Detroit.
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It has been called a crap shoot, it has been called a game, but the one thing it has never been called was easy. The NHL entry draft is a sport onto itself. Unlike other sports where many kids come out of college as more mature 21 year olds (and sometimes older), the NHL draft features baby faced 18 year olds. It has been a subject of controversy for year and is now begining to stir up media attention as the NHL ponders raising the draft age. Each and every draft we see “blue chippers” and “risks” and despite their draft day labels we only discover the draft day winners and losers years later. The Rangers are a team that took a huge gamble this past year and, rightfully so, there was a lot of controversy over it. In the end the
Rangers got two blue chip prospectes, but the real questin is “Will they ever make it?” The answer to that question is probably a lot more
interesting than you think.
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Thank you to our correspondent Sarah Lindenau, who is attending camp in Traverse City and continues to provide us with valuable prospect information.
Team A vs. Team C
Final Score: 3-1 for Team B.
Team A Notes
Team A features regulars Fedorov, Yzerman, Chelios, Ward and Brown.
Team A features top prospects Jason Elliott and Darryl Laplante.
The top line featured Fedorov centering Yzerman on the left and Brown on the right.
Jason Elliott, the Red Wings’ fourth rated prospect, was solid but not spectacular. He displayed a good glove hand but didn’t cover up loose pucks well.
Laplante played well, throwing several heavy hits. One in particular sent 18th rated prospect Toivo Suursoo flying into the bench.
Greg Labenski, a contract hopeful, was unimpressive, and was caught out of position several times.
Team C Notes
Team C features regulars Lidstrom, Osgood, Shanahan, Larionov and Lapointe.
Team C features prized prospect Jiri Fischer along with Yuri Butsayev, Maxim Kuznetsov, Toivo Suursoo, Alexandre Jacques, and contract hopeful Mike Hurley.
Scoring: Shanahan, Hurley, and Jacques.
The top line featured Larionov centering Shanahan on the left and Lapointe on the right.
Fischer was impressive paired with Lidstrom. He showed great poise, vision, and made great passes under pressure. Read more »
As the Detroit Red Wings’ training camp continues in Traverse City, Michigan, competition for open roster positions is expected to be fierce. With Darren McCarty holding out, Brent Gilchrist on the injured reserve, and Uwe Krupp suspended, the Wings’ have only 20 NHL regulars. Four open positions are up for grabs in order to fill out the NHL regulation 24-man roster.
Up front, twelve Red Wing regulars are expected to begin the season with Detroit. Steve Yzerman, Sergei Fedorov, Brendan Shanahan, Slava Kozlov, Martin Lapointe, Tomas Holmstrom, Igor Larionov, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, Doug Brown, Stacy Roest and Joe Kocur have all reported to camp under contract and in good health.
On the blue line, there are only five returning regulars from last seasons brief playoff run. Nicklas Lidstrom, Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Mathieu Dandenault and Aaron Ward have all reported to Traverse City and will begin the season in Detroit. Recently signed unrestricted free agent Steve Duchesne rounds out the blue line’s top six.
In the crease, there is little doubt that Chris Osgood will be the starter with Ken Wregget as his backup. The Wings’ are unlikely to carry three goalies, and for that reason Manny Legace is expected to be sent to a minor league franchise to begin the season.
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New York Rangers camp opened yesterday in Burlington, Vermont. Noticeably less than 100% was top prospect and Rangers projected star of the next
decade Pavel Brendl. Brendl awoke Sunday morning with the same stomach flu
that has bothered him for nearly three days but he decided to lace èm up to
show Rangers Management what he could do….. which was with the flu not
much other than fall down during off ice training and go no where near the
net during on ice drills. Even with the excuse of flu many are a little
more concerned that Brendl may have not locked up that guaranteed roster spot that was handed to him on draft day.
General Manager Neil Smith was quoted at camp saying
“I have to admit that for a moment I thought, ‘Oh, my God, what if he’s not
sick? But the fact is, he is sick and, actually, I was surprised that he
even was out there”. Veteran Adam Graves has been assigned as Brendl`s
roommate, a move that they hope will help motivate him away from the puck
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One might wonder if the ice was that bad, or if there was that little talent. After
a hard fought match between Florida and Montreal, where the brawn outshone the talent,
the Ottawa Senators prospects took on the Tampa Bay Lightning prospects in what seemed
to be a slip and slide matchup due to a sheet of water covering the ice. These were the
final two games of a four-day tournament which featured two games per day, with
each team playing in one of those daily two games.
In the Panthers’ four games, they deteriorated from giving the impression of being
a fairly strong, experienced and mature team to revealing themslves as an
undisciplined, immature and flat out joke of a squad. Their top player, Novoseltsev
was injured for all games aside from Game 2 versus Montreal in which he notched the
only two Panther goals. The pressure was then placed on Florida’s number one draft
pick, Denis Shvidki, to lead the way offensively for the talent-challenged Panthers.
But after a respectable opening game against the Senators, Shvidki trailed off and
disappeared for the rest of the tournament. Receiving some PK time, and tons of
powerplay time, Shvidki remained unsuccessful and mainly a liability defensively.
Perhaps too much was expected from the supposed feisty young player. It may
be that not only his numbers but his stock was blown out of proportion while Read more »
Talk about a roller coaster ride. This team went from terrible to excellent and then squeaked in a period and a half of decent hockey before the wheels came completely off. They reached a new low in this game against Ottawa. Outplayed, outshot and outscored, they came out in the third period looking extremely tired, then all but gave up with about ten minutes to go. With the score 7-2 and only a few minutes remaining, I can’t recall ever watching a team wanting to playout the clock the way these guys did. They iced the puck at every opportunity, and stayed almost completely out of Ottawa’s zone. I guess you could blame it on exhaustion as the team played with a short bench most of the game. Gordie Dwyer didn’t play due to an injury, Alexander Buturlin left the game mid way through the second with a knee injury and Aaron Asham didn’t play in the third after he had two fights in the second period. Konstantin Sidulov was inserted in the lineup in place of Dan Watson on defense and Sebastien Thinel played for the injured Dwyer. Once again, Jason Lehoux and Olivier Morin did not dress for the game nor did goaltender Dan Murphy. Three games in three days with practices every morning is tough, but I didn’t notice the Ottawa team slowing down.
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Over the past few seasons there have been a lot of people
questioning what direction Canadian hocky was heading in. With an eighth
place finish at the 1998 World Junior Championships, and fourth at the
Nagano Olympics, many people in hockey crazed Canada were left with reasons
That’s when Canadian hockey decided that something needed to be done to get back on track, so to speak. Canada is still the number one player producer for the NHL as 60%-70% of NHL players call the “Great White North” their home. The problem lays in that
European players are becoming more dominant, and Canada is not producing talented players at a rate comparable to smaller countries like Sweden and the Czech Republic.
To try and figure out how to get back on
top, Canadian Hockey held the Open Ice Summit, the first of its kind, from
August 25-27. Some of the best hockey minds in the country like Toronto Maple Leafs president Ken Dryden, Canadian Hockey Association president Bob Nicholson and Canadian Hockey League president David Branch were in attendance.
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In what was a hard fought game from start to finish, the Blues youngsters avenged last years loss to the Pred’s with a 2-1 victory. St. Louis went undefeated in the round robin tournament with a strong team effort. All but three players contributed to the scoring, and goaltenders Alex Westlund and Kenrick Exner played solid in goal. The Blues got on the scoreboard first with a goal by James Desmarais at 9:56 of period one. Ladislav Nagy and Barret Jackman assisted on the play. Nashville then tied the score with an early second period goal at 3:49. Jeremy Reich put the Blues on top with his first goal of the tournament at 9:19 of the second period. Dean Stock and Brad Twordik assisted on what stood to be the game winner. The third period was scoreless as the Blues held on for the 2-1 win.
This win, no matter how small it may seem, is a huge step for an organization with a history of not producing prospects. The Blues, having concentrated on building from within, have more depth at the minor pro level than ever before. With each draft year comes a list of capable young players that are groomed for the NHL. Instead of rushing a player through the organization or trading away top picks for quick fix, the Blues have held the hard-line and eventually will be rewarded for that. This victory for the Blues rookies gives us just a glimpse at what will filter down in the coming years. No more big free agent signings, no more headline stealing trades, and no more “sell the farm” tactics. Yes, the Blues prospects are good; very good! Maybe even under rated. Read more »