by Dan Perrault
The Thrashers have a very young and bright future. In the past two drafts,
Atlanta was selecting very high in the first round. In 1999, they
obtained Patrik Stefan, who jumped into the NHL pretty quickly, and
last year, in the 2000 entry draft, Atlanta picked second and selected Dany
Heatley. This year, the Thrashers have the top pick in the draft. What
will they do? Trade it for some immediate help to the team? Or keep it
and select someone who could be helpful in the future. Let’s take a look
at some of the rumors that are going around on what the Thrashers will
do in the next week or so.
Scenario 1: The Thrashers trade their first overall draft pick to the
2001 entry draft for a young goalie, which they need badly. The Montreal Canadiens are very interested in trading
young goalie Jose Theodore for the first pick. The Canadiens have veteran
goalie Jeff Hackett and promising goalie, Mathieu Garon. This could be
the best possible scenario for the Thrashers who have a lot of young
talent, but need a goalie.
Scenario 2: Mike Peca. Big trade talks in the last few days between
Buffalo and Atlanta. Peca who hasn’t been getting along with the
Buffalo organization, after many disputes over contract negotiations,
could possibly make his way to the Thrashers, who are weak at center.
Peca is a great defensive forward who plays with a lot of intensity in
Scenario 3: The Thrashers keep the draft pick.
These three players are probably players the Thrashers are really looking
1 Read more »
Hockey’s Future recently had the opportunity to speak with Lance Ward, who played 30 games as a rookie defenseman for the Florida Panthers last season. Ward was given his opportunity to play against Carolina last year, and he quickly found himself playing on the top defensive unit with veteran Robert Svehla. But just as it appeared that unit was going to be together the rest of the year, Lance came down with an unfortunate back injury which ended his season.
Ready to put all that behind him, Hockey’s Future caught up with Lance Ward while he was attending a Panthers strength camp in preparation for a training camp in Thunder Bay next month. Lance was able to reflect on his past season, the perils of re-entering the draft, his upcoming season, and the Panthers entertaining radio announcer, Randy Moller.
HF: At what point in your life did you realize that you would be able to have aspirations to play hockey on the professional level?
LW: As long as I can remember, I’ve always loved playing hockey and that’s why I still play. It’s turned into a job now, but it’s something that I love and I would be doing it even if I weren’t a professional.
HF: Was there any player that you emulated growing up?
LW: No, not really. I grew up watching the Edmonton Oilers and watched guys like Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier and they were the kind of guys that I was a fan of when I was young.
HF: To this point, what has been your most cherished memory as a Hock Read more »
Doubtless many Leafs fans were mildly disappointed when the team failed to execute a contract with North Bay’s Peter Reynolds prior to the June 1st deadline. Although the 1999 second rounder had largely underachieved throughout his OHL career, Reynolds had displayed solid physical and leadership skills at the Leafs’ Rookie Camp in Kitchener last fall. Many scouts still believe that Peter’s abilities are best suited to the professional game and that he will yet carve out a significant niche for himself in the years ahead.
Sometimes disappointment can be extremely short lived. On June 5th, the Maple Leafs used the funds that had previously been ear marked for the Reynolds contract in order to ink WHL Defender-Of-The-Year Christian Chartier from the WHL’s Prince George Cougars. The former 1999 Edmonton draftee failed to sign with the Oilers prior to the deadline and was an unrestricted free agent due to the fact that he was born in 1980 (December 29th). During the 2000/2001 season, the 6-1 ft. 215 lb. defender had truly blossomed, scoring 12 goals and 68 points in 63 games while also racking up 99 PIM. CSS reports indicate that Chartier is a smooth powerful skater, an excellent passer and a highly efficient finesse-based defender. The Maple Leafs now possess arguably the two best offensive blueliners from junior hockey last season – the other being Jon Zion of the Ottawa 67’s.
Afte.r this signing, complaints that the Maple Leafs had overpaid for Chartier were quickly overheard around the NHL. This criticism should be welcome news to all Read more »
Part 1: The background.
Flash back to the 1997 Frozen Four championship game. A sophomore at North Dakota, named Adam Calder was given the assignment of Hobey Baker Runner-Up and Boston University junior Chris Drury. Alongside Jeff Ulmer and Matt Henderson, Drury was taken from Hobey Baker runner-up to virtual anonymity on the score sheet. After that game, and through the next two years, Calder helped North Dakota become poised for another title, which they won in 2000. Every year Calder played, the Fighting Sioux made it to the Frozen Four, benefited by his strong two-way play. In 2000, Calder had moved on to help rebuild a team for a Championship.
In 1997, eight weeks after the Fighting Sioux won their NCAA Championship, the South Carolina Stingrays won the ECHL’s Kelly Cup, becoming the first team in the league to win both the regular season and playoff crowns. Four years later, Calder and Drury both played for championships in their respective leagues, and both were successful in their endeavors, but the question that still remains is why a very talented two-way forward with an excellent hockey IQ remains in the lower echelons, while other players with less talent and lighter work ethics have made the jump to the AHL and NHL.
Calder, a 5’11 185lb. forward, went undrafted and was found by South Carolina Stingrays head coach Rick Adduono three weeks before the ECHL began training camp. Calder had an immediate impact on the Stingrays, despite missing almost two months of the season with a knee injury and Call-up to Rochester. On the first road trip of Read more »
What promises to be one of the busiest and most interesting off-seasons ever has gotten started early here in Toronto. The Maple Leafs have already completed a trade that was disallowed by the NHL (but may yet happen), signed a coveted junior free agent (more on this tomorrow) and have now completed a second very significant transaction with the Coyotes. Coming to Toronto are centermen Robert Reichel and Travis Green along with minor league right winger Craig Mills. Both Reichel and Green were immediately signed to new multi-year deals by the Maple Leafs.
Robert Reichel, who had been a restricted free agent, has been playing in the Czech Extra League for the past 2 seasons after failing to come to terms with the Coyotes in 1999. This hiatus, by the way, marked the second time that Reichel had been motivated by a contract impasse with his NHL team to play in Europe. Jan Buben, HF’s European Correspondent, calls Reichel an “electrifying offensive talent with superlative playmaking skills” and further states that his stature in the Czech Republic rivals that of anyone ever produced by that hockey mad nation – including Pittsburgh’s Jaromir Jagr. Reichel has recently served as the captain of both his club team in Litvinov and also of the Czech National Team. His presence in the Toronto line-up next season greatly improves the team’s chances of opening up a consistent second offensive front behind the Mats Sundin troika.
Travis Green brings a very different set of skills to the Maple Leafs. Although he has scored 20 or more goals in 3 different NHL seaso Read more »
The Vancouver Canucks are selecting 16th in the 2001 NHL entry draft.
With this pick they don’t have much of a chance at getting a goalie that will help them in the long run. Dan Blackburn and Pascal Leclaire are two goalies that are highly rated and have been highly scouted. They both have promising careers in the NHL. With the Canucks selecting 16th this year, the chances of either one of them getting drafted by Brian Burke and the Canucks very unlikely.
The only way that the Canucks would have a chance at getting either one of them was if a team like the New York Rangers made a deal. Since the Rangers are in need of a young goalie in their system, this is very unlikely. The Canucks need a team that does not need a goalie to make a deal with a team that needs a young goalie. Rumors are already swirling about the possibility of Jagr going to the Rangers, but there also is the possibility that Mike Peca or one of the Sabres many good young goalies to be dealt. Anything is possible. But the chances of the Canucks getting either Blackburn or Leclaire are very unlikely.
I also think that the possibility or the Canucks trading their pick if a goalie is not available a very likely situation. The Canucks obviously lack penalty killing strength, and a point man on the power play. With the pick they have this year it is possible that the Canucks could deal it for a power forward type right winger. Someone like a Brad Isbister.
Short preview of Slovak players mentioned in CSB ranking:
North America - players
#33 Tomas Malec 13/05/1982 6'1" 185 D Rimouski QMJHL
#36 Igor Pohanka 05/07/1983 6'3" 185 C Prince Albert WHL
#73 Marek Svatos 17/07/1982 5'9" 170 RW Kootenay WHL
#103 Frantisek Skladany 22/04/1982 5'11" 180 LW Boston Univ. HE
#117 Milan Jurcina 07/06/1983 6'4" 190 D Halifax QMJHL
North America - goalies
#8 Peter Budaj 18/09/1982 6'0" 200 G Toronto OHL
#14 Jan Chovan 07/09/1983 5'11" 178 G Belleville OHL
Europe - players
#21 Tomas Slovak 05/04/1983 6'1" 191 D Kosice Extraliga
#48 Tomas Surovy 24/09/1981 6'0" 191 C/W Poprad Extraliga
#60 Ivan Kolozvary 16/02/1983 6'0" 169 W Trencin Jr. Juniors
#73 Peter Polcik 23/07/1983 6'4" 187 LW Nitra Jr. Juniors
#83 Michal Kolarik 08/10/1982 6'3" 196 C Trinec Jr. Czech Jrs.
#87 Peter Macek 13/05/1983 6'1" 165 D B.Bystrica Division I
#96 Lukas Srnka 25/02/1982 6'3" 176 W Trencin Jr. Juniors
#108 Rene Jarolin 16/09/1981 6'3" 191 C S.N.Ves Division I
#109 Dominik Granak 11/06/1983 5'11" 163 D Trencin Jr. Juniors
#113 Martin Zajac 25/10/1981 6'2" 212 D Trencin Extraliga
#121 Tomas Frolo 26/01/1982 6'1" 194 D Vsetin Jr. Czech Jrs.
#122 Karol Sloboda 16/05/1983 6'0" 172 D Trencin Jr. Juniors
In spi Read more »
Big Change in Utah
A week ago, the Stars completely vaporized the Grizzlies coaching staff. Head coach Bob Bourne and assistant coach Jason Taylor were both fired, while popular assistant coach Craig Ludwig was promoted to the Dallas Stars organization as an assitant. Now, ex-Calgary Flames coach Don Hay, who is a good friend of Stars coach Ken Hitchcock, is rumored to be one of
the leading candidates to take over the job. Ex-Islanders coach Butch Goring, another member of the Islanders dynasty team,
has also been mentioned as a possibility.
More shockingly, in the wake of these events inthecrease.com is reporting that the Stars are in the midst of dramtically scaling back
their minor league operations. The Stars are expected to share their affliate Utah Grizzlies, who have just moved from the disbanded IHL to the AHL, with the Florida Panthers.
Apparently, the Stars will join forces with Florida in running the team and stocking it with
talent next year, and Dallas is now expected to scale back the number of under-contract minor leaguers — keeping only a handful
signed for next year. The money they will save is reportedly going to be used to help Dallas sign free agents this summer
and increase the salaries of their NHL’ers. This combined with the expected 10% budget increase (around $5 million) and the money
saved on players like Hull (over $7 million), Donato, Maclean, and Ledyard should free up serious budgetary room for Gainey.
Read more »
The Canucks have been a very poor drafting team in their history, but they are very much a team on the rise. Since Brian Burke took over, he has been able to instill in level of confidence in the Canucks system, and despite making a few questionable trades in the past, he has a good record as the Canucks’ General Manager.
Burke’s drafting record has been very solid in his three seasons in running the Canucks. He has drafted some very good players in the first round, such as Bryan Allen, and the Sedins, and some solid hopes for the future in the later rounds, such as Rene Vydareny, Brandon Reid, and Artem Chubarov.
The Canucks, despite being the team who has the most going for them, going into this draft, are still very much a work in progress. There are still some very pressing needs which need to be addressed through immediate action (Free-Agency) or through the future. (Draft)
One position which the Canucks need some immediate help in is in net. They continue to have break hearts with poor goaltending. The Canucks haven’t drafted a goaltender since Kevin Swanson in 1999, and he has panned out just fine, but more is needed.
The Canucks are pretty deep on the wings, and rather solid on D, with prospects such as Zenith Komarniski and others down in Manitoba, who are NHL-ready. There is a lot of depth at centre in the minors, with guys like Chubarov and Holden, but this is an area of possible need.
The Chicago Wolves begin play in a new league and have a new NHL affiliation for next season.
They were one of six teams that moved to the American Hockey League from the International Hockey League, which officially folded. The Wolves confirmed they will be an affiliate of the NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers.
At least three key players from the Wolves’ IHL days will remain. Right wing Rob Brown, defenseman Bob Nardella and left wing and captain Steve Maltais signed contracts for next season.
The Wolves will operate under new rules when the AHL begins its 67th season in October. The AHL allows a team to dress only seven players who have played more than 260 professional games.
“That’ll be a huge change,” said Brown, an 11-year NHL veteran who has played three seasons with the Wolves. “We’ll get a lot of young kids who are just starting out. They will energize us.”
Wolves chairman Don Levin long has been against a full affiliation with an NHL club, but the AHL requires it. Last season the Wolves had a partial affiliation with the New York Islanders but also took players on loan from six other NHL teams.
“I consider it a full affiliation when [the NHL club] unloads a truck and brings in all the players and coaches,” Levin said. “I’m still against that. But we still have our own general manager [Kevin Cheveldayoff] and our own coach [John Anderson].”
Don Waddell, the Thrashers’ general manager, said he and Cheveldayoff will work together to determine the Wolves’ roster.
“This cou Read more »