Is it any wonder that Rick Dudley stockpiled the Tampa Bay Lightning with size and grit over the past few years? Drafting the big three, Svitov, Polushin and Artyukhin indicated a move to project a larger and meaner Lightning squad for years to come. In the present-day NHL, it seems clear that size does matter, bigger is better, and physical domination is key.
Dudley’s Lightning, already seem stocked on talent. Lecavalier-Richards-Modin line might thrive for years to come. Therefore, skill does not appear to be the problem with this squad as of now. However, there is a clear absence of grit and character. Tampa is a very young squad and the team looked mistake prone and inexperienced last year. Lightning’ defense was awful, mainly because of the apparent lack of physical presence and identity.
Dudley didn’t hide his fascination with big players before the 2001 draft. Even early in spring, he praised Alexander Svitov’s nasty on-ice tactics and the surprising bonus of unlimited offensive potential. One can only imagine his delight when the wildcard Polushin slipped all the way to the second round, right into Dudley’s grasps.
Judging by the abundance of sky scraping bodies on the Lighting’s respective farms, one can only picture the look of Tampa Bay’s depth chart in five years or so. Size, skill, grit galore. Suddenly, all those years of suffering endured by the Tampa fans might come to an end. However, don’t make the mistake of judging the giants of Tampa Bay solely on their size. There is plenty of creativity, talent and goa Read more »
It’s been an on-going saga for the New York Rangers for many years. Dealing away young talent in return for an established veteran, brought in to increase the chances of the team winning the Stanley Cup. We saw Doug Weight dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in return for Esa Tikkanen. We saw Tony Amonte dealt to Chicago in return for Steve Larmer. About 7 years later, what has it brought us? 1 Stanley Cup and 4 consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, while Weight and Amonte are widely viewed as top line players in the NHL. I don’t know where to begin when I wonder of what life would be like if the Rangers held on to Weight and Amonte, among others.
This brings us to June of 2000, when the New York Rangers hired former Edmonton General Manager Glen Sather to run the team. In Edmonton, Sather was known as an excellent GM who built his teams through the draft and trades. He was the one dealing away the veterans for the talented younger players, something that made Rangers’ fans excited. Many believed the days of dealing away our young talent were gone. It was a new, better era for New York. We had one of the best GM’s in the NHL, and one who could acquire young talent and ultimately build the team that way. But we were wrong.
Today, the Rangers traded hotshot prospect Pavel Brendl, the 4th Overall pick in the 1999 Draft, young winger Jan Hlavac, and young defenseman Kim Johnsson, along with a 3rd round pick in 2003 to the Philadelphia Flyers for all-star center Eric Lindros, and a conditional 1st round pick in 2003. As they say, some things never change.
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The Canadian under-18 squad did not just beat the Russians in their quest for gold at the Six Nations U-18 Cup on Sunday, they humiliated them in a 9-4 shellacking that gave the red and white their eighth gold medal in the 11 years of the summer tournament.
The team was led by Rick Nash (London, OHL), who not only scored a hat trick, but added a pair of assists as well to finish the tournament with nine points in five games. In addition to Nash, Pierre-Marc Bouchard (Chicoutimi, QMJHL) and Alex Leavitt (Notre Dame, SJHL) added single goals in the first period to put Canada up 3-2 after one.
Russia added a pair of second period goals, but Canada responded with three of their own, one each by Nash, Maxime Talbot (Hull, QMJHL), and Tim Brent (Toronto, OHL). The final frame of the contest belonged to Canada, as Bouchard, Nash, and the Red Deer Rebels’ Derek Meech each added goals to round out the scoring.
Jarret Lukin also added an assist on Leavitt’s goal in the first period.
Maxime Daigneault (Val d’Or, QMJHL) stopped 26 of 30 Russian shots in the winning effort.
Russia’s Nikolai Zherdev posted a hat trick in the loss. Vladislav Evseev posted the other tally for the team.
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Ray had the distinction of being drafted right out of high school. The Flyers took him with their 7th choice (202nd overall) in the 1994 Entry Draft. Due to his excellent scholastic and athletic ability, Ray attended Yale University. Over a four period at Yale, Ray scored 83 points in 124 games, including leading the ECAC in assists with 30 in 35 games in 1997-1998. He was also named to the ECAC All-Star First Team and NCAA East First All-American Team.
In August of 1998, the Islanders acquired Ray from the Flyers for their 6th round pick in 2000. He came to training camp in 1998 and was assigned to the Isles AHL affiliate in Lowell. He scored 32 points (13 goals and 19 assists) in 59 games for the Lock Monsters. He was named
to the AHL All-Star Team for his efforts.
Again assigned to the Lock Monsters in 1999-2000, Ray contributed well. He scored 33 points (12 goals and 21 assists) in 49 games. Late in the 1999-2000, due to the lengthy list of injured defensemen on Long Island, Ray was called up for 14 games. He acquitted himself well, playing his regular shift and on power plays. His passing skill was
quite evident as he collected 9 assists in the 14 games. He also finished with an even plus/minus. Due to his speed and puck skills, Butch Goring even used Ray at left wing for a short time.
Unable to come to terms with the Islanders on a new contract for the 2000-2001 season, Ray took his considerable skills to Finland. He ended up playing 22 games for HIFK Helsinki and 24 games for Jokerit. Read more »
Mike Jones left Bowling Green University for his first professional season of hockey with high hopes. Unfortunately, rather than getting what he hoped for, he ended up spending the season in the horrid conditions present with the IHL’s worst team, the Detroit Vipers. The entire team struggled from the season’s open until its close. Little leadership and experience was provided for the youngest team in the league. This was detrimental to the development of young prospects, who were supported only by themselves and led by a rookie coach. Other NHL teams provided their IHL affiliates with veterans for their prospects to learn from, but not the Lightning.
At 23, Marek Posmyk was one of the older prospects for the Vipers last season. He was expected to make a significant impact, but instead suffered through numerous injuries and spent almost half of the season watching from the sidelines. His seven goals and 14 assists were second on the team among defensemen, but he failed to show the physical game that would bring him back to the NHL and set his career in motion.
When Posmyk was acquired from Toronto in the Darcy Tucker/Mike Johnson deal, it was obvious he was a project—but worth a shot to an organization with little prospect depth and a hunger for big blueliners. Due to injuries in Tampa, he was able to play 18 games with the Lightning immediately following his acquisition. He contributed a goal and two assists, as well as a plus-1 rating. The Lightning, coincidentally, played close to .500 hockey for those 18 games. Prior to that stint, he re Read more »
The Czech Republic-Russia game of the World Junior Cup promised to be a very exciting battle.
The Czech Republic has a very strong 1984 birthyear concerning hockey players and they met the
always strong Russians. It was obvious that the game won’t be a hard-hitting contest but a
game full of speed and skill. The Czech lineup boasted lots of players with NHL potential, like
goaltenders Lukas Mensator, who was the starter of the game and Lukas Musil, defensemen Ondrej
Nemec, Martin Cizek or Marek Chvatal. But the brightest gems were on the offense. Jakub
Langhammer, Jakub Klepis and Jakub Koreis are serious 2002 prospects, while captain Milan
Michalek is 2003 and youngster Rostislav Olesz 2004 eligible.
The Russians build every year a very strong competitive squad with some great individuals.
In the 1984 birthyear those are the likes of defenseman Anton Babchuk, who already played at
the 2001 Under-18 WJC, Kirill Stepanov and some really great offensive prospects. Those involve
top prospects Vladislav Evseev, Dmitri Kazionov, Evgeni Isakov, Dmitri Korneev, Igor Ignatouchkin,
and of course 2003 star prospect Nikolai Zherdev. Simply a very tough opponent for the
Czechs to beat.
Immediately after the begginning of the game the Czech line had a strong first shift, as Milan
Michalek passed a nice pass on the tape of Jakub Koreis, but Kirill Stepanov blocked his wrist
shot. In the first minutes of the game the Czechs tried to put the Czechs under some pressure
and eventually score the leading goal. Rostislav Olesz, even if a late 1985 birthyear, show Read more »
There were more than a couple of candidates for promotion on the Baby Buds last season as injury call-ups when one of the big boys went down at the ACC. Adam Mair (since traded to the Los Angeles Kings), Donald Maclean, Jeff Farkas, Mikael Hakansson (since returned to Djurgarten in the SEL), even Alyn McCauley (who actually did make the playoff roster) all had more experience than Alexei Ponikarovsky at the pro level. Nonetheless when the dust cleared it was the big Ukranian who played more NHL games with Toronto than any of them by the campaign’s end with 22. While it is true his stats didn’t overwhelm anyone, it can also be said that playing in the bottom half of the forward rotation, mostly on the fourth line, didn’t help matters any. However, there is much more to any hockey player than statistics and #39 showed in his limited trial that he could be at least Adam Mair’s equal in a checking role (thus opening the door for that transaction).
Ponikarovsky’s game starts with his size 6’4″ 210 pounds and mobility which is above average for his measurements. He uses his big frame not so much to bang and crash the way, say, a Darcy Tucker would, but more in a shielding manner ala Mats Sundin. On more than a few occasions the Leaf farmhand demonstrated he could make himself an imposing obstacle in the corners when others went fishing for the puck. He was simply to big to splatter and too quick to get an angle on. He also showed a willingness to hustle back and take a man after a turnover deep in the offensive zone which is imperative in the Leafs transition offense. Wha Read more »
Let’s take a look and see which ducks prospects have a chance at sticking with the big club this year.
Maxim Balmochnykh: LW-Cincinnati(AHL)– 65GP -6G -9A -15Pts
Maxim is a player that would have already been in the NHL if he had a proper work ethic. Maxim is at crossroads, two years ago he was being compared to Pavel Bure, now he can’t even score in the AHL. This is Maxim’s last chance and i’m betting he makes the most of it but I could be wrong. Flip a coin.
Ilja Bryzgalov: G-Togliatti(Rus)34GP – 0.912 SP% -1.87GAA
Ilja has all the tools to be an impact rookie this year, the only problem is that the the ducks are set in goal with Steve Shields and J.s Giguere. Unless Shields or Giguere are injured for a long period of time Bryzgalov will probably play in the AHL this year.
Stanislav Chistov:RW Avangard Omsk (RUS) 24GP – 4G -7A – 11Pts
Chistov could produce in the NHL this season but it would be a wise move to give the 18 year old another year of development. I think Chistov would profit most playing in the AHL but he will most likely end up staying in Russia for another season.
Jonathan Hedstrom:RW Lulea (SWE) 46GP – 9G – 19A -28Pts
Jonathan needs to come to north america and make the transition to our style of play, although it shouldn’t be difficult because he plays a physical style of hockey. Will probably stay in Sweden for another season. Read more »
It’s time to make something clear: Jeff Jillson is a legitimate Calder candidate this year. After signing a contract with the San Jose Sharks in May, 2001, Jillson skipped the senior college year in Michigan to officially turn pro. However, joining a blueline that includes Marcus Ragnarsson, Mike Rathje, Brad Stuart, Bryan Marchment, Scott Hannan and Gary Suter will not be an easy assignment. Jeff will have to show a lot of determination at camp to earn serious playing time come regular season.
But if you ask Jeff Jillson, he’ll tell you that he will not despair. Throughout his career, he has played through numerous obstacles and difficulties. Although the NHL is not at all like college, Jillson will demonstrate as much effort and endurance as he does on any ice surface. At the age of 21, he still has weaknesses and will be expected to show more consistency than in the past, but Jeff’s decision to remain in college for a sophomore year turned out to be crucial. Despite a disappointing showing for the United States at the U-20 World Junior Championships, many would agree that Jillson took a major step ahead in his development.
Jillson was first noticed as a high schooler, playing for Mount Saint Charles in Woonsocket, Main; the same team that had won 21 consecutive state titles, which contributed to the pressure already on Jeff’s shoulders. Needless to say, Jillson did not disappoint; he dominated at the high school level, and was a three-time all-state honoree. In addition, he earned the Sports Illustrated/Old Spice Athlete of the Month h Read more »
Nine days of intense workouts are beginning to pay off for the players here at the Canadiens’ prospect development camp. Drills are being run with much more precision. Passes are moving from tape to tape, scorers are starting to score, and playmakers are making the plays that are only made after successive intense on-ice workouts.
Tarasov / Belanger
Vadim Tarasov (7th round, 1999) is working hard to stop every shot he faces. He’s eager to impress, and his work ethic has been second to none. He and Luc Belanger (recently signed by the Citadelles) are far and above the best goalies in camp. While both have been effective, their styles of play represent what some people consider competing styles.
Tarasov is more of a hybrid goalie. Utilizing whatever style he deems necessary depending on the situation. He’s a reaction goalie; relying on reflexes to stop to the puck, and solid skating to remain square to the shooter. This style of play often contributes to inconsistency. It forces the goalie to rely too often on his reflexes. This puts pressure on the goalie’s ability to remain focused. Any drop in focus usually results in bad goals. Tarasov’s style of play is the likely reason for his past inconsistencies. He has a reputation of being a goalie who plays great when he’s on, but plays terrible when he’s not. In fact, there was a period last season when his somewhat erratic play was enough for him to fall out of favour with his coach. Between October 26th and November 11th Tarasov played in only two of his team’s nine games. His save percent Read more »