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European signings

by Lain Babcock
Kevin Lowe took a page from teams like Minnesota and Columbus by drafting and then signing three older European players, all of whom may step in next season:

G Jussi Markkanen: A 26 year old from Finland, who had a breakthrough season with Tappara of the Finnish Elite League. His record was 30-17-5, with a goals against average of 2.09. The organization is very high on him, and they hope he’ll win the job as Tommy Salo’s backup in 01-02.

D Kari Haakana: 27 years old, rock solid at 6’1 and 228 pounds, Haakana has been described by those who saw him last season (he played for Jokerit of the Finnish elite league) as a punishing hitter, and a very physical defender. The Oilers have expressed confidence that Haakana can step right into the lineup.

D Ales Pisa: 24 years old, 6’0 and 195, Pisa is described as being another solid defenseman, who got riled up enough to hit a referre and get a 15 game suspension last season (he played in the Czech elite league for Pradubice, and scored 10-13-23 in 47 games). Pisa has a hard shot from the point, and may eventually get some power play time. Pisa signed a two way deal with the Oilers, implying some time in Hamilton is possible.

In a much anticipated move, Edmonton signed RW Jani Rita, the highly touted Finnish winger that fans have been waiting to see in an Oilers uniform. Rita signed a three year deal, and has a solid shot at making the big club, although some time in Hamilton might be best for him. Rita is from the 1999 Oilers draft class (he was picked 13th overall) that also includes M Read more »

Hurricanes Sign Defenseman Igor Knyazev

by Brandon LeBourveau
The Carolina Hurricanes have announced that the team has come to terms with Russian defenseman Igor Knyazev, who was selected 15th overall in the 1st Round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. Knyazev signed a three year deal, including a $900,000 signing bonus, the most ever given to a Hurricanes’ 1st round entry draft pick.

“We are very pleased to sign Igor,” assistant general manager Jason Karmanos said. “This will give him the opportunity to make our team. This will also get him acclimated to North America as soon as possible.”

Since Knyazev was drafted out of Europe, he has the ability to play in the AHL at 18 years old, unlike players who were drafted out of the OHL, WHL or QMJHL. With the Hurricanes lack of depth on defense, Knyazev will have a good chance of cracking the lineup. He plays a solid all-around game, and doesn’t make many mistakes on the ice. Knyazev plays what is known as a two-way style of game, as he can rush the puck up the ice and chip in offensively while also playing very good defensively and physically in his own zone.

At only 18 years old, rushing Knyazev into the NHL may be too heavy of a burden for him at such a young age. A season or two in the minors would certainly help him get comfortable with North America and the style of game that is played over here, but we’ll have to see how he performs in training camp. With Igor Knyazev and also David Tanabe in the organization, the Hurricanes have two top-notch young defenseman that they can build their team around in the future.

Beyond the first round

by Jake Dole
The 2001 NHL entry draft was, no doubt, one of the deepest in history. With the mass of talent from all over the world, NHL General Mangers were presented with the tough task of selecting young players, relying mainly on scouting, interviews, physical characteristics and personal likings. A fair share of surprises occurred during the draft. In the first round, the Boston Bruins selected Shaone Morrisonn, a tall, lanky kid from Kamloops. Despite his obvious talents, the Bruins were criticized for taking a chance on a player who many thought was inconsistent. The New Jersey Devils, with the 28th overall pick, selected Adrian Foster, a winger from Saskatoon, WHL. The same Adrian Foster who played only 5 games during the year.
There is no question that as soon as the surefire picks are gone, the rest of the draft turns into a crapshoot. General Managers try to hit home runs by the virtue of selecting those with potential, size and some hockey sense, and hope that some day, the tools come together into a package that winds up to be a solid NHL player.
It is interesting to point out that at the draft, Russia was represented by a bundle of hockey talent. Whether in the first round, or in the ninth round, there were players that embodied an undoubtedly rich bulk of potential; maybe more than any other country. To me, it was especially vital to appreciate where the less publicized and advertised names went. The troika of Kovalchuk, Svitov and Chistov was a top 5 lock, months before the draft.
The fir Read more »

Mikael Hakansson having a better year

by Stephen J. Holodinsky


The Forgotten Man

Remember this guy? Picked in the 6th round by the Leafs in 1992, he made his debut on ‘The Rock’ last year and proceeded to net himself 50 points in 64 games including 40 assists. It’s kind of hard to take someone like Mikael Hakansson seriously amidst all of the free agent signings, trades, and prospects vying to get some time with the big club. However, the fact of the matter is, the Swede could yet be a pivotal player on Toronto’s side this year. As most know, Jonas Hoglund is on his way out of the organization and when that happens a spot will be open on the roster for a responsible winger who can bring something to the offensive party. Many assume that winger will be Jeff Farkas, but the feeling here is that Farkas needs to rip it up in St. John’s once more before he is ready for the big show. Enter Mikael Hakansson. The 27 year old winger signed with the Leafs expecting to be able to crack the starting line-up at some point last season. But as fate would have it, the decision to come overseas was made late, the forward was out of condition and ended up in the AHL where injuries made his first year in North America somewhat of a wash. This campaign though is a different story. When healthy, Hakansson showed good tenacity and two way play and as his statistics attest more than a little flair for the passing game. If Hoglund does go before Farkas is ready, a smart bettor might put a farthing or two on this ex-Djurgartens product giving Travis Green, Shayne Corson, and Gary Valk a run f Read more »

AHL Introduces New Playoff Format

by Andrew Bourgeois


The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors have approved a new Calder Cup playoff format to accommodate the league’s recent expansion to 27 teams.
The new playoff format allows for the top 10 teams in each Conference to qualify for the post-season.
In a significant move to speed up the pace of the game, the AHL has unanimously adopted the faceoff procedures currently employed by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

This procedure will see line changes completed, and play resumed within 15 seconds of the previous stoppage of play. The league’s Board of Governors also approved a proposal to move to a fixed playing roster of 17 skaters and two goaltenders for the 2001-02 regular season.

The American Hockey League is the top development league for the NHL. Each of the NHL’s 30 clubs will develop their top prospects in the AHL during the 2001-02 season.
During the 2000-01 season, 247 players competed in both the AHL and NHL, while 70% of all players to competed in the NHL last season spent time developing their skills in the AHL.

The American Hockey League will be divided into two (2) Conferences:

WEST Houston Utah Chicago Grand Rapids Milwaukee
CENTRAL Rochester Syracuse Cincinnati Cleveland
SOUTH Philadelphia Hershey Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Norfolk

EAST Albany Hartford Springfield Providence Bridgeport
NORTH Lowell Worcester Portland Manchester Manitoba Read more »

Pens Focus On Youth & Size!

by Richard A. Plisco

The Penguins have intentionally narrowed thier search for player personnel in an effort to solve two glaring dilemmas. One, to establish some immediate support for Mario and what may prove to be his final attempt at a Stanley Cup. Two, to lay the groundwork for the not-too-distant future as the Pens anticipate a new home.

The first issue is to give the club offensive and defensive options. Last season, when they needed to fill holes at the blueline due to injuries, they turned to Dollas and Kucera. Complete busts. When they needed role players to step in and score they pinned thier hopes on Corbet, Beranek, Primeau, and Laukkanen. No red lights were lit. The team got bigger and nastier with additions like Oliwa and Stevens. But they didn’t get faster and certainly not consistent. When one line opened it up, the others disappeared. Not enough players stepped up to change the outcome of the playoffs. Most critics cited depth. Why didn’t Hilinka utilze his other lines often? He didn’t trust that they would or could contribute, and often he was correct in his assumptions. Take Morozov. Please. Anyone.

Will Hrdina ever shoot enough to hit twenty goals, like so many people claim he has the ability to do? And anyone can tell you, when Slegr left so did what little blueline offense they had. Not that even that was much. Evidently the team needs to create offense on more levels. They need to bring speed and scoring to complement and somehow replace what was lost. They need wings that go into the corners and come out with the puck, that don’t shy away from the crease Read more »

Rangers Agree to Terms With Fedor Tyutin

by Brandon LeBourveau
The New York Rangers have announced today that the team has agreed to terms with their 2nd round pick from this past draft (2001) in Russian defenseman Fedor Tyutin. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it is believed that Tyutin agreed to a three year entry-level contract.

Fedor Tyutin, a 6-3 202 pound defenseman from Russia, was drafted by the Rangers in the 2nd round (40th Overall) of the 2001 Entry Draft. The Rangers scouts are extremely high on Tyutin, as they had him ranked 10th overall on their list heading into the draft and were ecstatic to see him still on the board in the 2nd round. A stay-at-home defenseman with some untapped offensive potential, Tyutin will likely play the 2001/2002 season with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL). Tyutin was selected by the Storm in the 1st round of the CHL Import draft a few weeks ago. Tyutin will be in camp, but most likely he will report to the Storm before training camp is over with.

Since Tyutin was drafted from Europe, the rules barring junior players to play in the AHL before they are at least 20 years old or have completed three junior seasons do not apply to him. Tyutin can play in the AHL this season, but it will be better for his development to play a season in juniors so he can get used to the North American style of hockey, as well as the different culture and also the English language. Tyutin will likely follow the same path that Tomas Kloucek took, as Kloucek came over to North America and played a season in the QMJHL before being an outstanding rookie with the Hartfo Read more »

Lost Season in Louisville

by jennifer-mccarty

Thoughts and Recollections on a lost season in Louisville

When the Florida Panthers limped to season’s end decimated by injuries all year round, it truly was an eye-opening realization that no team can compete when 367 man-games are missed and the roster is never set. The season truly affected the level of play in another team too, the AHL Louisville Panthers.
With a rotating call-up list, 14 of Louisville’s regulars saw extended time filling in at the NHL level, which included Joey Tetarenko and Brad Ference. Combined with the rotating roster in the AHL, a merciless schedule that saw Louisville play 20 of its first 23 games on the road, and a shaky ownership group, the season closely matched the NHL season as a season to forget.
Joey Tetarenko was called up for 29 games and was able to make an impact with his physical play and chipped in 3 goals as well. Brad Ference was aiming for a roster spot after a solid stint in 99-00, but had the misfortune of getting his jaw broken by Steve Smith in a game of shinny. He wasn’t able to rebound quickly enough and only got to see time in 14 games in South Florida, but is aiming for a roster spot for this upcoming season. Kyle Rossiter spent his whole season in Louisville, but his strong solid play and physical presence will make him one of the key components on the future Panther blue-line.
These 3 players took the time out of their busy off-season to give Hockey’s Future an update of what they are looking forward to, what they want to improve on, and their Read more »

Depth no longer a dirty word in Hab-land

by Chris Boucher
During each of the last two off-seasons the Canadiens have found themselves without enough experienced NHL players to fill their roster. Fortunately, André Savard has been able to solve this problem. The recent acquisitions of Juneau, Dackell, and Quintal have increased the number of players with tangible NHL-experience to twenty-five; not including goaltenders.

This bolds well not only in regards to the team’s depth , but also in terms of intra-roster competition. The increase in the number of experienced players should force those players who find themselves on the bubble to work that much harder. Roster spots will have to be earned, rather than just acquired by default.

Of these twenty-five players with NHL experience. Fifteen of them are forwards, and ten are defensemen. Joé Juneau is the most experienced forward (616 games), while Stephane Quintal is the most experienced defenseman (822 games).

There is however a lack of balance as far as the forwards are concerned. They now find themselves with five natural centers (Perreault, Koivu, Bulis, Kilger, Darby). Although, three of them also have experience playing left wing. Seven of the remaining ten forwards are natural left wingers (Savage, Rucinsky, Zednik, Poulin, Juneau, Brunet, Odjick), fortunately five of these players have also played right wing. That said, there remains only three players who are natural right wingers (Dackell, Petrov, Asham); two of which are right handed.

Confusion aside, the team should adjust well to their new roles. Recent injury-plagued seasons Read more »

Youngsters get invite to compete for Team Canada roster positions

by Jake Dole
According to numerous sources, Wade Redden, Eric Brewer, Ed Jovanovski, Alex Tanguay and Ryan Smyth, among others, have been invited to a summer orientation camp, in preparation for the 2002 Olympic games in Salt Lake City. There is a clear indication that Canada is making an attempt to add some speed and youthful enthusiasm to an all-new version of its Olympic hockey squad.
It will be a while before the deciding reserves are announced, but so far there is a clearer sense of the attempt to construct a faster, more energetic team. The memories of the failure in Nagano still come to minds of Canadian hockey fans when the world winter Olympics are mentioned. The attempt to assemble a team based on experience, failed miserably. The 1998 squad looked tired and slow, showing little ability of putting the puck in the net. Although the gold medal game did not seem far away, Canada failed to score when it mattered most.
The key for Canada, as well as for any other hockey nation participating, will be to build a team based centrally on speed. With the large Olympic ice surface, skating will dominate. The key is not to build a Stanley Cup contender (and the 1998 team seemed to be built according to that idea), but a gold medal contender; two distinct goals which cannot be achieved using the same mind set. Let’s think of some recent Stanley Cup winning teams: Dallas, New Jersey, Colorado. Main players involved being Scott Stevens, Joe Nieuwendyk, Bobby Holik, Ray Bourque to name a few. Recently it has been elementary to note that to succeed in the Read more »

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