Congratulations to all involved as the Leafs’ rookies sailed through this past weekend’s round robin affair undefeated and won the annual Kitchener Tournament. There were many surprises (some good – some less so) amongst the players representing Toronto at this competition. In the end, though, it was exciting just to see all of the Maple Leafs’ best young players together in one place at one time. There is really no better opportunity to get a quick snapshot of the relative strengths and weaknesses of each player in the development system.
Hockey’s Future’s own tournament correspondent, Stephen Holodinsky, will be posting his final grades for all Maple Leafs’ prospects within the next day or two. That said, here’s how each of the boys in blue and white appeared to this observer:
Sebastien Centomo – A Rookie Tournament veteran who shone at last year’s event … Centomo’s experience in this format was telling and he was clearly the more impressive of the Leaf’s netminding prospects … Sebastien is quick and agile but still tends to play too low and will have to adjust when facing NHL caliber shooters … Centomo will be a starter in the QMJHL this season …
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Espen Knutsen has been sidelined by a shoulder injury just one day before leaving for the US with his girfriend Hanne and son Emil.
Knutsen is still expected to be at camp but it is not known whether the injury will effect his play. Knutsen stated that it only hurt when moving the shoulder and there was not any constant pain. He received a cortizone shot from the Norwegian Medical Institute and Dr. Berner. Knutsen also received a MRI. Knutsen noticed the pain when he was struck by a puck in practice with VIF-Oslo hockey. His shoulder will be checked by team doctors upon his arrival in Columbus.
For the naysayers of Knutsen it is believed that this may be just another excuse in case he does not fare well against the larger North American opponents. However a recent poll in Norway`s Daily VG reported that 79 of 115 votes casted believe that Knutsen will play well and have success in the NHL this time around.
Before Christmas a new label will be in Norwegian and perhaps world stores… Espen Knutsen logos will adorn workout clothes. If he does well in the NHL then the product may take off… if he does not… well…. Knutsen will receive a percentage off each sale. From training clothes to soap dishes…the logo will be on a complete line.
GP G A TP PIM +/- PPG SH
Knutsen 66 13 28 41 32 -17 5 3
*Limited with injuries...
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HULL, Quebec – The four-team 2000 NHL prospects tournament continued Tuesday
as the Florida Panthers (0-2) fell to the Montreal Canadiens (1-1), 4-3, in
a wild contest that lasted over three hours. The game featured 12 fights,
280 penalty minutes, an 18-minute first-period delay, and a third period
Panther rally that just fell short. Trailing 4-1 entering the final period,
Florida out-shot (14-5) and out-scored (2-0) the Canadiens in the last 20
minutes, but ran out of time. Morgan McCormick paced the Panthers’
offensive attack with a goal and an assist. Serge Payer and Mike Green
scored the other Florida goals. Montreal’s Ben Guite and Eric Chouinard
each registered a goal and an assist. Six Panthers and five Canadiens were
ejected from the game. Florida will play prospects from the Tampa Bay
Lightning at 4 p.m. on Wednesday. The round robin tournament will conclude
with consolation and championship games on Thursday.
FIRST PERIOD: Montreal jumped out to a 3-1 lead in a penalty-filled first
period of play. Eric Chouinard, Jozef Balej, and Ben Guite all connected for
the Canadiens. The lone Panther goal was an unassisted tally by McCormick.
The 19-year-old McCormick is a 1999 Florida draft pick (103rd overall).
Montreal out-shot Florida 13-9 in the period. There was an 18-minute delay
at the 8:22 mark of the first period when the glass shattered following a
check by Florida’s Benoit Morin. The Panthers accumulated 31 penalty Read more »
Prospects Tournament Game 1
The first game of the Prospect Tournament took place in Hull, Quebec last night. Once again the Montreal Canadiens’ finest and brightest future stars were assembled to take on a talent stacked Tampa Bay Lightning prospect roster.
There were no notable standouts on the Canadiens’ roster. In his much anticipated debut, Andrei Markov scored a nice goal off the draw, he blasted a hard low shot past Konstantinov in the second period, however he failed to impress. Mike Rebeiro scored in the third to make it a closer game when he deflected a Markov shot into the low short side but Tampa ran away with this one 5-2. Montreal had only a very few good scoring opportunities throughout the game. Matt Carkner seemed to impress me the most with his physical play. In the first period he took on hulking Kristian Kudroc who was on the receiving end of a few good punches before he fell hard to the ice. In the second period Carkner fought another heavyweight in Brett Scheffleimier, the two went toe to toe exchanging numerous blows. Francois Beauchemin fought Greg Black in the second period. It was nice to see Beauchemin drop the gloves although the fight ended up a draw. The massive Mitch Fritz (6’7”) attempted to fight but couldn’t coax Aaron Gionet into swinging back so he ended up with a disappointing four minute roughing minor.
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It was a wild one alright, but when the dust finally cleared after an empty net goal credited to Jon Zion but actually scored by Vaclav Zavoral the Buds triumphed over the Baby Sabres 7-4 and became the only team to go undefeated, winning the Kitchener Rookie Tournament. The game had all the makings of a record setting rout in the early going as the Leafs’ goals came fast and furious. It all started with Alexei Ponikarovsky doing what he has become noted for here as he went into a corner draped all over a Buffalo player and came out of it with a perfect feed to Ben Ondrus who banged it home with 14:34 left in the first.
The floodgates really opened however some 6 minutes later when the Buds scored 4 times in approximately 6 minutes. A great looking rush/weave by Miguel Delisle going from wing to wing across the blueline started things off. After an exchange with JP Cote, the winger delivered a great goalmouth feed to Luca Cereda. The pivot, for his part, waited patiently for the Buffalo puckstopper to commit leaving Cereda the top half of the net and he took advantage at 11:50. Only two minutes later Kris Vernarsky played puck on a string doing a complete wraparound and starting on a second before sending a pass out to Vadim Sozinov who buried it low glove side. With 4:45 left it was time once again for the Ponikarovsky and Ondrus show. The former fired a pass beyond the reach of the Swift Current Bronco, but the rookie camp invitee out raced two defenders for the puck and backhanded it out front where Ponikarovsky, trailing the play, roofed it. Read more »
PANTHERS PROSPECTS FALL 4-2 IN TOURNEY OPENER
HULL, Quebec – The four-team 2000 NHL prospects tournament got underway with a pair of games today at Robert Guertin Arena. The Florida Panthers were defeated by the Ottawa Senators 4-2 in the late game. Michel Periard and Rod Sarich led the Panthers with a goal each, while Ryan Jardine recorded seven shots to lead all players. Florida’s Morgan McCormick posted 14 penalty minutes, which included a pair of fighting majors. The Panthers outshot Ottawa 33-24.
FIRST PERIOD: Sarich opened the scoring with a wrist shot just 3:21 into the contest. The 19-year-old defenseman was assisted on the play by Serge Payer and McCormick. Sarich, who was a 1999 draft pick of the Panthers (109th overall), played for Calgary (WHL) last season. The Panthers lead was short-lived as the Senators’ Chris Kelly connected on the power play at the 4:40 mark. Ottawa took a 2-1 advantage with an even-strength tally at 12:45 by Tim Wolfe. The Panthers out-shot the Senators 15-13 in the opening frame. Florida failed to score in its only power play chance in the first period. McCormick registered 9 penalty minutes, including a 5-minute major for fighting. Eric Godard also picked up a 5 minute major for fighting.
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I knew this game was going to be exciting when during the pre-game skate
Sean Avery was chirping to the Atlanta Thrashers every chance he got,
stretching over at the red line instead of at the face off circle with
the rest of his team, yapping continuously. Both teams came out
crashing and banging but didn’t take any penalties for the first three
minutes. Mike Sgroi took the first of the many penalties handed out
in the game drawing an interference call. Atlanta jumped at the
chance when Mike Weaver slammed the puck past JF Perras with 21 seconds
remaining on the power play. Detroit came back quickly scoring less
than a minute later. Ryan Barnes and Eric Bowen dropped the gloves for
the first fight of the night at 8:04, each receiving 5 minute majors.
30 seconds later Avery and Luke Sellars each received 5 minute majors
also after deciding to go for a whirl, which in turn immediately
inspired Kori Davison and David Kaczowka to give it a try.
Unfortunately for Davidson and Kaczowka they received game misconduct’s
along with their 5 minute majors. A few minutes later Adam Deleeuw and
Darcy Hordichuk got into a scuffle, each receiving 2 minutes for
roughing. Jason Williams also at the same time took a hooking penalty
putting Atlanta on the Power Play. Perras made a spectacular save on
Brad Tapper but Derek MacKenzie made the Red Wings pay when he put the
puck past Perras with just 18 seconds left on the power play. Jules-Edy Read more »
The Leafs had yet another long shot pay off in their second game of the Rookie Tournament. Against Carolina it was Ben Ondrus who shone and, while he didn’t let up at all, the New York Rangers have probably seen all they want to see of the team’s other free agent invitee, Lance Galbraith. Not only did he score back-to-back goals in the second to give the Leafs a 3-1 lead, he also served as the line’s constable on patrol, taking on Tommy Bolduc and then later Wes Jarvis. While he didn’t win either bout outright, he did hold his own and against Bolduc (who only uses icetime as a prelude to a fight) that’s really saying something.
But it wasn’t only Galbraith who was dropping the gloves. Jacques Lariviere, interrupted an uninteresting start of the match long enough to pummel Kris Mallette into the ground. This seemed to give a spark to the home side as shortly thereafter, the Baby Buds offense kicked into high gear, lead by blueliner Jon Zion who consistently forced the Rangers into decisions they didn’t want to make. However, overconfidence became a factor and when on near successive shifts Lariviere and Morgan Warren made brutal giveaways that forced Jean Francois Racine to come up big.
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The Maple Leafs’ rookies appeared to be far more ready to play from the outset of last night’s match versus the Young Rangers. Virtually everyone in the line-up demonstrated considerably more jump than they had against the Hurricanes on Friday evening. Toronto’s passing and team play were also considerably sharper throughout. As a result, the game was far more entertaining one to watch.
The Leafs dominated the first frame from a territorial perspective but neither team was able to open the scoring. Toronto’s forwards were going hard to the net at every opportunity and several found themselves on top of or behind the beleaguered Rangers’ keeper. There were two notable occurrences in the 1st period from a physical standpoint. Enforcers Lariviere and Mallette squared off in a way that made it seem as though they had already done so on many previous occasions. In this instance, the Leafs’ Lariviere scored a very decisive win by TKO. Later in the period, Mallette (having returned following minor repairs) attempted to freeze the puck along the wall, clearly frustrating Mihail Travnicek in his attempts to work it free. With no whistle forthcoming, the bouncing Czech continued to hack away at the disk held in the Ranger’s feet until the big defender suddenly collapsed and went down as if he had been shot. Travnicek sheepishly turned and skated away – I’ll leave the other details of the incident up to your imagination. Through for the evening, this was certainly not a night to remember for young Kris Mallette.
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I’m back with the 2nd part of this 3 part series, as we now look at the
Rangers defensive prospects. They have a good mix of grit, speed and offense
from their defense prospects, the type of players that Glen Sather and Ron
Low love. Now, let’s take a look at a couple of them.
Mottau recently won the Hobey Baker award, given to the best collegiate
Name: Mike Mottau
Weight: 200 lbs
Birthdate: March 19, 1978
Hometown: Quincy, Massachusetts
Acquired: Round 7 #182 overall 1997 NHL Entry Draft
Year Team League GP G A Pts PIM
1999-00 Boston College NCAA 42 6 37 43 57
1998-99 Boston College NCAA 43 3 39 42 44
1997-98 Boston College NCAA 40 13 36 49 50
1996-97 Boston College NCAA 38 5 18 23 77
player, last year in his senior season with Boston College. Mottau’s idol
growing up was fellow Ranger Brian Leetch, and their styles of play are very
similar. Although Mottau is not very big (6’0 200) he likes to throw his body
around and get involved in the physical play. He is also very good
offensively, and could be a 50-60 point scorer in the NHL. Mottau is coming
to the Rangers training camp in Burlington, Vermont without a contract, but
if he plays well in camp, you can bet your last dollar Sather will reward him Read more »