For as long as the Buffalo Sabres franchise has existed, there has been one position on this team that is rarely wanting for talent, specifically the goaltending. From the early years of the franchise with the acrobatic Roger Crozier, to the present day team featuring future Hall-of-Famer Dominik Hasek and star-in-waiting Martin Biron, the goaltender’s position has been the one area where Buffalo has seemingly always had quality talent to draw upon.
The good news for Sabres fans is that this run of good fortune at the goaltending position should continue into the foreseeable future. Indeed, Buffalo may have more good young puckstoppers in the organization than at any time in team history. Buffalo’s current backup goalie, Martin Biron, has already shown that he has the ability to be the go-to guy once Hasek decides to hang up his pads, yet Martin won’t turn 24 until August. And the depth does not end with Biron, as the Sabres have a couple of quality prospects waiting in the wings should Martin falter or become trade bait.
Buffalo’s top goaltending prospect, not to mention the top prospect in the organization, is Mika Noronen of the AHL’s Rochester Americans. Mika last season turned in a performance that earned him The Hockey News’ Minor Pro Prospect of the Year award, as well as several other honors. Not content to rest on his laurels, Noronen has turned in another strong showing during the 2000-01 season, as he was the major reason that the low scoring Americans Read more »
Kelly Cup Playoffs
The race for the Kelly Cup has definitely heated up. Here is a brief recap of the series results to this point.
In the Southern Conference, a Wild Card Round was held to determine who would occupy the number 7 and 8 seeds for the quarterfinals. Subsequently, New Orleans toppled Augusta and Arkansas ousted Baton Rouge in two tight one-goal contests. These two victors then moved on to the Conference Quarterfinals where South Carolina rolled over Arkansas 3-1 and New Orleans lost a hard-fought battle to Louisiana 3-2. The other two series also went the distance as Mobile upset the number 3 seed Jackson and Pee Dee had a minor upset over Florida.
No Wild Card Round was needed in the Northern Conference. Therefore, teams jumped directly into the Conference Quarterfinals and their best-of-five series. Trenton had little trouble dispatching Johnstown 3-1. After losing the first game at home, Peoria dominated Richmond the rest of the series, outscoring them 11-3 in the remaining three games. Dayton ousted Charlotte in a series where three of the five games went into overtime. And, Toledo was stretched to the limit against Roanoke yet prevailed 5-2 in the fifth game.
The Conference Semifinals are now well underway with a best-of-five format again being employed. In the Southern Conference, top-seed South Carolina is tied 1-1 with sixth seed Mobile. Dave Seitz leads the way for the Stingrays offensively with 15 points in only 6 games while Jason Elders of Mobile counters with 1 Read more »
The Newest Bolt
The Tampa Bay Lightning took a step into the future Tuesday, by signing first round draft pick, Nikita Alexeev.
Alexeev received a three-year rookie contract. Per club policy, the terms were not disclosed.
Alexeev has spent the 2000-01 season with the top OHL team, Erie. He enjoyed a career season (31 goals, 41 assists) while playing along side Brad Boyes. Alexeev also added 13 points (6 goals, 7 assist) to his total, in 10 playoff games.
Among his accomplishments this season, Alexeev was names to the OHL 3rd All-star team. He was also voted the 3rd best skater in the OHL Western Conference Coaches Poll.
Alexeev is currently out of the Otter’s lineup, having suffered a knee injury.
Erie is currently 1-2 in the Western Conference Finals versus Plymouth.
A European Vacation
Nine Tampa Bay Lightning players and prospects have headed to Germany this month. Not for a team vacation, but rather to represent their respective countries in the 2001 IIHF World Championships.
2001 World All-Star Fredrik Modin will be teaming up with prospect Jimmie Olvestad (Djurgarden) for Sweden. Alexander Kharitonov, who caught GM Rick Dudley’s eye in last year’s competition, will return for the Russian team, while defenseman Pavel Kubina will represent the Czech Republic. Detroit Vipers, Thomas Ziegler (Switzerland), Konstantin Kalmikov (Ukraine) and Kaspras Astashenko (Latvia) will all be making appearances for their respective countries. Last but certainly not least, childhood buddies Vincent Lecavalie Read more »
Well, the off-season is upon us, and there’s no better time to check up on prospects that the Canucks have, and how they faired, this season.
Canucks Prospect Awards for 2000-01
Most Improved Prospect
The Nominees are:
1. Pat Kavanagh, by doubling his point output.
2. Ryan Ready, for improving his overall play.
3. Bryan Allen, for overcoming all those injuries he had.
And the Award goes to..
Bryan Allen!, Congratulations Bryan on overcoming all your injury woes and posting solid numbers across the board for the Kansas City Blades, and playing well in your call-up.
Least Improved Prospect
The Nominees are:
1. Mike Brown, for not improving on any of his ’99-00 totals.
2. Darrell Hay, for being sent down to the ECHL after a mere nine games.
3. Jonas Soling, for dropping off the prospect chart, and spending most of the year in the ECHL.
And the Award goes to..
Darrell Hay!, Poor play in Kansas City had him sent down to Florida of the ECHL, and he never quite recovered, only posting nine points in forty games in the ECHL, this is too bad, because he is an offensive defenseman.
Best Goaltending Prospect
The Nominees are:
1. Kevin Swanson, for posting a very good season in junior, and somehow remaining unsigned by Brian Burke.
2. Alfie Michaud, for improving upon his rookie numbers. Read more »
2000-2001 USHL Top Prospects List
The Keys to the Offensive Engine
Offense is just one thing that wins hockey games. Solid D and great goaltending can steal games by themselves alone, however if you can’t score you aren’t going to win many games. The USHL, which is considered by many to be the top Junior Hockey League around, sends truckloads of young stars to the Collegiate ranks every year. Many of them continue their rise to stardom. Below is a list of 15 of the top offensive players in the USHL in my opinion and in no particular order. They are comprised of scorers, grinders, playmakers and all around superstars. Any one of these players has the chance of going on to the promised land of the NHL.
1. Chris Fournier – Lincoln Stars
We’ll start things off with the top scorer in the league this season. Chris Fournier is not big by any means, but he plays bigger than his opponents night in and night out. Fournier put up monster numbers this season scoring 26 goals and 57 assists for a league leading 83 points. Chris is a thorn in the opponents side at all times, as the hard work never stops. Fournier is a gutsy player who does not let size intimidate him, as he will skate around his opponent or fake him out of his breezers, whatever he needs to do to get him where he is going. Chris is property of the Fighting Sioux of North Dakota and they are excited to have him coming to town next season.
2. Doug Meyer – Des Moines Buccaneers Read more »
Since 1994 the Czech Under-18 teams have been waiting for medal success. Even this year
they finished out of the medal ranks. It is said that the 1983 birth year isn’t so good in the Czech
Republic and top prospects like Ales Hemsky or Lukas Krajicek are playing overseas, but this
team wasn’t shaky in any way. The team showed his spirit in the 5-4 penalty shots win over
Team USA in the quarterfinals. The Russians were the clear champions. But the other teams,
the Czech team including, played very solid games. Of course, every team is as good as the players
are. And there were quality players on the Czech roster. Here’s a review of the play
of every Czech player at the Under-18 WJC.
Was supposed to be the backup but won the starting role. Even if he gave up 8 goals in the
first contest, he proved that he is a confident goalie with good reflexes. In the
quaterfinal game was replaced by Martin Laska, but the goals weren’t only his fault. However,
his chances to be drafted remain quite low.
Played well in the quarterfinal game and was the hero of the penalty shots contest. Just like
Kopriva he was doomed by the Russian forwards in the semifinals, but showed that he can carry
the team when neeeded and that he can make the big save. Moved into the final CSB list.
Defensemen – surprises
Petr Puncochar Read more »
Well, this season for the Vancouver Canucks was one of new beginnings. The Canucks embarked on a new journey when they set up shop in Sweden for the 2000-01 Training Camp. The NHL was all buzzing about the heirs to the Canucks future, Daniel and Henrik Sedin. The Twins had become a staple for new, hopeful beginnings in Vancouver.
The Camp began on an up-note as Markus Naslund was chosen by coach Marc Crawford as his new Captain. Reporters in Vancouver openly questioned this decision, they figured that Markus was a good few years away from taking a serious leadership stance on a young hockey club. This stance was most likely taken because Naslund had demanded a trade out of Vancouver only two short years previous to this season, and was almost traded, to Anaheim of all teams.
Going into Camp, the Canucks signed free-agent Johan Davidsson, I guess I figured he’d be a fixture on the Canucks lower third or fourth lines this season, possibly replacing Matt Cooke. Boy was I wrong. Davidsson stayed in Sweden after Cooke had his best camp to date, solidifying his spot on this team for the forseeable future. A lot of players, namely Artem Chubarov and Josh Holden, stayed back in Vancouver to work out at 8-Rinks Ice Arena, instead of going to Sweden with the rest of the gang.
After a few days in Sweden, the Canucks defeated MoDo and Djugarden and headed back home to start the exhibition season. After a rather poor exhibition season, the Canucks embarked upon their thirtieth campaign to a chorus of high expectations. Having narrowly miss Read more »
Since this projected to be one of the deepest drafts in recent memory the Oilers are in the driver’s seat so to speak. From the trade the Oilers have moved up 6 spots in the first round from 19th to 13th pick overall which does not sound significant but the talent seems to drop off a little after the 15th pick. Now the Kevin Lowe and Kevin Prendergast have a few options to mull over before draft day in June.
The ramifications of this decision could directly affect the future of this team over the next 2-3 years.
The first and most basic decision would be to hang on to the 13th pick and draft the best player available at that spot or a draft for need depending on player still on the board. With the extra pick in the second round they will be able to fill their stable for the future and have the problem of depth. With this particular choice they might be able to fill all the organizations needs on the farm team since the lack of depth at the goaltending and center positions are apparent, with offensive defenseman rounding out the three.
There is hope that if they stay at the 13th pick that one player from each position needed that they covet will drop a couple spots. Three possible defenseman may peak a lot of interest if they fall and in no particular order Michigan’s Mike Komisarek, Windsor’s Tim Gleason and Ryan Whitney from the U.S. developmental team. Obviously both goaltenders Dan Blackburn and Pascal Leclaire would be taken without hesitation and couple centers may slide down little because of maneuvering higher in the draft. Two intriguing cen Read more »
The Kings still have several prospects playing collegiately. Here is an update on some of them:
Noah Clarke- Colorado College- The diminutive Clarke had another solid season. The California native had 12 goals and 20 assiss in 41 games as a sophomore. Clarke’s size appears to be his biggest potential downfall.
Jim Henkel- RPI- Henkel has shown promise. Jim had 11 goals and 19 assists in 34 games for Renselaar. The junior forward has good size and has shown improvements in his game.
George Parros- Princeton- Parros is among the most intriguing prospects for the Kings. He is huge- 6’5″, 215 pounds and has improved his game over the last season. He had 7 goals, 10 assists and was a +5. Parros had 44 penalty minutes, including 19 minor penalties. Keep your eye on his progress.
Matthew Yeats – Maine- Yeats’s was the starting goaltender for the Black Bears for the entire season. He went an impressive 18-9-4 with a 2.40 GAA. His save percentage was a little low- .897. Yeats has the potential to be an NHL goalie and has shown he can prosper in a big-time college program.
Jason Crain- Ohio State- Jason Crain was once considered among the top prospects for the Kings, and still is, although he has struggled at times over the last two seasons. Crain had only 2 goals and 6 assists and was a -6. Crain’s game has not progressed at the pace many thought it would, but his promise is undeniable.
Jay Kopischke- Notre Dame- Jay is a physical player whose skills are not maximized by the college game, but Read more »