There is an impressive array of both quality and quantity
available this year from the OHL for the 2001 NHL Draft,
particularly at center and defence at the high end. There is
considerably more depth when compared to the 2000 crop.
It’s still early and no doubt things will change as the young
players log more and more games and begin to adjust, improve,
and emerge, but here are the preliminary returns for the Top 20
as the season passes the quarter-pole :
1. JASON SPEZZA C, No Team – Awaiting a trade from the IceDogs,
it will be interesting to see how Spezza fares in a different
environment. What can I say about this much talked about
prospect without sounding redundant? Probably nothing.
Has size and a superstar quality skill-set, vision, and hockey
sense which makes him an offensive scoring machine, especially
on the power-play. Does not have superstar quality speed or
acceleration. Has a good, accurate shot with a quick release on
the wrister, not so quick on the slapper.
2. STEPHEN WEISS C, Plymouth – A great skater who can carry the
puck to openings and sees the ice well. Elusive. Has great
anticipation. Can run a power-play from the half-boards, and his
speed on the penalty-kill enables him to forecheck aggressively
and get back into his zone in plenty of time. Will play defence
deep in his own zone. Not quite prototypical size but he will go
to the boards to battle for the puck when he has to, can keep
his feet when being hit, but is at his best picking up the puck
as the third man in. Ju Read more »
He’ll hit you. He’ll crunch you. He’ll make you see double. It
shouldn’t be any surprise that Soo Indians defenseman Jared
Nightingale’s favorite player is St. Louis Blues hulking icon Chris
Pronger. It’s precisely who he models his game after.
Not that he needs to anyway. You see, he’s from a talented family of
hockey brothers who have big aspirations – possibly one of the most
talented and toughest trio of hockey-playing brothers to come out of
Michigan since Lansing’s Kelly, Kevin and Kip Miller.
Jared is prepping himself in the North American Hockey League (NAHL)
right now, while brothers Adam and Jason (both of whom also played for
the Soo Indians) currently play in the college ranks at Lake Superior
Born and raised in Cheboygan, the three brothers were raised in a good,
wholesome, deeply religious family, which has molded them into a group
of fine young men.
Soo Indians head coach Joe Shawhan has seen and coached all three boys
and would love to coach more of them.
“There was definitely a solid, growth environment in their family,” says
Shawhan. “I give their parents so much credit for allowing their kids
to chase their dreams of playing hockey.”
While Jason and Adam have taken their games to the next level, Jared
aspires to do the same.
“My goal is to play Division I hockey,” says the 18-year-old Jared.
“God’s been good to us, especially in the ways our parents raised us,
and it’s leading us all in positive directions.”
Jared says it was an indoor rink in Cheboygan that he playe Read more »
Great players come and go in the world of junior and college hockey.
But, sometimes good and gifted players become even better at higher
levels (i.e. college and pro hockey) because of leagues like the North
American Hockey League (NAHL).
Two players who have come through the NAHL only to shine in their first
seasons of college hockey – Ryan Miller of Michigan State and Chris
Gobert of Northern Michigan- also played for the same junior team, the
Soo Indians of the NAHL under General Manager and head coach Joe
Shawhan. And it’s no secret that both were named to the All-CCHA Rookie
Team for ’99-’00 either.
Shawhan raves about players just like Miller and Gobert that he is now
developing, with hopes of similar results for the future.
“With Ryan Miller, we knew right away he was special,” said Shawhan.
“He had to strengthen up a bit because he had a growth spurt (from 5′ 6″
to 6′ 1″) in a short time.”
Shawhan says Miller probably had it in his bloodlines too, being
related to that infamous arsenal of Lansing area Millers – Kelly, Kevin,
“He (Ryan) always talked about making money at the game someday and I
know he will,” says Shawhan. “He’s that talented.”
Nobody knows about that talent more than MSU head coach Ron Mason, who
has coached all of the Millers – and now Ryan, whom he has watched play
since he was 5-years-old.
“I’ve watched him for a long time, watched him mature, grow like a
weed,” says Mason. “He has the mentality to succeed i Read more »
When you hear the last name Crawford on various levels in the hockey
world, whether it be amateur or professional, chances are people will
know the name.
It’s no surprise that Pete Crawford, general manager of the North
American Hockey League’s (NAHL) Springfield Jr. Blues is where he is and
has a burning desire to win.
Just like the rest of his highly competitive family.
Pete Crawford is one of nine brothers and sisters, a good majority of
whom have some type of job in hockey or sports in general.
Besides Pete, there is Bob who also is involved with Springfield and
owns the Connecticut Clippers of the Metropolitan Hockey League. Bob
also owns a team in Canada, and runs a hockey rink business on the east
coast. Brother Louie is the head coach of St. John’s, the top minor
league affiliate for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Todd Crawford is a former Olympic bobsledder; Eric Crawford is the video
coordinator for the Vancouver Canucks; and the head coach of the Canucks
is none other than Marc Crawford, perhaps the most famous of the
brothers’ Crawford, who lead the Colorado Avalanche to the 1996 Stanley
Cup and battled the Detroit Red Wings for several years as the Avs’
Oh, and don’t forget dad Floyd Crawford, who still keeps his hand in the
sport as head of scouting for the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL)
Pete attributes his success and desire to be the best at whatever he
does to his family.
“I’m from a very competitive family and I’m a competitive person,” says
Pete, a former hockey player Read more »
Player Team League GP G A P PIM +/-
Pavel Brendl Calgary WHL 15 18 15 33 8 16
Last Game: 11/11 Calgary vs. Prince Albert; 5 G, O A, 5 P, 0 PIM
Brendl finally broke out of his slump last night, netting 5 goals in an 8-2
win over the Prince Albert Raiders. Brendl was scoreless in his previous 5
games, and last time he scored before that it was against the Raiders also,
as he scored twice en route to a 12-4 win. Brendl is currently tied for 8th
in WHL scoring with Konstantin Panov of the Kamloops Blazers with 33 points,
and is 3rd in goals with 18, as Mike Comrie of Kootenay (32 goals) and Layne
Ulmer of Swift Current (22 goals) are ahead of him. Lets hope Brendl doesn’t
go back into another slump and that he can continue to dominate this league.
Player Team League GP G A P PIM +/-
Jamie Lundmark Seattle WHL 7 7 4 11 9 0
Last Game: 11/11 Seattle vs. Brandon; 2 G, O A, 2 P, 0 PIM
Lundmark is just starting to get comfortable with his new team and is
starting to put up big numbers. The Thunderbirds were slaughtered last night
9-3 by the Brandon Wheat Kings, but the bright spot for Seattle was Lundmark
who scored 2 goals in the loss. He currently has 11 points in 7 games on the
season (7 goals, 4 assists) and we should expect him to continue producing
and leading Seattle’s dangerous offense which also boasts top prospects Shane
Endicott, David Morisset and Barret Heisten.
Player Te Read more »
J.F.Labbe was a fan favorite in Hartford and won his 2nd Calder Cup. Labbe has been descibed as a fringe AHL goalie almost too good for the AHL but without a home in the NHL. Labbe appeared in one game with New York last season posting a 0-1-0 3.00gaa record. In 8 games in Hartford he posted a 4-2-1 record with a 3.04 goals against. Erstwhile Vitaly Yeremeyev will join Hartford to back-up Johan Holmqvist. Yeremeyev was in Charlotte (ECHL) and posted a 2-2-0 record.
Coming to New York, atleast on paper is Swedish defender Bert Robertsson who appeared in 52 games with Edmonton last season recording 4 assists and 34 penalty minutes. Robertsson is currently in Houston of IHL and will remain there for the time being. Robertsson is a nice skating 26 year old defender out of Sodertalje, Sweden and carries 6-2 210 very well. The Rangers are his 3rd club (previously Vancouver and Edmonton) and he brings 121 NHL games of experience to the new log jam at defense in the Rangers minor league system. With Kim Johnsson on the shelf for 2 weeks or so, Robertsson may just be in New York if the ship Rangers starts to sink.
Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.
Korolev Rumours Rampant: Many media sources have reported, this week, that Leafs’ C/W Igor Korolev may soon be on his way to the Island (or perhaps to Chicago) … the thinking seems to be that the team needs to make room for Big Nik Antropov when he returns to the line-up at the end of November … there are at least a couple of significant problems with this theory though … first, the Maple Leafs are currently 1 man under the NHL roster limit and will not be forced to move anyone out in order to activate Antropov … second, Korolev can be re-deployed on either wing – meaning that both he and Antropov can be used in the same line-up quite effectively … lastly, Igor is a personal favorite of Pat Quinn’s and his versatility, sound positional play and quite leadership remain valued elements on the Toronto squad … at this time, a deal for something as inconsequential as mid round draft choices seems highly unlikely … besides, the Maple Leafs will need all the depth that they can muster if they hope to acquire another significant player prior to the playoffs …
MLG Plans Shelved: The sale of Maple Leaf Gardens has been put on hold after a snag in plans to develop the 69-year-old hockey shrine … the major issue between the intended developer (PenEquity Management Corp.) and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment was over the reten Read more »
I will post my preliminary rankings of OHL players eligible for the NHL Draft early next week. I don’t foresee any changes to the Top Five that I posted in my pre-season rankings, but there will be some shuffling beyond that point. There are a couple of power-forwards rising through the ranks, plus of course the birthdate issues. Perhaps by then we’ll know where Spezza ends up.
Reports of panic and bedlam hitting the streets of Cranbrook due to the circulating rumors of ICE scoring sensation Mike Comrie signing a pro contract and heading to greener pastures
are greatly exaggerated. There are reports of ICE fans at centers all over the WHL protesting the possibility of losing their superstar at his father’s BRICK Furniture stores. These protests
failed to materialize however, due to the incredible, DON’T PAY UNTIL 2010 sale offered only to ICE fans. Being upset about losing your favorite hockey player is one thing but getting a
great deal on appliances is another story altogether……. Seriously though folks, this whole hullabaloo about the possible Edmonton Oiler offer to Comrie for first round draft pick money
(pegged at about $1.1 million per year with a lucrative bonus structure) doesn’t wash with me. Why would he (and his agent) sacrifice a kick at unrestricted free agency next June by
signing now? My money’s on him staying with the ICE.
A report out the OHL states that possible number one draft pick for this June’s NHL Draft, Jason Spezza, has asked for, and will
receive a trade from the cellar-dwelling Mississauga Ice Dogs.
The bids for the Canadian host city for the 2003 World Junior Championships are now being accepted. No fewer than ten cities are bidding
from Calgary to Halifax. When are they going to wake up and realize that the WJC’s only draws any real interest from fans in Canada? The organizers can’t be making any money over there from the obviously mediocre fan support. It’s time we host Read more »