A lot of questions face the London Knights as they begin the 2000-2001 season. One, where are their European imports? They are currently missing in action in Europe. It is still unknown if they will be coming over to play or not. Two, will Joel Scherban and Chris Kelly return from pro camps to play as over agers. Three, will the kids be able to respond to the extra ice time.
The Knights missed the playoffs last year, and to make matters worse, they chose not to deal any veterans at the deadline, as they hoped to make a last dash effort to make the playoffs and then make some noise. They fell short of the mark, and so now a lot of young kids are thrust into roles which time will tell if they are able to fill.
In goal, Aaron Molnar, a 19 year old Colorado draft pick is the number one man. He hasn’t played a lot in the OHL, but that will change this year. He will see the lions share of the work, and will see a lot of rubber. In the home opener he made over 40 saves in a 4-3 win over the Windsor Spitfires. He showed some nice lateral movement in making key saves on the Spitfires big line of Mather, Ott, and Kennedy. He made a lot of nice saves in scrambles, staying low and covering the holes until the Defence could move the puck out. The Knights will need a lot of nights like this from Molnar if they are going to compete.
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The Pens made 2 huge steps today in finalizing their final roster for their opening games in Japan against the Nashville Predators
The most important step was coming to terms with expected #1 starting goalie Jean-Sebastian Aubin. Terms of the contract, which was reported between periods of the Pens/Avalanche exhibition game in Hershey, were not released.
The Pens also made a number of roster moves today that cut the roster to 24 players (one less than they will take to Japan). The 2 biggest surpises were the inclusion of forward Bill Tibbetts and defenseman Josef Melichar (the Pens #4 prospect) on the “final” roster.
Tibbetts certainly has gotten much press this camp so far, little concerning his play on the ice. And the beginning of camp showed that 3 years off the ice can be brutal with regards to your skills. But apparently, he made real strides as camp progressed and will likely fill a 4th line role with the Pens.
Melichar was expected to be sent to Wilkes-Barre at the beginning of camp, but beat out the more experienced Sven Butenschon for the final spot on the roster. By all accounts, Sven had an excellent camp, but Melichar simply beat him out. Butenschon will need to clear waivers before he is sent to Wilkes-Barre.
Also making the team was Calder Trophy candidate forward Milan Kraft. While Milan didn’t have as good of a camp as last year, he was good enough to garner a spot on the roster.
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The National U18 Team is having some early troubles this year. Tonight, they couldn’t put any offense on the board as they netted only one goal. Brian McConnell got the goal on an assist from Bryan Miller. Des Moines had a balanced attact with 7 different players scoring goals. Mike Mantua played solid in the nets for the Bucs. Mantua is playing very well and looks to be one of the best goalies in the USHL this year. Tomorrow the USNTDP U18 Team takes on the Cedar Rapids Roughriders. Expect the National Team to come out of the gates flying and put some goals up on the board. They certainly have the talent, they just need to make some adjustments and everything should be fine.
Next weekend will be a big weekend for the National squad as they face Chicago and Sioux Falls in USHL action. The first week of October they will find out how much they have improved as they take on CCHA teams Michigan State and Western Michigan. This year the NTDP is playing a mixture of USHL and Division 1 and 3 teams.
Sens News and Notes for the Week of September 24
The Sens roster has been trimmed down to 30 players. You can expect the next cuts by mid-week after a game against the Oilers. The four cuts this week-end were all sent to Grand Rapids.
Mathieu Chouinard He played well throughout camp but like all young goalies requires some more seasoning. For the most part it could be said management was surprised with Chouinard’s level of play in comparison to his mediocre season of junior last year. It may only be a matter of time before he’s the Sens number one goalie.
Chris Neil With the exception of Havlat no player made more of name for himself in camp then Neil; many observers are shocked Neil didn’t make it past this round of cuts. He was fearless and always eager to please his teammates. All in all, camp was a great success and you can expect to see Neil in an Ottawa jersey sometime this season.
Konstantin Gorovikov Despite the fact coach Jacques Martin constantly referred to him as Konstantinov, Gorovikov showed promise in all the exhibition games he player. The only knock against him is the Sens prodigious depth on defence.
Derek King This year the once proud Islander will find himself playing in the IHL again and will be asked to provide veteran leadership in Grand Rapids.
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With three wins in three pre-season games, the Buffalo Sabres have won as many games as they did in the three previous pre-seasons combined. Granted, the caliber of competition consisted of two teams (Boston and Chicago x2) that will be going nowhere fast this season, but the wins have been impressive nonetheless because of the play of Buffalo’s young prospects.
The first game, a 5-3 victory over Boston, was a penalty-filled affair that saw several youngsters make the score sheet. Impressive newcomer J.P. Dumont scored a power play goal off an assist from Jeremy Adduono. Adduono and Dimitri Kalinin assisted on an Erik Rasmussen 2nd period power play goal, while Brian Campbell helped setup Doug Gilmour’s power play tally in the 3rd period. Eric Boulton, a brawler making a serious bid to land a spot on the Buffalo roster, provided some fisticuffs in a spirited 3rd period battle with Boston tough guy Ken Belanger. Boulton displayed more than just a good uppercut, however, as he has good speed and enough hockey sense to keep himself from being a liability when he is on the ice. In spite of Boulton’s inspired play, Dumont was probably the most effective prospect in this game, as he displayed the offensive instincts and skills that made him a top prospect in his draft year.
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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.
Additional roster cuts announced: Prior to embarking on a pre-season tour of Western Canada, the Maple Leafs assigned several players to the St. John’s camp … sent to the “Rock” were goaltenders Vladimir Kulikov and Mike Minard, blueliners Chad Allan, David Cooper, Tyler Harlton, Hugo Marchand, and Allan Rourke and forwards Vladimir Antipov, Syl Apps, Jonathan Gagnon, Mikael Hakansson, Bobby House, Jacques Lariviere, Frantisek Mrazek, Alexei Ponikarovsky, Jason Sessa, and Morgan Warren … the Leafs also sent Brad Boyes back to the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League after a most impressive showing by their 2000 first round selection …
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Starting October 4th, Hockey’s Future will be listed as an “official” Hockey site on the Florida Panther’s web page. All Florida fans looking for in-depth information about prospects and rookies will have the opportunity to learn about the prospects by visiting Hockey’s Future. In addition, for the service of the site’s long time readers, we will be able to duplicate the work from the web-site and post it here for all the Hockey’s Future readers.
These articles are from the Panther’s web-site and are sent out to their Cyber-news signups, and are posted here with permission.
One of the first features is a training camp diary of the highly touted rookie Denis Shvidki.
On how training camp is going:
The first couple of days were tough because I didn’t skate that much this
summer because of my ankle injury. My ankle was still sore too. But now I
feel a lot better. My ankle feels much better, and I’m looking forward to
playing in the exhibition games. I want to see how well I can do.
Did it upset you to miss rookie camp:
No, because I wasn’t ready to skate hard. It was good to get therapy on my
ankle. Now I have no problems. We were working on it every day with
ultrasound, ice, and special workouts. Trainer Stan Wong designed workouts
for my ankle that lasted about 20 minutes every day. One more week and
therapy should be over, but right now it feels good and it’s not bugging me.
On the ice…:
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With four games under their belt, the first phase of training camp is now behind the Canadiens. The early part of camp has produced some positives and some negatives. With most of the media and fans focussing on the negatives.
Andrei Markov’s play can only be described as a positive. His offensive talent, specifically on the powerplay, has been a pleasant surprise. Particularly on a roster lacking anyone capable of quarterbacking the powerplay. Playing alongside a defensively responsible, and veteran partner in Eric Weinrich, should help Markov’s defensive shortcomings.
Markov’s talent has produced success on the powerplay. Although it has only been four games, the powerplay has been running at a success rate of 27.3%; Compared to 16.7% last season.
As a result the team’s offence has been successful; Averaging 3.25 goals per game. An exceptional upswing compared to last season’s average of 2.39. The League’s desire to clamp down on stick-fouls has helped bring about the offensive success. The Habs are averaging 8 powerplay chances per game; Compared with just under 4 chances per game last season.
The Habs’ five-on-five play has been less than stellar. They’ve been outscored 13 to 3 at even strength. Last season they were outscored 142 to 154 at even strength. Solid defensive play was the team’s bread and butter. Giving up 3 even-strength goals per game is not going to win games. Read more »
Training camp has generated a number of surprises for the Nashville Predators this season. As camp began earlier this month, there were several favorites to challenge for roster spots, including newly signed Russian center Denis Arkhipov, Swedish winger Jonas Andersson and right wing Scott Hartnell, who was Nashville’s fifth overall pick in the 2000 NHL Entry Draft. Arkhipov and Hartnell have not disappointed and both have had strong training camps. Arkhipov has shown the skill and sniping ability that has quietly made him one of the better prospects in the NHL, while Hartnell has impressed the organization enough with his hard work and tenacious play to warrant an immediate contract and a long look in training camp from the Predators.
Andersson, however, was surprisingly sent down to Milwaukee of the IHL yesterday. Entering the pre-season, Andersson was considered to be the most NHL-ready prospect in the Nashville system. He has a full season of North American hockey under him, after spending last season with North Bay of the OHL, and he is also a tremendous skater who has no problem keeping up with NHL-calibre players. But the unexpected success of other players in camp has pushed Andersson out of the picture for now.
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The St. Louis Blues assigned Darren Rumble and Dale Clarke to Worcester of the AHL as well as returned Barret Jackman to the Regina Pats of the WHL.
This now leaves 11 defensemen in camp fighting for 7 spots. Don’t forget that the injured Marc Bergevin and Todd Reirden are included in these 11 players, which breaks down to two more cuts prior to the first game of the regular season.
Rumble and Clarke having been cut was expected and Jackman is likely very disappointed, but should have a great year in Regina. He’ll now have the chance to play in the World Junior Championships as well the Memorial Cup, which his junior team, the Regina Pats, is hosting.
A little prediction for everyone, Jackman will be in the Blues’ line-up come opening day of the 2001-02 season.