by Derek Cheng
Boston Bruins defenseman Hal Gill stands 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighs in at 240 pounds. Penguins superstar Jaromir Jagr once proclaimed him to be the toughest one-on-one rearguard in the National Hockey League.
Martin Grenier stands 6 feet 5 inches tall and weighs in at 245 pounds. He has yet to make his first appearance in a Bruins’ uniform, but fans and management can already feel the impact he could make.
Now imagine these two young giants (Gill, 25 and Grenier 20) standing across Boston’s blueline. It is enough to make every Bruins fan smile and any opponents fearful.
Martin Grenier was orginally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche (45th overall) in the ’99 Entry Draft. He was acquired by the Bruins along with Swedish prospect Samuel Pahlsson and veteran forward Brian Rolston on March 6, 2000. Grenier has some big skates to fill, as he was the only defenseman acquired for Bruins legend Ray Bourque. Grenier had been pegged as a first round pick in ’99, but some scouts felt he lacked discipline and that his skating was sub-par. He improved his game considerably in ’99-’00, but many feel that he is still a wildcard in the trade for the future Hall of Fame defenseman.
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The 2000 NHL entry draft is right around the corner and I am back as I promised in my previous article. I will now focus on Slovak players who might be picked in this draft. I divided these players into four categories. The first category includes hot prospects who are ranked in the top 40 of the North American and European CSB lists. The second category includes kids who are ranked in the top 100. The third category mentions junior prospects who were not ranked. The fourth and final category specifies over-aged players who are in my opinion really solid prospects not only for the top European Elites but also for the NHL, even though they are not 18 or 19.
No doubt that Marián Gáborík (CSB Euro #4, 02-14-1982, 6’1″ 183 lb., LW, Trencín – Extraliga, 50GP 25G-22A-47Pts +1 34PIM) is the top Slovak and European prospect. He has a real chance to be the #1 pick. While CSB ranks him at #4 on the European list, a lot of scouts, GM’s, journalists, and fans do not dispute that he is the best prospect. It does not matter whether Marián will be selected as #1 or 2 or 3. He has all the potential to start in the best hockey league next season and prove his obvious talent. In the last two seasons he refused more serious offers from IHL and QMJHL (where he was picked in the import draft) and stayed to play in the Slovak Elite – Extraliga. However, next season will be a big challenge for him and he will make the account of that.
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After two years of building the franchise and laying the foundation for success in the NHL, the Nashville Predators will participate in their third Entry Draft on June 24 and 25 in Calgary. The Predators will select sixth overall, barring a trade to move up or down in the first round order. Rumors and speculation about possible trades have been circulating for several weeks, especially in the wake of the New York Islanders winning the draft lottery and moving up to the top overall pick. What the Predators do in the first round will likely be determined by those potential deals, whether Nashville is involved in them or not.
Lately, Nashville GM David Poile has talked about trading down, especially if there is no one the team is excited about at the sixth pick. Poile has indicated that the team might use its “time out” option when its pick comes up in the draft, to allow more time for trade negotiations. If another team wants a player badly enough at the sixth pick and is willing to pay the price in order to move up, Poile would love to make the kind of trade that Tampa Bay did last year, when the Lightning acquired Dan Cloutier and Niklas Sundstrom, along with first and third round draft picks in 2000 in exchange for the fourth overall selection in 1999. The chances of that kind of deal emerging are very slim, but Nashville will definitely listen to all offers on draft day.
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IHL PLAYER PROFILE
Birthdate: July 16, 1976
Birthplace: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
Weight: 195 lbs
Season Team Lge GP G A Pts PIM
1993-94 Newmarket Royals OHL 55 11 4 15 69
1994-95 Sarnia Sting OHL 58 24 25 49 103
1995-96 Sarnia Sting OHL 48 36 32 68 93
1996-97 South-Carolina Stingrays ECHL 12 3 6 9 28
1996-97 St.-John's Maple Leafs AHL 9 1 4 5 8
1997-98 Kentucky Thoroughblades AHL 64 8 14 22 172
1998-99 Kansas-City Blades IHL 69 11 21 32 163
1999-00 Kansas-City Blades IHL 61 13 19 32 139
Just 23 years old, Yarema finished his third year as a pro when the Blades
finished the 1999-2000. He established career-highs with Kansas City in
1998-99 and in 1999-2000 totaling 32 points in both seasons. He finished
second to Dody Wood in penalty minutes with 163 in 98-99.
A native of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Yarema spent the 1997-98 season with
the American League’s Kentucky Thoroughblades where he registered 22 points
(8 goals, 14 assists) to go with 172 penalty minutes in 64 games. The year
before that, the six-foot, 195-pound center/left wing assisted in the South
Carolina Stingrays run to the East Coast League’s Kelly Cup title.
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On June 24 and 25, the NHL will gather in Calgary for the 2000 Entry Draft. Armed with three picks in the first sixty, Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford and Sheldon Ferguson, Director of Amateur Scouting, will take a dip into the amateur pool to restock the Canes farm system.
The Hurricanes will be picking 14, 44 and 58, in the first two rounds. the first two picks are theirs, while the 58 pick is from Philadelphia, in the Primeau/Brind’Amour-Pelletier trade.
The Canes have hung onto their drafted players the last few years. They learned their lesson the hard way. In 1995, the then Hartford Whalers, traded future Hart and Norris Trophy winner Chris Pronger to the St. Louis Blues. The blossoming of Pronger after leaving the franchise, showed the team to give their young players a chance to develop. In the last two seasons, Carolina has traded just two drafted players. Both of them were defensemen and both were traded to the Philadelphia Flyers. In 1998, the Canes shipped NHL’er Adam Burt and in 1999, the sent QMJHL’er Francis Lessard.
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Now that the protected list is finalized we can posit the Senator’s draft method. It’s plain and simple. Defense. The Sens once had more blueliners then they did positions; Lance Pitlick takes the money in Florida, Patrick Traverse is traded to Anaheim, Grant Ledyard retires this summer and Igor Kravchuk will be traded if not selected in the expansion draft. Now as a result of these moves Jason York is the only defenseman with more then three years of NHL experience. Players like Rachunek and Salo will play full seasons next year, thus the minor league prospects need to be restocked. The Sens have made a start in this direction with Julien Vauclair and Gavin McLeod. Unless 4 or 5 players are taken there will be a defense famine in a few years.
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Watching Scott Stevens raise his second Stanley Cup in five years was extremely painful for long-time Capitals fans. They remember that ten years ago, the Caps let him walk to St. Louis in the first big name – and arguably the largest ever – NHL Free Agent signing. The decision to let Stevens go has been widely criticized, but the Capitals had their reasons at the time. With the power of hindsight, we can look back and try to determine if the Capitals made the right choice.
Scott was the Capitals first round pick in 1982, 5th overall. By that fall, he was already patrolling the blueline in DC and became a force to be reckoned with. In 1990, he was part of a solid Caps defence corps that also featured Rod Langway, Kevin Hatcher and Calle Johansson. Although he was only 26 years old, Scott was an 8-year NHL veteran and 2-time All-Star. The Blues offered to pay him what was considered an obscene amount at that time: $5.1 million over 4 years. In comparison, eight days earlier in Major League Baseball, Jose Canseco and the Oakland Athletics agreed to a 5 year contract worth $23.5 million.
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-Like to select two-way forwards, hulking defenseman, players from the WHL, and recently forwards with plus skating ability.
-Since the Stars have been in Dallas they have not selected a goaltender in the first two rounds, and almost never select Slovakian, Czech, or QMJHL players.
-Goal scoring forwards with size and speed
Picks held: (as of 6/16/00)
#25, #55, #62 (from Min.), #85, #115, #145, #175, #205, #245, #275
What to expect in this year’s draft:
First four picks
-At least two versatile forwards, with each having plus speed.
-Maybe one goaltender, and at least one defenseman.
-Look for one or more “reaches” by the Stars, as a weak draft and vastly varying opinions could make for some interesting picks.
Late Round Picks
-Look for at least one player 20 or older to be selected.
-Look for a majority of Europeans to be selected here, as they are a
better value late.
-Will select a goaltender here if they pass on one in the earlier rounds.
-They have traded out of the first round the last two years, and they might again, but anticipate them making a selection this year.
-Could conceivably put together a package of picks and/or players to obtain a veteran goal-scorer on draft day.
Possible picks at #25:
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One can not undervalue the importance of goaltending come playoff time. Nearly every team to win the Stanley Cup in the last 10 years has all had great goaltending.
Looking past Steve Shields, the Sharks have 3 young goalies who stand to play a prominent role in the future for the Sharks, however, they all remain very much of question marks. All share a very similar motto (as can most goaltending prospects for that matter). All may turn into solid NHL goalies, and all may turn into nothing more than career minor leaguers.
This year saw the first Sharks drafted goaltender step foot on the ice for the San Jose Sharks–Evgeni (aka John, aka Yevgeni) Nabokov. All other goalies to play for the Sharks were either acquired via trade, free agency or other means. Nabokov was drafted in the 9th round, with the 219th overall pick in 1994.
In limited action in San Jose, Nabokov did exactly what was asked of him. In his first start he shutout Colorado in a 0-0 tie. In 11 appearances, he was 2-2-1, a save percentage of .910, with a 2.17 GAA. In only one game did he looked out of place. At the very least, Nabokov may have proved this year that he is a reliable backup. Read more »