As the season passes the mid point, hopes of a playoff birth grow with the better play each day of our beloved New York Rangers. However with many players in key positions hitting the wrong side of their careers one has to ask where the future is. With this years “successful” draft taking Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark in the first round and later taking Dave Inman, Pat Aufiero and Johan Asplund later, what about the other drafts, one`s that showed so much promise and turned out, well not that promising.
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“It’s putting my 2 best defensemen together,” is how Coach John Paddock responded when asked about teaming the rookie with senior defenseman Terry Virtue.
Tomas played junior hockey from ’95 to ’98 in the Czech-Jr. League for Slavia Praha and last year for Cape Breton in the QMJHL. This year was his last year of junior eligibility and he said when asked about the Czech Junior Team winning the World Championship, “I almost went with the nationals. The National Team Organization decided to take only 5 players playing in North America, instead of 8. So, they dropped me.”
Coach Paddock assessed his rookie defenseman, “Well, Tomas Kloucek is a really, really good player and a really good prospect. He still could be playing junior hockey. He’s only going to be 20 next year. He’s a really solid defenseman and he kills penalties. His best assets are his skating, his strength, and his heart. He’s going to be a number 4 defenseman in the NHL sometime soon.”
Linemate Terry Virtue said, “Tomas is a big, strong player that skates well. He’s hard to knock down. He seems to be getting his feet wet on the ice more. He’s really coming along well. I think what he has to do now, is skate with the puck more and see the ice better. That’s going to come with time and experience. He’s going to get a lot better.”
The Wolf Pack’s new addition realizes that “there is always something to work on. I need to handle the puck better because here you clear the puck more.”
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Welcome to the first of my bi-weekly reports on the Washington Capitals prospects. In addition to giving you up-to-date statistics on all of the players on the top-fifty list, I will let you know what’s going on with the Portland Pirates and all of the latest news.
The World Junior Championships ended recently, and the Capitals had three players involved. Forward Michal Sivek played for the Gold Medal winning Czech Republic. He scored three goals and six points in seven games, and collected a +4 rating. Goaltender Rastislav Stana was a member of the disappointing Slovakian team. He played in four of their seven games, and posted a 2.35 goals-against average (7th in the tournament) and a .927 save percentage (6th in the tornament). Defenseman Igor Shadilov earned a Silver Medal with the Russian team. He played in seven games, scoring one goal and sporting a +7, which was twelfth best in the tournament.
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As a follow-up to my November 26/99 report on the OHL’s draft-eligible
prospects, the schedule saw several of the top defencemen pass through the GTA
for a number of games versus the Battalion, Ice Dogs, and Majors in December
and early January. What follows is a more in-depth look at five of these prospects.
KURTIS FOSTER (Peterborough) — If it’s an offensive defenceman that you’re
looking for, this 6-5, 205-pound giant fits the bill. The lack of coordination one
expects to see from a youngster this size who has not yet grown comfortable
with his body is apparent, but not to the usual extent. Kurtis is a fluid skater and
puck-carrier while at the same time showing promise of further improvement. He’s
not TOTALLY fluid just yet, but that will come with time. The NHL comparison
at this juncture would be Kevin Hatcher. Of course it is hoped that Foster can be a
force in his own end of the rink as well as the offensive zone.
And this is the area where Foster requires the most improvement. Fortunately he is
well aware of that fact and is making the required efforts. His big stride allows him
to close a hole while skating backwards with one cross-over. The wing-span of his
poke-check also covers a lot of ice. It is the physical element of his game that needs
the most work. Early in the season he would engage opposing forwards with nothing
more than stick-checks. He is now beginning to apply the body more frequently. Read more »
Some great news in the Islanders organization as right winger Mattias Weinhandl, played Tuesday night for the first time since early November. Mattias had been out of action since November after a vicious intentional high stick injured his eye in an international competition. Weinhandl dressed for his MoDo team’s Euro Hockey League semifinal game against Magnitogorsk (Russia). He did not play on a line with Henrik and Daniel Sedin as he had been doing all season long, but still managed to net a goal in MoDo’s 6-5 loss. In the shootout to decide the game, Weinhandl missed a second goal by inches.
Weinhandl is wearing a full shield to protect the injured eye. Yesterday, he was in the hospital for examination as it is expected he will have an operation soon to correct a cataract that formed in the eye. According to the team, Weinhandl played so well the other night that he is expected to be re-united with the Sedins tonight against Färjestad.
At the time of his injury Weinhandl was among the Swedish elite leagues leading scorers with 9 goals and 19 points in 19 games.
One came up and one went down. It’s amazing what can happen through the course of one day. For a couple of young defenseman in the Penguins organization one day brought both reward and disappointment. One player was given a chance in the ‘big leagues,’ while the another was reminded what exactly it takes to be present on NHL ice.
Sven Butenschon had 9 goals and 10 assists in 34 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, earning the respect of both his peers and the Penguins organization. It is for this reason that General Manager Craig Patrick decided to pull him up for a game. In order to do so however, Pittsburgh had to first ship Andrew Ference down to the American Hockey League to clear a spot on the NHL roster. As odd as that may seem, Ference’s relocation to the minors was anticipated anyway. Why not give another prospect the chance to shine, even if it was for just one night?
Sven welcomed the opportunity, logging 18 minutes of ice time and finishing with a plus minus rating of plus – 1 against the Flyers, despite a 6-2 Penguin’s loss that evening (Jan. 8th). Both the coaching staff and management alike admitted to being impressed by his performance.
D -Sven Butenschon
Born: March 22, 1976; Itzehoe, West Germany
Acquired: Pittsburgh’s third choice (57th overall) in 1994 Entry Draft.
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When talking about valuable players for a team, most first think of star players. Clearly, Jaromir Jagr is a valuable player for the Penguins, as is Lindros to the Flyers, as is Marleau to the Sharks. Am I putting Patrick Marleau in the same class as the other two? Certainly not, but he is certainly an important piece of the puzzle to the future of the San Jose Sharks. A puzzle which so far this year, has not resulted the way the Sharks would hope.
This year started great for the Sharks team, but of late, the Sharks have floundered into mediocrity, going from one of the best in the league, to one of the worst. Even when the Sharks were winning during the first month of the season, however, it was veterans such as Owen Nolan and Vincent Damphousse who were performing.
One of the most touted young players in years, Patrick Marleau is now starting to be considered a bust by some San Jose fans, and even reporters who are jumping off the bandwagon. No one can debate that he has struggled far more than expected this year, but to call him a bust is incredibly premature.
In 46 games this year, he has recorded only 10 goals and 14 assists, slower than his pace of last year, when he scored 21 goals and 24 assists in 81 games. During his first two years in the league, he did an excellent job of creating chances for himself, often missing the net from there, but at least getting the chance.
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As always there have been many recent development among Islanders’ prospects. The Islanders had seven players representing four countries at the recent World Junior Championship. Mathieu Biron led the way as an assistant captain on the Bronze medal Canadian team. Biron logged almost 30 minutes a game, seeing time in all situations. Mathieu’s all around play was stellar and he was honored as a member of the All-Tournament Team. Fellow Canadian Chris Nielsen was also played a key role. He was extremely versatile, was excellent defensively and scored huge goals including the game tying goal in the bronze medal game that forced a shoot-out. Nielsen was among Canada’s leaders in plus minus at plus 4.
The Isles had three players on the Slovakian team, Juraj Kolnik, Kristian Kudroc, and Branislav Mezei. Kolnik has a quiet tournament until erupting in the final game with two goals and three points to finish second in team scoring. Kolnik and Kudroc led the Slovak squad with plus 4 ratings. Kudroc was a dominant physical force while playing solid in both ends. Mezei scored a rare goal for the Slovaks and was their top defenseman.
Rounding out the Islanders representatives were Swede Bjorn Melin and American Brett Henning. Melin started off strong with three points in his first two games then did not register another point. Henning performed well in a checking role for the US squad, but failed to get on the scoring sheet.
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Finally the flagship Rangers appear to be heading in the right direction
with new blood inserted into the line-up in Radek Dvorak and back to back
wins over the East leading Maple Leafs, the Rangers fall to lowly Carolina
before a sparse crowd of 12,000.
With so much attention being paid to how much the Rangers spending spree has
actually netted, many bright performers have been overlooked. I have added a
little fun by using a “stats pack” projection based on how I think these
players will do per season over the next 8 years or so. I welcome your
opinions and stats pack guesstimate.
Johnsson has been up and down of late but still remains a talented offensive
danger. After a super start he has cooled but with his great skating stride
and offensive flare, Johnsson may just yet develop into a perennial all-star.
FUTURE NHL STATS PACK PROJECTIONS: 76gp 11g 36a 47tp 63pim
York has continued to play well, no matter who his linemates are, this mite
shows the soft hands and great work ethic to stay in the NHL for a long
time. A bit feistier than Neal Broten, but with the same hands and work
ethic. York has cemented his position as number 2 center.
FUTURE NHL STATS PACK PROJECTIONS: 74gp 22g 39a 61tp 54pim
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The Mid Season CSB’s just came out yesterday and we have just received the COMPLETE LIST!!!
Here are just some random thoughts on CSB’s list. Gaborik behind Nedorost?? Not gonna happen come draft day. CSB tends to do things like
this to simply let the world know that when he gets drafted high, that they called it. I noticed this same pattern with quite a few other guys listed as well.
Hamerlik #1 Euro netminder is no surprise, but I think they missed out big time by not ranking Martin Samuelson(#32???), Teemu Laine(#16???) nor Tomas Kopecky(#11???) in their Top 10 for Euro skaters.
They have 8 Russians in there top 10. The draft is still a few months away and
the rankings will no doubt change come the final rankings. Till the final rankings come out, here is a look at the CSB’s midseason rankings….
North American Forwards and Defensemen
Rank Player Name Team Birthdate Ht. Wt. Pos Sh
1 Heatley, Dany U Of Wisconsin 21 Jan 81 6'1 200 LW L
2 Klesla, Rostislav Brampton 21 Mar 82 6'2 198 D L
3 Hartnell, Scott Prince Albert 18 Apr 82 6'2 192 C L
4 Alexeev, Nikita Erie 27 Dec 81 6'5 215 RW L
5 Orpik, Brooks Boston Coll 26 Sep 80 6'2½ 221 D L Read more »