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Penguins: Top 25 Prospects Update

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1.
Name: Michal Rozsival
Position: Defenseman
Height: 6-1
Weight: 208
Birthdate: Sept. 3, 1978
Birthplace: Vlasim, Czech Rep.
Acquired: 1996 NHL Draft, fourth round (105th overall)

HF Comments: Michal started off the 99-00 season on a positive note, impressing Penguins management enough to earn himself a spot on the full-time roster. Since then he has continued to climb the latter of success. His valiant efforts have not gone unnoticed and have moved him up to the number one spot on the prospect list. As a rookie, Michal still has much to learn, but he does appear to be doing so quickly. Mid-way through the season, and one coach later, he’s not only earned the respect of his teammates, but more importantly, he has also earned the respect of his coach. Herb Brooks has admitted to being very impressed by Michal’s work ethics. He says even though Rozsival is a young defenseman, he feels as though he can trust him on a nightly basis.
Year Team League GP G A Pts PIM
1999-00 Pittsburgh NHL 45 3 11 14 22
1998-99 Syracuse AHL 49 3 22 25 72
1997-98 Swift Current WHL 71 14 55 69 122

2.
Name: Andrew Ference
Position: Defenseman
Ht: 5’10″ Wt: 190
Born: March 17, 1979
Edmonton, Alberta
Acquired: 1997 NHL Draft, eighth round selection (208th overall)
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Pens bright side are the youngsters

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With a mere 32 games left in the season, the Pittsburgh Penguins (21-25-4) find themselves struggling to hang on to a playoff spot. The bright side rests with the Penguins of tomorrow.

The “Jr. Pens” left winger Robert Dome has found his scoring touch again. He had 4 goals in three games, then 2 assists in a 5-3 loss against Hartford. Another bright spot on the “Jr. Pens” roster is Alexei Kolkunov, who has four goals in his last five games after a 14-game drought. Then there is rookie defenseman Andrew Ference who has 2 goals and 6 assists in a span of 9 games.

The brightest spot in the organization however, is not a “Jr. Pen,” he is a “Raider.” Besides putting on a brilliant show on the world stage in Sweden, Milan Kraft has 44 points (18-26) in 34 games with the Prince Albert Raiders (WHL).

Perhaps the best thing the Penguins can do right now is hold on to the hope of the future. If they cannot find heroes, and cannot find defenseman who truly can play a European style game, making necessary passes to those in motion, then stick to tomorrow. Try to imagine the havoc Kraft and Jagr will create playing side by side. It may take another year for this to happen, but it is a realistic goal and one to keep the Penguins optimistic.
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Kings: College Prospects and Various Notes

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Kings’ Norris Winning Defenseman Rob Blake has emerged as one of the top players in the NHL ever since he came to the club. Blake as able to step in and contribute right away because he had played and excelled on the collegiate level and his experience paid immediate dividends. The Kings have a few players in the college ranks right now that may give the Kings a boost down the line. Here is a quick rundown:

The most intriguing college prospect is Noah Clarke. The Kings made the diminutive Clarke their ninth round draft pick in 1999. Noah currently plays for Colorado College of the WCHA. Clarke is the highest scoring college prospect for the Kings with 20 points in 23 games (9 goals and 11 assists). Despite being a freshman, Clarke is third on his team in scoring. The reason I am personally pulling for Clarke is that he is a California native, hailing from LaVerne and attending Claremont High School. Clarke is small in stature- he is 5’9: and 175 pounds but has shown some promise. If Jason Blake can play on the NHL level then there is hope for Clarke.
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Reasoner gets the call; But how long will the Blues stay on the line?

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After an impressive first half in Worcester, Marty Reasoner will get a chance to stick with the Blues. With the injury to Jochen Hecht (out 2-4 weeks with an ankle sprain) and the loss of Terry Yake to Washington on waivers, the Blues needed to add some skill to the lineup. Reasoner, fresh off his 1g., 1a. performance in the AHL all-star game, must make a consistent impact to prove he belongs. There have been rumors that Reasoner could be part of a deal that would bring immediate help to the blue note. However, this is not a showcase for other teams.

Marty has put up respectable numbers for Worcester this year. He leads the team with 20g. and 27a., good for 47 points in 38 games. The only problem Joel Quenneville will have is where to play him. The Blues are deep at center with Pierre Turgeon, Michal Handzus, Craig Conroy, and Mike Eastwood. Conroy could move to wing, as could Eastwood. Although Conroy is more effective at center than wing, a Reasoner- Conroy-Pellerin line may produce more offense from the third line. If Eastwood were to move to wing on the third line with Conroy and Pellerin, then Reasoner could center Nash and Mayers forming a fourth line with speed and skill. In any case Marty will definitely get playing time, probably playing on the second powerplay unit as well.
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Star Gazing – A Mid-Term Look

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BRIGHT SPOTS
Roman Lyashenko-C
Has really been solid in his pro debut. Examples can be seen in his play away from the puck, his vision with the puck, and his ability to take a hit to make a play. Look for Roman to remain in Dallas the whole year, despite being 20 years old, and look for him to be no less than a third line center during his stay.
Brenden Morrow-LW
Has shown the ability to play a power game while maintaining a solid skill level. Brenden is an excellent body-checker, drives the net, and has good adeptness with the puck. Further more, he has shown a tendency to go to the backhand when passing to an open man, and he has been rather successful in doing so. Further more, Brenden has found what looks to be a permanent spot on the second line, with the result being a surprising chemistry on that line. In all, his play has pushed Jon Sim out of the picture for now, while virtually assuring himself a long- term future on the second line.

John Erskine-D
While John’s skating is still rather poor, his overall skill level has improved quite a bit. As a result, even though critics abound (including myself), all must take notice of this fact. This fact presents itself in the form of increased discipline, improved puck control, and large amounts of ice time. Given these facts, one must admit that this progress does lend itself to some feelings of optimism for a future in the NHL.

Tyler Bouck-F Read more »

Penguins Report – Stats and News from the Penguins

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Top 10 – Pittsburgh Penguins (NHL)
GP G A PTS
Jaromir Jagr 42 34 40 74
Alexei Kovalev 43 15 21 36
Robert Lang 41 13 21 34
German Titov 43 12 20 32
Martin Straka 33 6 23 29
Jan Hrdina 31 8 13 21
Jiri Slegr 35 5 14 19
Kip Miller 39 4 15 19
Alexei Morozov 35 6 11 17
Michal Rozsival 43 3 11 14

Top 15 – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (AHL)
GP G A PTS
John Slaney 30 15 17 32
Greg Crozier 36 13 13 26
Valentin Morozov 35 10 15 25
Tom Kostopoulos 37 13 11 24
Martin Sonnenberg 30 9 13 22
Dennis Bonvie 29 2 20 22
Sven Butenschon 38 9 11 20
Tyler Wright 25 5 15 20
Boris Protsenko 32 7 10 17
Pavel Skrbek 35 6 10 16
Alexei Kolkunov 38 5 11 16
Robert Dome 19 2 12 14
Casey Harris 40 5 2 7
Andrew Ference 5 2 4 6
Josef Melichar 41 2 4 6

Top 10 – Wheeling Nailers (ECHL)
GP G A PTS
Curtis Wilgosh 37 16 15 31
Derek Smith 36 11 16 27
Vladimir Gratchev 27 9 13 22
Rob Millar 26 5 14 19
Shannon Basaraba 24 7 10 17
Jon Sorg 37 5 13 18
Kevin Paden 32 8 9 17
Rob Sinclair 17 3 8 11
Jeff Burgoyne 28 6 8 14
Dimitri Sergeev 26 4 11 15
Team Stats:
GP W L T PTS
Pittsburgh Penguins 43 18 22 3 44
Wilkes-Br/Scranton 41 9 27 5 24 Read more »

Reflections: A look at some Rangers Prospects

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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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Hartford’s First Line of Defense: Tomas Kloucek

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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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Washington Capitals Prospect Report

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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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2000 Draft: OHL Prospect Report

by Bob Chery
on
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 »