It will be an interesting season for the Kings and their organization. On the NHL level, the Kings will face a pivotal season- they need to show L.A. that they are not penny pinching, but rather building a strong, defensive team. They will need to replace fan favorite Luc Robitaille and his on-ice and community presence. They will also have to hope Felix Potvin can go into his bag of tricks for another season and that the first full season without Rob Blake looks more like the end of last season than what many experts are predicting. Here is a rundown of best and worse case scenarios:
Best Case- The Kings play defense like last season, Potvin sparkles in net again and Bednar and Heinze pick up some of the scoring slack. Ken Belanger patrols the ice to keep the skill forwards healthy and Josef Stumpel and Ziggy Palffy are healthy all season and are effective with Adam Deadmarsh. Eric Belanger takes the next step that the Kings think he can and Modry, Boucher, Lilja and Karalahti can fill in the final defensive pairing.
Worst Case- Potvin returns to the form that had him ticketed to the IHL last season. The defense is ineffective and lacks the hammer on the power play. Bednar turns into Tomas Vlasak. Karalahti and Lilja prove to be too slow and Boucher and Modry realize they are bottom-tier NHL defensemen. Ken Belanger suffers an early concussion and is unable to deter opposing players from running Ziggy Palffy and Josef Stumpel, who spend the majority of the season injured. Eric Belanger returns to the funk that kept him from the NHL before last season Read more »
1 Very strong group of prospects at forward and defense
Thanks to the trade of Jaromir Jagr and a recent upswing in the Penguins drafts, the team has assembled quite a collection of talent thoughout the organization. The Pens have first line talent in multiple positions, with some positions with having more than one player in that class. Even with the recent graduation of prospects Milan Kraft and Andy Ference, the Pens still had enough talent to be considered by Hockey’s Future as the top organization in terms of talent.
2 Wealth of talent at Center and Left Wing
The real strength of the Penguins prospect list is in it’s depth at both Center and Left Wing. Anchored by 1999 First Round pick, Kris Beech, the Pens’ collection of talent at Center is the top reason for their #1 ranking among all NHL teams. Michal Sivek is a first-rate talent that could be moved to wing because of his versatility. Shane Endicott took large strides last year in his development and showed his potential at training camp this year. Toby Peterson and Ben Eaves are 2 smallish sparkplugs with an eye for the net.
At left wing, the top name is Belorussian Konstantin Koltsov, who play one more season in Russia before making his North American debut. The speedy LW (possibly the fastest skater in the 1999 draft) is making strides to improve his scoring and defensive abilities. RPI forward Matt Murley could be one of the top goalscorers in the college ranks this season. Alexandre Zevahkin struggled early in his first season in the AHL, but pi Read more »
Highly skilled Chuck Kobasew, who left Boston College to join the Kelowna Rockets has continued to give fans and management of the Rockets more excitement than they can handle and he hasn’t even played a game yet. As was written in my article yesterday, Kobasew was slated for an opening day roster spot with the Calgary Flames, however the Flames and Kobasew’s agent were unable to come to contract terms and he was returned to junior yesterday afternoon.
After scoring five goals in six exhibition games for the offensively starved Flames, Kobasew looked like a lock to dress for Calgary’s opener against arch-rival Edmonton tonight, however, a deal couldn’t be consummated in order for Chuck to be in the line up, so he was sent to Kelowna. So for now, Rockets fans will be hoping Kobasew can give them as much excitement on the ice as he has off the ice so far.
Bruce Hamilton took a risk this past summer and sent forward Chris DiUbaldo plus futures to the Prince George Cougars for the rights to Kobasew who at the time was still a member of the Boston College Eagles. Hamilton gambled that he could talk the Osoyoos native into coming to Kelowna and play close to family and friends, but at first it appeared Chuck was going to stay at school. However, after a visit to Kelowna and some soul searching, Kobasew opted to forego his final three years of a full ride scholarship at Boston College and play for the Rockets. All seemed peachy in Ogopogo land.
Chuck was no longer in need of protecting his college eligibility so next up on his agenda was a spin at the Flam Read more »
In somewhat of a shocking story to many, Dan Blackburn has made the opening night roster for the New York Rangers as an 18 year old. This happens to be a very rare situation for a goaltender. Rarely are goalie playing in the NHL at 18 years old, but Blackburn has proved that he belongs here. For now at least.Blackburn appeared in five pre-season games, posting a 2-1-1 record while notching a 3.49 GAA and a .913 Save percentage. The goals against average is nothing to get excited about, but you have to remember that the team playing in front of him was not the Rangers opening night squad. They were mostly a group of hopefuls and rookies trying to earn roster spots. Blackburn sparkled at times, and showed that he could handle being the back-up to Mike Richter. Blackburn has always played at a level or two above his age group, and now he is showing he can play in the NHL at 18. The Rangers have signed him to a contract, and it is believed to be a three year deal worth the rookie max of $3.525 million.The interesting question is whether Blackburn sticks with the Rangers for the full season. He can not be assigned to the Hartford Wolf Pack, as he still has junior eligibility remaining. The Rangers can send him to Hartford for a two-week conditioning stint, but after that he either has to stay with the Rangers or be sent back to his junior team, the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League. Under NHL rules, Blackburn is allowed to play 10 games in the NHL before he loses a year of exemption from waiver draft. He can be sent back to juniors at any time d Read more »
Making the Cut: The Inaugural Edition
Welcome to the first ever feature of “Making the Cut” at Hockey’s Future! We hope this feature can help you track your favorite prospects and see if they made an NHL opening night squad. Hockey’s Future is also planning to get to have this list for the NHL playoff rosters and possibly expanding out to the junior and Minor League teams as well down the road. But in the meantime, please read on and enjoy!
Anaheim Mighty Ducks: G Ilya Bryzgalov, LW Timo Parssinen, D Antti Jussi Niemi.
Atlanta Thrashers: RW Ilya Kovalchuk, LW Dany Heatley, RW Brad Tapper, C Kamil Piros.
Boston Bruins: D Nick Boynton, D Pavel Kolarik, G Tim Thomas
Buffalo Sabres: None
Calgary Flames: C Steve Begin, C Chris Clark
Carolina Hurricanes: LW Erik Cole
Chicago Blackhawks: LW Mark Bell
Read more »
The most notable rookie to make the Blue Jackets is Rostislav Klesla, a Czech defensman drafted fourth overall last year. Klesla is an early Calder finalist. He could win the hardware but it must be noted that young defenseman take longer to mature than forwards, see Chris Pronger and Ed Jovonovski. Klesla played only 9 games for Columbus before returning to Brampton. In the Juniors, Klesla improved his game and point total, from 45 to 54, and really improved during the postseason, scoring two goals and adding 9 assists. Klesla might, and hopefully will, improve the team PP, something Petteri Nummelin could never do last year.
Another defenseman looking to improve the PP is Radim Bicanek, another Czech who was claimed from Chicago in the Expansion Draft. After floating around the minors for a few years, Radim scored 22 goals and lead AHL defensemen with 65 points.
Up front another two young players made the final team: Chris Nielsen and Jody Shelley. Both bring qualities that Columbus needs, but both are totally different players.
Nielsen is a hard working, two-way forward, who plays both center and left wing. He played in 29 NHL games last year and figures to increase his icetime from the 10 minuted he played last year. Nielsen has a shot to see time on the PK, although he was not used in that role last year.
Jody Shelley is a player who knows his role, a fighter. Last year, Shelley fought and battled his way to 357 PIM with Syracuse of the AHL. In his one NHL game last year he managed 10 PIM. Shelley brings Read more »
USHL 2001-2002 Preview
It is time my friends, to begin another year of fast-paced, action-packed USHL hockey. Changes are aplenty this year with the additions of the Topeka Scarecrows and the Tulsa Crude. Topeka joins the league after being a minor league franchise. The fans have been a little skeptic about the quality of play they are paying for, but will soon find out it is well worth their money. Tulsa joins the league after many years being known as the Dubuque Fighting Saints. A handful of former Saints along with the entire staff made the move with the team in hopes of revamping what once was a proud franchise.
Topeka and Tulsa will move to the Western Division of the league and the Des Moines Buccaneers will then be bumped over to the Eastern Division, which better suits their location. The Cedar Rapids Roughriders look to improve upon their playoff appearance last season as their shelves are stocked this year. A lot of new faces will take the ice this year with many of the most recent stars moving on to the Collegiate or Pro ranks. This opens the door for new stars to be made. All told, it has the makings of another fantastic season of hockey in the Midwest.
1. Des Moines Buccaneers
Des Moines joins the Eastern Division this season as mentioned, and although the East certainly is tough, it clearly has not had the balance of the Western Division that Des Moines has been accustomed to. With that being said, they are my pick to win the East. T Read more »
The Buffalo Sabres have whittled down their 2001 training camp roster, and are now preparing for their October 4th home opener vs. the Atlanta Thrashers. While there has been a profound change in the team with the departure of Dominik Hasek, the fact of the matter is that the personnel has changed very little from last season to the new season.
From the prospect ranks, one player has managed to make the team, while another could stick once he recovers from an injury. Right wing Norm Milley, a ’98 2nd round pick, showed great hustle and grit in both the camp scrimmages and preseason games. His dogged style of play made it impossible for Buffalo’s coaching staff to send Norm to Rochester, but it remains to be seen how much ice time Milley will see once they start playing the games for keeps.
The injured prospect is ’97 2nd rounder Henrik Tallinder. The big Swede defenseman had a very promising start to his camp, but suffered a knee injury on the 3rd day of camp. In spite of Tallinder’s short span of time on the ice, he was singled out by coach Lindy Ruff as a player who is definitely going to push for a spot on the roster. Ruff liked Henrik’s size, as well as his steady play in the defensive zone, while also pointing to Tallinder’s ability to make a good breakout pass.
Tallinder’s injury will keep him on the shelf for at least another week, but it’s uncertain what will be done with Henrik when he returns to the ice. Henrik signed a contract that would allow him to return to TPS Read more »
The Nashville Predators are entering the decisive “fourth” year of the three to
five year plan that GM David Poile set for the team. Expectations are
high and this should be the season the Preds finally break the top 8 in
the Western Conference.
This is the season for David Legwand. All the pieces are falling into
place, all the blurs are starting to become clear, and all of Nashville
is waiting on the 21-year old center to make his move. Legwand spent
the summer working with a personal hockey trainer, a man who has worked
with several high profile NHL players including Chris Progner, Martin
Lapointe, and others. Last season Legwand showed flashes of brilliance
with highlights including – the first overtime penalty shot goal in NHL
history, posted plus-or-even rating in 61 of the 81 games that he played
in, recorded another overtime game winning goal in March against
Phoenix, and posted 41 points (compared to the 28 from the season
before). Legwand is entering his third full season in the NHL and if
the Preds hope to make the playoffs this year, he is expected to carry a
large part of the load.
The 2001-02 Predators are a lot like the 2000-01 Predators, but
they are also a whole lot different as well. The Preds were fairly
quiet compared to other teams in the Western Conference, however, there
are some new faces on the Preds and there will be some different looks
from this team this year, as well.
The goaltenders: Mike Dunham had a career year last season posting
numbers such as – 2.28 GAA, 21 wins, 4 shutouts, and a . Read more »
Bridgeport Sound Tigers Report
The 2001-02 season is starting this week this pre-season update will have the final assignment of Islanders to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. The results from last week’s NHL waiver draft are also included. There is also some AHL news.
AHL To Remember Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis
The AHL is going to pay honor to Ace Bailey and Mark Bavis who both lost their lives in the tragic attacks on America on September 11. All AHL teams will wear a red, white, and blue decal ribbon on their helmets with the numbers 15 and 17.
Ace Bailey played for the 1969 Calder Cup winning Hershey Bears, and was entering his eighth season as Director of Pro Scouting for the Los Angeles Kings.
Mark Bavis played parts of two seasons for the Providence Bruins and Fredericton Canadians between 1993 through 1995. Bavis was am amateur scout for the Los Angeles Kings.
9/26/01 The New York Islanders have left the following players unprotected for Friday’s NHL Waiver Draft.
Chris Armstrong, Ray Schultz, Ken Sutton.
Alexander Kharitonov, Jason Krog, Dave Roche, Jason Podollan, Marko Tuomainen
9/28/01 The New York Islanders with the first selection in the waiver draft selected Chris Osgood from the Detroit Red Wings. Read more »