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Leafs Trade for Milford

by Stephen J. Holodinsky
on

Leafs Trade for Another Hawk Blueliner

Boy oh boy, words like that get anyone leaning forward in their chair after what happened last year at this time. For those of you who have been on the planet Jupiter the Leafs dealt holdout Alexander Karpotsev to Chicago for Bryan McCabe who just kept getting better and better as the year progressed until he was arguably the best Leaf rearguard in the playoffs. However, this time, don’t expect the transaction to have the same amount of impact. Going to the Hawks was minor league tough guy Shawn Thornton while coming this way was Norfolk Admirals blueliner Marty Wilford. Thornton, despite numerous chances to overtake Tie Domi as the ACC’s resident tough guy, was never able to demonstrate enough skill to keep a job on the NHL level. Wilford, on the other hand, has a couple things going for him. Besides the fact that every organization should have at least one player with the name ‘Marty’, the ex-Hawk farmhand is quite adept at the transition game and is very good in the dressing room. He has been the best defensemen in the Chicago’s minor league pipeline whether it be with Norfolk or Indianapolis the last three years running and in his last campaign totalled 7 goals and 41 assists. If there is anything he does lack it is an NHL burst as far as separation is concerned. At 24 years old he looks to be another veteran hand to help the youngsters along on The Rock but if he proves himself efficient might leap ahead of Nathan Dempsey on the emergency call-up queue because of the extra 30 pounds he has on the long time Leaf. Co Read more »

Thoughts on the European Game

by Peter Westermark
on

The European hockey leagues are anything but conservative. Many changes have
been made to the game over the last couple of years and several has panned
out very well. Granted, there has been ill-advised changes such as the
ridiculous helmet-rule, which states that a player must go for a line change
immediately after losing his helmet. If he doesn’t he will get a minor
penalty for delay of game.

Two changes that has helped to speed up the game has been the removal of the
red line offside and the new face-off rule which reduces the length of
breaks in play substantially. If the NHL are truly serious about opening up
and speeding up the game they should consider making these exact changes.

The traditionalists will probably be against the removal of the two line
offside, but it has done a lot to open up the game in Europe which has been
plagued by the trap even more than the National Hockey League. The trap
originated in Europe and has since been adopted by North American coaches as
it is a good way of giving a team with so called limited talent a chance to
win. But, it is boring to watch, and as much as those in love with the game
or employed by the game hate to admit it, the growth of hockey will be
determined by how entertaining it is to watch. Not many fans will turn away
from the game even if teams continue to practice the trap, but it will
certainly be harder to recruit new fans as long as the “chip it off the
glass”-mentality is a central part of a coach’s way of thinking.

At first, the ever defensive Swedish nation Read more »

New Jersey Devils 2000/01 Season Preview & Prospect Report

by Jared Ramsden
on

Last season, the Devils came within one game of defending the Stanley Cup. This season, they will look to regain what was once theirs. The following article will summarize the goaltending, defence, and forward positions. That will be followed up with a team outlook for this season along with a prospect report.

Goaltenders:

Once again, workhorse netminder Martin Brodeur, coming off his 6th consecutive 30 win season, will be the main man between the pipes for New Jersey. All though he had a sub-par playoff by his standards, he still remains one of the NHL’s most elite netminders. With the upcoming Olympic Games, Martin may elevate his game even further to prove that he deserves to be Team Canada’s starting netminder. Even though it has not been officially announced yet, former Boston College standout Scott Clemmensen looks to be Brodeur’s backup for this season. Not given much of a chance at the beginning of training camp, he out performed fellow netminders JF Damphousse, who was considered the favorite, and Frederic Henry to earn the spot. However, don’t rule out a rotation between Damphousse and Clemmensen, because odds are, Brodeur will play 65-70 games, and the rookies will need to get some playing time, be it in New Jersey or down on the farm with the River Rats.

Defensemen:

Despite the fact that this group is starting to show it’s age, it remains one of the strongest defence cores in the NHL. Even at the age of 37, team captain Scott Stevens still continues to be one of the games most feared open ice hitters. He may have Read more »

Coyotes Preseason Wrap-up

by Russell Brooks
on

Well now that the final roster has been announced, lets get down to business. Making the Cut for opening night will be Kris Kolanos, Martin Grenier, Tyler Bouck, Daniel Briere, and Jean-Guy Trudel. Not making the cut and being reassigned to Springfield, the Coyotes top minor league affiliate of the AHL, were David Cullen and Goran Bezina. Also Martin Podelsak was reassigned to his junior team, the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL.

Goran Bezina was assigned to Springfield after an amazing camp that opened the eyes of not only Bob Francis, but also the whole front office of the Coyotes. When the Coyotes defensemen did a drill during the preseason they were told to shoot as many pucks from the point as they can. At the end of the drill, he was the only one standing and laughing. We should see either him or Kirill Safronov during the season as one of the call-ups.

Another shine at camp was Martin Grenier who looks he may be filling the role of unrestricted free agent, Louie DeBrusk and become the enforcer on this team. Look for him to be standing up for every one of the defensemen let alone the forwards. He led the NHL alone in PIM for the preseason and I assume he will be more disciplined going into the regular season.

Daniel Briere will finally get his shot in the NHL full-time (hopefully). He finished up the preseason tied for the most points in the league (12). He also led the league in assists and Bob Francis has said he will be one of the top centers come Thursday, the Coyotes first game. The Coyotes will look to him to put out the same effort and enth Read more »

Sabres Report: 2001 Training Camp Wrap-Up, Part II

by Ken McKenna
on

Once the Sabres send their junior prospects back to their respective teams, the club then decides which players need more seasoning in the minor leagues. Some of these demoted players are career minor-leaguers, but there is usually a handful of prospects that possess definite NHL potential.

The first 14 players sent to Rochester’s camp from Buffalo included the following: goaltenders Tom Askey and Reg Bourcier; forwards Milan Bartovic, Alan Fyfe, Ales Kotalik, Jaroslav Kristek, Karel Mosovsky and Andrew Peters; and defensemen Doug Houda, Mike Hurlbut, Doug Janik, Mario Larocque, Luc Theoret and Brad Williamson. The Amerks later cut Fyfe and Williamson.

The players in this initial grouping that garnered the most notice from Buffalo’s coaches were Bourcier, Bartovic and Kristek. Goaltender Reg Bourcier is a free agent who last season played for Mobile of the ECHL (37 GP, 14-9-5, 3.53). Reg is a smaller goaltender who relies on his quickness and good positioning to stop the puck, skills that were in evidence during the camp scrimmages. Given the fact that Mika Noronen and Tom Askey will most likely be the Amerk’s goaltenders, Bourcier will probably provide further depth for the Buffalo organization as a backstop for the South Carolina Stingrays.

Bartovic and Kristek are two right wings that saw their first AHL action last season. Milan didn’t join the Amerks until shortly before the playoffs, but he impressed in his short audition by displaying his great speed and offensive skills. Kristek’s season ended early due to dual shoul Read more »

Sabres Report: 2001 Training Camp Wrap-up, Part I

by Ken McKenna
on

Following the initial portion of the Buffalo Sabres’ 2001 training camp, the club began to whittle down the number of players on the camp roster. This process is no doubt excruciating for both players and coaches, alike, as it places players on the outside, away from their goal of being on the inside as a member of the Buffalo Sabres hockey club.

As is usually the case, the first players to be dropped from the camp roster are the players still possessing junior eligibility. The prospects returned to their respective junior teams from this year’s camp include Gerard Dicaire (Seattle-WHL), Paul Gaustad (Portland-WHL), Ryan Jorde (Tri-City-WHL), Sean McMorrow (London-OHL), Jason Pominville (Shawinigan-QMJHL), Ghyslain Rousseau (Baie-Comeau-QMJHL), Derek Roy (Kitchener-OHL) and Chris Thorburn (North Bay-OHL).

In addition to these players, Marek Dubec and Calle Aslund have apparently returned to Europe. Calle has returned to Sweden, and is playing for Huddinge of the Swedish junior league while he considers his options. Marek has most likely returned to the Czech Republic, but I have not found his name on any roster.

From these youngsters, the player that clearly stood out during training camp was RW Jason Pominville, a 2001 2nd round choice. Jason possesses good speed and strength, as well as a scorer’s touch and the knack for being around the puck. Pominville lined up with C Tim Connolly and LW Stu Barnes for most of the camp scrimmages, with Jason being on the receiving end of several deft passes from newcomer Connolly. Jas Read more »

London Knights Prospect Report

by Jason Ahrens
on


London Knights-Drafted and Soon to be Drafted Review

The London Knights currently have 5 players on their roster who have been NHL drafted, but one is currently back in Europe, deciding on his future in North America. Here is a look at these players as well as a few who will be drafted in the future.

Calle Aslund, an eighteen year old defenceman was drafted by Buffalo. He has played one game and then returned home to Sweden. He did not look out of place in that game, has good size and skating abilities, plays his man well and appeared to have some offensive upside. His return would greatly benefit the Knights, allowing them to move a defenceman for help up front.

Lubos Velebny is a nineteen year old defenceman who was drafted by Toronto. He is already among the Knights top 4 on defence and plays in all situations. He is a smooth skater, moves the puck well, has a hard shot, and has good size. In his own end, sometimes he tries to be a bit too fancy, preferring to make a deke or try a difficult pass rather than chipping out the puck. I don’t consider this too be a fault, but it will be something he will have to work on as he moves onto pro. He is already a vital cog on what is shaping up to be a lethal Knights power play. I would like to see him getting more shots through that are tippable, as he sometimes gets his shots up or has them blocked.

The Knights apparently have just signed his transfer papers with Slovakia, so he will be able to stay the entire year over here. This will probably mean the Knig Read more »

The Philadelphia Flyers’ European Blueprint

by Al Alven
on

Six players.

430 total games of NHL experience.

A world of potential. Literally.

A major part of the Philadelphia Flyers’ blueprint for success this season has been the addition of several high-profile European players. This season, no less than six such players are poised to play a major role with the team. Never before have so many non-North American-born players figured so prominently into the Flyers’ plans.

The list includes two holdovers from last season (Roman Cechmanek and Ruslan Fedotenko) and four
additional players acquired over the summer (Pavel Brendl, Jiri Dopita, Jan Hlavac and Kim Johnsson). Ranging from 20-year-old rookie prospect to 32-year-old NHL newcomer, this list of players is diverse and, in terms of NHL games played, relatively inexperienced.

Still, each of the six brings the potential for immeasurable value to the 2001-02 Flyers roster. This article will briefly profile each of these players and discuss their projected roles with the team.

Pavel Brendl

Originally pegged to start the season with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL, Brendl wasted no
time in proving where he really belongs. The 20-year-old Czech right wing stormed out of the game
in the preseason, scoring two goals his first game and never looking back. Brendl was not only a big surprise for the Flyers in training camp, he was arguably the team’s best player in several games. Playing mainly on a line with Jeremy Roenick and John LeClair in exhibition action, Brendl finished the preseason with nine points (three goals, Read more »

Kings Update

by Michael Harbison
on

The Kings head into the final two pre-season games
against Colorado with 28 players still up and five more to be cut. The most recent cuts claimed veteran minor league defensemen Brett Hauer and Jason Holland, veteran Rob Valicevic, tough guy Ryan Flinn and promising young defenseman Tomas Zizka who had a great pre-season and camp. Expect to see Zizka back up sometime this season, his puck skills were very evident in the pre-season, he has already passed up most of the young defenseman that have been in the system for a few years now, including Richard Seely and Joe Corvo.

Andreas Lilja has continued to be a disappointment,
an overage veteran drafted out of the Swedish Elite league in the 2nd round of the 2000 draft, Lilja has a nice set of wheels and can move the puck, but his head is not in the game enough and he has consistently taken stupid penalties this pre-season. Barring any injuries Lilja will be sent back to Manchester in the final cut.

In better news, winger Adam Mair has been outstanding
so far in the pre-season, displaying the grit and hard work he was known for during his junior days. Mair is in a dog fight with Steve Kelly, Scott Thomas and Randy
Robitaille for those final roster spots. Mair could be a contributor this year for the Kings, and would look great on a line with Ian Laperriere.

Rookie Jaroslav Bednar has recovered from an awful
start to the pre-season by picking up a couple of goals in his last two games, but more importantly than the goals, is the fact that Bednar doesn’t look out of place out there like he did earlier Read more »

Young Players Looking to Impress at NHL Level

by Mike Castor
on

This year’s Philadelphia Flyers Camp was the most competitive camp in the last 15 years. The youth shined in much of camp. The Flyers have a nice mix of toughness and skill in their prospects. Many of the veterans are finding themselves pushed for their jobs by younger players– if not right away, in the very near future.

There are not many open spots on the roster open as we speak, but it seems the young kids want to break into them, and a few have succeeded in doing so. The one thing that all the kids have shown is a willingness to compete and to learn how to play the game at the NHL level.

Even now that the season is about to start, Bill Barber will have many decisions to make. There are several ongoing roster battles. The battle for the 2nd and 3rd line wingers is very heated. The battle for the team’s enforcer is also a raging battle that will go on beyond the start of the season.

There is a great feel of anticipation to start the season. All of the players seem to enjoy working with Bill Barber and his coaching staff (Mike Stothers and E.J. McGuire). The players acquired in the off-season seem to be fitting in well.

A look follows at some of the younger players who have been fighting to make a name for themselves.

Pavel Brendl

Brendl has arguably been the big story at camp. The puck just seems to follow this kid and he has the hands of a surgeon. Even his much-maligned attitude seems vastly improved– at least for now. Brendl stated that he is willing to work on any part of his game that the staff indicates is Read more »

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