As the date of the NHL draft comes closer, people look forward to this big day in the life of these 18-20 year old prospects. Slovak fans are no exception to this rule.
Many scouts and GM’s could take a lesson from past drafts in order to avoid missing out on some good Slovak prospects. I can draw your attention to the fact that many scouts think Slovakia is just Bratislava (Slovak capital located in western part of the country) and maybe 50 miles from there. They have omitted and still omit the kids from central and eastern Slovakia where some teams e.g. Martin, Poprad, Banska Bystrica, Kosice, Zvolen, are grooming very talented prospects – Svehla, Bondra, Suchy, Bartecko, Handzus, Zednik, Orszagh, Petrovicky, Nagy, Vaic etc. All these players grew up neither in Bratislava nor in western Slovakia. Dear scouts, do not forget to travel across Slovakia to see other rinks, not just Bratislava, Nitra and Trencin.
However, I do not want to write about new prospects (it will be in my next article). My target is to review the players who have already been drafted.
I will start in 1988 because the other players drafted before this year retired except for two 40-year-old veterans – Igor Liba (37 games on L.A. and N.Y.R.) and Miroslav Ihnacak (56 games on Toronto).
Name, year of birth, NHL team and No. of pick, position, team in draft year, mother team, last season team
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More than six Elitserien veterans could be drafted this year, and there are two major factors that have created this demand. First, the expansion of the NHL obviously creates a need for more players. Second, some players are simply late bloomers, and there are diamonds in the rough in every league.
From the Elitserien, defensive defensemen seem to be the most attractive players. Brynäs´ Niclas Wallin and Malmö´s Andreas Lilja are solid stay-at-home types who can get involved physically. Lilja has expressed a desire to play in North America, but the wishes of Niclas Wallin still remain a secret.
Swedish champions Djurgården have been losing key players right and left it seems, and the situation could get worse. Espen Knutsen has already signed on to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets, and two more players could be on the verge of crossing the Atlantic to play. Unsung hero defenseman Mikael Magnusson had a very solid showing at the World Championships and in the Elitserien this season, and there is some buzz that he might be drafted this year. The 27-year-old defender scored 5 goals and 6 assists in 49 games and also racked up a solid 73 penalty minute total. The other player rumoured to be heading for the NHL is a bigger surprise, not so much around the name as the timing. Defensive center Niclas Falk, who had a poor season by his standards, has not been drafted after good seasons in the past when he was a key player in both Djurgården and for Team Sweden at the World Championships.
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IHL TURNER CUP FINALS RECAP FROM SATURDAY JUNE 3, 2000
Grand Rapids Griffins 6
Chicago Wolves 4
Chicago Wolves lead Turner Cup Finals 3 games to 2 games.
Jani Hurme turned away all 23 shots he faced as the Grand Rapids Griffins
defeated the Chicago Wolves, 6-4, to stave off elimination in their
best-of-seven playoff series. Hurme, who replaced Mike Fountain at the start
of the second period with Grand Rapids losing 4-3, stopped 14 shots in the
second and all nine in the third for the win. Phillippe Plante’s marker with
6:55 left in the second period tied the score at 4-4 for the Griffins. Ed
Patterson snapped the tie 11:10 later with his second goal of the contest, a
power-play tally for Grand Rapids. Kevin Miller chipped in a pair of
first-period goals and assisted on a score in the third for the Griffins,
who will host Game Six on Monday. Niklas Anderson’s power-play goal 9:53
into the first capped a four-goal period for Chicago, which still has a 3-2
lead in the series. Wendell Young surrendered all six goals on 35 shots for
Chicago now leads the series 3-2 after the Griffins pulled out a 6-4 win in
tonight’s game. Tuesday night, Chicago’s Chris Marinucci and Grand Rapids’
Ed Patterson each scored a pair of goals. Wolves Steve Maltais added his
second game-winning goal of the series and is tied for the playoffs scoring Read more »
Mike Van Ryn wants to be a free agent. The New Jersey Devils want Van Ryn to remain Devils’ property. Others want Van Ryn to go back into the draft.
It remains to be seen whether Van Ryn hits the jackpot. With the NHL draft right around the corner, the former University of Michigan and Sarnia Sting defenseman’s status remains in question. After playing two seasons at Michigan, Van Ryn, a 1998 first round draft choice of New Jersey, decided to play a year in the Ontario Hockey League. The young defenseman and his agent claim this path should lead to free agency.
An arbitrator still has not decided Van Ryn’s case and an answer may not be forthcoming until mid-July. However Van Ryn and his agent, Don Meehan, remain patient and hopeful.
“We have a hearing scheduled for June 13,” according to Meehan. “The arbitrator then has thirty days to hand down his decision.”
Both New Jersey and the National Hockey League are quite anxious about the final decision in this case. The Devils are concerned they could lose the rights to one of their top prospects. The NHL is worried about the precedent that could be set by this case. If Van Ryn wins, a U.S. college hockey player who is drafted in the future could attain free agent status by playing a year for a Canadian junior team.
According to Meehan, “We remain very optimistic about the results of the arbitration hearing.” The Devils, along with the NHL, can only hope the optimism of Meehan and Van Ryn is misguided.
On June 1st, the Capitals announced the signings of 1998 draft picks Krys Barch (4th round, 106th overall), Nathan Forster (7th round, 179th overall) and Rastislav Stana (7th round, 193rd overall). These signings prevented them from re-entering the 2000 entry draft. With the signings of Michael Farrell (8th round, 220th overall) after the season and Mike Siklenka (5th round, 118th overall) last off-season, the Capitals only lost three players to re-entry.
Goaltender Jomar Cruz (2nd round, 49th overall), as well as forwards Todd Hornung (3rd round, 59th overall) and Blake Evans (9th round, 251st overall) have all re-entered the 2000 draft. However, none of them are expected to be re-drafted and will try to work out free agent deals after the draft.
The Capitals also announced that they have acquired defenseman Stephen Peat from the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in exchange for a 2000 fourth-round pick. Peat was unable to come to terms with the Ducks and was going to re-enter the draft. The Capitals were able to sign him before the deadline and he will attend training camp in the fall. Peat was the Ducks’ 2nd round pick in 1998 (32nd overall) and is one of the WHL’s most feared enforcers.
PART 3 OF 3
Part 2 introduced Brett Thurston and Kevin Harris, two solid defencemen. In this final part on Wheat King draft players, we’ll examine goaltender Robert McVicar.
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The Islanders luck truly is turning around. First, a solid ownership takes over the franchise, and now fortune smiled on the up and coming Islanders when they won the 2000 draft lottery. With only an 8 percent chance, the Islanders’ number came up and became the first fifth place team in draft lottery history to jump up to the No. 1 pick. The jump dramtically improves their positioning considering the players available. The Islanders will now likely select one of the two highly touted impact players, Dany Heatley or Marian Gaborik. The most likely pick would be Gaborik.
The Isles have a host of Heatley-type playes, rugged up and down players with deft goal scoring touch (Isbister, Green, Pyatt, Hunter). However Gaborik projects as a speedy game breaker, something the Isles desperatley need since the departure of Ziggy Palffy. Gaborik scored 25 goals in 50 games in the Slovak Men’s league and averaged almost a point a game. He starred at the World U-18 team with 6 goals and 8 points in 6 games for a weak Slovakian team. Heatley had solid numbers as a freshman at Wisconsin, but not overwhelming. In the past few years very few college players have made a big impact in the NHL. Throw into the mix that Heatley is actually a year older than Gaborik and the choice seems clear.
The other option of course is trading the 1st overall selection. The Islanders biggest need is a solid veteran defenseman and then another veteran forward. The 1st pick is an asset than many teams would love to have, and Mike Milbury’s phone will be very busy this June. Read more »
STEVE LAROUCHE WINS JOHN CULLEN AWARD.
Chicago Wolves’ center Steve Larouche has been selected as the International
Hockey League’s Comeback Player of the Year. He will receive the John Cullen
Award, which is given annually to the player deemed to have been a key
contributor to his team, while overcoming injury, illness or other personal
setbacks. The award was voted on by a “blue ribbon” panel of general
managers, broadcasters and beat writers.
Larouche played in only 33 games last season, posting 13 goals and 25
assists for Chicago, before suffering a season-ending knee injury on
December 29, 1998. Larouche rejoined the Wolves for the 1999-2000 season,
where he tallied 88 points (31 goals, 57 assists). He was second in league
scoring, just two points behind teammate Steve Maltais. Larouche led the
league with 57 assists, and was tied for second overall with teammate Chris
Marinucci, netting 14 power-play goals. His efforts helped his team earn the
IHL’s Western Conference Championship, and a chance to compete in the Turner
Cup Finals for the second time in three years. Larouche has played admirably
for his team in the post-season, earning 13 points (5 goals, 8 assists) in
13 playoff games, including two assists in three games in the Turner Cup
Larouche is in his ninth professional season and sixth in the IHL. He has Read more »
Leksand defenseman Lars Jonsson is the top rated Swede according to the Swedish correspondents at Hockey´s Future. He has achieved that by playing at a high level all season long and displaying flashes of greatness on both the Swedish national junior team and on Leksand´s junior team. Leksand officials expect Jonsson to step right in an play 30-40 of the 50 regular season games in the Elitserien next season.
The second rated player is Martin Samuelsson who was highly touted as a 16-year-old. He had to battle both injuries and inconsistency this season and his offensive output has to be considered a disappointment. A point-per-game pace in a soft league is not good enough for a potential first round pick. He added a silver lining to his poor season with a good U18 World Championship where he scored 3 goals and 5 assists in 6 games. The gifted Samuelsson, who moved from Stockholm to play for MoDo´s juniorteam, has now moved back to the Swedish capital and will suit up for Hammarby´s senior team next season. A good choice for Samuelsson who left a MoDo club where a lot of the players seemed more concerned about playing for the scouts than playing for their teammates at times. A selfish attitude won´t cut it in senior hockey, and next year will be very beneficial for him.
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Nathan Forster is a defenseman for the Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL) and a 1998 Washington Capitals draft pick. He just
completed his fourth season in Seattle, and should be ready to turn pro next season.
I want to thank Nathan for taking the time to answer my questions, and I would especially like to thank Peter Forster for his help
in making this possible.
Q: What would you be doing if you weren’t a hockey player?
A: If I wasn’t playing I would be going to school and fishing and golfing everyday.
Q: What do you do during the offseason?
A: During the off-season I hit the gym everyday in the morning and have the rest of the day to fish or golf or just relax.
Q: Do you have any game day superstitions?
A: I don’t have any game day superstitions.
Q: What is the greatest moment of your career so far?
A: My greatest memory so far in my hockey career was being drafted to the Caps and also playing in the WHL finals against
Lethbridge in 1997.
Q: Did you expect to be drafted higher in 1998?
A: I didn’t expect much going into the draft because I didn’t have the best year my draft year. I was just happy to be drafted and
knew that this is only the first step to becoming a pro.
Q: What type of player do you describe yourself as?
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