Ranked as one of the lowest Prospect teams in the NHL by most experts the Rangers went into the 1999 NHL draft in Boston with the hopes of turning things around. Well I guess a 180 is about as big of a turn around as you can expect. Neil Smith took a gamble on moving up in the draft which should have been expected since he told all the NY papers he wasn’t interested in moving up. The first deal was a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning which gave Neil Smith the 4th overall pick in the draft and guaranteed him the chance to draft one of the tier one prospects in the draft no matter what. When the Atlanta Thrasher decided Stefan was their man and the Vancouver Canucks pulled off a coop by nabbing the Sedin twins the Rangers realized for the second straight year a top gun fell into their lap. Pavel Brendl, the offensive catalyst of the WHL Calgary Hitmen was theirs. Without a second thought the Rangers made their move and got what they have not had since Mike Gartner, a pure scoring sniper.
The Rangers weren’t done though. Shaking the pot a bit they traded Marc Savard and the 11th pick to Calgary for the 9th pick. The Rangers eyed Jamie Lundmark… the Rangers prize prospect all year long. Scouts saw him and they were screaming Jeremy Roenick…and he quickly became the guy the Rangers wanted. When the Isles claimed Taylor Pyatt 8th the groundwork was laid for the claiming of the kid who “turned the entire Moose Jaw Program around” as Martin Madden, director of pro scouting for the Rangers, called Lundmark in an interview before the draft.
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Archived June 26, 1999
The Calgary Flames have the best group of prospects of any orginization in the HNL according to Hockeysfuture’s latest Orginizational Rankings. However Calgary’s time on top of the ratings could be short lived.
Calgary has failed to come to terms with two highly rated prospects from the 1997 Entry Draft. 6th rated goaltender (see the new updated top 25 players in the left hand column.) Evan Lindsey failed to come to terms with Calgary and will re-enter the 1999 draft along with OHL stand-out forward Ryan Ready. Ready, who helped guide the Bellville Bulls to the Memorial Cup, joined Lindsay in asking Calgary for what GM Al Coates termed ‘first round money’. With the signings of centre Daniel Tkazcuk and defenceman Chris St. Croix, Coates said that there was not enough money available in the Flames budget to sign Lindsay and Ready, an OHL All-Star, for the amounts they were asking. Both of these players now re-enter the draft.
Of the 1997 draftees, the Flames have only signed Tkazcuk, St. Croix, John Tripp and Erik Andersson. Andersson has since been traded to Chicago, and Tripp spent much of 1998/99 in the ECHL.
The signing of Daniel Tkazcuk came down to the wire. The Flames and Tkazcuk had agreed on the basic terms of Tkazcuks’ first professional contract, but disagreed over the bonus structure. The Flames finally conceded to Tkazcuks wishes and the contract was signed just five minutes before the deadline.
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Big players and big unknowns. Must be Colorado at it again. Going into the draft, Colorado had two things on its mind, get big and get Euro. That’s what they did as the majority of their picks where big and European with a few being both. The Avs came in with the ability to take chances and they did. With McCarthy and Jackman both being lost just a few picks before Colorado’s, the Avs were faced with some talented Europeans to choose from or a few middle of the pile Ds. Colorado is not one for being middle of the pile, and so the draft went as follows:
(1/25) Mikhail Kuleshov LW 6-2 200
(2/45) Martin Grenier D 6-5 231
(3/93) Branko Radivojevic RW 6-0 183
(4/112) Sanny Lindstrom D 6-2 194
(4/122) Kristian Kovac RW 6-3 213
(5/142) William Magnuson D 6-5 232
(5/152) Jordan Krestanovich LW 6-0 168
(6/158) Anders Lovdahl C 6-3 189
(6/183) Riku Hahl C 6-0 187
(7/212) Radim Vrbata RW 6-0 175
(8/240) Jeff Finger D 6-1 194
A few names stick out while others remain a blur or unknown and that’s probably how they will remain. Mikhail brings a high skill level to an already talented team. He is still at least two years away from the big club, but of any of the players drafted, he could put on the biggest show at camp. When he comes to play, he will dominate, and if he relies on skill only… he will only flicker and then fade out. He is likely the Avs replacement to Kamensky, they hope.
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June 26th, 1999 could go down in the annals of Nuck history as the greatest moment in franchise history with the selection of the Sedin twins.
The Canucks made out all right here…
-goaltending…since have signed Michaud and drafted Swanson…so it is markedly better than before. Don’t confuse that with “good” or even “solid” however.
-offensive defenseman…Darrell Hay isn’t about to fill this hole.
-a top 2 center who doesn’t receive old-age benefits…Henrik Sedin.
-offensive forwards…again the Sedins.
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While other teams, mainly the Canucks, Islanders, and Rangers, were stealing the show with blockbuster deals, the Florida Panthers had an active day of their own, completing 2 trades and drafting a solid group of prospects.
Unlike past drafts, the Florida Panthers managed to draft a bit of everything, including 3 goaltenders. The only position that wasn’t cared for was the center position. The Panthers did take more skilled players than in previous drafts, and also picked up a few project players.
A recap of the Panthers draft picks and trades:
1: Denis Shvidki, RW/LW – (1st Round, 12th overall)
Vitals: 6’0″ 195lbs 18 years old.
Stats: Barrie (OHL) 61 Games, 35G-59A-94PTS 8PIM.
This kid out of the Ukraine was projected to be Top 8, but luckily dropped to #12 for the Panthers to grab. After playing 2 years in the Russian Junior League, Denis lit up the OHL, Racking up 94 points and a +57 rating in his rookie OHL season. Amazingly, some saw Shvidki’s season in the OHL as a dissapointment. They thought a young man like him, with his experiences, would do even more damage.
He could likely make the NHL right away, but with the Panthers getting their own AHL team next season, Shvidki could and should be developing one year in the AHL with super-sniper Ivan Novoseltsev.
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This draft, the Sharks took a very interesting approach to the draft. Normally, you’ll see teams going after a mix of players. There are the players from the CHL who are generally closer to the NHL than college players. These players may be ready to join their team in 1-3 years. They may account for 75% or more of teams’ picks. Then the college players who may not play for your team for four or five years. A team will usually only pick one or two of these players in one draft. And of course you have the European influence. These players may play for you the next year, or not until five years.
Of the Sharks’ seven picks, the Sharks chose only one player out of the CHL. The other six picks were from Finland (1), high school (2), and college (3). One fear that some had was that the Sharks were having a repeat of the 1995 draft where they had a European “theme” to nearly all their picks. I admit that I was one of these people who feared that. However, as I looked back on the picks, I noticed another theme, which makes far more sense.
It would seem as though Sharks picks centered around two characteristics.
1) Players who need time to develop their skills, not play 60 or more games a season. Often, players in the CHL are good at lasting during the long NHL season, but need to develop their skills. The college players may have the NHL skills once they graduate, but the course of an 82 game schedule wears them down. Read more »
Despite the flurry of trading activity in the Top 10, the Islanders managed to hold tight and select three players with their elite picks. As expected the four premier players were all gone when the Isles stepped up to the podium at the 5th position. Connelly is an ideal selection for them at this spot, he is a dynamic offensive talent with explosive one-on-one moves and great vision. Thankfully Milbury and the gang shyed away from the larger but less prolific Beech. The Isles have a glut of good young centers who seem to be capable number two men. Connelly has all the earmarks of a legitimate number one center, something the team has craved but not had in many years. He was on pace for 50 goals and 100 points before a broken leg ended his season. Had he stayed healthy and posted those numbers he would have been ranked at least fifth by everybody.
At the eighth pick the Isles once again made a solid pick with Taylor Pyatt. Pyatt has all the tools to succeed, blazing speed, tremendous size and strength, and great hands. The organization has been itching for a prime time power forward for many years and Pyatt seems to fit the bill. They also now have great depth at this position with Pyatt and the recent acquisitions of Josh Green and Brad Isbister.
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With the 11th overall pick in a very deep draft the Rangers are in position to walk away with a very solid player for their future. Below is a brief list of some of the players the Rangers have focused in on with the 11th pick.
Taylor Pyatt: LW,6’4 220 pounds: A power left winger in the making, Pyatt is first on the Rangers wish list. He has super size, a great shot and great speed. His speed is what seperates him from the rest of big power fowards available. Forget about him playing in the NHL for at least two years. However he is the type of kid who could turn around and be the ultimate power foward when he does. He is such a big kid he could be a huge hit or a miss. He has to feel totally comfortable with his body and use his size more often.
Jani Rita: RW,6’1, 205: This kid is a power foward just like Pyatt. While his size isn’t as good as Pyatt’s his skill level is world class. Questions have come up about his scoring, but when you look below the surface you see his lackluster linemates and you see him playing against guys who in some cases are 4 or 5 years his elder. He will score at the NHL level… and in my opinion will net 40 goals someday at this level. He is actually better then Pyatt and if I had to chose I’d take Rita.
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With less than a week before the Boston Bruins host the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the Bruins announced the free agent signing of Jeff Zehr. Drafted 31st overall by the Islanders in ’97, Zehr never came to terms with New York and now, at age 20, finds himself competing for a spot on the Boston Bruins roster. “I’m not going to Boston thinking that I’ll play a year in the minors,” Zehr told reporters of the Boston Globe following his signing. “I’m thinking I’ll make the club. I play a feisty game. I like to be involved out there, in all key situations.”
This future power forward, who has been compared to Brendan Shanahan, notched 24 goals in 57 games last year and knows what is expected of him. “The Bruins are keying on me, telling me I’ll get a chance – and now it’s up to me to make the most of it.” Voted by OHL coaches as the West Division’s most improved player for 1996-1997, Zehr should have no problems adjusting to the pro game assuming he can develop his game at the same pace.
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After last season’s contract dispute with Juha Lind, the Stars have finally come to terms with the left-winger on a two year deal. This move provides much needed speed and skill to the Stars lineup, and at the same time injects youth into an aging group of forwards. The Stars openly admit that they made a mistake in letting Juha go back to Finland last year, and I agree. Further more, I still maintain that Benoit Houge would not have been needed if Lind were still around. Look for Juha to be penciled into the second line rotation, with a roster spot all but assured.
5-10 180lbs 1/2/74 92-DRAFT #178
’98-’99 team: Jokerit (Fin.)
’98-’99 statistics: gp-50 g-20 a-19 pts-39 pim-22 +16
BYE-BYE TUREK, WE’LL MISS YOU
In a move that was heavily scrutinized, the Dallas Stars quickly shipped Roman Turek to the St.Louis Blues for a third round pick in 1999. However, the Stars pointed out in the papers that they were trying to make a deal with Atlanta not to take Turek, but they didn’t receive a response in time. This left Dallas up against the deadline, and resulted in low-balling tactics by interested teams, thus fulfilling their worst nightmares. In turn, the Stars traded Roman for little in return rather than risk losing him for nothing on Friday. So now all Stars fans will get to see Roman work his magic with a conference rival, and at the same time will see the once great Grant Fuhr replaced as the #1 goalie. Hopefully this move won’t come back to haunt the Stars, but I’m afraid it will. Read more »