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Class of ’99 – Panthers Prospects Review

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In Part 1 of the Class of ’99 series, I profiled the graduates of the 1998-99 season: Mark Parrish, Peter Worrell, Jaroslav Spacek, and Oleg Kvasha. With a new season underway, and many of the overpaid veterans (such as Kirk Muller) bought out or traded, there are more rookies making an impact on the Panthers this season, and other hopefuls looking to make an impact on the Panthers in the coming months. This article will look at the prospects who have made the Panthers early in the season.

Ivan Novoseltsev – RW [1998/99: 63 Games, 54g-36a-90pts 41pim - Sarnia (OHL)]
After a mediocre start to his OHL career (45 points in 51 games) in 1997/98, Ivan turned it up to score 54 goals in 63 games with the Sarnia Sting (owned by ex-Panther Dino Ciccarelli) in 1998/99. He had a great training camp in Florida and would have made the big club if not for the depth of skilled forwards on the team. Panthers GM Bryan Murray wanted Novoseltsev to get the prime-time ice time he needed, to develop his offensive and defensive games. Playing on the 3rd or 4th line in Florida wouldn’t be too beneficial to an offensive-minded player like Novoseltsev.

His 1999/2000 season has been a success so far. After a good showing in the pre-season, “Supernova” has lit up the AHL with 2 goals and 4 assists in just 5 games for the expansion Louisville Panthers. In addition to his AHL exploits, the injury to sniper Pavel Bure meant a call-up for Novo…it was time for the big show!
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London Knights: Dont Count them out yet..

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The start of the 1999-2000 Ontario Hockey League season has to be considered a major disappointment for the London Knights as the team for The Forest City is currently mired in last place in the competitive Western Division with an unimpressive 2-6-4 record.

But fret not, Knights faithful. Head coach and general manager, for one, is not about to push the panic button, especially in light of last season’s magical ride to the OHL championship series, a titanic struggle the Knights lost in 7 games to the Belleville Bulls.

“The regular season was not exactly a great season for us last season. We started off slow, had a better second half and then enjoyed a great playoff run,” Agnew claimed. “It is better to do it that way because everyone remembers what happened in the playoffs.

“It was a great experience for the entire organization,” Agnew continued. “We had a great group of kids, and they achieved what they did because they worked hard.”

After getting by the Sarnia Sting in the opening round of the post season last spring, the Knights shocked the junior hockey world by eliminating the mighty Plymouth Whalers in seven games.

In fact, the Knights did more than just eliminate the Whalers – they destroyed the boys from Plymouth 10-3 in their own back yard.

“That was a very exciting game, the boys were very tight in the dressing room before the first period, yet they were also very loose and confident,” Agnew recalled. “We felt that if we could get the puck to the net, that we would be just fine.”
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Kings: Muscle in the System

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The Los Angeles Kings are playing their best hockey in years, but one glaring weakness is their lack of a true enforcer. With Matt Johnson being swiped by Atlanta in the expansion draft and Steve McKenna being rendered useless with a bad eye, the Kings need to find someone who can protect their new superstars. After seeing teams like Washington, Boston and San Jose take runs at the Robitaille, Stumpel, Palffy line, the Kings will likely find a stopgap until the nest “Matt Johnson” comes around.

While Matt Johnson is not the best enforcer in the league, he was liked by his teammates and did a great job patrolling the ice. He was just 20 years old when he broke in and seemed poised to protect the Kings for years to come, but as many publications pointed out, he was the slowest player in the NHL. He made tremendous strides, but the next Kings’ enforcer will need the now necessary blend of size, skill and muscle. Here are the two most likely contenders to be the Kings’ enforcer of the future:
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Kootenay Ice: ICE CHIPS

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The Record:
The Kootenay Ice now have a 5-4-3 (4-3-1-0 at home, 1-1-2-0 on the road and 0-0-3-0 in overtime) record after suffering two losses last week. The first loss was to Lethbridge on Wednesday, October 20 (in Lethbridge) with a final score of 6-3. The second loss came at home on Friday, October 23 when the Ice succumbed to a 5-2 final versus Prince Albert Raiders. This now places the Ice fourth in the Central Division and in a three-way-tie for 7th overall in the WHL.
In The Line-Up:
The Ice welcomed back Steve McCarthy in Friday’s game after he returned from his 5-game stint with the Chicago Blackhawks in which he had 1 goal and 1 assist. Kudos to Steve for his excellent performance in his NHL debut. Although Steve wasn’t on the opening line, the crowd showed its appreciation when Steve took to the ice about 1 minute into the game. With many standing, and everyone cheering, he must have known how proud we are. I can actually say that I have a genuine autographed NHL jersey now as I waited in line behind a ton of kids (all with their own hockey stories to tell the players) at the mall on Sunday when the Ice autographed calendars and jerseys and the like. I had my Ice jersey signed by all and then pulled out my Chicago Blackhawks jersey and asked Steve to sign the crest. He was very flattered and said “great jersey” with a huge smile on his face. Thanks Steve… Read more »

OHL news and notes

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What is going on in Kingston? A municipal strike has caused the postponement of 4 games this season. The union allowed the Frontenacs to play four games in the month of October as a concession in contract talks with the union. On Friday night, the fourth of those games, the Memorial Center received a bomb threat during the second intermission of the game that saw the visiting Erie Otters in town. The police cleared out the building and conducted a search for the bomb. The search lasted 45 minutes and then they allowed play to continue and allowed the fans to re-enter the building. The Otters, however, decided not to take the chance and forfeited the game after a discussion with the league office. My only question is why would the visiting team have to forfeit? Returning risked the well being of the players. The league should be looking into the problem with the Frontenacs much more closely.

Surprise, surprise. Who would have thought that after a dozen games and one month into the season that Windsor and Brampton would be leading their respective divisions? Props go out to both teams for providing the OHL with a little bit of added excitement. It just goes to show that junior hockey is “predictably unpredictable.” The Battalion are being lead by the outstanding play of goalie David Chant. He currently leads the league with a miniscule 1.79 goals against average. Windsor is being lead offensively by their three outstanding rookies, Steve Ott(17points), player of the week in week three Shawn Mather(15 points), and Craig Kennedy (11 points).
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Canadiens’ Junior Prospects Weekly Update

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Stand Outs
-Michael Ryder had a good week with 5 points in 3 games.
-Marc-Andre Thinel had a good week with 4 points in 2 games.
-Eric Chouinard had a decent week with 3 goals in 3 games.

Awards -Michael Ryder was named the QMJHL’s offensive player of the month for September.

Hab You Heard?
-Andrei Markov, the Habs’ sixth round pick during the 98 Entry Draft is leading all Russian League defensemen in points. He has 5 goals and 6 assists in 14 games for Moscow Dynamo.
-Vadim Tarasov, the Habs’ seventh round pick during the 99 Entry Draft is having a strong season with Metalburg (HK) of the Russian League. In 13 games played he is 9-3-1, with a 2.20 goals against average, and a .904 save percentage.

-Evan Lindsay, the Habs’ fourth round pick during the 99 Entry Draft was temporarily promoted to the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Quebec. Lindsay’s call-up was the result of Garon’s call-up, which was due to Hackett’s injury. Lindsay should be returned to Talahasee of the ECHL in the next few days. Lindsay has yet to play a regular season game for any team, in any league this season.

POS HT/WT AGE DRAFTED
Eric Chouinard (c) 6’4″/192 Lbs. 18 D-Mtl98(1/16)

GP G A PTS +- PIM PPG SHG
1999-00 Quebec 13 14 6 20 +3 20 3 1
#1 Strength- Scoring ability
#1 Weakness- Doesn’t use size Read more »

St. John’s Maple Leafs Report

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This is the first of a monthly report on the baby Leafs for Hockey’s Future. The chief focus of this report will be on the top prospects within the Leafs’ system who are currently playing with St. John’s.

To say that the St. John’s Maple Leafs, the AHL affiliate of the Toronto club, is off to a slow start is a bit of an understatement. As Chris Schwartz, St. John’s media director states, “We have lost 4 of our top 5 scorers from last year’s team and it will take a while for some of the current players to pick up the slack.” St. John’s is currently last in the Atlantic Division with 6 pts. with a 2-5-2 record.

Despite the slow start, there have definitely been some bright spots, starting with Ukrainian second year pro, Konstantin Kalmikov. The left-winger scored just 3 goals and 4 assists last season in 52 games and has already surpassed that total with 4 goals and 4 assists in his first 9 games. “It’s a night and day difference with Kalmikov this season. He has always had the skills, now he has the confidence,” states Schwartz. “He has clearly been our best forward,” he adds. Kalmikov has gone from only 2 or 3 shifts per game last season to a regular spot on the top scoring line this year. He has also seen a good amount of powerplay time as well.
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Djurgarden prospects

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Djurgarden is using a new system this season, using only one defenseman and four attackers on
each line. Basically, the defenseman’s (called sweeper) job is too take defensive
responsibility. Instead of using two defenseman, Djurgarden has two centers and two forwards
called torpedos. In each formation there is one offensive center and one defensive center,
however both centers participate a lot in the play when the team has the puck. Both the
torpedos have only offensive tasks and quoting the coach Mats Waltin: “We do not want too see
the torpedos in our own zone”. Djurgarden has a very offensive approach and both torpedos on each formation forecheck extremely hard.

Of course, playing with this system also means defensive problems. Teams who specialize in
counter-attacks have so far had great success against Djurgarden and the team often has to
face 1 on 2 or 1 on 3 situations.

An example of a game where such a scenario happend is the
game between Djurgarden and Leksand on Oct.3. Djurgarden outshot Leksand 21-6 in the two first
periods, but were still down 1-3. The final score was 2-5 inspite of Djurgarden having 32
shots on goal and Leksand only 13. One of the keys to success for Djurgarden is that goalie
Tommy Soderstrom (formerly with the Flyers and Islanders) is at his best and ready to face
many odd-man attacks.

So far after 13 games, the result has been satisfying. Djurgarden has scored a league-leading Read more »

Sluggish Start to Year for Storm

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After a slow start, the Guelph Storm are only playing .500 hockey. Something they haven’t done for a while. They have played the fewest games at 6 and have a record of 3-3 (wins and losses). While Chris Madden has 3 wins and Craig Andersson has all three losses. It’s not that Andersson isn’t playing well, it’s just when he plays the defense thinks that they are defending for Madden, which leads to mistakes.

The other night in Owen Sound, Andersson faced 24 shots alone in the first period. And the Platers had only scored 1 goal. Over all in that game Andersson faced 43 shots turning away 40 of them. It was obvious to see that the Storm need a veteran defenseman with leadership qualities.

Ian Forbes, who has been playing great in the last few games has helped the team out incredibly on the power play as well on the penalty killing line. However, Forbes and Kevin Mitchell are the only 19 year-olds on the team that play defense.

Kevin Dallman also spent a lot of time on the penalty killing line, but he also spent quite a few minutes on the power play line.
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Kootenay Ice: ICE CHIPS

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We apologize for the length of time between the last news update and this one.

We are back to provide you with all the information from the last two weeks. We’ll start from the present and work back…

BIG MAC IS BACK:
Yesterday, Oct. 18, it was announced that Steve McCarthy was being returned to the Kootenay Ice after playing for the Chicago Blackhawks. He may play in the Ice’s road game this Wednesday in Lethbridge but this has yet to be determined. The fans can be assured that #7 will be back on the ice by this Friday night for the game against Prince Albert (in Cranbrook).
OVERAGE ABUNDANCE SOLVED:
On October 14 the Ice traded over-age defenseman Scott Roles along with future considerations to the Spokane Chiefs in exchange for 17 year old defenseman Cole Fischer (Dec. 23, 1981). This will be Fischer’s third year in the WHL. Fischer dressed for the Ice for the first time on Saturday, October 16th versus the Moose Jaw Warriors. He proved himself as being an experienced player as well as a physical presence on the ice when he took a player into the boards in the first few seconds of his Ice debut.
NO MORE INJURIES:
Forward Mike Green returned to the line-up in time for the October 16th game where he proved that he was healthy by notching 1 goal and 2 assists and earning the title of first star. Green suffered an ankle injury in the October 2nd game against the Saskatoon Blades.
SUSPENSED: Read more »