Congratulations! Somehow you’ve all managed to get through three long months without hockey. Now the boys of winter are back on the ice and another season of exciting Maple Leafs’ action looms. Toronto’s line-up for the upcoming season looks to be both deep and talented. There are more experienced NHL players on hand at the club’s Training Camp than there are jobs to be filled. To further complicate matters, an improving farm system has produced several hopeful youngsters determined to push some familiar names out of the picture. Expect lots of spirited competition for NHL jobs, the emergence of some surprising newcomers and maybe even a trade or two before the 2000 / 2001 roster is finally set.
While acknowledging that these factors make the team rather difficult to handicap at this early stage, here is a preliminary position-by-position look at the 2000 / 2001 Toronto Maple Leafs:
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The Swedish Elitserien started today with two games. Newly promoted Timrå beat reigning champions Djurgården in overtime, 3-2, after 20-year-old starlet Henrik Zetterberg beat goalie Mikael Tellqvist with a low wristshot. AIK defeated MoDo 3-1 on home ice in the other game.
Hopefully, the Timrå – Djurgården game was a sign of things to come in the Elitserien. It was a free-flowing game filled with scoring-chances created by two teams that seemingly couldn´t even spell ”trap”. Considering the increase in odd-man rushes and the effectiveness of quick passing, maybe it´s time for the NHL to follow in the IIHF’s footprints and remove the red line.
The story of the game was highly touted Henrik Zetterberg, the early favourite to win the ”Rookie of the year” award in Sweden. Zetterberg, a 7th round steal by the Detroit Red Wings in 1999, is a 5’11, 180 pound speed-demon oozing of offensive flair.
Another Detroit draft-pick, Djurgården defenseman Niklas Kronwall, is also on the fast track to stardom. The 2000 Entry Draft first round pick (29th overall) is being cast in a more offensive role this season and will make huge improvements on his five point total from the 1999/2000-season.
The early favourites to win the championship this season are Färjestad and Luleå, boosted by the return of former NHLers Jörgen Jönsson and Mikael Renberg, respectively.
Where did we leave off last year? Something about a tough season for the Brandon Wheat Kings. Funny, I did not see it that way. What I saw was the exciting possibilities of the next year. Through all the losing, injuries and fan anger, if one looked objectively at the quality of the young players of the Brandon Wheat Kings last year, they would have had the same wait until next year attitude.
Simply put, Brandon’s best players was their young players. I was amazed at how such a young and undersized team competed and never quit in spite of all the obstacles. Furthermore, if the ordinary fan understood even more depth and talent was still not here yet, but a 15 or 16 year old playing Midget or Tier 2 junior somewhere else, they would have been quietly excited like I was.
Here is an overview of that talent I knew was on the way:
Let’s start with those that didn’t even make it to preliminary season roster.
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When the Kootenay ICE won the 1999-
2000 WHL championship and
represented the league at the Memorial
Cup last spring, they essentially did the
unexpected. If there is any drawback to
be found with winning a championship
banner it is that what was once the
unexpected suddenly becomes the
expected. Yes they were a great club at
the opening of the last season but there
weren’t a whole lot of people that made
the club their pick to go to the big dance
in Halifax. That tag was
unceremoniously dumped in the lap of
the Calgary Hitmen. And we all know
how that turned out don’t we? This
year, guess who gets to carry the
ominous title? That’s right, the
Kootenay ICE. Add to that the selection
of the Kootenay ICE by the Hockey
News publication as the number one
ranked junior club in the CHL and you
can begin to see where high expectations
develop. Alas, fools and their
expectations are soon irrelevant of
course because that’s why they play the
As the Kootenay ICE get set to open
their season against the Calgary Hitmen
in the Pengrowth Saddledome this
weekend there are still many questions
to be answered and stories to be told as
the ICE embark on the their 10-game
odyssey to start the season.
Roster Update – The ICE scaled down
their roster to 28 players still in camp
this past week as Cranbrook native 19 yr
old Kevin Livingston was sent to Trail Read more »
Like most teams, the Blues carry a roster of 14 forwards, 7 defensemen and 2 goaltenders. From the 38 players left in camp after yesterdays cuts, there are 15 cuts left with the exception of the two defensemen who will be replacing the injured Marc Bergevin and Todd Reirden.
There is all but one forward spot locked up as thirteen players on the current roster would have to clear waivers if they were to be sent down to
the minors. The Blues can’t afford losing any of these players for nothing and trades could open more spots but for the time being, there is one remaining forward spot. This spot may be filled by one of, Derek Bekar, Reed Low, Ladislav Nagy, Chris Murray, Andrei Podkonicky, Jame Pollock or Reid Simpson. Because of the need of toughness up
front and lack there of on the current roster, it will likely be one of Simpson, Murray or Low. All three players have two-way contracts, and well, these three will likely go down to the wire.
On Defense, the battle got even more interesting for the young prospects with the news of Reirden and Bergevin being out for extended periods. It is
almost guaranteed that Dale Clarke and Darren Rumble will soon be assigned to Worcester, leaving Vladimir Chebaturkin, Alex Khavanov, Jaroslav Obsut, Bryce Salvador, and Mike Van Ryn to fight over the final three spots. A recent addition to that list is 1999 1st round pick, Barret Jackman, who began skating with the team yesterday. His finger has healed sooner than expected and although he is a week behind the rest, he Read more »
With Calgary midway through their preseason schedule, some candidates
gunning for the big club have been impressive. With only a few positions up
for grabs, Flames staff have some tough decisions to make.
Stillman, Savard, Shantz, Wiemer, Wilm, and Bureau are all listed
centres. However, Shantz and Wiemer have been experimented on the wing.
Tkaczuk has played well in his games, improving on his two-way game, but
hasn’t been a standout. Another year in Saint John wouldn’t hurt Tkaczuk. The
story is a little different when talking of Marty Murray. In his two games in
Toronto and Ottawa, Murray was impressive. Faceoffs were dreadful last year
for Calgary and Murray has been outstanding in that category. Playing on a
line with Iginla and Saprykin, Murray was the playmaker, while Saprykin and
Iginla where the snipers. If Murray’s play continues he just may have a spot
with the team.
There is a little more room on the left side. Nazarov, Lindsay, and
Lowry all are sure fires for Calgary. Saprykin, Elomo, Botterill, Cowan,
Varlamov, and Roche all fighting for a spot. Of all names mentioned Saprykin
is the most impressive. In Calgary’s first game against Montreal, Saprykin
netted a pair of goals in a outstanding outing, helping the Flames to a 4-2
victory. In the second tilt against Toronto, Saprykin had another solid
effort, playing with Murray and Iginla. A game Calgary should have won. Coach Read more »
The Under-18 USNTDP team opened up there USHL season with big expectations. They had a rough game Friday marred with turnovers and penalties. Saturday night was a different story as they came out flying and showed what they can do. Justin Maiser and Barry Tallackson led the team offensively. The defense played great as a unit and Dwight Labrosse posted the shutout. The U-18 team continues play next weekend with more USHL action. We will hopefully have scoring recaps next weeked and more to post on the games.
Imagine you are 17 years old again. You are the first-round draft choice of one of the most storied franchises in all of professional
hockey. You have just been named rookie-of-the-year for the championship club in your league. You are being told right and left, that you have
immense talent and are a “can’t-miss” prospect. When you are 17, all of this “stuff” might just go to your head a bit and affect you in a way
which may be detrimental to your vivacity.
Two things can then happen. When times suddenly turn for the worse, you can look to blame everyone else and develop that
“chip-on-your-shoulder”, continuing to think you know it all.
Or, you can do what Luca Cereda did and do everything possible to turn your game back around.
Yes, it has been well-documented that Cereda had a difficult season last year with his Ambri-Piotta team. “I played more of a defensive role last
year, and obviously, things didn’t go very well. However, I have gotten stronger and a bit bigger. I’m looking to improve my play and get the
game experience which I need”, states Cereda.
You can look into his eyes and you see the seriousness in this talented young man. He is not taking anything for granted and when you watch
him on the ice, you can see the determination which should help to get his game and his career back on track.
During the Maple Leafs rookie tournament, Cereda centered the team’s most productive line, flanked by likely Ottawa 67 teammates, Lance Read more »
The Canadiens’ health problems of a year ago have been the main topic of discussion during training camp. With health should come scoring, and with scoring should come success. But will this hypothetical scoring be enough?
The Canadiens went into the off-season looking to improve on offense. The team averaged only 2.39 goals scored per game last season. Which was actually an improvement from the 98-99 season, when the team averaged only 2.24 goals per game. Then again, scoring was up around the league last season; from 5.3 goals per game in 98-99, to 5.5 goals per game last season.
Jim Campbell and Darryl Shannon, Rejean Houle’s only notable free-agent signing going into the upcoming season, combined for only 5 goals at the NHL level last year. Obviously not the scoring punch Habs’ fans were hoping for.
Based on last year’s numbers, in order for the Canadiens to improve to a respectable 11th place in scoring, they would have to increase their output by nearly a goal every two games. Initially this doesn’t seem like much. But in order for this to happen the Habs would need to add two 20-goal-scorers to last year’s roster. That’s without taking into account the 16 goals that Turner Stevenson and Shayne Corson combined for last season.
Unfortunately, the only way that the team could achieve this “goal”, is if every player on the current roster matched their career-highs in goals scored. Read more »
The 2000-2001 Under-20 teams schedule brought the five national teams to Omsk, Russia, first. The Czech republic, Finland, Russia, Slovakia and Sweden participated in the tournament, held in the first week of September. The home Russian fans had to be delighted as the very strong Russian squad captured the victory. The Russian team full of possible NHL stars prepares for the home WJC in December/January and their attitude to this tournament was quite serious. The win came after a strong showing, but the Scandinavian teams (Finland and Sweden) looked in a good shape, too. It’s not easy to say, but the Czechs lost their first three games and only in their last game they swept Slovakia, 5:0. As a result, there was a fourth place. There is only one tournament left before the WJC comes round, so it’s time to change something. The Czechs are the last U-20 world champion and they want to defend this title. But not with the play they showed in Omsk.
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