The Last Line Of Defense Is A Good One For The Blues
On the eve of the first training camp of the 21st Century, a number of Blues’ fans have questions about the most important position on the team — the goaltenders.
Almost everyone will agree that the time had come to send the beleaguered Roman Turek packing. And yet, despite acquiring a reliable starter (Fred Brathwaite) in return, there is a large faction of Bluenote backers who remain convinced that, without a world-class goalie, the Blues will play second fiddle to the traditional Western powerhouses yet again. The Doubting Thomases point to the inexperience of Brathwaite and Brent Johnson, and predict doom for the Blues in 2001-02.
While Blues fans may have legitimate concerns about goaltending in the short term, the long-term outlook in goal for the Blues has never looked brighter. Of the eight goaltenders who will wear the ‘Note in various camps this fall, six of them were either drafted or developed as professionals by the Blues. And it all starts with the man they call “Big” Johnson.
Originally drafted 129th overall by Colorado in 1995, Brent Johnson became Blues’ property just prior to the 1997 Entry Draft, when interim GM Ron Caron swung a deal for the big young netminder. A few months later, Johnson began his first season as a pro in Worcester, and split the duty with Frederic Cassivi. Johnson’s numbers in his first season were respectable for a 20-year-old rookie — 42 games played, 14 wins, a 3.19 goals-against average and a save percentage of 89.9%.
The next year, t Read more »
Mike Komisarek (1st round, 2001) played for the US National Junior Team during the 2001 Summer Challenge in Lake Placid, NY. Komisarek recorded 1 assist, as the US split the four-game series against Finland. Scouting reports indicate that the 6’4″, 230 lbs. defenseman demonstrated his usual physically punishing style of play.Alexander Buturlin (2nd round, 1999) played 2 games for Salavat Yuleyev of the Russian League. The right winger scored 1 goal during those 2 games while racking up 4 minutes in penalties. Contract negotiations in Russia are presumably still ongoing, as there has yet to be an official announcement regarding Buturlin’s future place of employment.Alex Perezhogin (1st round, 2001) has played 2 preseason games with Omsk of the Russian League. The talented left winger was held off the score sheet. The 5’11”, 185 lbs. winger played 41 games with Omsk’s division-2 team last season, where he scored an incredible 47 goals to go along with 24 assists, and 40 penalty minutes.Joni Puurula (8th round, 2000) has played 4 preseason games with HPK of the Finnish Elite League. Through those 4 games the 5’10”, 165 lbs. goalie has a 3-1 record, with a 2.00 goals against average, and an impressive .927 save percentage. Puurula will battle Czech native Zdenek Smid for playing time this season. Zdenek, who was drafted by Atlanta in the 6th round of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft played last season with Karlovy Vary of the Czech Extraliga.Leksand IF’s Johan Eneqvist (4th round, 2000) has played 3 preseason games. The 6’1″, 185 Read more »
Many are familiar with most of the Leaf blueliners in the pipeline. Names like Chartier, Zion, Svoboda, Pilar, Colaiacovo among others are either CHL products or overseas skaters that arrived with much fanfare. However, one name without either of these advantages might be worth taking note of in Regan Kelly. Kelly, going into his sophomore year at Providence College in the powerful Hockey East Conference of the NCAA, was obtained when Toronto peddled Chris MacAllister to the Philadelphia Flyers before the 2000/2001 season. Friars Coach Paul Pooley likes what he sees in Kelly to date and feels that he can only get better.
While admitting that “any defenseman needs to work at his pivot” he is also quick to point out that skating “is one of the strengths of the package” his young charge brings to the table with both his straight ahead speed and lateral movement being solid parts of his game. This naturally helps him out in the transition game and his coach lauds his ability to “make a playable (first) pass” although he will use the boards if nothing presents itself. On the rush he “reads the play well” and while “not an end to end rusher” in the mold of Bryan Berard, he knows how to “use his teammates” and “is adept at losing himself in the offense”. Once in the opposition zone Kelly presents a wide array of options for the others players on his team. He “makes himself a good target for passes” by separating from his mark and is “solid at keeping the puck in” when the opposition attempts to clear able to use both his hands and body in addition to his stick to get Read more »
The 1998 NHL Entry Draft was one of the more interesting ones of the past few years. Many experts labeled the draft as neither very strong or very weak in talent, but somewhere inbetween. Three years later, and the draft has already produced a good amount of solid NHLers. Not to mention that more are still developing and have a good shot at cracking an NHL lineup in the not-to-distant future.Heading into the draft, everyone knew that center Vincent Lecavalier from the Rimouski Oceanic of the QMJHL was going to be the first selection. However, the question was what team was going to have the 1st overall pick when it was all over? The Tampa Bay Lightning held the first selection, and there were a lot of rumors floating around about a possible trade. The Colorado Avalanche were one of the teams definitely interested, as Pierre Lacroix (GM of the Avalanche) stocked up on early draft picks in an attempt to obtain the 1st overall pick and select the player he wanted most, Lecavalier. Add in the extra excitement as the Nashville Predators were entering the league in the upcoming season and they were ready to be a part of their 1st NHL Entry Draft.The following is a full review of each selection in the 1st round of the 1998 Draft. Included is the player selected, his position, what team he was drafted from, and his career stats thus far in the NHL.
1. Tampa Bay – Vincent Lecavalier, C, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) Read more »
Manitoba Moose General Manager Randy Carlyle announced that left-winger Jimmy Roy and defenseman Justin Kurtz will be returning to the Moose line up in 2001-2002 after both agreed to one-year contracts. Last season, Roy posted career highs with 18 goals and 31 points in 77 games with racking up 150 minutes in penalties and was plus-five. Kurtz scored eight goals and added 22 assists for 30 points and was plus-two in 69 games. In the playoffs, Kurtz played some of the best hockey of his career recording five points in 13 games.
Over the past four years, Roy became known around the International Hockey League for his aggressive style of play and his ability to take the opposition off their game. Off the ice, Roy has become Manitoba’s most recognizable player because of his efforts in the community.
Kurtz, who enters his fourth season with the Moose, has developed and improved consistently from year to year. His points and assists totals from last year were both career highs and following last season, Kurtz received the Moose’s annual Community Service Award.
“The signing of both Jimmy Roy and Justin Kurtz were important steps for our hockey club,” said Carlyle. “As much as both contribute on the ice, they are equally as productive off the ice and play an important role for our organization in the community. We are pleased to have Justin and Jimmy back and along with Brian Chapman, they will provide some continuity for our fans as we enter the AHL.”
Roy was originally drafted by the by the Dallas Stars with their 7th pick, 254th Read more »
On Monday, August 20, 2001, Vyacheslav Fetisov was officially named the General Manager and Head Coach of team Russia for the Olympic games in Salt Lake City. Although the news came somewhat as a shock to the people in North America, rumours had been going around Russia for the better part of the week prior to the announcement. Needless to say, Monday’s press conference did not seem at all like news to the hockey media in Russia.Getting axed is Boris Mikhailov, the man whose contract ran with the Olympiad through the Olympics. In is Fetisov, a 43-year old, former Soviet top defenseman and a legend of Russian hockey. With no head coaching, nor managerial experience, Fetisov will be in for a long run to assemble and prepare a team that is already behind it’s schedule. Despite the lack of Olympic experience, Fetisov seems to have all the makings of a solid coach; an assistant with the New Jersey Devils, he was a key contributor to the Devils’ back-to-back Stanley Cup finals appearances. The resurgence of star Alexander Mogilny has also been directly linked to Fetisov’s coaching tactics.At the age of 43, Fetisov is one the youngest Head Coaches in the history of the Russian/Soviet Olympic team. At 39, Arkadi Chernishev debuted in 1954, and Anatoli Tarasov coached the Soviets in 1958 at the age of 40. There is no doubt that Fetisov will be under a lot of scrutiny, as all of his moves will be monitored under the microscope. If Russia fails at the Olympic games, the defeat could be hard to swallow. Although the expectations are not quite hi Read more »
Following are news and facts for all german players who were drafted in this years NHL Entry Draft and the players who will attend the Rookie-, Development- or Evaluation Camps by NHL-Teams. The list is in alphabetical order:
Jan Benda (29, Edmonton Oilers/NHL)
After signing a high paid contract with AK Bars Kazan from Russia the Oilers offered him an one-way-contract to help their bluechip prospect Jani Rita to grow up in Edmonton. Benda has the potential to play in the third or fourth line in the NHL. He have to fight for a place in the camp, but the chance is high: Benda maked the NHL four years ago in the camp in Washington. To read the whole story about his moving to Edmonton click here.
Boris Blank (23, Eisbären Berlin/DEL), Rookie/Evaluation Camp, LA Kings
Blank was born in Kazakhstan and is a friend of Eduard Lewandowski. They played together for a long time. He’s a fast skater and more a sniper than a top passing forward. Called “Bum Bum Boris”, he also has a very good shot, but his defense work must be better. Blank played in the german minors for years with a spell in the DEL for 18 Games (Five Points) as he wear the jersey from the Moskitos Essenin the year 2000. Blank also played in the pre-games for the german national team before the world championships. He has no chance for making the NHL, the chance for signing a contract with a farmteam is even lo Read more »
At this point, the Pirates’ tentative roster has four goaltenders on it: Corey Hirsch, Sebastien Charpentier, Curtis Cruickshank, and Rastislav Stana. There is no new faces among them, all saw action with the team last season. But who will be the pair that gets chosen is a mystery.Corey Hirsch joined the Pirates last season, and quickly became a fan favorite. He spent much of the season away on loan, playing in both the IHL and AHL, and was twice named the IHL’s Goaltender of the Week. He is an extremely solid goaltender, and a veteran with over 100 NHL games under his belt. He is extremely adept glove-side, and is not afraid to use it – an attribute far too many AHL goaltenders do not have. And, perhaps most importantly, the rest of the team has confidence in his goaltending and this shows in their play.Sebastien Charpentier is struggling to overcome illness and injury. Once a fantastic ECHL goalie with incredible amounts of promise, a troubling shoulder, hip, and chronic arthritis have held him back. His concentration has improved tenfold in the past two seasons, and he is capable of a brilliant game. Unfortunately, that is not seen nearly enough. It is hard to pinpoint what he is doing wrong, but even harder to say what it is he is doing right.Curtis Cruickshank is a mixed bag. His size and agility make for a great combo, but his young age and inexperience are working against him. He made solid progress through the year, but seemed to go downhill after being loaned to the UHL near the end of Read more »
Name, Age, Summer signing status, Team Last Year
Jan Hrdina, 25, Signed, Pittsburgh/Dainius Zubrus, 23, Waiting for arbiter, May be traded to the Pens for Hrdina, Washington
Alexei Kovalev, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Milan Kraft, 21, Signed, Pittsburgh
Robert Lang, 30, Signed, Pittsburgh
Mario Lemieux, 35, Taking whatever money is left over, Pittsburgh
Aleksey Morozov, 24, Signed, Pittsburgh
Krzysztof Oliwa, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Wayne Primeau, 25, Talking with Patrick on a contract, Pittsburgh
Kevin Stevens, 36, Signed, Pittsburgh
Martin Straka, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Fighting for the 3 remaining forward positions –
Kris Beech, 20, Signed, Calgary (WHL), 5.5 Read more »
The importance of a team’s depth at all positions was proven last year when at various times in the season many of the Sharks top players such as Owen Nolan, Vincent Damphousse and Steve Shields missed games due to injuries or suspensions. Without the contributions of players like Tony Granato, Jim Montgomery and Bill Lindsay, it is hard to say where the Sharks would have finished in the playoff race. Particularly Granato filled a role where he patched holes where necessary; ending up playing 61 games in what will likely be his last NHL season.
As the Sharks close in on training camp, the core of their team remains in tact. The addition of Adam Graves and the retention of Gary Suter gives the Sharks four solid scoring lines and three experienced defensive pairings. The only players still unsigned are defenseman Mike Rathje, center Patrick Marleau, and right wing Todd Harvey.While the Sharks have prospects such as Marcel Goc and Jeff Jillson who are considered solid to blue chip prospects, if in need of help, players such as these may not necessarily be the best choice, as further playing time in various developmental leagues may be in order, or in the case of players in college or playing in CHL, can’t play in the NHL even if they were ready.
Last season it was the Sharks forward lines that were plagued by the injury bug. With Nolan missing 25 games due to various injuries and a 12-game suspension by the NHL, and Damphousse missing almost half the season with a shoulder injury, the Sharks were without their two best players, much of which at the s Read more »