As many of the major developmental leagues reach their midway point in their seasons, the Sharks, like every other team, have prospects who have surprised and done well, and others who have struggled more than would be expected. This is a list of many of San Jose’s prospects, and their status. Next to their name is either a +, -, or = sign, signifying that they’ve either improved, declined or maintained their stock. Followed by vitals and statistical information. (stats as of 12-26-99 unless otherwise noted)
Eric Betournay = Center 4/30/81 6’1” 197lbs
Chicoutimi (QMJHL) 41GP 7G 18A 25PTS -13 32PIM
He may end out being a steal chosen in the 8th round, but still needs improvement. He simply doesn’t yet possess NHL skills, and needs to learn how to maintain control of the puck in traffic. He’s the type of player who needs strong players around him, or isn’t the most effective player. Playing on a weak Chicoutimi team is not helping.
Matt Bradley -/= Right Wing 6/13/78 6’2” 195lbs
Kentucky (AHL) 34GP 8G 9A 17PTS 44PIM +12
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Solid – …Of a satisfactory or substantial character. …Upstanding and reliable. Sound : valid. … Without gaps, crevices, or breaks : compact. – Webster’s Dictionary
With their second pick in the second round of the 1999 NHL entry draft, the Sabres drafted a 6′ 1″ 195 pound defenseman named Doug Janik. Doug had just completed his Freshman season with the Black Bears of Maine. It was a season that saw the University of Maine Hockey program win its second NCAA Division I championship this decade and Doug played an important role in winning this championship. Doug didn’t really do anything too spectacular, but he did do everything that was expected of him. I guess you could have called his performance SOLID.
Solid is probably the best way to describe Doug as a hockey player. He has excellent hands and is a gifted, but unspectacular skater. The combination of these abilities allows him to be able to carry the puck through the neutral zone when the situation requires that. The real strength of Doug’s game however is how he plays on either side of the neutral zone. This is where the word Solid comes into play as the dominant adjective to describe Doug’s game.
In the offensive zone, Doug possesses a NHL caliber slap shot. This makes him a threat to score from the blue line. So far, in 15 games this season, Doug has scored 4 goals to go along with 5 assists for 9 points. His ability to place his shot on net is evidenced by his 44 shots on goal, which ties him for third on his team.
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For the first time in the tournament the USA came to a game with less than
100% to give. They looked sleepy-eyed to start the game and were not as good
playing a team-defense as they have been in the past. Perhaps it is a needed
reality check for the Americans – they won’t beat opposing teams on skill,
but they can do it, and do it good, with a committed team effort. That being
said, the smallish Finns also came out with more jump than they had against
Canada and Slovakia as they faced a must-win situation. Finland switched
goalie from Antero Niitymäki (Philadelphia) to Ari Ahonen, a New Jersey
Devils firstrounder, and Ahonen looked very good under pressure. He made the
saves when the Finns needed it the most, although he wasn’t called upon to
make big saves until the Finns were ahead 3-0 in the third. The Finns also
got a good game from big defenseman Ossi Vännänen (Phoenix) who used his
body well and showed that he can make a very good first pass and unleash a
good one-timer from the blueline. Up front, smallish speedy 17-year old
Teemu Laine had a good game creating chances offensively along with tricky
forward Tomek Valtonen, drafted by the Red Wings. Valtonen scored the vital
first Finnish goal on a nice high wrist-shot. Centers Riku Hahl (Colorado)
and Mikko Kaukokari are dependable performers aswell, although they showed
The Americans aren’t that skilled offensively when you get past Jeff Taffe Read more »
All of those complaining of low scoring in the NHL wouldn’t have had a very
good time in Skellefteå today. A grand total of three goals was scored in
the two hours of hockey that was played, but still the games were exciting
and the quality of play was the highest so far in the tournament. The scores
? USA beat Slovakia 1-0 with a goal late in the third period, and Canada and
the Czech Republic tied their game 1-1.
First things first, it’s official now: Team USA is the darkhorse team of the
JWC’s. It is not a stretch to see them in the final and winning the
goldmedals this year. They are receiving great goaltending from Rick
DiPietro, solid defensive play from the skaters, and just about enough
offense to be able to win. Team USA look very committed to playing a team
game, and all players take their defensive assignments seriously. That, and
the play of Rick Dipietro, were the two most important factors in USA’s win
today. The Slovakians did not play as well defensively and had poor marking
on US-forwards in front of the net at many occasions in the game, and the
Americans scored their goal in a situation where Nashville draftee captain
Adam Hall was given lots of time unchecked in front of the net to put a high
wristshot past Slovakias good goaltender Ratislav Stana (Washington). For
the Americans, they have a real star in net in Rick DiPietro. He is very Read more »
Sweden-Ukraine 6-1 (3-0, 1-0, 2-1)
After 7-1 against Switzerland, Sweden got another comfortable win against Ukraine. The final score was 6-1 and could have been bigger if Sweden had played better in the second period. In a game of this kind where one team is supposed to be the better team it’s always good for them to get an early goal. That happened in this game. After only 18 seconds Henrik Sedin had opened the scoring. David Nyström threw the puck towards the goal and goalie Vitaly Lebed couldn’t stop the puck and Sedin took care of the rebound and backhanded an ice-shot beside Lebed. 2-0 came 5.52 in to the first period from Christian Berglund. After nine minutes Sweden got a chance to play 5-on-3 and with their fourth-line on the ice they managed to make the score 3-0. The goal was scored by Herman Hultgren with a slap-shot from the blueline.
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The Czechs and the Americans skated to a 2-2 tie in the first game of the day, and the Finns and the Slovaks tied 1-1 after Finland almost won the game with a shot that hit the crossbar in the final second of the game.
Team USA looked good in exhibition against Sweden playing a disciplined game, and they did the same again today. They didn’t allow many good scoring chances for the Czechs and when they did goalie Rick DiPietro was there to make the save. The 1981-born DiPietro appears to have assumed the role of starting goaltender ahead of Colorado Avalanche draftpick Philippe Sauve, and DiPietro certainly deserves it. Goalies who like to handle the puck are plentiful, but goalies with the hockey sense to actually do something good with the puck and help his team out with his puckhandling are more scarce. DiPietro is in the latter group – he almost never handles the puck without purpose, which is refreshing to see. DiPietro also looks very solid making his saves, and it shows that he has earned the trust of his defense. He could well be a star of this tournament. Almost all of Team USA’s offense was generated by center Jeff Taffe and winger Barrett Heisten (Buffalo). Heisten scored the first goal of the game on a nice move in close on the power play, and the pair seemed to have good chemistry all game. Taffe is tall center with good puckhandling skills, and Heisten more of a shooter. For all of the third period they got a defenseman for a left winger as defenseman Pat Aufiero (Rangers) lined up besided them. The Americans also recieved good penalty-killing a che Read more »
The second live game for me in this years WJC was the encounter between Slovakia and
Finland. Once again my hopes were high; Finland had surprised me in their game against Canada, and Marian Gaborik
was going to be on the ice for Slovakia. The two teams met last week in a exhibition game in Piteå, and Slovakia won the game by four goals to two. The game was very similar to last nights game between Finland and Canada. The first period didn’t provide any amusement, but the game took off in the second when Slovakia scored the prettiest goal so far in the tournament on a three-on-one, Branislav Mezei put the puck in the net, assisted wonderfully by Marian Gaborik. As in the game against Canada, the finns were forced to score in the final period, and this time they got it right, Arto Tukio scored the gametying goal in power-play. The game ended dramatically when Finlands Riku Hahl (one of their best players of the game) took a wrist shot from the blueline in the very last second that hit the bar! The game finally ended 1-1 (0-0 1-0 0-1).
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Sweden-Switzerland 7-1 (1-1, 2-0, 4-0)
Sweden got off to a good start to this years tournament as they cruised past Switzerland in a 7-1-win. The Swiss took a surprising lead in the first period after a mistake from Swedish goalie Johan Asplund. Asplund was just gonna stop the puck and put his glove on it, but he failed to stop it and Flavien Conne snapped it up and sent it to the net. After the goal the Swedes looked nervous and the passing game didn’t work out as well as coach Lars Molin wanted it to. But the Swedes got an opportunity as the Swiss got a man sent to the box. A misunderstanding between the Swiss defenders on the blue-line saw Christian Berglund skate through and alone with Swiss-goalie Simon Züger he some how managed to score the equaliser. Züger threw himself in front off the stick of Berglund, but he missed the puck, which slid under him.
The second period saw more nervous playing from the Swedes and Switzerland had a few chances to score, including a shot in the bar. But halfway through the period Sweden started to look as the better team and within 41 seconds they went from 1-1 to 3-1, after goals from Henrik Zetterberg and Gabriel Karlsson. Zetterberg did it on his own, breaking in in front of the goal while the Swiss were just looking at him and sent the puck past Züger. The goal from Karlsson on the other hand was a created by Björn Melin who set up Karlsson with a beautiful pass and Karlsson made no mistake alone with Züger.
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After the first day of any competition there shouldn’t be any dramatic
conclusions drawn, but often there are signs that point in certain
directions. In the first day of Group A action from the Junior World
Championships in Skellefteå it seems that the team who wants to beat the
Czechs must stop their powerful powerplay unit lead by Michal Sivek, Milan
Kraft and Martin Havlat. That is the strongest impression that the first day
of competition left. Game-summaries at the bottom of the page.
The Czech’s beat Slovakia 5-2, after a hat-trick and one assist from
Penguins firstround pick Milan Kraft, who also serves as captain. The
Czech’s played a typically european game almost to perfection while the
Slovakian team went more for emotion and enthusiasm in the early going. The
Czech team seemed very confident in their style and play a calm and patient
game. The deciding factor in this game, just like in so many other games was
the special teams. A mild judgment of the Slovakians powerplay is ”not
good”; the only time they generated anything that resembled offense was when
17-year olds Marian Gaborik and Tomas Kopecky was on the ice, but that line Read more »
Henrik Zetterberg – the next star
Henrik Zetterberg has been playing great the whole season. He was drafted very
late (210 overall) by Detroit Red Wings in 1999. The truth is that he wasn’t a
top prospect last season. But the way he is playing this year is incredible.
He has dominated in the 2nd Tier League with Timra and been playing great on
the National Junior Team. Detroit made a real bust when they drafted him. He
is expected to join an Elite league team next season and that will make him
one of the top candidates for the Rookie of the Year award. So far Zetterberg
has 23 points (15g, 8a) in 28 games with Timra.
So what makes Henrik so special? He is not big, but he has great moves and an
impressing scoring touch. His skating skills are above average and he’s good
Zetterberg was the best player in Sweden’s (vs Switzerland) opening game in
WJC. He showed some great puckhandling skills and scored a highlight goal on
his own. He got much ice-time, on the power-play as well as on the penalty
The report above was courtesy of Johan Nilsson, who runs his own Elitserien page located
at: http://www.eliteprospects.com/. I highly recommend
checking this site out, as it is one of the best sites on the net in regards to hard to find Swedish hockey info. Read more »