It’s been about 2 weeks since the Avalanche lost to the Stars in a dramatic 7 game series. But altogether, this season has been anything but a disappointment. It’s been somewhat of a surprise, to say the least. In fact, the biggest surprise comes from rookie scoring leader, Milan Hejduk. Before the season began, this kid was an unknown. I recall looking at the Avalanche Top 20 prospect lists here at Hockey’s Future, and at other websites, and nowhere was Milan Hejduk to be seen. I remember watching training camp in Colorado Springs, and asking myself, “Who is that guy?” Hejduk is an emigma no longer. In fact, he was a key playoff component on Colorado’s first line with Fleury and Sakic. As soon as he was injured, the production of that line flopped. We can always play the ‘What If’ game, but we can all bet that the Avs chances of winning the Cup would have been significantly greater had Hejduk not been injured. We all knew what to expect from Chris Drury, and he broke those expectation too. He deserves the Calder. One of the unsung heroes of the season is Dan Smith, who was called up early in the season to fill in for Colorado’s shambled and injury plagued defense. He did a better job than a call-up should have to do, and that will earn him some good points in training camp next season.
Read more »
The Islanders fire sale has continued with the departure of their best player, Ziggy Palffy out west to the Kings. As upsetting as this move is the Isles did manage to land some quality young players, as well as a third top 10 pick in the upcoming draft. Olli Jokinen is one of the premier young talents in the league. He was eased into the Kings line up this season and was impressive despite his decieving stats. He was a superstar in the Finnish men’s league for two years as a 17 and 18 year old posting better than a point a game, and has also shined in international competition. His acquisition gives the Isles the 3rd (Jokinen), 4th (Luongo), and 5th (Brewer) overall picks from the talented 1997 draft.
Josh Green is a huge winger and was a dominant scorer at the junior level. He has put up solid numbers in the AHL and played 27 games with the Kings last season put only saw limited ice time. He has great size and potential and should be able to find his scoring touch in the NHL with some quality ice time. The Isles also acquired towering defenseman Matthieu Biron, the KIngs first round pick last year. Biron gets better every year and has shown signs of becoming an offensive presence to go along with his sound positional play and toughness. It would not be difficult to project a huge blueline for the Isladers with Kenny Jonsson (6-3 197), Eric Brewer, (6-4 201), Zdeno Chara (6-9 255), Biron (6-6 215), and Vladimir Chebaturkin (6-2 213).
Read more »
Well, the emptiness that accompanied the abrupt end to a dream season for the Leafs is finally fading and it is just under 3 months from training camp. Hopefully, the Leafs will have had some time to heal, to work on their conditioning and their skills headed into the 99-00 season. Expectations will be much higher for this final four team coming into next season, so they had better be ready. The Leafs will not “sneak up” on anyone in 99-00 as they attempt to take the next step.
The playoff experience had to be invaluable for the young Leafs. Mats Sundin himself said that he learned more about hockey in the 17 playoff games than he did in his previous 8 years in the league.
The expansion draft comes up next Friday and the NHL entry draft is on Saturday. Pat Quinn has stated that the Leafs need to add some physical play to the forward positions without sacrificing skill. Mike Smith, who is still in limbo as to his status, stated that the Leafs probably wouldn’t be too active in the free agent sweepstakes this off-season (which begins July 1st) because the Leafs do not want to take away too much icetime from young, promising players such as Adam Mair and Tomas Kaberle. I don’t believe that they have come this far to part with much, if any, of the young core of the Leafs’ players. Young players who should continue to get better as the next few seasons wear on. President and current Leafs’ GM, Ken Dryden has stated the goal for the Toronto team is to consistently be among the top 5 teams in the NHL.
The main needs: Read more »
The New Jersey Devils have had a great draft history over the past few years, putting the most players in the National Hockey League of any organization in the league. Almost 40 in the last 4 seasons. This kind of success must continue in order for the Devils to be competitive. Although the Devils first round pick is not until the 27th overall. The Devils have even with late picks, had tremendous success. I am sure that GM Lou Lamoriello will make this one no exception.
Read more »
Brendl, Stefan, and Sedin’s Oh My!!!!!!!
The Lightning are in their regular position of selecting number one overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. However this year the Bolts seem to have more options than usual. Because of the lack of a true can’t miss pick like Joe Thornton and Vinny Lecavalier, the Lightning have several different directions they can go.
Option 1: Patrik Stefan C Long Beach IHL (6’3” 205lbs) – maybe the best player in the draft after tearing up the IHL as a 17 year old. However, because of concussion and knee injuries and his below average skating ability, the Lightning are turned off to him. Not helping matters is that Stefan’s agent won’t allow his client to take a physical for the club. Without a passing physical the Lightning will likely pass on the talented forward.
Option 2: Daniel Sedin LW MoDo Sweden (6’1” 180lbs) – don’t look for the Lightning to take Daniel without working out a deal to select his equally talented twin brother, Henrik C Modo Sweden (6’3” 196lbs), around the fourth or fifth selection.
Option 3: Pavel Brendl RW Calgary Hitmen WHL (6’1” 195lbs) – Brendle would install some much needed goal scoring life into a team that is on a offensive respirator. The only drawbacks seem to be some minor injuries and his adequate but not blazing speed. But it is amazing how 73 goals in 68 games can overshadow those concerns.
Read more »
Luck be a lady, a tune that head scout Barry Fraser and General Manager Glen Sather will most likely be singing in the 1999 entry draft. The Oilers organization as a whole seems to treat the draft as a crapshoot, they try to hit the homerun with their picks. A few gems have eeked their way through in the 90′s (Ryan Smyth, Jason Arnott, Martin Rucinsky), but the number of gems pales to the number of players who ‘did not work out’. There’s first round embarrassments such as Tyler Wright, Scott Allison, Joe Hulbig, Nick Stadjuhar, Jason Bonsignore, and Steve Kelly. The recent picks of the Oilers (excluding Boyd Devereaux) were all attempts to hit homeruns (Bonsignore, Riesen and Henrich in particular), statistically Riesen and Henrich look like duds, but they are still young and both possess a great deal of talent. The crap shoot they call the NHL entry draft has not been kind to the Oilers in quite some time, however that trend may be changing. The Oilers have had two strong entry drafts in a row, in 1997 the Oilers chose 7 players who may play in the NHL (Riesen, Yerkovich, Eloffson, Chimera, Sarno, Hinz, and Fomitchev), the 1998 draft looks just as promising with Henrich, Henry, Horcoff, and Spiridonov. So, we move onto the 1999 draft, the Oilers pick 13th overall in the 1st round, 41st overall in the second round (pending compensatory picks) and will receive a mid to late second round pick due to the singing of Curtis Joseph. What will they do with these picks?
Immediate Needs Read more »
If there is one team in the NHL that is a testament to good drafting and player development, that team is the Buffalo Sabres. In addition to the Sabres’ appearance in this year’s Stanley Cup finals, their farm club the Rochester Americans made the 1999 Calder Cup finals in the AHL. The roster of both of these teams is dotted with Sabre draft picks, as well as young players acquired from other organizations.
The foundation for the current organizational success was built during the John Muckler era. Prior to Muckler’s stint as GM, the Sabres lacked a cohesive drafting philosophy, instead jumping from one drafting trend to another. The result of this haphazard approach to the draft was several lean years for the Sabre organization.
Once John Muckler assumed the GMs duties, however, the Sabre organization moved from chaos to cohesion, at least with respect to their drafting philosophy. The emphasis moved from the grab-bag approach of years past, to one that emphasized the drafting of bigger and feistier players (mostly Canadian) that possessed good skating ability. This approach landed current Sabres Curtis Brown, Wayne Primeau, Erik Rasmussen and Jay McKee. Darcy Regier has since taken over the duties as Sabres’ GM, and he appears to have taken the “If-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” approach. Regier has taken only a slightly different tack in that the Sabres are drafting more Europeans than they had previously, but the emphasis on size, speed and character still remains.
Read more »
The 2nd year of transition has come and passed in Florida with success. After going for quick success, the Panthers started the rebuilding process in 1997 and 1998-99 looks like a success. After years of bust draft picks, traded away prospects, and terrible rookies (Washburn, for example), the Class of 1999 offers hope for the Panthers for many years to come.
The graduate class of 1999 includes the goal-scoring Mark Parrish, BIG Peter Worrell, the flashy Oleg Kvasha, and the most anonymous Czech Olympian: Jaroslav Spacek.
Here is a review of the 1999 graduates. They all performed well in certain areas, but also need a lot of work in other areas. 3 of the 4 had short AHL stints as their apprenticeship came to a completion. This is Part 1 of a 3-Part Panthers Prospects Review Series, the other 2 will come out early next month.
Mark Parrish – LW (73 games, 24g-13a-37pts 25pim).
A gifted natural goal-scorer, Mark Parrish wowed the Panthers brass with a scorching pre-season, and continued his hot streak into the regular season with a 2-goal effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning. His early season exploits also included a 4-goal game against the Blackhawks, and another 2-goal effort (Both goals in a 2-1 win) in Philadelphia.
Read more »
Calgary starts the third season in its official re-building with the 1999 Entry Draft. For a franchise suffering with a low-budget and with many long term needs to fill, drafting good players becomes a key to long term competitiveness. The Flames already have a very solid core of good young prospects, with Hockeysfuture giving the nod to the Flames as the orginization with the best group of young prospects in the NHL. Now is the time where Calgary will need a solid draft again in order to solidify its position and its talent going into the next millenium.
Best Player vs Needs
Without a doubt Calgary will draft the best player available for the early rounds of this draft. The team identified several needs in last years draft, but always selected the best player available regardless of need. The needs list from last years draft will apply once again this year.
The Flames would like to draft skill, size and character with this draft, although they have shown in recent times that size will take a back seat to skill and character. In last years draft, the Flames went with talented players that demonstrated the attitudes and leadership that they think a player requires in order to succeed at the NHL level, especially during the early rounds of the draft. Skating ability remains important to the Flames when drafting. The Flames have made mistakes in the past by drafting players whose skating was suspect and will not make that mistake again.
…and those needs are… Read more »
With the Penguins out of the playoffs and straight into bankruptcy court, Pittsburgh fans are left wondering if there will be another season of NHL hockey in Pittsburgh. Will they be moved to another city, disbanded by the league, or will they come through this for the second time in team history. With a court date not scheduled until June 24th, the Penguins future may not be known until the draft is right upon us. But, if they do survive to play another season, look for some salary cutting to occur.
The draft will be the first offseason test for the Penguins, as they will not be doing much in the way of trades and signing until the bankruptcy situation is settled. As with any team, the Penguins will probably pick the best player available with their first few picks. The speculation always seems to be that they will go to Europe, most likely the Czech Republic, with their first pick. But, I wouldn’t count on that happening. At the 18th spot, there will likely be better talent than another Czech player. Three players who should be given a serious look by the Penguins are Barrett Heisten, Jeff Jillson, and Alexander Buturlin, all three should be available at the 18th pick and are solid picks. Jillson and Heisten are both aggressive and could privide some much needed toughness, Buturlin is creative and highly skilled. The Penguins could definitely use some depth atleft wing as well as some size on the blueline.
Read more »