The Buffalo Sabres have recently made several moves involving their prospects.
First, Buffalo farm club Rochester re-assigned Mike Zanutto (C 6-0 190) and Daniel Bienvenue (LW 6-1 196) to South Carolina of the ECHL. This move was done so these two young players could see more game action. Also it is expected that Mark Dutiame (LW 6-1 180) will also be assigned to the ECHL, when and if he ever gets healthy. (It should be noted that Mark has played a grand total of only 20 games since he was drafted in the 2nd round of the 1995 draft)
Then Buffalo sent Jay McKee (D 6-3 200) and Erik Rasmussen (C 6-2 207) down to Rochester of the AHL. Both players were in Sabres coach Lindy Ruff’s doghouse and they had been spending more time in the press box than on the ice. The Rasmussen move is not unexpected as Buffalo management want him to see more quality ice time at the center position. The McKee move is very unexpected. McKee’s progress last year was one of the key reason Buffalo made no attempt to re-sign free agent Gary Galley. He has been very inconsistent all year and down right terrible lately. The move will hopefully restore his confindence longterm.
Rochester now is the home of three first round picks in Jay McKee (95′-a), Erik Rasmussen (96′) and Martin Biron (95′-b).
Buffalo recently sent Erik Rasmussen and Jay McKee down to Rochester to get
more playing time. Buffalo also allowed Rochester to re-assign Mike Zanutto
and Daniel Bienvenue to South Carolina of the ECHL for the same reason.
I had a chance to talk with the Sabres Direction of Player Developement and
the Head of the Scouting Department, Don Luce, he told me that as of now
Buffalo has no plans to recall anyone besides Rasmussen, McKee, Mike Hurlbut
(D) or Patrice Tardif (RW) (both a veterans) and maybe Scott Nichol. He felt none of
the other prospects were ready to contribute at the NHL. Luce also stated
that he was surprised by the overall positive play of Jean-Luc Grande-Pierre
and Denis Hamel. Both came into training camp with serious questions marks a
both need to pick up their skating. In each case their poor skating was
considered the key in holding back any NHL career. Grande-Pierre has improved
quite a bit, while Hamel is
improving much slower but he is using his other assets to catch the scouts
Luce also state that he was thrilled to hear how well Alexie Tezikov was
playing but he hadn’t had a chance to see an QMJHL games. He was planning and
making a round in mid January to look at the Russian and Francois Methot.
As of Mid-Decemember 1997, here is my current feeling as to the Sabres top
Rank Player Ht. Wt. Age location (league) +/- from Nov. Read more »
When you’re in New York, the pressure is always on. New York sports fans demand a winner, and they will usually accept nothing less. The New York Rangers
are no exception. Despite having some of the most loyal fans in the NHL, the Rangers also have some of the most scrutinizing fans, and they are not shy about
voicing their displeasure over the team’s performance. The fact that New York City is the media capital of North America doesn’t make it any easier. The pressure
to win places the general manager in a tough decision when it comes to developing talent. Can the team afford a few off-years in a row, but be able to develop
players through the minors and the draft? Or do they use those draft picks and prospects to get established players that allow them to compete for the Stanley Cup?
In the 1990′s Rangers’ GM Neil Smith has employed the latter strategy, and it has resulted in the Rangers’ first Stanley Cup in 54 years, in 1994. Sometimes the
strategy has worked, like when the Rangers traded Doug Weight and Tony Amonte for Esa Tikkanen, Stephane Matteau, and Brian Noonan, respectively. These
three players were integral parts of the Rangers ’94 championship teams. Other times the strategy has failed miserably, like when the Rangers traded young
defenseman Mattias Norstrom and a draft pick for Jari Kurri and Marty McSorley. Both players were ineffective in the playoffs, and were not on the team the
following season. Read more »
Looking at team Canada this year one thing comes to mind: inexperience. Of the 31 players invited to camp, which begins on December 12, only two of those are returning players. Jesse Wallin and Cory Sarich, both defensemen in the Western Hockey League are the two returnee’s that will help Team Canada go for their 6th stright gold this Christmas. Usually there are five or six returning players, which only two this poses a small problem for Head Coach Real Paiement. He is please with the talent invited to camp, and feels that there will be no problem.
Team Canada looks at the Ontario Hockey League for talent and players this year with 11 players from the OHL including Daniel Tkaczuk of the Barrie Colts, Sean Blanchard of the Ottawa 67′s and Scott Barney of the Peterborough Petes. Richard Jackman of the Soo Greyhounds was not invited to the camp in Kitchener due to a curfew violation. For goaltending Canada once again looks at the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, with it’s repuation for churning out great french-Canadian goalies. Most will be looking forward to seeing Vincent Lecavalier, the top ranked prospect, in action. On December 17, the roster will be trimmed down to 2 goalies, 7 defensemen, and 17 forwards and the team will head to Sweden for a six-day pre-competition camp.
Read more »
Throughout this season, we will be running a special series of articles taking a look at the world of scouting. It will focus primarily on the player evaluation/development side of scouting, particularly as it relates to draft-eligible prospects. We hope this will offer a bit of insight into an inexact science. Our first installment will cover some of the basics behind scouting and some of the issues that a scout must deal with.
The easiest place to start is from the beginning. The first thing a scout has to do is ask himself “What is my objective?” And when it comes to evaluating players for the NHL draft, the objective is pretty clear: try to project where the 17 and 18 year old prospects are going to be in say five years. Just which players from this years draft class will be the best in 2003. Easier said than done. At this point, scouting becomes a game of projection.
Very simply, how is a player going to perform if and when he gets to the next level? How much upside potential does he possess? How much will he improve? Will he be capable of making plays at the NHL level the way he does at the junior level? Scouting, at least as it pertains to the draft, has less to do with evaluating a players current performance as it does with projecting a players future performance.
Another aspect to consider is that success at one level certainly does not guarantee it at the next. A junior age player may be great in his own age group or in his own league, but one flaw in his game could prove fatal to his NHL chances.
Read more »
After a disappointing training camp, 20-year-old Craig Millar was sent back down to the AHL to work on his consistency and NHL game. But after the Oilers less than mediocre start, he was called back up for a six-game road trip, as management attempted to fire up the team by mixing up the roster. Smart move by ole Slats. The former Sabres draft pick has finally gotten his chance to shine after years of hard work and bumps in the road.
The Winnipeg, Manitoba native first caught the eyes of scouts as a 16-year-old playing in the WHL for the Swift Current Broncos. Millar was drafted 225th overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 1994, causing a future in the NHL to look doubtful. However, Millar was not discouraged and his strong character came into play as he became determined to go on to the next level. Craig put together an All-Star season in ‘95/96 when he was second in scoring for Swift Current at 72-31-46-77-151, remarkable considering that he’s a defenseman. He then moved one step closer to the big time when he was called up to Rochester of the AHL for the ‘96/97 season.
Read more »
Poise, if you look in the dictionary you’ll find a picture of the Barrie Colts captain, Daniel Tkaczuk. Poise is the word scouts use when describing the 18-year-old centre. His poise was one of the reasons that why Calgary choose him 6th overall in the NHL Entry Draft. He was also the first player choosen in the OHL draft three years ago ahead of players such as Joe Thornton, Boyd Devereaux, and Nick Boynton. At 6’0″ and 190lbs, he poses as a dangerous two-way threat who is as composed and confident off the ice as he is on. Tkaczuk has a great offensive ability with 45 goals and 93 points in 62 games last season.
“He has great leadership and character,” said on scout. Barrie coach, Bert Templeton feels that Tkaczuk is his best defensive forward and top penalty killer.
Along with the C, Tkaczuk also wears the number 10. In the his family June 10th is a lucky day. Andy Tkaczuk, his father immigrated to Canada from Poland on that date. In 1979, Tkacuk was born and in 1996 he was drafted. Calgary was looking for an offence. In Tkaczuk they found an outstanding character player who didn’t know the word quit. He was assertive and not afraid to speak his mind. when teammate Alexander Volchkov developed an attitude he publically voiced his opinions and criticisizms.
Read more »
Today the New York Islanders have decided to promote 4 of their biggest prospects, Jason Holland (d), Steve Webb (rw), Vladamir Orszagh (lw) , and Zdeno Chara (d). They will replace the injured Dennis Vaske, Ken Bellanger, Bryan Berard, and Rich Pilon. Holland and Webb were called up Friday for Saturday’s game against the Panthers. Holland played, Webb was a healthy scratch. After a strong game by Holland, the team demoted him and Webb back to Kentucky (AHL). They played for Kentucky against the Phantoms and then were recalled today along with raw rookies Zdeno Chara also from Kentucky and Vladamir Orszagh from Utah (IHL). Chara will become the leagues tallest player at 6’9″ with an appearance tonight.
Note: I want to open this report by correcting a mistake a made during my
Sabres prospect writeup. I confused two Sabres draft picks. I identified
Martin Menard using Marian Menhart bio line. As you can tell the two have
very similar names and if you look too quickly you can confuse the two, which
I did. Martin is actually 5-8 165lb LW, not a 6-3 220lb D as I identified.
Marian Menhart (Prince Albert) was never offered a contract but he was at
the Sabres training camp as a special invite.
I appoligize for the confusion. The mistake was completely unacceptable.
As of Mid-November 1997, here is my current feeling as to the Sabres top
Note: I still am not ranking the Sabres European based players as I do not
have enough specific information about them. I will wait until after the
World Junior Championships to rank them.
Rank Player size age team (league) Oct. rank
1. Cory Sarich 6-3 182 19 Saskatoon (WHL) 1
2. Maxim Afinogenov 5-11 176 18 Moscow Dynamo (Russia) 2
3. Alexei Tezikov 6-1 198 19 Moncton (QMJHL) 4
4. Martin Biron 6-1 160 20 Rochester (AHL) 6
5. Vaclav Varada 6-0 200 21 Rochester (AHL) 7
6. Darren Van Oene 6-3 207 19 Brandon (WHL) 3
7. J-L. Grand-Pierre 6-3 207 20 Rochester (AHL) 9 Read more »
After a strong showing in last night’s 1-0 loss to the Florida Panthers, the New York Islanders have decided to return Jason Holland and teammate Steve Webb to Kentucky (AHL). The team’s next game is a road game against the Philadelphia Phantoms.
Holland looked like a seasoned veteran on the ice. He took numerous shots. He even had a semi breakaway in which he almost became the hero of the game. Unfortunately for Holland, Florida’s game winner bounce off Holland and was redirected to the stick of Ray Whitney who scored the sole goal of the game.
Holland has been rumored in many trades. Most fans agree that he is one of the logical candidates to be traded as he has a load of talent. Since the team has such an over abundance of young defensemen, somebody will be departing soon bring in offense. J.P. Dumont is also still popping up in trade rumors around the league. Another scenario which would bring Holland back to Long Island is the trading of Dennis Vaske, the most likely defenseman on the roster to be traded. Vaske has also been plenty of rumors. One thing for sure, Holland will be back in the NHL this season.