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Drafting the Perfect World…

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A clean slate. That is what the Avalanche will be looking for come this summer. Following a disappointment in the playoffs, the Lanche are faced with an interesting summer and new year. From a new arena to a new owner, this upcoming season will be one full of changes as the Lanche try to right what they feel to be a few “wrongs” in their system.

Let me first get a few things out before we even look at what the Lanche will go after this year in the draft, trades and free agency. Lacroix must stay, he’s made solid deals and wants to win. Kamensky, Lefebvre, Gusarov and their high salaries are all gone…unless they sign for less money. Fleury might not re-sign. He has less than a month till free agency and big money. Lacroix will be working overtime to get his lone big name FA signed. He does have a few plusses in his corner…Sakic and a team called the Avalanche. If or if not Fleury re-signs, Lemiuex, Donovan, and Sakic will be shopped around the league. Yes Sakic. Joe is in his last year of his contract and he has two things going for him…a cheap contract and star status, which means most teams will bite. Come next off season we could see Roy gone too as the expansion draft approaches and the Avalanche will be forced to decide on Roy or Denis. They can stop this by getting Atlanta to take Billington in the expansion draft hence preventing the Lanche from losing another goalie next year. My guess is the name Billington will be called on draft day. Now that the ground work is laid out, lets take a look at what the Lanche need and want.
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Atlanta Draft Preview: Rome Was Not Built in a Day

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No this old adage was not referring to Rome Georgia, but the expansion team Atlanta Thrashers could benefit from this saying and hopefully some luck. The Thrashers would like to be able to draft a future star player and maybe have something to build their marketing around in the media Mecca of the south. This could be a possibility as this years draft assuredly contains 4 or 5 players of great potential.

The Thrashers draft 2nd and with this pick in any draft you are reactionary to the what the team picking first does. Atlanta’s GM Don Waddell seems to be very interested in Sweden’s 6’1″ Left Wing Daniel Sedin. When asked if he thought the Sedin twins would not do as well if they were split apart, Waddell answered that they should both be stars on their own and keeping them together may not be realistic. Waddell also stated that his scouting staff have seen the Sedin twins about 20 times. Pavel Brendl would also be of interest to Atlanta but the feeling seems to be that Tampa will use the first selection to draft him. When asked about Patrick Stefan, Waddell without hesitation expressed doubt about Stefan’s long term health due to multiple concussions. “The team that drafts Stefan must be satisfied through medical tests that Stefan is able to continue to play in the NHL at a high level”.
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Pre-Draft Update

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As predicted, the Islanders house cleaning has already begun with the departure of team captain Trevor Linden to the Canadiens for the 10th overall pick. Linden didn’t produce on Long Island and this move frees up space down the middle. With two top ten picks for the second time in three years the Isles are expected to take a couple of forwards to bolster their goal scoring. At the 5 spot they are likely to pick one of two centerman, Jamie Lundmark or Kris Beech. It is reported that Milbury favors Beech’s size, speed, and two way game despite Lundmarks greater upside. At the 10th position the Isles will most likely selesct one of two wingers, Jani Rita or Taylor Pyatt. Pyatt is a huge left winger, however unlike Rupp he can actually score and is perhaps the fastest player in the draft. He won the CHL All-Stars lap skating competition with a faster time than Rico fata did last year. Jani Rita is also a likely possibilty if he is available at the 10th pick. He is a big fast right winger who plays a power game, however some question his scoring ability.

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Jeff Heerema Profile

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The Hurricanes’ top prospect this season goes by the name of Jeff Heerema. Heerema is a right winger who plays for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario League. Heerema was drafted by the Hurricanes 11th overall in the 1998 NHL entry draft. He’s an outstanding skater who has a great shot an ability to put the puck in the net. His only real problem is strength, although that will come in time. The thing that the Hurricans like most about him is that he’s committed. He’ll pay the price to put the puck in the net. “He’s a guy who could develop into the best pure goal-scorer in our system,” said assistant GM Jason Karmanos. But Heerema is still a couple of seasons away from making a splash in Carolina, but the Hurricanes think he can become a big contributor when he arrives.

Vitaly Vishnevsky Profile

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The Ducks may not have a high quantity of prospects but they certainly have the quality in Vitali Vishnevsky. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman is very mobile for a big man. Vishnevsky who was picked by the Ducks fifth overall in the 1998 entry draft, has been called “a loose cannon” by some scouts, playing with the likes of Darius Kasparaitis, though he isn’t as physically imposing as Kasparaitis. Even though he’s not that big his still tough and can move the puck well. He has also been compared to New Jersey’s Scott Stevens, but with better skating. He impressed many of the scouts with his play in the 1999 World Junior Championship, being named the best defenseman. If the Ducks can sign him they would like to see him in camp next year.

Novoseltsev signs 11th hour deal with the Panthers

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It came down to the wire, but the Florida Panthers were able to keep a second Russian Rocket in the fold. However, the Panthers also decided not to sign 3 of their 1997 draftees.

Ivan Novoseltsev, labelled by some as the second coming of Pavel Bure, signed a lucrative $2.3 million contract over 3 years, with many goal scoring bonuses and major awards bonuses. Novoseltsev originally asked for the 1997 rookie-cap of $925,000 while the Panthers claimed a 4th round pick didn’t deserve that much.

Although drafted in the 4th round, Ivan’s post-draft development was stunning, as he broke out to score 54 goals in 63 games this season for the Sarnia Sting, a new team record. (Coincidentally, the team is owned by Panthers winger Dino Ciccarelli). He also chipped in with 10 game winning goals and was 2nd overall in goal scoring in the OHL.

As good as Novoseltsev is, don’t expect him in a Panthers uniform next season unless he blows everybody away at training camp. With a plethora of scoring wingers (Parrish, Kvasha, Bure, Dvorak, Whitney), and the fact Novoseltsev has a lot of defensive zone coverage to learn, he will likely christen the expansion Louisville Panthers and lead their new affiliate to success.

“He has a chance to play right away, but to be fair, it’s going to be tough for him because of competition with a number of young players on the team,” stated General Manager Bryan Murray, “unless he really has a great camp, we do want to be careful (with his development.)”
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Downey Worth His Weight in (Black and) Gold

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Born: August 27, 1974
Hometown: Shelburne, Ontario
Position: Right Wing
Number: 44
Height: 6’0
Weight: 210 lbs

If you could quantify a hockey player’s competetive drive in penalty minutes alone, the Providence Bruins’ Aaron Downey would be the American Hockey League’s undisputed leader. Downey, a prospect in the Boston Organization, came to Providence 2 years ago on a try-out agreement after spending 1995-97 in the East Coast Hockey League. In just 2 seasons with Providence, Downey has become something of a legend and is easily one of the most popular players on the Baby Bruins despite his modest point production. Why is this, you say? Well, a quick look at Aaron Downey in action will provide you with an answer quickly enough, as he throws his body around the ice at the opposition with reckless abandon and is able to ignite teammates and fans alike with his chippy, inspired play. Simply put, don’t ever use the words “quit” and “Aaron Downey” in the same sentence, lest you might find yourself on the ice dazed and confused, wondering what zip code you happen to be in.
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Montreal Canadiens News and Notes

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Ronald Corey, the Canadiens’ president since 1982, announced that he would be stepping down from his current post, effective July 31st. Corey sited his family and his health as the two main reasons for tabling his resignation. He has been struggling with bouts of asthma, at times waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air. Doctors believe job stress to be the likely reason for his health problems.

Corey also mentioned his frustration with the economic challenges now faced by Canadian and small market clubs in today’s NHL. As well as the Habs $9 million municipal-tax burden being paid on the Molson Center. A tax bill larger than the NHL’s 21 U.S-based teams combined.

Molson plans to hire an executive-recruitment firm to help find Corey’s replacement. The brewery will also look at the feasibility of splitting up Corey’s former responsibilities into two jobs. Hiring one person to be president of the hockey club and another to run the Molson Center.

Serge Savard has been mentioned as the early favourite to replace Corey as president of the hockey club. Other candidates rumoured include; Bob Gainey, Glen Sather, Pierre Lacroix and Ken Dryden.

Rejean Houle was visibly surprised by the news. When asked about his job security following Corey’s announcement, Houle simply said that he had a mandate to complete and will continue his job of trying to build a competitive team for the upcoming season.

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Kings Organizational Roster

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=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-==-=-=-=
LOS ANGELES KINGS ORGANIZATIONAL ROSTER

Owners: Philip F. Anschutz and Edward P. Roski Jr.
Governor: Bob Sanderman
President/Alternate Governor: Tim Leiweke
General Manager: Dave Taylor
Assistant General Manager: Kevin Gilmore
Director of Player Personnel: Bill O’Flaherty
Director of Professional Scouting: Ace Bailey
Director of Amateur Scouting: Al Murray
Professional Scout: Rob Laird
Amateur Scouts: Serge Aubry, Greg Dreschel and John Stanton
European Scouts: Vaclav Nedomansky and Ari Vuori
Trainer: Peter Demers
Equipment Manager: Peter Millar
Assistant Equipment Manager: Rick Garcia
TV Commentators: Bob Miller and Jim Fox
Radio Commentators: Nick Nickson and Cammi Granato
Affiliates: Lowell [AHL] Long Beach [IHL] Mississippi [ECHL]
Head Coach:
Assistant Coaches:
Captain: Rob Blake
Alternates: Doug Bodger Garry Galley and Luc Robitaille
Training Camp Opens: Sept 4, 1999
Arena: Staples Center
Capacity: 18,500
Flagship Station: KRLA-AM 1110
Radio Network: KBET-AM 1220 [Santa Clarita], KGEO-AM 1230 [Bakersfield],
KHJJ-AM
1380 [Palmdale/Lancaster], KSHP-AM 1400 [Las Vegas], KAMP-AM 1430 [El
Centro],
KMET-AM 1490 [Banning], KMSL-AM 1510 [Ontario] and KTRO-AM 1520 [Ventura].
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PLAYER |HT |WT |P|S|DOB |ACQUIRED |LAST KNOWN LOCATION | Read more »

Sabres: Late-Bloomer Sylvester in the NHL Playoffs

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Some Sabres fans have been scratching their heads lately wondering who this #46 is on the right wing. When he made his NHL debut in a home game against the New Jersey Devils, it was for the most part unexpected. Most fans are somewhat familiar with young stud prospects Erik Rasmussen and Dominic Pittis, but have no idea who this 26 year-old Dean Sylvester is.

With Miroslav Satan sidelined and Coach Ruff sending inconsistent winger Michal Grosek a message by benching him, Sylvester found himself in the lineup for the last few games of the ’98-’99 season, and has seen considerable playing time in the 1999 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Dean Sylvester, at 6’2″ and 205 lbs, has the size to be a NHL forward. He was born in Hanson, Massachusetts and attended college at Kent State. After Kent State did away with their hockey program, Dean transferred to Michigan State for his senior year. As a senior, he was named to the Academic All-Big Ten Conference At-Large Team. After a strong senior year, he graduated at age 23 and was drafted 2ndoverall in the 1993 Supplemental Draft by the San Jose Sharks.

Sylvester is somewhat of a late bloomer, having just broken into the NHL at the age of 26. He was signed to a free agent contract by Rochester in July of ’98 after spending time in the San Jose minor league program with Mobile (ECHL) and Kansas City (IHL). He led Kansas City with 33 goals in the 1997-98 season and also scored 5 playoff goals in 11 games.
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