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Recent Ranger Picks Earn Mid-Season Accolades

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As the hockey season hits its midpoint, players at all levels get to showcase their abilities in various All-Star games and
international tournaments. But while the NHL has the International Showdown in Vancouver this weekend, and the Winter
Olympics in Nagano in February, junior hockey has the CHL All-Star games , and of course, the World Junior Championships,
which were just completed in Helsinki. The New York Rangers had eight players which were drafted in the past two years that
figured prominently in these events. A brief synopsis:

Cherneski, Henry named to WHL All-Star Team

Stefan Cherneski and Burke Henry, teammates on the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings, and Ranger draft
choices in 1997, have been named to the East team for the Western Hockey League All-Star Classic, which will be held in
Regina on January 21st.

Cherneski, a 6’1″ 195 lb. winger, and the Rangers first choice (19th overall) in the ’97 entry draft, leads the Wheat Kings in
goals, with 34 in just 41 games. He has been hot of late, after being cut from the Canadian national junior team in late
December. Henry, a 6’2″, 200 lb. defenseman, and the Rangers third choice (73rd overall), has blossomed this year, leading all
WHL rearguards in scoring with 56 points in 47 games.

Brown, Pepperall named to OHL All-Star Team

Jeff Brown and Colin Pepperall, Ranger draft choices in 1996, were named to the West team for the Ontario Hockey League Read more »

Buffalo Sabres Left Wing Prospects: Mid Season Report Card

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Today we look at Buffalo’s prospects at Left Wing.

Star rating read as follows:

5 stars = Superstar potential

4 stars = A First Rate NHL player. Above average player

3 stars = Good NHL future. An average NHL player.

2 stars = Good minor league player. A below average NHL player.

1 star = Career minor leaguer. Emergency NHL help.

Left Wings:

Daniel Bienvenue  6-0    196    20     South Carolina (ECHL)  1 stars

Acquried: 1995 5th Round pick, (Overall ??)

Stats Look: as of 1/12/98


Rochester (AHL) 9 0-0 0pts -5 15pim
South Carolina (ECHL) 21 3-3 6pts -4 2 pim

Daniel is a highly skilled player who simply needs to work hard and slowly
allow the Sabres organization to regain confidence in him. Since he was
demoted to the East Coast league, he has played ok but, but he hasn’t played
as well as he capable.

From my perspective, the best thing Daniel can do following this season is to
return to Buffalo, work with the training in the off season, and then work his
butt of in training camp next year. This would allow him to get back into the
minds of the Sabres brass. It would also represent a completely fresh start. Read more »

OHL All-Star Game

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North Bay Memorial Gardens will be jam packed the night of January 13th.
No, the lowly North Bay Centennials haven’t started scoring, but it is the
night of the OHL All-Star game. The game is just what North Bay needs to
get Cents fans back into the game. The rosters for the game:


Team East
(x-chosen by fans)

Goal: x-Bjuar Amidovski, Toronto; Brian Finley, Barrie.

Defence: Bryan Allen, Oshawa; Sean Blanchard, Ottawa;Nicky Boynton, Ottawa;
Brian Campbell, Ottawa; Peter Hogan, Oshawa; Martin Skoula, Barrie.

Forwards: Jeremy Adduono, Sudbury; x-Sean Avery, Owen Sound; x-Scott
Barney, Peterborough; x-Mark Bell, Ottawa; Matt Bradley, Kingston; x-Kevin
Colley, Oshawa; Mike Henrich, Barrie; x-Robert Mailloux, Kingston; x-Norm
Milley, Sudbury; Justin Papineau, Bellville; x-Daniel Tkaczuk, Barrie;
x-Joel Trottier, Belleville.

Team West

Goal: Robert Esche, Plymouth; x-Mike Gorman, Kitchener.

Defence: Jeff Brown, London; Chris Hajt, Guelph; Richard Jackman, Sault
Ste. Marie; Greg Labenski, North Bay; Mark Mcmahon, Kitchener; Marek
Posmyk, Sarnia.

Forwards: x-Pete Cava, Sault Ste. Marie; Matt Cooke, Windsor; x-Jay
Legault, London: x-David Legwand, Plymouth; x-Andrew Long, Guelph; Manny
Malhotra, Guelph; x-Colin Pepperall, Erie; x-Rodney Richard, North Bay;
x-Peter Sarno, Windsor; x-Jonathan Sim, Sarnia; Jason Ward, Windsor; Brian
Willsie, Guelph.

Read more »

Still Number One?

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Vincent Lecavalier, is he will he still be number one? After a dissapointing performance in this year’s World Junior Chamipionships, in which his team finished 8th, one has to ask, is he worthy of the number on spot in this June’s draft? The 6’4″, 180-pound centre who is said to have a great touch when around the net was expected to get the goal’s for Team Canada. But lack of offense was what Canada’s problem was. Other expected scorers didn’t step up and the lack of discipline was what led Team Canada to it’s demise. Lecavalier, who had 42 goals and 103 points in his rooke year last season, produced a few points but not enough. Then again, it is very unlikely for a 17-year-old to make an impact at this tourny.

After the poor performance Lecavalier still remails the top rated North American player for the NHL draft according to the mid season rankings from the Central Scouting Bureau (CSB). The Draft is said to have tremendous depth, espeically in centre with 12 centres expected to go in the first round. The CSB describes Lecavalier as “an intelligent player with great vision and a dangerous scoring touch,” it also says “he handles the pressure and media attention of stardom very well…possess all the qualities to be a franchise player”.
Read more »

Buffalo Sabres Right Wing Prospects: Mid Season Report Card

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Here are the Buffalo prospects at Right Wing.

Star rating read as follows:

5 stars = Superstar potential

4 stars = A First Rate NHL player. Above average player

3 stars = Good NHL future. An average NHL player.

2 stars = Good minor league player. A below average NHL player.

1 star = Career minor leaguer. Emergency NHL help.

Right Wings

:

Jeremy Addouno          5-11    182     18      Sudbury (OHL)  3 stars

Acquired: 1997 7th Round Draft pick, 184th overall.

Stats Look: as of 1/9/98

43 25 46 71 +20 28 – 2nd league

Jeremy was a late round pick last who just may be turning into a bit of a
surprise. Though I’m sure they felt they were drafting a player who in many
way, remind them of Donald Audette, I’m not quite sure if they expected him to
provide as much offense as he has. Though it is only junior hockey, Jeremy
is proving that he a solid offensive player.
Though he is a fantastic scorer in junior hockey, he hasn’t shown as much
ability as the number suggest. He is primarily a pass first, score second
player. He needs to try to score more often, because he will find out that
NHL defensemen are much tougher to pass on than junior defensemen.

Read more »

Oilers’ problem child Bonsignore traded

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After nearly four seasons of arguing, pleading and frustration, Oilers GM Glen Sather finally pulled the trigger on the highest draft pick, and biggest bust, in Edmonton history, Jason Bonsignore, trading him to Tampa Bay.

There’s no denying the fact that Bonsignore is one of the most talented young hockey players out there, when he wants to be, and if he ever gets his act together, the Oilers could be kicking themselves for not giving him one more year. The Blackhawks gave up on a young goalie some years ago because it seemed he had an attitude problem and couldn’t hack it in the big leagues, despite tremendous talent. That goalie went on to be last year’s winner of the Hart, Vezina and Pearson trophies and was an integral part of the Northeast Division champion Buffalo Sabres.

It’s tough seeing such potential go to waste. Bonsignore has been compared to Mario Lemieux when he’s playing with heart. As one scout put it, Jason has all the tools but no tool box. Another said he had the makings of a Cadillac but the heart of less pricey model. There are no glaring deficiencies in his play and his finesse game includes brilliant playmaking and vision, terrific hockey sense and boy, can he skate like the wind! He has also silenced criticism that he has no physical game, getting involved in traffic and in the corners and adding a gritty factor to his play while in Hamilton. The one thing, however, that has earned him the most criticism, a demotion to the IHL and, ultimately, his permanent removal from the Oilers’ future plans is his lack of heart and desire to succee Read more »

Buffalo Sabres Defensive Prospects: Mid Season Report Card

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Today I will cover all the Sabres Defensive prospects.

Star rating read as follows:

5 stars = Superstar potential.

4 stars = A First Rate NHL player. Above average player.

3 stars = Good NHL future. An average NHL player.

2 stars = Good minor league player. A below average NHL player.

1 star = Career minor leaguer. Emergency NHL help.

1/7/98

Defensemen:

Brian Campbell        5-11    186     18      Ottawa (OHL)  2 stars

Acquired: 1997 5th Round Pick, 156th overall.

Stats look: as of 1/3/98

39 gm 10 G 24 A 34 pts +21 15 pim

Brian was an unknown to me, before the 97′ draft. I’ve tried hard to uncover
as much information as I could about him (long with many of the other
relatively unknown prospects). This redheaded kid from Strathroy, Ontario has
progressed nicely throughout his career. He has been blessed by playing on a
very good team featuring several other highly touted defensive prospects,
including Sean Blanchard (last year’s OHL defensemen of the Year) and first
round pick, Nick Boynton. Brian benefited greatly from playing along side
these quality players, but it was an injury to Boynton which may have helped
him improve the most.

Read more »

Buffalo Sabres Goalie Prospects: Mid Season Report Card

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This report will eventually cover every single Sabres prospect. It will serve
as my mid season report card on every player with Buffalo system. I will also
include detailed reports on several of Buffalo younger player, those who are
with the Sabres but are still in the developmental stage of their careers.
Each report will give as detailed a description as possible of the player, his
style, strengths, and weakness, plus how Buffalo acquired him. I will grade
out each player and access their potential as a future NHL player. I will
also provide, as up to date as possible, the players current seasonal
statistics. Lastly, I will report on player in alphabetical order. This is
in no way a ranking order of the team prospects. I will do at a later date.

When I refer to each players NHL future, you will see “time will tell” quite
often. Please bare in mind, some players are still several years, at best,
away from playing in the league and it is impossible for me, or anyone else
for that matter, to accurately predict what will happen to that player.


Star rating read as follows:
5 stars = Superstar potential
4 stars = A First Rate NHL player. Above average player
3 stars = Good NHL future. An average NHL player.
2 stars = Good minor league player. A below average NHL player.
1 star = Career minor leaguer. Emergency NHL help.

Read more »

1997-98 Rookie Watch #5

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The 1997 First Round Picks

The 1997 NHL entry draft was supposed to be a gem draft. A draft filled with
franchise players, many of whom are supposed to be ready for the NHL right
away. Well, it has been a tough year for the 1997 first round picks.

1. Joe Thornton

Thornton was the prize of the draft. A no-brain first round pick. A guy
who had
everything. Great size. Good speed. Tough. Aggressive. Good offensive
skills
with a scoring touch. Everyone thought he was ready for the NHL and
considering
the lack of proven talent in the Bruins lineup he was certain to make the
team and
get lots of ice time.

What happened? Was it over confidence? Did Thornton expect everything to
come
as naturally in the NHL as it has the rest of his career? Who knows the exact
reason but he just hasn’t done it in the NHL so far. He has just 1 goal in 25
games and is struggling along on the 4th line. The thing I am confused about
is why the Bruins keep him around. He should have been sent to the Canadian
junior team to allow him to regain his confidence against the best young
players
in the world and then bring him back if he does well. It does Thornton no
good
sitting on the bench or playing on the 4th line. That is no way to treat your
future franchise player if you expect him to develop into a franchise player.

2. Patrick Marleau

Read more »

Steve Kelly

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When the Tampa Bay Lightning traded away defense head-case Roman Hamrlik they acquired center prospect Steve Kelly from the Edmonton Oilers.

Kelly has been up and down between the Oilers and the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL, not quite able to stick with the big club. He has all the tools to become a great third line center or perhaps second line winger. Perhaps with Brian Bradley’s career in jeopardy, Kelly may fit into the second line center roll eventually. What he lacks is confidence.

Steve Kelly’s game is speed. The 6’1″ 195-pound Vancouver native was touted as the fastest prospect available in the ’95 NHL Entry Draft held in Edmonton, fans booed with Oilers GM Glen Sather chose Kelly 6th overall, as they chanted “Doan Doan Doan” – obviously wishing Sather would have drafted Edmonton native Shane Doan who later went to the Winnipeg Jets. But the Oilers were high on Kelly and let him develop by playing another season starring for Prince Albert of the WHL. He was one of only two players that season to score 100 points while also racking up 200 PIM.

What Steve Kelly isn’t is a goal scorer. Barely a 30-goal man in his best season in the WHL, and netting only 9 goals in 48 games for the Bulldogs last season, it’s obvious that scoring goals isn’t in his resume. Kelly is a playmaker and a good one at that. He has a great work ethic and attitude, plays a gritty game and is not a defensive liability even at the ripe young age of 21.

Read more »