| | When the 1997-98 Montreal Canadiens training camp opened in September, there was a debate to see which young defense prospect would make the jump from the American League’s Fredericton Canadiens to the big club in Montreal. Brad Brown was the early favourite, mainly due to his toughness, Miroslav Guren and Francois Groleau were also high on the list. Stage right: Enter Brett Clark, who played in the NCAA for the Maine Blackbears and Canada’s National Team. Clark was drafted by the Habs in the 1996 entry draft 154th overall (Only Andreas Dackell and Dainius Zubrus played in the NHL last season from the 1996 draft). Throughout camp Clark continued to impress the Canadiens new coaching tandem of Alain Vigneault and Dave King, and eventully earned himself a spot in an NHL preseason game. Not too bad for a guy who was just there to fill a practise jersey and considering it took Pierre Mondou the Canadiens chief scout, to beg management to sign Clark just three days before training camp opened. After his first exhibition game, he earned the right to play in another and then another and then..well you get the story. By this time Brad Brown and company had already been dispatched to Fredericton. Yes, Brett Clark had walked into Montreal and literally stole a full time position on the Canadiens blueline. Now tweleve games into the season Clark, has been one of the Canadiens most consistent defensemen. At 6’1 200lbs Clark had decent size, a great hockey sense and creates physical contact. His passes are always tape to tape, and a shot which is deadly accurate. As a rookie what is Read more » (Written by Donna Sarasin and David Ward)The Kings have had plenty of time to ponder their strategy for the new season. Realizing at the end of the prior season, after missing the Stanley Cup playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, changes needed to be made to turn the tide. No time was wasted as within two weeks after the regular season ended, Kings General Manager Sam McMaster, was fired and replaced by Assistant General Manager Dave Taylor on 22 April 1997. Taylor promised Kings fans that he would be the one to bring success to the Kings franchise by developing prospects, pursuing quality free agents plus utilizing the entry draft picks to create a franchise of the future.
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Previous to this season, Mathieu was not thought of as a big scorer by many, but he is
out to prove those people wrong. With the injury of Alex Tanguay, Mathieu has stepped
up to pick up the scoring void left by him. Mathieu is in the middle of a nine game
scoring streak and doesn’t appear to be slowing down. He now shares the team scoring lead
with Tanguay at 19 points. Mathieu is more of a finesse-style player, quick and agile. He
has good breakaway speed and though he is a natural center can play both wings as well. If
he had not had a drop off in scoring after mid-season (he scored 28 of his 34 points last year
in the first half), he might have gone higher in the draft. But at 97th, the Penguins took what
could turn out to be a steal. At his current scoring pace he will surpass last years point total
in another 12 games. I’d look for Mathieu next year at the Penguins training camp as he could
develop into the scoring center the Penguins will need when Ron Francis leaves.
Alexandre Mathieu, Halifax Mooseheads
C, 6'2", 180 lbs.
4th round, 97th overall, 1997 Entry Draft.
97-98 Stats: 14 Games, 8 Goals, 11 Assists, 19 Points, 6 PIM, -1.
96-97 Stats: 70 Games, 12 Goals, 22 Assists, 34 Points, 16 PIM.
It’s several weeks into the regular season, and last year’s worst team
has been a pleasant surprise. Yep, with their 12 new faces/rookies, they’re
among the best teams in the NHL, record-wise! With their current 8 game
road trip, they are now 5-2 after winning 4 straight. Not to mention, they
already have 3 shutouts — 2 by last season’s sieve Jim Carey, and 1 by
Lord Byron Dafoe. Let’s give a round of applause to coach Pat Burns,
Now, how about those rookies… Per-Johan Axelsson. That’s all I have to
say. Forget Samsonov, Thornton, Mann, and all those other over-hyped Calder
candidates. It’s the PJ Axelsson show! He’s got excellent speed, agility,
moves, plays with intensity, and is good defensively. Who is PJ Axelsson,
you ask? Well, he’s not that much of a surprise, but he just didn’t receive
all that hype I mentioned. Truth is, he had a great season with his Swedish
Elite team, Frolunda, where he scored 19G, 15A, 34P, 34PIM in 50 games. As
is usually the case with Swedish players, their numbers often don’t look as
good as they should because of the Florida Panthers/NJ Devils like trap
system that’s so popular in the Elitserien.
Currently, Axelsson is playing LW on Boston’s “top” line (as if you can
really call a line with C Tim Taylor and RW Rob Dimaio a top line). At
least Pat Burns calls Tim Taylor his top center — he still can’t believe Read more »
One of the best teams in the pre-season had its share of troubles the
past few games against Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington to name a
few. Only Buffalo and Dominik Hasek proved to be an unworthy foe. That’s
when Captain Vinny Damphousse broke out of his usual early season drought.
The two goalies, Moog and Thibault, have both played well, but it seems
Moog has so far been the starter while Thibault is the backup. It seems
coaches Vigneault and King have really done wonders with Montreal’s
defensive system, which had been complete chaos under Mario Tremblay. Moog
has also been a calming influence on the blueliners, shouting instructions
to them during the game.
The Canadiens are not like the Bruins, Capitals, or Flames, who all have
a significant number of rookies or young’uns in the lineup — only C
Sebastien Bordeleau and D Brett Clark are with the team. Fortunately,
though, these are two good rookies — especially my boy Bordeleau!
Bordeleau can do it all. He’s got the offensive skills to dazzle the odd
time, and he’s good defensively for a rookie, too. He’s also good on
faceoffs, and can take important draws in his own zone. Again, he played
too many games last year to be considered a rookie and a Calder candidate.
Unfortunately, he’s playing on the fourth line right now with Thornton and
Bureau. Occasionally, he steps up to the third line to play with Brunet and
Stevenson or Richer.
Read more »
Former Toronto Mapeleaf prospect, Sean Haggerty, is this season’s Islander Sleeper Prospect. He had a tremendous training camp. He has played very impressively already for Kentucky (AHL). Haggerty’s game is centered around playing right around the goalie. Haggerty, is considered to be a pure goal scorer with the grit and determination to make it big in the NHL, with the New York Islanders. He was acquired in the infamous deal that sent Matthew Schneider, Wendell Clark, and D.J. Smith to Toronto for Kenny Jonsson, Darby Hendrickson, Sean Haggerty, and a first round pick in 1997 (Roberto Luongo). Last season, in Kentucky, Haggerty was a victim of a poor affiliation plan with the SJ Sharks. He saw mostly third line checking line duty, a role he was unfamiliar with. However, this allowed Haggerty to learn the defensive aspects of the game. Due to a couple of departures from last season’s roster, Sean Haggerty has been spending his time early on playing on the top lines of his Kentucky club. He has scored two goals and three assists in his first two games of the season, that is nice for a guy who scored around fifteen goals last season. Sean Haggerty has a very good chance to see NHL ice a little later this season as it becomes apparent that Warren Luhning is incapable of providing the Islanders with what they need. Haggerty already has played one game with Toronto, but none with the New York Islanders. Warren Luhning, the sole rookie on this seasons’s Islander roster, is in jeopardy of being sent down to the minor leagues, probably Kentucky (AHL). His play has shown that he is either not ready to play this season at the NHL level, or he simply does not possess the talent many thought he did. It could simply be a case of the jitters. Who knows? One thing for sure, he is not doing himself a favor with his poor play. Luhning, who played for Michigan University, last year appears to be shell shocked by the level of play in the NHL. Luhning is not a flashy player, but he has the ability to score twenty goals a season and throw his body around. He has played two of three games and has registered no points on three shots and no penalty minutes while playing mostly on the third line with Sergei Nemichinov and Mike Hough, two veterans with scoring and checking ability, a similar makeup to that of Warren Luhning. In Pittsburgh, the two top prospects in the organization have made their
NHL debuts. Morozov scored a goal in the season opener and Dome has yet
to score. But the situation is this, neither will play entire games for
some time. The Penguins took great pains in signing the Russian winger Morozov, and
now it seems as if he may not be ready quite yet. Morozov speaks very
little English and has only Darius Kasparaitis to translate for him.
Because of that he has not been getting playing time late in games. He
has been playing on a line with two of the best players in the NHL, Jagr
and Francis, in hopes that their experience will help him to develop. He
is full of talent, but with the lack of playing time, can he be a
frontrunner in the Calder race? Hopefully Morozov will get a tutor to
teach him English, as he probably should have done much earlier. Dome is an entirely different problem, he isn’t getting any playing time.
He was a healthy scratch in the last two games, since the acquisition of
Chris and Peter Ferraro. But what good is it doing Dome to sit out, it
should be obvious to the Penguins that it surely didn’t help him in the
IHL. He went from being a top 5 player when he was 16 to being ranked
27th by the Central Scouting Bureau previous to the June 21st draft. In
my opinion, the Penguins need to either play him or send him to Syracuse.
Alexei Morozov, RW, 6'1", 174 lbs. Read more »
Born: April 21, 1980
Weight: 177 lbs.
Team: Rimouski Oceanic
Notes: The #1 pick in the NHL Draft by Tampa Bay
Hockey 2000 has decided to keep a track on the current #1 prospect of the 1998 entry draft,
Vincent Lecavalier. He is still young, but looks to be a dominant force in the future.
This section will be continously updated by senior writer Nicole Weiss, and will keep you up to
date on all of Lecavaliers doings.
Added update: July 16
Well, no big surprise that Lecavalier went first overall to the Tampa
Bay Lightning and already he’s being saddled with tremendous
expectations. Here’s what Lightning officials in the know had to say
about the French phenom that now carries the hopes of hockey in Tampa
“We expect him to lead us to a Stanley Cup championship… He’s been
described to us as the Michael Jordan of the NHL… There’s no Read more »
Marc Savard 19 years old, 5’10 177lbs, Rangers 3rd pick 91st overall 1995. When Marc Savard was drafted by the Oshawa Generals in 1993, the scouts said
“he’s too small”. That was a line, like many other hockey players who are
5’10 180lbs are told. Savard had a successful first OHL season compiling 64
points. But still Savard didn’t get much recognition. In his second OHL
season Marc Savard led the OHL in scoring with 139 points. Not bad eh? But
remember he is still 5’10 180lbs..too small. Despite leading the OHL in
scoring in his draft year Savard didn’t get selected until the 3rd round by
the New York Rangers. During his third OHL season Savvy (nickname) was well
on his way to a second consecutive OHL scoring crown until he broke his
ankle. Still Savard finished the season with 87 points in just 47 games. Of
course the scouts dwelled that Marc’s injury was a result of his size, he
“will never cut it at the next level”. After three fantastic junior
season’s, a NHL training camp under his belt, Savard wasn’t even considered
for Canada’s World Junior team or a prospect for the NHL, which bitterly
disappointed him. One of the biggest negatives about Savard was his
reputation as selfish player. Despite always having more assists than goals,
and always looking to pass rather than shoot, the word on Savard was he is
more interested in Marc Savard than the Oshawa Generals. Entering 1996-97 Read more »