TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have assigned defensemen Mikko Kuparinen
to Ilves Tampere of the Finnish Elite League, Senior Vice President & General
Manager Rick Dudley announced.
Kuparinen, 24, appeared in 32 games this season with Pensacola of the East
Coast Hockey League, recording 11 goals, 12 assists and 18 penalty minutes. A
native of Hameenlinna, Finland, Kuparinen was selected in the ninth round of the
1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Lightning. He was traded to Atlanta on October 29,
1999, and reacquired from the Thrashers on March 11, 2000.
There is little doubt that the Leaf 5th round selection in the 2001 draft Kyle Wellwood hasn’t been inking up the scoresheets this year like he did in 2000-2001 when he won the OHL scoring title with 118 points. A quick look at his points per game average, down .30 from a year ago, will tell you that much. To be sure, there was a shoulder injury to deal with earlier in the campaign and the timing to be found after coming back from it but there was also the criticism that without Branko Radivojevic and Randy Rowe putting the biscuit in the net he never would have piled up all of those assists.
Now comes a completely different challenge. Wellwood is going from a high octane ‘who cares about defense’ brand of hockey in Belleville that has them 4 points out of first place in the OHL’s East Division to distinctly regular ‘how do we light this thing anyway?’ team in Windsor pulling up the rear in the West Division two points south of London. Jason Spezza is gone and many have Dallas first rounder Steve Ott heading out on the next bus seeing as he may well end up playing at least AHL hockey next year. Should the Spits deal ‘The Rat’ for youth before the upcoming trade deadline, things will look very different indeed for Wellwood’s new team.
It’s possible they still could squeak into the playoffs on the back of goaltender Ryan Aschaber who has shown in the past that he is capable of carrying a team but what is really going to tell the tale is the new #97. The local kid, particularly if Ott is moved, is going to have to be the big wheel on offense down the stret Read more»
If the sign on the door clearly says ‘not for sale’, then the fence around the place is always in need of some fixin’.
That, in a nutshell, is the prevalent attitude emitting from the offices of the Kootenay ICE as the club heeds the WHL’s trading deadline January 14. Like a child drawing up his letter to St. Nick, ICE G.M. has a list of players that could help his hockey club that he’s checked twice. But then again, so does every other G.M. in the WHL.
“If I had a wish list like everyone else in this league I’d like to get another defensemen,” said Chynoweth before he and his club left on a weekend road trip to the Prairies. “But we’re not alone. You can ask anyone in our league, they’re always looking for a defensemen but that would be our first choice.” Chynoweth also added that possibly a forward would be a nice addition but then again, so would most clubs.
Save for a one or two weaker members of the league and the expansion Vancouver Giants, the theme of parity among almost all WHL clubs is paramount this season. With parity comes hope, hope that any of the playoff bound clubs can make some noise in the post-season.
It also makes for a somewhat dull trading deadline segue way with transactions between teams kept at a premium.
“I think there’s a lot of parity in this league,” said Chynoweth. “That’s the word – parity – and that means there’s a lot of good hockey teams.”
“I don’t think that there’s any one good hockey team like last year where Red Deer was the best team and stuck out so far ahead of everybody. This year there’s Read more»
It’s no secret that Duncan Milroy was surprised to find himself traded to the Kootenay ICE last month. It’s also no secret that Milroy is considered something of a dominant offensive force in the WHL. Being a 2001 second round NHL draft pick (37th overall) of the Montreal Canadiens will do that for you. Then for a player walk into a new town for a new team and pick up where he left off on his old club wouldn’t be too far out of the realm of possibility, would it? Perhaps, at least, at first. Filling the shoes of a popular team leader would be daunting by any means but one that actually brought some young fans to tears at the news of the trade? Talk about being behind the eightball.
Period of adjustment, new surroundings, post-trade slump – call it what you will – Milroy was experiencing it, and then some. No pressure or anything. Just replace a player that was not only captain but a tireless worker, played in almost every situation and was viewed upon, rightly or wrongly, as almost never making a mistake.
Duncan Milroy had his work cut out for him.
A month after the trade, Milroy is starting to not only feel more comfortable in the colors of the Kootenay ICE but look more comfortable on the ice too. After last weekend’s three-game set which saw the Edmonton native amass five points and be a factor in every contest, the contribution requested of Milroy is becoming somewhat more clear. And Milroy is eager to respond. “I think I’ve just been playing my game, being myself,” said Milroy after Saturday’s 6-3 win over the Hitmen. “I think I fit in with the tea Read more»