This article will be the first in a series devoted to mid-term progress reports of all the Buffalo Sabres’ prospects, with each article covering a different position.
There are many NHL GMs who stress the importance of being strong up the middle. While Buffalo has been able to draft or acquire some solid talent for the center position in recent years, they have had trouble landing a top-flight pivot who can create offensive opportunities for both himself and the players around him. This isn’t to say that Buffalo doesn’t have some help on the way in their prospect ranks, but it is definitely a position that will need to be addressed in the near future.
Topping Buffalo’s list of prospects at the center position is Kingston Frontenacs star Mike Zigomanis. Mike had an excellent 99-00 season, and he has so far followed up with an equally fine first half to the 00-01 campaign. Ziggy is currently the Frontenacs leading scorer with a total of 60 points (31G, 29A), a point total that places him in the OHL’s top 20 scorers. His goal total has him tied for 6th in the OHL in that category, with 6 of those goals coming on the power play, 2 in shorthanded situations, and 2 markers being game-winners. Mike has been honored as both Player of the Week and Month in the OHL (November), which was no doubt a factor in his being named to the OHL’s Eastern Conference All-Star squad. Zigomanis also was selected to play for Canada in the WJC, which was noted in a previous article.
Kingston is currently in the thick of the Read more»
Next up: Dieter Kochan
With the departure of netminder Dan Cloutier yesterday (sent to Vancouver for Adrian Aucoin and a 2nd round pick in 2001), Dieter Kochan may finally get his shot at the big time.
Kochan has spent his career bouncing around various leagues, but has never managed to get a big break. Now, at age 26, he may finally have the opportunity to solidify himself as an NHL goaltender.
There was an air of disbelief in late March last season when it was announced that the virtually unknown goaltender from the UHL would start in goal for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Just one day after being signed by the club, Kochan was left seeing stars, literally. He was pulled 15 minutes into the 1st period, after being shelled by the Stanley Cup Champion Dallas Stars and allowing 3 goals on 6 shots. Kochan was replaced by Cloutier 7 minutes into the 1st period, but re-entered the game at 2:00 of the second when Cloutier went down with a knee injury. He performed well in the second half of the game, only allowing one additional goal.
One week later, Kochan came back to redeem himself. He replaced Zac Bierk, and stopped 30 of 31 shots to help the Bolts to a 5-4 win over Boston.
So far this season, Kochan has appeared in 7 games with the Lightning, including two spectacular performances against the Colorado Avalanche. His 2.08 GAA and .933 save percentage is one of the best in the league.
Tampa Bay General Manager Rick Dudley told the Tampa Tribune after the Cloutier trade, “We’re going to give Dieter Koc Read more»
Andrej Hebar is a 16-year old kid who dreams of playing in the NHL one
day. And, unlike most, he just might get his chance. Andrej is a
first-year forward with the Frolunda Indians of the Swedish Elite U-18
league, and he is one of the most spectacular players in the league. He
might not be the biggest guy there, but he plays like he is, wearing his
heart on his sleeve. He’s only 5’10” and 155 lbs, but is still growing.
His father, a former goalie and now a coach in Slovenia, is 6’1”, and
Andrej is expected to be just as big.
Hebar is a natural goal-scorer, with 12 in 12 games this season, and he
plays a gritty style for a guy his size. He doesn’t shy away from the
physical stuff, and puts his body on the line to make a good play. His
biggest asset thought, is his blistering shot. He is also a fast, smooth
skater, and a decent, if not spectacular, passer.
Andrej was the final cut at Slovenia’s WJC U-20 camp in December. Had he
made it, he would have been by far the youngest player on the team.
Instead, Andrej has already locked up a roster spot with Slovenia’s U-18
team, which will play at the U-18 WJC (div.II) in Lithuania in March.
His good play with the Frolunda U-18 team prompted his coaches to try
him on their U-20 team, and he got his first chance to play in late
January, before going down with the flu.
Unlike other Slovenian players who play at home, Andrej is under the
constant watchful eye of NHL scouts and is a lock to be selected in the
2002 NHL Entry Draft.
Name: Andrej Hebar
Born: S Read more»
Junior Player of the Year 1/15 – 1/21
Peter Hamerlik (Kingston)- 3 games, 1-1-1, 3.87 GAA, .887 SvPct
Jeremy Van Hoof (Ottawa)- 3 games, 0 pts
Darcy Robinson (Red Deer)- 2 games, 21 PIM
David Koci (Prince George)- 2 games, 0 pts
Joel Scherban (London)- 4 games, 2 goals, 3 assists
Tomas Skvardilo (Kingston)- DNP
Steve Crampton (Moose Jaw)- 4 games, 2 goals, 7 PIM
Shane Endicott (Seattle)- 4 games, 1 goal, 3 assists
Jan Fadrny (Kelowna)- 1 game, 2 goals, 1 assist
Michel Ouellet (Rimouski)- 3 games, 1 goal, 2 assists, 2 PIM
Player of the Week
Ouellet 38 (4)
Fadrny 28 (4)
Endicott 26 (4)
Hamerlik 26 (2)
Crampton 10 (1)
Scherban 9 (1)
WBS 3 Stars of the Week 1/15 – 1/21
Milan Kraft- Started his stint in the AHL with a 4 goal, 3 assist weekm earning himself the AHL Player of the Week Award. Goals in all 3 games, multiple goal game in the loss to Philly
2nd Star: Martin Sonnenberg- Benefitted from having Kraft as a linemate as he racked up 2 goals and 3 assists with multiple point games against Philly
3rd Star: Sebastian Caron- Started only one game, but made it count with 24 save shutout against Philly
Games: Philly 4, WBS 3; WBS 3, Hershey 1; WBS 4, Philly 0
Standings Read more»
In the NHL, the space of time occupying the latter half of January and the early part of February are known simply as the dog days of the hockey season. No trading deadline is in sight. The All-Star extravaganza of goals is just now behind them. Theoretically, everybody’s still in the playoff race. In the WHL, there aren’t any dog days to speak of during this part of the season. Right now, the only thing canine about the WHL is the dogfighting for position going into the post-season dance With just over five weeks left in the season, it promises to be anything but pretty.
In the Eastern Conference, the race can be best divided into two packs. The big dogs fighting for the conference title and the smaller dogs jockeying and vying for a spot in the post-season party. Unlike last season, when the Calgary Hitmen ran away with the Conference and league title, four teams this year have a viable chance at the crown. Again, unlike last season, it also seems that all four of the top dogs vying for the coveted number one seed in the conference can’t mount any type of sustainable winning streak to lay claim to the crown. Red Deer, Swift Current, Kootenay and Calgary all have legitimate shots at the top seed. Red Deer, currently at the top with 79 points and games in hand over their rivals chasing them in the standings, sits in the driver’s seat for the number one seed. But the Rebels (6-4-1in their last ten games), for all their team strengths in every category, can’t seem to pull away from their adversaries. The Swift Current Broncos (5-4-1 Last10), third in p Read more»