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»
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.
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
everything. Great size. Good speed. Tough. Aggressive. Good offensive
with a scoring touch. Everyone thought he was ready for the NHL and
the lack of proven talent in the Bruins lineup he was certain to make the
get lots of ice time.
What happened? Was it over confidence? Did Thornton expect everything to
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
in the world and then bring him back if he does well. It does Thornton no
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
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.
A quick look at the Top Players in the WHL.
1. Brad Stuart, D, Regina
2. Robyn Regehr, D, Kamloops
3. Stephen Peat, D, Red Deer
4. Blair Betts, C, Prince George
5. Scott Gomez, C, Tri-City
6. Kyle Rossiter, D, Spokane
7. Brett Allen, LW, Swift Current
8. David Cameron, C, Prince Albert
9. Chris Nielsen, C, Calgary
10. Tyler Bouck, C, Prince George
11. Garret Profosky, C, Saskatoon
12. Todd Hornung, C, Portland
13. Justin Hansen, C, Moose Jaw
14. Jason Beckett, D, Seattle
15. Gavin McLeod, D, Kelowna
16. Jarrett Thompson, LW, Tri-Cities
17. Trent Hunter, C, Prince George
18. Curtis Reich, D, Calgary
19. Brad Twordik, LW, Brandon
20. Paul Elliot, D, Lethbridge
21. Jon Barkman, LW, Saskatoon
22. Jeremy Goetzinger, D, Prince Albert
23. Aaron Goldade, C/LW, Brandon
24. Craig Brunel, RW, Prince Albert
25. Dan Hulak, D, Swift Currentj
26. Blake Evans, C, Tri-City
27. Devin Franco, LW, Red Deer
1. Jomar Cruz, Brandon
2. Jamie Hodson, Brandon
3. Jason Labarbera, Portland
4. Scott Myers, Prince George
5. Kevin Swanson, Prince George
6. Jordan Watt, Kelowna