Recently, the Islanders announced some of the front office and
staff of their brand new AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport SoundTigers.
Gordie Clark was named the General Manager and Steve Stirling was hired
shortly after as the first head coach of the new franchise. David
Baseggio was hired as an assistant coach, with the expressed purpose of
working with the Isles young defensive prospects. Former Islanders
owner Roy Boe owns the SoundTigers. It is kind of weird how that worked
out; Boe left the Worcester Ice Cats organization (the St. Louis Blues
primary affiliate) to return to an Islanders organization that he
brought into the NHL.
I would like to look at the possible roster for the SoundTigers,
broken down by position. For the most part the list is done in no
particular order. Some of the players listed may stay in their native
countries or at college so this list could very well change before the
puck drops on the SoundTigers first game.
Along with defense and goaltending, this is one of the deepest
positions for the SoundTigers. Due to depth on the Islanders, some
possible NHLers will probably appear on the Tigers roster.
1. Justin Mapletoft – the Isles 5th pick in 1999 had a monster season
for the WHL Red Deer Rebels. He posted 43 goals and 120 points in 70
games. Under the tutelage of former Islanders great, Brent Sutter, the
5’11”, 207lb. center took his game to new heights. Originally thought
of as a defensive prospect, his offensive explosion was an unexpected
surprise. E Read more»
While there has recently been more attention paid to some of the new blood in the Buffalo organization, such as newly-acquired forwards Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt, this is also a good time to recognize the work of the Sabres’ prospects who were with the organization throughout the 2000-01 season.
The purpose of this article is to present a final ranking of the top 15 prospects in the organization as of June 2nd, 2001. This would exclude players such as Barrett Heisten, Mike Zigomanis and some of the other prospects who weren’t signed at the June 1st signing deadline. Also excluded from this list are the 2001 draft choices, as the focus of this article will be strictly those players who were Buffalo property through the 00-01 campaign.
G Mika Noronen
began the year as Buffalo’s top-rated prospect, and, despite a somewhat shaky start to his 2000-01 season, he remains atop the final rankings for this season. G Ryan Miller made a strong push to grab the top spot, but Mika gets the nod due to the fact that he plays against tougher competition. D Brian Campbell, RW Norm Milley and D Henrik Tallinder round out the top 5.
The Top 15 for 2000-01
Mika Noronen, Goaltender
Mika had a brief taste of the NHL at the beginning of the season, but was returned to Rochester to continue his development. Mika struggled upon his return to the AHL, but, by season’s end, he regained the MVP form that he displayed d Read more»
As the 2001 NHL trade deadline drew near, a call to action was issued by St. Louis Blues fans to oft-maligned general manager, Larry Pleau. From the online forums, to the call-in radio programs, and even to Pleau’s e-mail inbox, their message was overwhelming, “Get us Tkachuk or get out of town!” And he managed to land the big fish, outbidding several suitors so fans could see Captain Coyote don the Blue Note. On the eve of the NHL entry draft, Pleau acquired center Daniel (also pronounced “ka-chuk”) from Calgary in a deal that sent stumbling netminder Roman Turek charging toward the Stampede City. In a matter of just three months, the Blues went from being utterly “ka-chuck”-less to cornering the market on the NHL’s active “ka-chucks.”
The latter Tkaczuk, who turns 22 in October, hails from the Toronto
suburb of Mississauga, Ontario. He played his junior hockey for the Barrie Colts, and at the age of 17 was the OHL’s youngest captain during the 97-98 season. He currently holds the Colt franchise records for total career points, goals, assists, short-handers, and game-winners. Chosen sixth overall in the 97 draft, Daniel felt plenty of pressure to step in quicky for the Flames and lead them back into the postseason. Tkaczuk confused the Calgary brass with his flashes of brilliance at the lower levels tempered by mediocre showings during his many call-ups. Frustrated with his lack of production at the NHL level, this cerebral center kept a positive outlook toward his relegation to the minors. Bouncing back from a late season concussion, Dan was absolu Read more»
Cote’s One for the Gene Pool
Talking to Cape Breton Screaming Eagles Coach Pascal Vincent about blueliner Jean-Philippe Cote, the two things that stick out in his mind about his defenseman are “leadership and work ethic.” Vincent can’t say enough about his player when it comes to intangibles. He “puts his mistakes behind him” on those rare occasions that he does make one and is more or less the glue that holds the team together. Proof of this, the coach points out, can be seen in the fact that in the two games his Captain missed last year due to injury, the Screaming Eagles were outscored 14-2.
While some of this is to be expected seeing as he is the son of former NHLer, Alain Cote, Vincent nonetheless applauds Cote for his dedication to the game especially in the off-season.
That said, all of the dedication in the world does not an NHL player make if he has nothing else, but the coach, who first saw him when he was the bench boss for the U-17 National Team, knows there is more to him than that. “90% of the time he makes the right decision when he passes the puck” and his passes are “usually on the tape.” What’s more, the defenseman knows enough to trail the play after making that pass and has demonstrated “good decision-making when it comes to the pinch.” While Vincent admits that Cote “is not an elegant skater” he rates his speed above average and his lateral movement as excellent stating that “he rarely gets beat one on one”. While his pivot easily makes the grade in the Q though, he feels that Cote will have to speed Read more»
Thoughts and forcasts for my top two prospects, a preview of the upcoming seasons for Bryan Allen and Artem Chubarov.
Bryan Allen was the Canucks’ top pick in 1998, the #4 pick overall, and, despite numerous injuries in his second season of junior, was expected to step right in, and help a poor defense, which had decliners in Dave Babych and Dana Murzyn, but had two young rays of hope, in Bryan McCabe and Mattias Ohlund. (McCabe being obtained toward the end of the season, along with Todd Bertuzzi, in exchange for Captain and team leader Trevor Linden)
Allen was not looked at as an offensive player, but as a stay-at-home type, who could provide some toughness when needed. He was badgered with comparisons to current NHL’ers, such as Derian Hatcher, which would scare most youngsters, but the cool, confident Allen was unshaken by this. All he needed to do was play his own game, and, despite a lack of offense, he’d be a very good NHL Defenseman.
To this day, however, Allen’s promise remains unfulfilled. After missing almost the entire 1999-2000 season due to injuries, he came on strong in ’00-01, spending the entire season injury-free, something he hadn’t done since his rookie season with the Oshawa Generals in 1996-97. He racked up 25 points (5g, 20a), and nearly hit the century mark in penalty minutes in his first full pro season. He began to show why he was such a high draft pick, and was one of the top vote-getters for the IHL’s final Rookie of the Year award, which ended up going to Atlanta property Brian Pothier. He also recieved Read more»