Archived June 26, 1999
The Calgary Flames have the best group of prospects of any orginization in the HNL according to Hockeysfuture’s latest Orginizational Rankings. However Calgary’s time on top of the ratings could be short lived.
Calgary has failed to come to terms with two highly rated prospects from the 1997 Entry Draft. 6th rated goaltender (see the new updated top 25 players in the left hand column.) Evan Lindsey failed to come to terms with Calgary and will re-enter the 1999 draft along with OHL stand-out forward Ryan Ready. Ready, who helped guide the Bellville Bulls to the Memorial Cup, joined Lindsay in asking Calgary for what GM Al Coates termed ‘first round money’. With the signings of centre Daniel Tkazcuk and defenceman Chris St. Croix, Coates said that there was not enough money available in the Flames budget to sign Lindsay and Ready, an OHL All-Star, for the amounts they were asking. Both of these players now re-enter the draft.
Of the 1997 draftees, the Flames have only signed Tkazcuk, St. Croix, John Tripp and Erik Andersson. Andersson has since been traded to Chicago, and Tripp spent much of 1998/99 in the ECHL.
The signing of Daniel Tkazcuk came down to the wire. The Flames and Tkazcuk had agreed on the basic terms of Tkazcuks’ first professional contract, but disagreed over the bonus structure. The Flames finally conceded to Tkazcuks wishes and the contract was signed just five minutes before the deadline.
While other teams, mainly the Canucks, Islanders, and Rangers, were stealing the show with blockbuster deals, the Florida Panthers had an active day of their own, completing 2 trades and drafting a solid group of prospects.
Unlike past drafts, the Florida Panthers managed to draft a bit of everything, including 3 goaltenders. The only position that wasn’t cared for was the center position. The Panthers did take more skilled players than in previous drafts, and also picked up a few project players.
A recap of the Panthers draft picks and trades:
1: Denis Shvidki, RW/LW – (1st Round, 12th overall)
Vitals: 6’0″ 195lbs 18 years old.
Stats: Barrie (OHL) 61 Games, 35G-59A-94PTS 8PIM.
This kid out of the Ukraine was projected to be Top 8, but luckily dropped to #12 for the Panthers to grab. After playing 2 years in the Russian Junior League, Denis lit up the OHL, Racking up 94 points and a +57 rating in his rookie OHL season. Amazingly, some saw Shvidki’s season in the OHL as a dissapointment. They thought a young man like him, with his experiences, would do even more damage.
He could likely make the NHL right away, but with the Panthers getting their own AHL team next season, Shvidki could and should be developing one year in the AHL with super-sniper Ivan Novoseltsev.
With the 11th overall pick in a very deep draft the Rangers are in position to walk away with a very solid player for their future. Below is a brief list of some of the players the Rangers have focused in on with the 11th pick.
Taylor Pyatt: LW,6’4 220 pounds: A power left winger in the making, Pyatt is first on the Rangers wish list. He has super size, a great shot and great speed. His speed is what seperates him from the rest of big power fowards available. Forget about him playing in the NHL for at least two years. However he is the type of kid who could turn around and be the ultimate power foward when he does. He is such a big kid he could be a huge hit or a miss. He has to feel totally comfortable with his body and use his size more often.
Jani Rita: RW,6’1, 205: This kid is a power foward just like Pyatt. While his size isn’t as good as Pyatt’s his skill level is world class. Questions have come up about his scoring, but when you look below the surface you see his lackluster linemates and you see him playing against guys who in some cases are 4 or 5 years his elder. He will score at the NHL level… and in my opinion will net 40 goals someday at this level. He is actually better then Pyatt and if I had to chose I’d take Rita.
Despite the flurry of trading activity in the Top 10, the Islanders managed to hold tight and select three players with their elite picks. As expected the four premier players were all gone when the Isles stepped up to the podium at the 5th position. Connelly is an ideal selection for them at this spot, he is a dynamic offensive talent with explosive one-on-one moves and great vision. Thankfully Milbury and the gang shyed away from the larger but less prolific Beech. The Isles have a glut of good young centers who seem to be capable number two men. Connelly has all the earmarks of a legitimate number one center, something the team has craved but not had in many years. He was on pace for 50 goals and 100 points before a broken leg ended his season. Had he stayed healthy and posted those numbers he would have been ranked at least fifth by everybody.
At the eighth pick the Isles once again made a solid pick with Taylor Pyatt. Pyatt has all the tools to succeed, blazing speed, tremendous size and strength, and great hands. The organization has been itching for a prime time power forward for many years and Pyatt seems to fit the bill. They also now have great depth at this position with Pyatt and the recent acquisitions of Josh Green and Brad Isbister.
With less than a week before the Boston Bruins host the 1999 NHL Entry Draft, the Bruins announced the free agent signing of Jeff Zehr. Drafted 31st overall by the Islanders in ’97, Zehr never came to terms with New York and now, at age 20, finds himself competing for a spot on the Boston Bruins roster. “I’m not going to Boston thinking that I’ll play a year in the minors,” Zehr told reporters of the Boston Globe following his signing. “I’m thinking I’ll make the club. I play a feisty game. I like to be involved out there, in all key situations.”
This future power forward, who has been compared to Brendan Shanahan, notched 24 goals in 57 games last year and knows what is expected of him. “The Bruins are keying on me, telling me I’ll get a chance – and now it’s up to me to make the most of it.” Voted by OHL coaches as the West Division’s most improved player for 1996-1997, Zehr should have no problems adjusting to the pro game assuming he can develop his game at the same pace.