On Tuesday, March 23, the NHL trade deadline came and went. For Alexei Tezikov, his career with the Buffalo Sabres organization came to an end not long after it began. Tezikov had only been contracted to the Sabres since January 3, 1999. He missed half of his rookie season due to a lengthy contract dispute with management, but once he arrived in Rochester, fans and management could see he was a very talent player.
One of the reasons the Sabres played hardball with the former 1996 5th round draft pick, was that they had a glut of quality defensive prospects (Cory Sarich, Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, Jason Holland, Dmitri Kalinin, Brian Campbell, etc., etc.) and they knew that Tezikov, though a quality hockey player, was really not needed, so management refused to give much in the contract negotiations.
In Trading Tezikov the Sabres really don’t lose anything which they cannot replace. However, for Alexei the situation isn’t quite as a bright as he may have hoped. The reason I say this is fairly simple to understand. Washington, much like the Sabres, have a lot of quality prospects playing defense. Right now, the only real competition looks like Nolan Baumgartner. However next season, the Capitals will be bringing in three high quality players: Nick Boynton of the Ottawa 67′s (a former 1997 9th overall pick), Scott Swanson, and Jean-Francios Fortin. Another player who looks sure factor into the equation is Patrick Bolieau, who was recently called up.
Calgary Canucks 4 at St. Albert Saints 3
After a second heartbreaking defeat in a row, the St. Albert Saints find themselves in a familiar position – down three games to none.
The Saints started the game on a high. On a delayed penalty call, Andrew Gibson ripped a puck past Canucks netminder Mike Gilhooly. His goal was assisted by Joey Bastien and Pavel Beranek. Three minutes later, only ten seconds after Mike Buchan went to the box Dany Heatley ripped the puck underneath the cross bar from the right faceoff circle.
The Canucks made it 2-1 early in the second as Ryan Manitowich ripped a shot from the top of the left faceoff circle that somehow eluded Scott Kabotoff. St. Albert tied it up with two minutes to go in the period, however, while up two men on the powerplay. Rob Ziemmer picked the top corner on Gilhooly to even the game up.
In the third, it looked as if the Saints would win as they came out flying. Ron Grimard scored a goal from Joey Bastien and Pavel Beranek 3:16 into the period to give the Saints a 3-2 lead but the Canucks battled back. The club put on a lot of pressure late in the period. The turning point was likely when Ron Grimard broke in on a partial break with about eight minutes to go, but instead of him scoring his chance was negated by a Pavel Beranek interference call. The Canucks scored on the ensuing powerplay (Heatley unassisted) to tie the game up. From that point on it truly looked like the teams were headed for overtime.
Can Lightning Strike Twice?
It has not been a banner season for the Tampa Bay Lightning. For the second consecutive year, the Lightning will finish with the NHL’s worst record. They also are the league’s worst defensive team. They are now going on their third ownership in the last two years. They are the only team in the NHL whose general manager is also its coach. Things couldn’t look bleaker…or could they?
After finishing last overall in 1998, the Lightning took its first step towards respectability in drafting centre Vincent Lecavalier. The 6-4 rookie is obviously going through some growing pains with the league’s doormat. However, he is progressing nicely since the all-star break and looks every bit the franchise player he was selected to be. Similarly, Pavel Kubina just might be the best-looking rookie defenseman in the NHL this season. Furthermore, the trade deadline was a fruitful exercise for the Lightning this season, acquiring two young players with promise: defenseman Sergei Gusev and left winger Colin Forbes. In goal, after a few seasons of frustrating veterans Daren Puppa and Bill Ranford, the Bolts now have an interesting combination of Corey Schwab and newly-acquired Kevin Hodson.
St. Albert 5 at Calgary Canucks 6 (OT)
The St. Albert Saints put in a courageous effort against the Calgary Canucks Saturday night but fell just a little bit short.
It was the Canucks who picked up where they left off in the blowout the night before, however, as Moe Halat scored a goal from Roger Leonard 50 seconds in. The Saints then struck for three quick goals. Rob Ziemmer and Joey Bastien, both on the powerplay at 4:22 and 6:12 respectively and Bastien with his second of the night even strength at 9:13 from Ron Grimard and Pavel Beranek.
Calgary – or, more precisely Dany Heatley – tied it up early in the second. Heatley scored a powerplay goal 2:45 in to bring his club within one and then scored the equalizer several minutes later. The Saints regained the advantage shortly thereafter, however, as Brent Robertson scored a minute after Heatley had tied it up. But then, with 30 seconds remaining in the period the Canucks scored a late goal. Almost all of their victories so far this post-season have involved a goal in the last minute of either the first or second period and Drew Norman scoring here was not a good sign for the Saints.
The Saints did continue their hard work well into the third period despite the small setback as they pressed for the go-ahead goal one more time. In the period they outshot Calgary 13-10 and it looked for awhile like they would outscore them too. Saints captain Mike Buchan scored a powerplay goal from Marc Collins and Chris Lane with 9:48 to go to put his club ahead 5-4.
Playoffs have began in Canadian junior hockey and several Islander prospcts have picked up their games for a big playoff push. Chris Nielsen has recorded 7 goals and 10 points in 7 games and is one of Calgary’s leading contributors as he continues his excellent defensive play as well. Jeff Zehr has also had a strong start to his post season with 3 goals and 7 points in 6 games with 27 PIM to go along. This is Zehr at his best, he plays big and has a nasty mean streak along with a good goal scoring touch.
The NHL trade deadline has come and gone and the Islanders didn’t pull off the firesale that many expected. However their deadline deals did pick up a couple of talnted young players as well as some picks in the upcoming draft. The Islanders obtained Brad Isbister from Phoenix and Mats Lindgren from the Oilers. Isbister is a big physical winger with good hands and a nose for the goal. Phoenix insiders have reported that the Coyotes were reluctant to give up Isbister because some within the organization feel he can be as good as Keith Tkachuk. With the pick up of Isbister, only 21, and Zehr and Rupp in the system, the Isles should have at least one solid power forward who can score some goals while providing Palffy with some protection.