SWEDEN NAMES SQUAD FOR JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
When Team Sweden Head Coach Mats Hallin named his team for the Junior World Championships it was quite clear to everyone what kind of attributes he was looking for in his players;
The smallest defenseman on the team is Edmonton Oilers draftee Jonas Elofsson (6’1, 180), who is a rushing defenseman, who has good offensive instincts, but he is not reliable in his own zone nor with his effort. The smallest forward is Södertälje’s Per Hallin (5’11, 185), who happens to be Coach Mats Hallin’s son.
The biggest player on the team is MoDo’s Henrik Mellinder (6’5, 225), who was also the biggest surprise to be named on the team. Mellinder has played only two Elite League games in his career, and he only got to play because MoDo has been struck hard by injuries to their defensemen. Mellinder seems to like the physical side of the game, and he is by no means a finesse player. He is a slowfooted stay-at-home defenseman with limited skills.
Given the size of the players on the team (average size is 6’2, 194), they shouldn’t be pushed around in any game, and the thinking is that they will be more effective on the North American ice-surface than smaller players.
There has been a fair amount of both upward and downward movement in the prospect rankings this month, with one player being added to the list (Brian Campbell) and one player removed (Andrew Peters).
In the case of Campbell, a player performing at the level that Brian is playing simply can’t be ignored. As for Peters, however, a player performing as poorly as Andrew is at this time can’t help but be ignored. While it is too early to write off Andrew Peters as a bust, the Sabres scouts no doubt get a lump in their throats when they get the latest reports on Peters’ play. Andrew has but 3 points in 12 games, with his main attribute being his ability to fight. There is talk that Andrew doesn’t get along with the Oshawa coach, and that a trade might be the best thing that could happen to him. Whatever the case, Peters needs to straighten out his game if he wants to live up to the expectations that come with being a high 2nd round pick.
Cory Sarich D
KARJALA CUP REVIEW
The Swedish top league Elitserien resumed play again yesterday after a shorter break because of the Karjala Cup in Finland, in which the Swedes finished last. The Finns won the tournament. They also had the most interesting team from an NHL viewpoint in the tournament as their team consisted of several good prospects, while the others just had a few.
The four brightest prospects on Finlands team, were in order:
LA Kings prospect Aki Berg who impressed with solid defensive play as well as good play with the puck. He scored 1 goal, was a plus 2, and recorded 8 PIM in three games in the tourament.
Vancouver Canucks rugged winger Jarkko Ruutu who scored 1 goal and 1 assist, and was a plus three in the tournament, with 4 PIM. This should be the last season in Europe for Ruutu, as he is ready to make the jump. The physical tools are there, and he seems to me to be quite consistent and he also has a mean streak which will only help him in Vancouver.
Jere Karalathi, drafted by the LA Kings, who seems to have rebounded from an off-season injury nicely. He scored 1 goal and 1 assist, was a +2, and recorded no penalty minutes.
While the Czech Republic’s ’98 Olympic gold medal performance in ice hockey came as a shock to many casual hockey observers, the Buffalo Sabres hockey department likely took this development in stride.
Throughout the 90′s, the Sabres have mined the Czech hockey vein for talent, where they have come up with some 24-karat prospects. During this decade, the Sabres have drafted 10 players from the Czech Republic, while acquiring 4 others via trades. The most notable of these acquisitions is, of course, goaltender and two-time NHL MVP Dominik Hasek. Had the Sabres simply stopped with Hasek, they could have labeled their Czech experiment a success. But the names Richard Smehlik, Vaclav Varada and Michal Grosek also dot the Sabres roster, proving that the Sabres eye for Czech talent is not a fluke.
While the players mentioned above have made it to the NHL, there are other Czech prospects that could someday play for the big club. Some of them are teenagers in the early stages of their development, while others are slightly older players who might deserve a second look from the Sabres scouts.
Not all the players I’ll be profiling will come to North America to play, but it is fun to speculate. So, with that in mind, I present the Czech Republic prospects of the Buffalo Sabres.
Young and Promising
Jaroslav Kristek (RW) Read more»
ANDREAS KARLSSON PLAYING UP TO EXPECTATIONS: Andreas was asked to take aging injury-prone veteran Per-Erik Eklund’s spot and step up and become Leksand’s first line center this season, and he has responded extremely well. He has been a major factor in Leksand’s surprising start to the season (currently 1st in Elitserien with a 8-3-4 record). Maybe I am totally alone in liking Andreas as a player, but I still can’t figure out why the Flames used a draftpick on Erik Andersson when they have a younger, more skilled Swede consistently doing the things they look for in Andersson as well as being in the top ten in scoring in the Elitserien. Maybe there’s a lack of desire to play in Canada on Andreas’ part ? Oh well. Either they bring him over after this season, or I give up hoping for him to take a shot at the NHL. He has proven himself over and over again in Sweden, and it’s time for him to learn just how successful he can be in North America. He is currently seventh in the league in scoring, and he was chosen as one of the centers for Team Sweden in the Karjala Cup in Finland. He could be a third-line center in the NHL.