It was thought last season after Grant Ledyard was signed, Adrian Aucoin was acquired from Vancouver, and Paul Mara was dealt to Phoenix, Tampa GM Rick Dudley would let the defense rest. Not so. Aucoin was dealt with winger Alexander Kharitonov for a bigger, younger defenseman (Mathieu Biron) and a second round pick (Andreas Holmqvist).
Gone was the experience of Ledyard and Aucoin, and the Lightning was back to having a young, underdeveloped back line.
Help was again brought in, however, as Ledyard found his way back to the Bay and Nolan Pratt was acquired from Colorado. Instead of Zyuzin paired with another offense-first defenseman in Aucoin, Nolan Pratt will try to bring a defensive-first presence to the pair. Pavel Kubina, Zyuzin and forward Brad Richards look to lead the PP from the point in Aucoin’s absence.
Here’s a look at the Lightning’s organizational defensive corps. Size and speed are the main ingredients for a player with a Bolt on his uniform, and the list proves it. Fortunately, a secondary ingredient includes at least a little, albeit not much, NHL experience this year.
The future looks big and bright on the Tampa blue-line. The present is quite blurry.
Czech Republic Under-20 team at Five Nations Tournament
By Robert Neuhauser and Ivana Paulova
At the beginning of September, the Czech Under-20 team, defending World Champions, had one of the last chances to test their skills against all the top European Under-20 teams. Check out how the young Czechs were doing!
The 2001-2002 season is under way and the first meeting of the Under-20 teams was scheduled to take place in the Czech cities Prostejov and Olomouc. Besides the home Czechs, the squads of Russia, Sweden, Slovakia and Finland also participated in this tourney. A look at the rosters, stocked with NHL draftees and possible future NHLers, promised that this will be a tournament to watch. The Czechs showed some new faces on the team, but basically it was the same team that was built after the successful 2001 WJC. Among the 1982 born players the only guy that left for North America was Jaroslav Sklenar, originally from HC Ytong Brno, who was assigned to the Ottawa 67’s of the OHL after the Leafs rookie camp in Kitchener. 1983 born players with chances on a roster spot in the Under-20 team who left for the CHL in the summer are former Sparta Praha winger Daniel Volrab, who is a Saskatoon Blade now and Martin Toms, a defenseman from Karlovy Vary who plays for the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
Spotlight is on now on ICE Goaltenders
Let’s face it. If you asked every Kootenay ICE fan, those in the administration and any local pundits and purveyors of comment, no one really had processed the realization that all-everything goalie Dan Blackburn wouldn’t be back between the pipes for the Kootenay ICE. ‘Oh he’ll impress them,’ said anyone and everyone. ‘But there’s no way that he’ll make the New York Rangers. Goalies don’t make the NHL at eighteen anymore.
Well, guess what? Someone forgot to relay that information to Dan Blackburn and the New York Rangers.
In the end, and for arguments sake we’ll assume that Blackburn is indeed not coming back anytime soon, it really didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that the Ranger’s goaltending situation wasn’t the deepest part of the organization. And if Blackburn played well enough in camp he would join the squad as the elder incumbents young apprentice. Ranger’s G.M. Glen Sather’s inability or unwillingness to address their depth at what most consider the most important position in the game all but assured Blackburn’s ascension into the NHL.
Needless to say it is all water under the proverbial bridge for the Kootenay ICE’ fortunes in the WHL and life must go on. But in their quest for their second WHL title in three years, it begs the obvious question. In Jeff Harvey and Bryan Bridges does Kootenay have the capability to compete with the big boys in their division in Kamloops and Kelowna? Never mind Red Deer, Portland, Spokane and Swift Current throughout the r Read more»
As the Philadelphia Flyers prepare to enter their 35th season in the National Hockey League tonight, they do so with a great deal of optimism and promise. In terms of roster depth, many have argued that this is the best team the Flyers have iced in decades. With a hoard of quality players at every position, the team is expected to make a strong bid for the Stanley Cup this season.
Despite the Flyers’ great depth, however, the team will once again rely on its AHL affiliate, the Philadelphia Phantoms, when the need arises. After all, injuries are about as much a part of hockey as pucks and missing teeth are. For the record, 13 players saw action with both the Flyers and Phantoms last season.
The following is a by-position listing of the 14 current Phantoms who I believe have a chance to play for the Flyers this season. Keep in mind that many of these players are extreme long shots to see action in the NHL this year, especially the ones further down on the list. Still, given the right circumstances, each has at least an outside chance of donning an orange and black sweater in 2001-02.
1. Marty Murray
An elite point producer at the AHL level, Murray is a very good bet to see time with the Flyers as an injury fill-in this season. Speedy, versatile and mentally tough, the diminutive center is a savvy player who knows his limitations. In seven games with the Calgary Flames last year, Murray played well in a defensive role without trying to overcompensate offensively. According to general manager Bob Clarke, the Delorain Read more»