| | The World Hockey Challenge is without doubt the most important tournament for the Under-17
teams in the season. This year it took place in the cities of Stonewall and Selkirk in
Manitoba. The Czechs had a very good team this year, the 1985 birthyear isn’t so strong
as the 1984 birthyear, but there were some great individualities on the roster. The amazing
first line Vojtech Polak – Petr Vrana – Ivo Kratena is totally outstanding also among
international competition and all three forwards are blue-chippers for the 2003 NHL Entry
Draft. It can be seen also when looking at the scoresheets. Petr Vrana won the scoring
at the World Hockey Challenge with 15 points (6 goals + 9 assists), followed by Ivo Kratena,
also 15 points (5 goals + 10 assists) and Vojtech Polak finished fourth overall, when only
Russian gem Alexander Ovechkin was able to slip between the hegemony of the Czech elite line.
Polak notched 12 points for 6 goals and 6 assists. The back line of the Czech elite formation
is also very strong. HC Slavia Praha juniors standout Jiri Drtina has a rare knack for
supporting the offense and sometimes he plays like a fourth forward. Drtina is often
paired with his Slavia Jr. teammate Lukas Spelda, who takes care of the defensive duties,
while Drtina is the rusher. Drtina was the clear winner of the defenseman scoring,
registering 10 points for 4 goals and 6 assists. Also on the rest of the team there are
quality players, like Sparta Praha Jr. defenseman Lukas Bolf, a reliable player with solid
size or hardworking Litvinov forward Lukas Kaspar. Between th Read more»
Svitov, Chistov content in the High League
2002 draft’s 3rd and 5th overall picks, Alexander Svitov and Stanislav Chistov are currently playing for the HC CSKA second team (Russian High League). The two prospects have been disallowed to play for the CSKA Superleague club, after their refusal to remain with Avangard of the Superleague.Chistov and Svitov, coming off their gold-medal World Junior Performance in Pardubice, Czech Republic, recently offered their thoughts on their ultimate decision.According to Stanislav and Alexander, they were pressured by Avangard’s president Anatoli Bardin to fire their agent, Jay Grossman. According to Chistov: “We realized that in Avangard, there was nothing good for us. The President of the club (Bardin) wanted us to fire Grossman… In CSKA, I feel that I am getting more practice and playing time”.Speaking about the players’ ties with their respective NHL clubs, both mentioned that they periodically get calls from Anaheim and Tampa Bay. “Tampa Bay call me once in a while. They payed for my English lessons”, said Svitov.Commenting about his alleged refusal to return from North America after the draft, Chistov offered his story. “I had a slight knee injury right after the draft. The Anaheim staff offered their assistance… However, Bardin made a phone call, stating that if I did not return to Omsk, I’d be declared a deserter… As a result, I spent time in the VDV Learing Center (n Read more»
"The more things change, the more they stay the same."
That timeworn phrase is appropriate in describing the mid-season rankings of Buffalo’s prospects. Sure, there have been a few minor changes to the top 15, but there has been very little real movement up or down by any one player since the list was last updated.
Holding down the top spot, albeit somewhat shakily, is ’97 top pick Mika Noronen. The only change to the top 5, in fact, was Norm Milley taking back the #5 slot from Ales Kotalik (now #6). Gerard Dicaire showed the only significant movement, dropping 4 slots to #14. Perhaps the change of scenery, from Seattle to Kootenay, will help Gerard’s game.
Of the remaining prospects outside the top 15, the only one who received serious consideration for inclusion with the "Fab 15" was Boston University LW Mike Pandolfo. Mike, a co-captain for the Terriers, is currently that team’s leading scorer.
The "non-15" will be dealt with in articles to come, so the main focus for this article will be the top prospects. Overall, Buffalo seems to have a solid group of prospects, with their top 10 comparing favorably to most any team in the league. Even the players in slots 11-15 have some merit as solid NHL prospects.
Two players no longer on the prospect list are LW Darren Van Oene and C Francois Methot. The two ’96 draft picks have played enough professional games to no longer meet the requirements for prospect status that have been set by Hockey’s Future. While both player Read more»
When the Ontario Hockey League Memorial Cup selection committee made their announcement that Guelph would be the OHL city chosen to hold the tournament for junior hockey’s holy grail, the Memorial Cup, it breathed a billow of fresh air into what’s almost surely become just another trademark of the big business of hockey, junior or otherwise. In today’s hockey, money talks. With this announcement however, perhaps not all things are just about the greenbacks.
The OHL, unlike its CHL counterparts, the QMJHL and WHL, select their host city only four and a half months before the tournament, giving the top four teams in each conference the chance to submit a bid. This season only four of those top eight, Ottawa, Erie, P.A., Barrie and Guelph made the decision to apply. Now from all reports, all four cities presented stellar bids and would no doubt be great hosts with all icing competitive clubs vying for the championship. The actual cities making the bids and their adequacies in holding such an event were never questioned. Truth is, the system the OHL has to determine their host is superior if only for the fact that the host club is almost guaranteed to be as good as, or better than, the three champions from the respective leagues. There’s no selling the farm to bulk up on talent for the championship run and the decision is made after the trading deadline so it is a truer reflection of the team’s talent. The flip side may present some nightmarish challenges for the volunteers organizing the tournament but it is a fairer system nonetheless.
The process of choosing host Read more»
Late on Wednesday, January 30, 2002, Evgeni Nabokov’s appeal to play for team Russia at the Salt Lake Olympics was denied by the Arbitration court in Laussane, Switzerland.Nabokov’s eligibility has been in doubt ever since the IIHF disallowed his request to don the Russian jersey. Evgeni was a back-up goaltender with Kazakhstan at the 1994 Olympic games in Lillehammer. However, Nabokov and Russia’s General Manager Vyacheslav Fetisov decided to appeal the decision, challenging IIHF’s guidelines as a result.The IIHF’s rule stated that players participating with one country when over 18, cannot suit up for another. To Russia’s chagrin, that ruling was made after Nabokov’s stint with Kazakhstan’s Olympic squad.Nabokov, an All-Star and the NHL’s Calder Trophy winner last year, will monitor Russia’s success in front of the television set, as all the pressure will be placed on the overworked shoulders of Nikolai Khabibulin.
Now What?The Russians will have to name a third goaltender to accompany Khabibulin and Egor Podomatsky. Montreal Canadiens’ future hopeful and former Superleaguer Vadim Tarasov could be the leading candidate for the position. Veteran Mikhail Shtalenkov and the Anaheim Mighty Ducks prospect Ilya Bryzgalov will also be considered.No matter which goalie will be picked, Podomatsky (Lokomotiv Yaroslavl) is the clear choice for the back-up role. Enjoying an excellent year in the Russian Superleague, Egor has emerged as a clutch performer and a fan favorite.