The Islanders recently had three players named to the AHL All-Star Game, although only one player was able to represent the Lowell team. Defenseman Zdeno Chara and Ray Giroux were slated to appear at the All-Star Game but niether was able to participate. Zdeno has emerged as a solid blueliner for the Islanders and was not released to compete in the All-Satr festivities. Zdeno was named an All-Star despite appearing in only 23 games during which he registered two goals and four points, but was a fan favorite. Rookie defenseman Ray Giroux has blossomed as a capable defenseman but suffered a broken wrist prior to the All-Star weekend. Prior to his injury Giroux was one of the hottest players in the AHL as he was named December’s Rookie of the month with 10 points in 11 games to lead the Lock Monsters. That left only left winger Sean Haggerty to compete for Lowell. Sean demonstrated his speed and puck handling abilities by winning the puck relay at the skills competition. Another Islanders’ prospect that has flourished as of late is Adam Edinger. He is the hottest player in the CCHA and has taken over the scroring lead on the strength of a recent hot streak, with at least a point in 14 of his last 16 games. Should Adam continue his current tear lokk for him to challenge for the Hobey Baker Award.
The flip side of the Los Angeles Kings are the crop of freshmen in Colorado and in Florida. Part One referred to the downfall of mediocre teams giving no support to their rookies, namely the Toronto Maple Leafs and Mike Johnson. The Bruins on the other hand experienced many changes with their rookies Joe Thornton and last year’s Calder winner Sergei Samsonov. This week we will look at the possible future look of the NHL, by focusing on the Colorado Avalanche and the Florida Panthers.
Welcome to this belated edition of the Sabres’ Top 20.
There has been only slight movement since my last
offering, but there have been noteworthy
accomplishments by some of the prospects since November. The most notable achievements took place in the recently completed World Junior Championships, but there were also some individual game heroics by other prospects that deserve a mention. Here is the latest edition of the Top 20 prospects of the Buffalo Sabres.
1) Cory Sarich D 6’3 182
Holding steady in the top spot is Cory Sarich, the fine
young defenseman playing in Rochester. Cory has shown
continued improvement as the season has progressed, to
the point where some are referring to him as the total
package. He makes few mistakes for a rookie, plays the
body very well, has a good shot and contributes
offensively. The coaches have shown a lot of faith
in Cory, using him to kill penalties, play the point
on the power play, and play in the final minutes of
tight games. Recent offensive highlights for Sarich
have been two-assist games on 12/2 and 12/27, as well
as a first star award in the 11/27 contest. In short,
Cory is becoming the player that the Sabre scouts thought
he would be.
Team GP G A Pts PIM +/- GWG
Rochester (AHL) 34 3 16 19 42 N/A 0
2) Erik Rassmussen C 6′ 2″ 207
SAME OLD STORY – SWEDES CHOKE AGAIN.
After yet another failure for the Swedish national team in the World Junior Championships, no major criticism has been directed towards the team, the coach or the players. It seems like Swedes have gotten used to constant failures and constant choking in key-games.
The way I see it, the main reason for this is a lack of emotion from the players. Swedes are always disciplined, and they know how to play a system. They usually have a couple of very skilled players too, but as a team there is not enough heart and emotion. On-ice leadership is a problem too.
Just like stickhandling or skating is a talent, heart and grit is one too. Players can improve it to a certain point, but not all players can be the best skaters, stickhandlers, and not all can have the biggest hearts on the ice either. It seems to me like Sweden has been focusing so much on the defensive side of the game, and downplayed the importance of heart, that not many Swedes show emotion on the ice. The players who defy the system-hockey and show a lot of emotion on the ice are often told to play the system first, and that the emotion is secondary. It should be the other way around. To me, having the desire to win is the single most important quality in a player and when the players with the biggest desire to win are slotted into a role with little room to lead and change momentum of a game, the heart the player will show will suffer.
December 31st, 1998
Well now that the new year is almost upon us and the holidays have taken their toll on myself(and my car, may it rest in peace), I’ve decided that the slacking off is going to stop. The most recent of these updates have been few and far between and I hope to remedy that right now. So enjoy it and the New Year’s celebrations, because a good number of us will be regretting it in the morning(the over-celebration that is).
World Junior Championships: Three Penguins draftees are participating this year, Andrew Ference, Mika Lehto, and Alexander Zevakhin. First round draftee Milan Kraft was left off of the Czech roster for seemingly no reason other than his migration to North America. Ference was medically cleared to play at the last minute and should help bolster a strong Canadian defense. Mika Lehto is seeing little ice time (just under 20 minutes in 3 games) for the Finnish team, playing backup to Mika Noronen. Alexander Zevakhin made the Russian roster by the skin of his teeth (he was considered a longshot to make the team) and has one goal for the offense-minded Russian team.