As the big club took the gas pipe yet again this spring in the first round of the NHL playoffs, fans of the Philadelphia Flyers are yearning for at least a little good news about their favorite NHL team. One of the few bright spots that actually does take a little of the sting out of another disappointing May, is the nice depth that has accumulated on the bullion throughout the Flyers system. And NHL quality defensemen are at a premium in today’s watered down NHL.
At the top of this promising list is Wilmington, Delaware native Mark Eaton. Eaton is a slick skating offensive defenseman who played one year of college hockey under former Flyer Dave Poulin at Notre Dame. The Flyers signed Eaton last summer and he has been turning heads ever since. Eaton compiled 36 points in his first pro season with the AHL Phantoms, including 6 power play goals. He is the heir apparent to Eric Desjardins job as the top offensive defenseman in the system.
Some of the brass in the system wanted GM Bobby Clarke to bring up Eaton towards the end of the season. But since the Danuis Zubrus debacle, Clarke seems to be leaning towards the taking the slow road with his blue-chip prospects from here on out. Time spent learning the pro game in the minors is never a bad idea especially when you are talking about a defenseman with the natural offensive skills that Eaton possesses.
Five years from now, the 1997 draft may very well turn out to be the best draft in San Jose Sharks history. With their second overall selection, they chose the highly touted center, Patrick Marleau. They then traded up in the first round with Carolina to pick defenseman Scott Hannan. Not picking again till the fourth round, they then chose the once highly regarded right wing, Adam Colagiacomo, acquiring three players rated to go in the top 30 by The Hockey News’ 1997 Draft Preview. All players chosen out of the Canadian Hockey League must be signed before the 1999 draft, or they may re-enter the draft. Players chosen from Europe or College are still property of the Sharks for three or two more years respectively.
Everyone thought he was done. The show was over, and the curtains were closed. But apparently, that was just the epilogue. In the last month Jose Theodore has stepped out from behind the curtain, into the spotlight, and yet again become a young phenom.
The latest show has been based out of Fredericton, New Brunswick. Theodore, after winning player of the week awards, goaltender of the month, and praise from many of his critics, seems to have nestled back into the idea of being a starting goalie. His numbers in Montreal as a backup weren’t good at all: only 3 wins, 12 losses, a GAA over 3.50, and numerous other less-than-satisfactory statistics. But the truth has come out: Theodore is a future starter.
Just this past week, after losing two straight and going back to Fredericton for game five of the AHL quarter finals, Theodore led his Canadiens, with a 32 save performance, and seized victory in a 3-2 win, and a 3-2 series win, pitting the Canadiens against the Saint John Flames in round two.
Can he keep it up? He said this week that he loves the pressure, and the outlook is that, yes, he can keep it up. Only time will tell, but it is likely that Theodore will be challenging Domenichelli, Sorochan, and Saint John, and maybe even upsetting the early favourites.
Born: January 23, 1979
Hometown: Golitsino, Russia
Position: Right Wing
Weight: 200 lbs
The other day, a thought came to my mind. It must be tough for a junior aged player to come to North America from other countries to play hockey. Let’s think about it for a second. They have to learn a new language, adapt to a rougher style of play and adapt to a smaller ice surface.
Well, Ivan Novoseltsev of the Sarnia Sting has adjusted to the North American style of play quite nicely. He has great speed and has size that makes him look more like a Canadian player than a Russian player. During the past two seasons I have been very impressed with his play.
Usually European players need a season or two to adapt to the new style of play before they start to realize their true potential. Novoseltsev proved everybody wrong in his rookie season. He had a very impressive year. During the 1997-98 season Novoseltsev dazzled everybody with his skills. His totals were pretty high. He scored 26 goals and 48 points in just 53 games. During that first season he played alongside a great group of players. He played alongside players like Darren Mortier, Jeff Heerema, Jon Sim and Chad Cavanagh.
Birthplace: Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario
GP G.A.A. W L SOL GA Save %
1998-99 54 2.61 24 17 10 136 .920%
Marty’s rookie season was a great one. The Dallas Stars’ goalie of the future quickly won the starting job in Michigan, where he was nominated for the league MVP and top goaltender awards. Turco also lead the Wings past the experienced Fort Wayne Komets in the first round of the playoffs by posting a 2-0 record in the opening round. With the assumption in Dallas of Roman Turek being lost in the expansion draft, Turco has a good shot at backing up Belfour next season. In his college career, he was an all-star and won the MVP award in the 1998 NCAA tournament after being drafted by the Stars in 1994.
Detroit VS Indianapolis
Game 1: April 27: IND 1 @ DET 0 (2 OT)
HIGHLITES- The battle of the goaltenders lasted 5 periods before the Ice’s Craig Mills put one past Detroit goalie Andrei Trefilov. Indy goaltender Marc Lamothe continued his shutout streak, which he has not allowed a goal in the 3 playoff games he’s played.
Orlando VS Michigan
Game 1: April 27: MIC 1 @ ORL 5
HIGHLITES- Solar Bears’ goalie Tyler Moss was strong in goal, while Orlando welcomed goals from Todd Krygier (2), Pat Neaton, Dave Mackey, and Pierre Sevigny.
Houston VS Long Beach
Game 1: April 28: LB 4 @ HOU 1