The importance of a team’s depth at all positions was proven last year when at various times in the season many of the Sharks top players such as Owen Nolan, Vincent Damphousse and Steve Shields missed games due to injuries or suspensions. Without the contributions of players like Tony Granato, Jim Montgomery and Bill Lindsay, it is hard to say where the Sharks would have finished in the playoff race. Particularly Granato filled a role where he patched holes where necessary; ending up playing 61 games in what will likely be his last NHL season.
As the Sharks close in on training camp, the core of their team remains in tact. The addition of Adam Graves and the retention of Gary Suter gives the Sharks four solid scoring lines and three experienced defensive pairings. The only players still unsigned are defenseman Mike Rathje, center Patrick Marleau, and right wing Todd Harvey.
While the Sharks have prospects such as Marcel Goc and Jeff Jillson who are considered solid to blue chip prospects, if in need of help, players such as these may not necessarily be the best choice, as further playing time in various developmental leagues may be in order, or in the case of players in college or playing in CHL, can’t play in the NHL even if they were ready.
Last season it was the Sharks forward lines that were plagued by the injury bug. With Nolan missing 25 games due to various injuries and a 12-game suspension by the NHL, and Damphousse missing almost half the season with a shoulder injury, the Sharks were without their two best players, much of which at the s Read more»
Name, Age, Summer signing status, Team Last Year
Jan Hrdina, 25, Signed, Pittsburgh/Dainius Zubrus, 23, Waiting for arbiter, May be traded to the Pens for Hrdina, Washington
Alexei Kovalev, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Milan Kraft, 21, Signed, Pittsburgh
Robert Lang, 30, Signed, Pittsburgh
Mario Lemieux, 35, Taking whatever money is left over, Pittsburgh
Aleksey Morozov, 24, Signed, Pittsburgh
Krzysztof Oliwa, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Wayne Primeau, 25, Talking with Patrick on a contract, Pittsburgh
Kevin Stevens, 36, Signed, Pittsburgh
Martin Straka, 28, Signed, Pittsburgh
Fighting for the 3 remaining forward positions –
Kris Beech, 20, Signed, Calgary (WHL), 5.5 Read more»
At this point, the Pirates’ tentative roster has four goaltenders on it: Corey Hirsch, Sebastien Charpentier, Curtis Cruickshank, and Rastislav Stana. There is no new faces among them, all saw action with the team last season. But who will be the pair that gets chosen is a mystery.
Corey Hirsch joined the Pirates last season, and quickly became a fan favorite. He spent much of the season away on loan, playing in both the IHL and AHL, and was twice named the IHL’s Goaltender of the Week. He is an extremely solid goaltender, and a veteran with over 100 NHL games under his belt. He is extremely adept glove-side, and is not afraid to use it – an attribute far too many AHL goaltenders do not have. And, perhaps most importantly, the rest of the team has confidence in his goaltending and this shows in their play.
Sebastien Charpentier is struggling to overcome illness and injury. Once a fantastic ECHL goalie with incredible amounts of promise, a troubling shoulder, hip, and chronic arthritis have held him back. His concentration has improved tenfold in the past two seasons, and he is capable of a brilliant game. Unfortunately, that is not seen nearly enough. It is hard to pinpoint what he is doing wrong, but even harder to say what it is he is doing right.
Curtis Cruickshank is a mixed bag. His size and agility make for a great combo, but his young age and inexperience are working against him. He made solid progress through the year, but seemed to go downhill after being loaned to the UHL near the end of Read more»
Not to focus on Eric Lindros and the impact this has on the team, the NHL and hockey in general one can sum it up by saying “Sather is taking a huge risk with a possible huge payoff or a fan anticipated loss on investment”. Lindros brings size, some passion and fear, something the Rangers have not had for some time up the middle. The loss of Hlavac, Johnsson and Brendl may or may not hurt the “cause”. Meaning Hlavac probably the most big hearted and talented of the three is coming off knee surgery, the garden variety but surgery anyway. Johnsson a fleet-footed defender can be replaced by Mike Mottau and candidate Filip Novak. Brendl, of the three, the one with the most upside has upset Rangers management since first showing up at camp out of shape which equals in the minds of New York brass “lack of heart”. While it may be years before Brendl makes a splash the movement of these three players atleast opens up some competition for a defense spot, a wing spot (possibly to be occupied by Brett Hull) and perhaps another wing spot (where Brendl may have fit).
Sather told Mike York, learn to play wing or 4th line checking center or you are out of here, regardless of how much heart you have. Manny Malhotra, remember left wing, learn it or leave us. There is not much room at the inn for these guys.
It’s been an on-going saga for the New York Rangers for many years. Dealing away young talent in return for an established veteran, brought in to increase the chances of the team winning the Stanley Cup. We saw Doug Weight dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in return for Esa Tikkanen. We saw Tony Amonte dealt to Chicago in return for Steve Larmer. About 7 years later, what has it brought us? 1 Stanley Cup and 4 consecutive seasons out of the playoffs, while Weight and Amonte are widely viewed as top line players in the NHL. I don’t know where to begin when I wonder of what life would be like if the Rangers held on to Weight and Amonte, among others.
This brings us to June of 2000, when the New York Rangers hired former Edmonton General Manager Glen Sather to run the team. In Edmonton, Sather was known as an excellent GM who built his teams through the draft and trades. He was the one dealing away the veterans for the talented younger players, something that made Rangers’ fans excited. Many believed the days of dealing away our young talent were gone. It was a new, better era for New York. We had one of the best GM’s in the NHL, and one who could acquire young talent and ultimately build the team that way. But we were wrong.
Today, the Rangers traded hotshot prospect Pavel Brendl, the 4th Overall pick in the 1999 Draft, young winger Jan Hlavac, and young defenseman Kim Johnsson, along with a 3rd round pick in 2003 to the Philadelphia Flyers for all-star center Eric Lindros, and a conditional 1st round pick in 2003. As they say, some things never change.