This article will feature Yannick Lehoux who plays for the Baie Commeau Drakkars of the QMJHL. Yannick was a third round draft pick (86th overall in last year’s draft) of the Los Angeles Kings and is turning into quite a steal. Let me tell you this kid is awesome, last year he had 92 points in 67 games (31 goals and 61 assists), but this year he has really turned it up a notch. In 48 games played he has 43 goals and 43 assists for 86 points and his team is in 1st place in it’s division and 4th overall in the league. I watched him play against the Quebec Remparts and he was everywhere on the ice. His best assets are his playmaking skills and his vision on the ice, although he isn’t a bad scorer either as his goal totals would suggest. I heard Yannick saying in an interview that his work ethic and better defensive play were due to the fact that he had learned so much from the likes of Rob Blake and Zigmund Palffy during his first NHL training camp. He’s now a better leader and a more complete player. The only knock on this kid is his size, he needs to get much stronger and add at least twenty pounds if he hopes on becoming a star in the NHL. He’s listed at 6 feet and 184 lbs. which is big enough for juniors but not quite enough for the pros. At 18 years of age though he is definitely on the right track. Give the kings scouting staff credit for drafting him, hopefully they will handle him properly, unlike Pavel Rosa.
Edmonton prospect Jani Rita played surprisingly good.
Eight goals in the tournament gives a big boost to his
confidence. Rita has 2+2 in 3 games for Jokerit after
the WJC. Before the tournament he had 5 points in
2001 eligibles Tuomo Ruutu and Mikko Koivu
were centering two top lines. These two players are considered the future leaders of Finnish hockey. Another 2001 eligible forward Tuomas Pihlman wasn’t able to get any points, but he isn’t supposed to be a scorer.
Ville Hämäläinen was the biggest surprise. Second line
winger had a very good tournament. Hämäläinen had 7 points in seven games. Hämäläinen is still undrafted, but he might get picked in next draft.
Another Edmonton prospect Tony Salmelainen missed
last season with injuries. Salmelainen is a small player, but he really has good speed. He was third in team’s scoring.
Tuukka Mäntylä (5 points +8) took the leading role
in defense. Mäntylä hasn’t been drafted yet, mainly
because of his size (5’9). Mäntylä is good with the
puck and is also good skater. Mäntyla was selected to
play for Team Finland in Swedish Hockey Games.
Arto Tukio’s injury during team’s carting session
really hurt Finnish defense. Markku Paukkanen
was able to step up. He had two points and was a +7
in the tournament.
Ari Ahonen had a good tournament. He outgoaled
Maxim Oullette in the semifinal game. In the finals he
let in two goals, but he can’t be blamed for them.
The Devils wanted Ahonen to play for Albany this
season but he stayed in Finland. He should Read more»
Donald Choukalos is backstopping his way to a career year as the starting goaltender for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. With 39 games under his belt, he’s posted a respectable 3.44 GAA and 2 shutouts. Choukalos admits he got off to a bit of a slow start to this season, but part of that has to be attributed to the team he had in front of him. With the recent additions the Regina Pats have made to bolster their lineup in anticipation of hosting the Memorial Cup this year, and with Choukalos’ own continuing development, he is positioned to have a golden opportunity to really shine in this major tournament and get his stock soaring as he battles to move his way up the Bruins depth chart in the nets.
Choukalos was the Bruins sixth choice, picked 179th overall in the 1999 draft. When asked for the highlight of his career so far, he didn’t need to think long before answering “just getting drafted.” In a way it was a bit of a surprise choice on the Bruins part in that they had just drafted OHL goaltender Seamus Kotyk with their previous pick and had drafted Andrew Raycroft the year before. Choukalos said he didn’t know that the Bruins were seriously interested in him, “they only talked to me once the day before the draft.” Perhaps it would have been just a little more of a dream come true if he had followed former Calgary Hitman teammate Brent Krahn to getting drafted by the Flames since he was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. It isn’t in the fates though for an NHL hopeful to always be able to play for the team he grew up chearing though.
Chouk Read more»