We’ve all managed to suffer through another painful summer without ice hockey, but finally it’s time to dust off the ol’ beer stein and armchair, kick back, and get ready for another (thankfully) long NHL season. As expected, this year’s Stars roster is burgeoning with new players – quite a few of them young prospects who could have an impact in the NHL this year. Summarized for your perusal, are some of these players we may see during the 2000-2001 season and some thoughts.
Richard Jackman: For Jackman, the most highly touted Dallas prospect of the last few years, this is a make or break year. Now an aging prospect, Jackman has been working the past few years on improving his spotty defense and his penchant for making mistakes, as well as trying to accelerate the wind-up on his impressive, yet oft telegraphed, slap shot from the point. Jackman will get lots of ice time this year in the 3rd defensive pairing and on the Stars power play, and he should have enough time to prove that his defensive responsibility is up to snuff and his offensive skills are truly NHL calibre.
Jackman had a fine preseason and his NHL start this year was marred with only a few mistakes (most of in the offensive zone that led to breakaways). But, he has shown alacrity and intelligence in clearing his own zone and his wind-up – though still telegraphed and easily blocked – has managed to take a few opposing players by surprise.
Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.
Back to Mother Russia: Vladimir Kulikov, the spunky little Russian goalie who performed so strongly at last year’s Rookie Camp and then again at the Main Camp this year, has returned home to play for Red Army this season … the Leafs were obliged to try find a job for the late-round 1999 draft pick somewhere in North America after he signed their minimum $40,000 contract offer (one that had been made simply to guard the team’s long term negotiating rights) … unfortunately, he had signed too late in order to be included the Canadian Hockey League’s European Draft … as a 19 year-old, he is too young to play in the minors and as a signed player, he’s ineligible for the U.S. junior league where the Leafs had hoped to place him …