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»
Maxime Ouellet has continued to shine after his early season demotion from the Flyers to Rouyn-Noranda. Apart from a rough outing against Finland
in the WJC semi-finals, he also had another strong WJC tournament. Max’s most notable accomplishment at the WJC was outplaying Rick DiPietro head-to-head when Canada met up with the USA in the medal round
quarterfinals. Given Ouellet’s excellent play this season and the struggles of Brian Boucher, Ouellet may figure into the Flyers NHL goaltending picture
as soon as next year; although a season in the AHL would probably be the optimal plan for the young keeper.
Jason Beckett has had a rock solid rookie season for the Philadelphia Phantoms. He shows a lot of maturity and poise for a first year pro. Beckett
is an aggressive defender, yet he is rarely caught out of position. To date, he is the Plus/Minus leader on the Phantoms, sporting a +11 for a .500
Antero Niittymäki had his work cut out for him before this season. He had to try to top his sensational rookie campaign for TPS Turku. Unfortunately, he has not been able to do so. Niittymaki has split time in goal with Fredrik
Norrena and Norrena has, on the whole, been the more consistent performer. That’s not to say that Niittymäki has had a bad season, however. While
Niittymäki has let in a few bad goals and been beaten at some inopportune moments, it’s unfair to classify any goalie with a 2.02 GAA and .924 save percentage in 17 games as a failure. If Niittymäki has h Read more»