GRADING THE LEAFS DRAFT
Round 1 (17)-Carlo Colaiacovo-D-Erie-OHL
While your columnist would have preferred to see the Toronto club grab a
sniper in the first round all of the forward prospects that would have
warranted the 17th pick overall went off the board one by one shortly
before Pat Quinn and Mike Penny went up to the podium. The Erie
blueliner is a solid value here and should develop into a top 4
rearguard in the mold of Bryan McCabe in a few years. That he shoots
right-handed is another bonus on a blueline that only has three of those
on the pro roster compared to eight lefties. Grade: A
Round 2 (39)-Karel Pilar-D-Litvinov-Czech Rep.
An overaged player at 23, Pilar played with recent Leaf acquisition
Robert Reichel last year in Litvinov. Another righty, he has good size (
6’3″, 210 pounds) but needs to learn how to use it a bit more. His
transition skills are not in question. The pick has the feel of panic
mode in it to some extent. Two other players the Buds had their eyes on
Mark Popovic and Kyle Wanwig went 35 and 36 respectively. Finnish power
forward Tuomas Pihlman was taken at 48 by the New Jersey Devils and
might prove to be the better value. Still, if Pilar can help the Leafs
fill the hole on the blueline created by the departure of Danny Markov,
the selection is salvageable. Grade: D
Round 3 (65)-Brendan Bell-D-Ottawa-OHL
A very solid pick here. Bell was the best talent on the board at this
point and many had him going in the second round. Again, like Pi Read more»
They may have thought it a wise move when they made it.
Take a chance on a German born player?
When San Jose was offering two #2 picks?
The Hawk organization in 1996 knew that they were hurting for prospects and moved out to secure two #2s used to draft Remi Royer and Geoff Peters.
With their own #2 they reached at Jeff Paul, knowing their farm ‘system” was woefully bare at defense.
Geoff Peters along with Remi Royer were the two players drafted with the Marco Sturm first rounder trade.
Sturm plays in San Jose and all three of these players will be looking elsewhere this summer. Royer was all offense and just didn’t play defense well.
Peters though good in most areas just didn’t seem to evolve to a better player.
Paul just didn’t skate well enough for the new NHL.
There is a lesson to be learned here. Trading down works if your scouting staff is competent. Montreal goaler hopefull Garon was there but Hawk’s didn’t seem interested.
The Blackhawks also purged themselves of Michel Larouque and Jeff Maud, their Norfolk goalie duo.
Though Tretiak marveled at Larouque and continued to heap praise on him, he is gone. (Or is this one of the Hall of Famer’s character chararcter flaws: always falling in love with the back-up?)
Maud had injuries and told me while he was in Chicago that he he was in awe of the speed at which the NHL game was played.
Mike Leighton will grauate and get ample chances to develop in Norfolk and Craig Andersson will not be far behind him.
To their credit, the Black Read more»
Last year was slim pickings for the Ducks; this year, they hit the
jackpot. If he finds a fifth gear to go with his Bure-like hands,
small-but-deadly winger Stan Tchistov (5-9, 165) could team up with Paul
Kariya to form the top scoring tandem in the league. If he doesn’t,
he’s still a can’t-miss electrifying talent. Defenseman Mark Popovic
(35th overall) is as reliable as they come, and could soon find himself
paired with Vitaly Vishnevski on the top unit. Joel Stepp, with speed
and grit, was a good third round pick.
Looking at Patrik Stefan after two years, it’s understandable why the
Thrashers were nervous about having the #1 pick again this year. But
they played it safe, refrained from making a hasty trade, and took the
best 18-year old hockey player in the world. Ilya Kovalchuk is head and
shoulders above Stefan, clearly the top talent this year. He should
make the roster this fall, and he could be an 80-point player by age
21. Little to shout about in the later rounds, though. Defenseman
Brian Sipotz was a nice pick at #100, he’s huge (6-7, 230), sturdy, and
could be a solid defensive defenseman down the road.
Boston B Read more»
Rangers General Manager Glen Sather traded another veteran player today, this time dealing away center Tim Taylor to the Tampa Bay Lightning for 25 year old left wing Nils Ekman and 22 year old left wing Kyle Freadrich. This was a solid move for the team, as Taylor would likely have been bought before Midnight tonight, the deadline for teams to buy out players at two-thirds of their salary.
Nils Ekman is a skilled Swede who is a defensive specialist. Although he is considered small at 5 foot 11, he plays a tough physical game and tries to get under the skin of his opponents. He has the tools to be a permanent NHLer, but he will have to impress the Rangers in camp to earn his spot on the roster. As for Freadrich, he is one of the biggest players in the history of the NHL, at 6 foot 7 and 260 pounds. However, as is the case with most big players, Freadrich is an awful skater and even courses at a skating school couldn’t help him. Freadrich is considered mainly a 4th line tough guy who will stick up for his teammates and drop the gloves often, however he doesn’t have much offensive skills. He will likely play in the minors this season, but may see a game or two in the NHL because of injuries.
In another deal, Glen Sather sent 24 year old left winger Jeff Ulmer and 24 year old defenseman Jason Doig to the Ottawa Senators for 27 year old defenseman Sean Gagnon and reportedly “future considerations”. Gagnon is a physical defenseman who likes to drop the gloves, but he has been a career minor leaguer throughout his career. Maybe Slats felt he wanted to strengthen the Read more»