The Penguins have intentionally narrowed thier search for player personnel in an effort to solve two glaring dilemmas. One, to establish some immediate support for Mario and what may prove to be his final attempt at a Stanley Cup. Two, to lay the groundwork for the not-too-distant future as the Pens anticipate a new home.
The first issue is to give the club offensive and defensive options. Last season, when they needed to fill holes at the blueline due to injuries, they turned to Dollas and Kucera. Complete busts. When they needed role players to step in and score they pinned thier hopes on Corbet, Beranek, Primeau, and Laukkanen. No red lights were lit. The team got bigger and nastier with additions like Oliwa and Stevens. But they didn’t get faster and certainly not consistent. When one line opened it up, the others disappeared. Not enough players stepped up to change the outcome of the playoffs. Most critics cited depth. Why didn’t Hilinka utilze his other lines often? He didn’t trust that they would or could contribute, and often he was correct in his assumptions. Take Morozov. Please. Anyone.
Will Hrdina ever shoot enough to hit twenty goals, like so many people claim he has the ability to do? And anyone can tell you, when Slegr left so did what little blueline offense they had. Not that even that was much. Evidently the team needs to create offense on more levels. They need to bring speed and scoring to complement and somehow replace what was lost. They need wings that go into the corners and come out with the puck, that don’t shy away from the crease Read more»
The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors have approved a new Calder Cup playoff format to accommodate the league’s recent expansion to 27 teams.
The new playoff format allows for the top 10 teams in each Conference to qualify for the post-season.
In a significant move to speed up the pace of the game, the AHL has unanimously adopted the faceoff procedures currently employed by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
This procedure will see line changes completed, and play resumed within 15 seconds of the previous stoppage of play. The league’s Board of Governors also approved a proposal to move to a fixed playing roster of 17 skaters and two goaltenders for the 2001-02 regular season.
The American Hockey League is the top development league for the NHL. Each of the NHL’s 30 clubs will develop their top prospects in the AHL during the 2001-02 season.
During the 2000-01 season, 247 players competed in both the AHL and NHL, while 70% of all players to competed in the NHL last season spent time developing their skills in the AHL.
The American Hockey League will be divided into two (2) Conferences:
WEST Houston Utah Chicago Grand Rapids Milwaukee
CENTRAL Rochester Syracuse Cincinnati Cleveland
SOUTH Philadelphia Hershey Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Norfolk
EAST Albany Hartford Springfield Providence Bridgeport
NORTH Lowell Worcester Portland Manchester Manitoba Read more»
MEANWHILE, DOWN AT THE FARM
The Forgotten Man
Remember this guy? Picked in the 6th round by the Leafs in 1992, he made his debut on ‘The Rock’ last year and proceeded to net himself 50 points in 64 games including 40 assists. It’s kind of hard to take someone like Mikael Hakansson seriously amidst all of the free agent signings, trades, and prospects vying to get some time with the big club. However, the fact of the matter is, the Swede could yet be a pivotal player on Toronto’s side this year. As most know, Jonas Hoglund is on his way out of the organization and when that happens a spot will be open on the roster for a responsible winger who can bring something to the offensive party. Many assume that winger will be Jeff Farkas, but the feeling here is that Farkas needs to rip it up in St. John’s once more before he is ready for the big show. Enter Mikael Hakansson. The 27 year old winger signed with the Leafs expecting to be able to crack the starting line-up at some point last season. But as fate would have it, the decision to come overseas was made late, the forward was out of condition and ended up in the AHL where injuries made his first year in North America somewhat of a wash. This campaign though is a different story. When healthy, Hakansson showed good tenacity and two way play and as his statistics attest more than a little flair for the passing game. If Hoglund does go before Farkas is ready, a smart bettor might put a farthing or two on this ex-Djurgartens product giving Travis Green, Shayne Corson, and Gary Valk a run f Read more»
During each of the last two off-seasons the Canadiens have found themselves without enough experienced NHL players to fill their roster. Fortunately, André Savard has been able to solve this problem. The recent acquisitions of Juneau, Dackell, and Quintal have increased the number of players with tangible NHL-experience to twenty-five; not including goaltenders.
This bolds well not only in regards to the team’s depth , but also in terms of intra-roster competition. The increase in the number of experienced players should force those players who find themselves on the bubble to work that much harder. Roster spots will have to be earned, rather than just acquired by default.
Of these twenty-five players with NHL experience. Fifteen of them are forwards, and ten are defensemen. Joé Juneau is the most experienced forward (616 games), while Stephane Quintal is the most experienced defenseman (822 games).
There is however a lack of balance as far as the forwards are concerned. They now find themselves with five natural centers (Perreault, Koivu, Bulis, Kilger, Darby). Although, three of them also have experience playing left wing. Seven of the remaining ten forwards are natural left wingers (Savage, Rucinsky, Zednik, Poulin, Juneau, Brunet, Odjick), fortunately five of these players have also played right wing. That said, there remains only three players who are natural right wingers (Dackell, Petrov, Asham); two of which are right handed.
Confusion aside, the team should adjust well to their new roles. Recent injury-plagued seasons Read more»
According to numerous sources, Wade Redden, Eric Brewer, Ed Jovanovski, Alex Tanguay and Ryan Smyth, among others, have been invited to a summer orientation camp, in preparation for the 2002 Olympic games in Salt Lake City. There is a clear indication that Canada is making an attempt to add some speed and youthful enthusiasm to an all-new version of its Olympic hockey squad.
It will be a while before the deciding reserves are announced, but so far there is a clearer sense of the attempt to construct a faster, more energetic team. The memories of the failure in Nagano still come to minds of Canadian hockey fans when the world winter Olympics are mentioned. The attempt to assemble a team based on experience, failed miserably. The 1998 squad looked tired and slow, showing little ability of putting the puck in the net. Although the gold medal game did not seem far away, Canada failed to score when it mattered most.
The key for Canada, as well as for any other hockey nation participating, will be to build a team based centrally on speed. With the large Olympic ice surface, skating will dominate. The key is not to build a Stanley Cup contender (and the 1998 team seemed to be built according to that idea), but a gold medal contender; two distinct goals which cannot be achieved using the same mind set. Let’s think of some recent Stanley Cup winning teams: Dallas, New Jersey, Colorado. Main players involved being Scott Stevens, Joe Nieuwendyk, Bobby Holik, Ray Bourque to name a few. Recently it has been elementary to note that to succeed in the Read more»