Well, in a flurry of off-season moves, the Penguins have paved the way for a youth movement. The financial woes of a franchise that has lost close to 20 million dollars in two years has forced it to let their captain and future Hall of Famer, Ron Francis, go to Carolina via free agency. They also stand to lose Frederick Olausson, one of the teams’ most consistent defenseman in the same manner. Unfortunately, it will take the youth in the organization some time to make up for the loss of 120 points of scoring and 29 years of NHL experience.
In June the Penguins started off by signing 1996 draftees, Craig Hillier, Michal Rozsival, and Boris Protsenko while letting Boyd Kane and Peter Bergman go back into the draft. They then dealt injury prone Ken Wregget and Dave Roche to the Calgary Flames for two Left wings, German Titov and Todd Hlushko, adding depth to a weak left side. They then dealt holdout Josef Beranek to the Oilers for Defenseman Bobby Dollas and Center Tony Hrkac, who would eventually be taken in the expansion draft by Nashville. The draft saw the Penguins add to an already long list of centers by selecting six more as well as adding two goaltenders, a left wing and a defenseman. The Penguins went to Europe again selecting Czech Milan Kraft in the first round and Russian Alexander Zevakhin in the second.
Name: position, height/weight, age, where picked (year in parenthesis) League/team, statistical information
Awards: (Some players have two All-Star teams mentioned, this is not in error. The CHL comes out with two of them, one in the middle of the year, one at the end which never plays a game, just listed as 1st team, 2nd team or 3rd team All-Star)
Description/star ranking… The star ranking is the player’s chances of just making it to the NHL/1998 destination, where he’ll probably be next year.
20 years old
4th round 102nd overall (96)
OHL/Kingston: 55GP 33G 50A +13 24PIMS
Awards: Selected to play in Eastern Conference All-Star team
Named league’s 3rd best defensive forward by OHL coaches Named Most Gentlemanly Player by OHL GMs. Named to Canadian Junior National team. Named to OHL All-Star 3rd team.
Finished 4th on the team in scoring, 16th in the league, which tells you how much offense his team has. He’s surely benefited from this, but his offense has steadily improved over the years. His ability to be the first to the puck helps not only in getting the puck out of the defensive zone, but also in picking up loose rebounds. His defense has always been great. He can be a very good 3rd line guy. Doesn’t have the scoring ability for 1st or 2nd line duty, but would be perfect for 3rd line duty. There are a lot of players who fit that role perfectly, and he can fill that role very well for the Sharks. Read more»
The New Jersey Devils must have listened to their fans, because they went for offense in this year’s entry draft.
Of the Devils’ 12 draft picks, 10 were forwards. That’s a change of pace for
GM Lou Lamoriello, who usually likes to draft defensemen and goaltenders. As
it was, Lamoriello used his first pick (26th overall) to take a defenseman —
Mike Van Ryn of NCAA champion Michigan.
The most intriguing pick the Devils made came in the fourth round when they
brought Pierre Dagenais back into the fold. Jersey had let Dagenais (whom they
selected in the second round of the 1996 draft) back into this year’s draft
pool after they couldn’t sign him to a pro contract. But despite a 133-point
season with Rouyn-Noranda of the Quebec League, Dagenais slipped untouched
until the Devils took him 105th overall. Whether Dagenais slipped because he
didn’t sign the first time or because so many other NHL teams were busy
raiding the European market is a moot point. The Devils must make every effort
to sign him this time around. Otherwise, they will be passing up on a future
The other thing that can be said of this year’s draft is that you won’t be
seeing many of these players in the Jersey farm system any time soon. Half of
the players picked by the Devils are North American junior league players who
haven’t reached their 20th birthdays yet. Van Ryn and right winger Brian Read more»
On July 24, the St. Louis Blues announced they had signed forwards Marty Reasoner, Ladislav Nagy, Andrei Podkonicky, Derek Bekar, and Tyson Nash. They also signed defencemen Jason Widmer and Tyler Harlton, to contracts and these players will be in training camp in September. What will this mean for the Blues in 98-99 and beyond? Jason Widmer and Tyson Nash are bound for Worcester, barring unforseen developments. Nash played in Syracuse and Widmer in Kentucky and they should help the depth in Worcester. Nash plays LW, so anything he can offer will interest the Blues, who don’t have much depth on the wing. Widmer played at Worcester for a couple of seasons while it was an Islander affiliate, so perhaps he is a fan favorite of the Icecat faithful.