This article will be the first in a series devoted to mid-term progress reports of all the Buffalo Sabres’ prospects, with each article covering a different position.
There are many NHL GMs who stress the importance of being strong up the middle. While Buffalo has been able to draft or acquire some solid talent for the center position in recent years, they have had trouble landing a top-flight pivot who can create offensive opportunities for both himself and the players around him. This isn’t to say that Buffalo doesn’t have some help on the way in their prospect ranks, but it is definitely a position that will need to be addressed in the near future.
Topping Buffalo’s list of prospects at the center position is Kingston Frontenacs star Mike Zigomanis. Mike had an excellent 99-00 season, and he has so far followed up with an equally fine first half to the 00-01 campaign. Ziggy is currently the Frontenacs leading scorer with a total of 60 points (31G, 29A), a point total that places him in the OHL’s top 20 scorers. His goal total has him tied for 6th in the OHL in that category, with 6 of those goals coming on the power play, 2 in shorthanded situations, and 2 markers being game-winners. Mike has been honored as both Player of the Week and Month in the OHL (November), which was no doubt a factor in his being named to the OHL’s Eastern Conference All-Star squad. Zigomanis also was selected to play for Canada in the WJC, which was noted in a previous article.
Kingston is currently in the thick of the Read more»
As the title of this article suggests, there is a fair amount of Sabres’ prospect news to catch up on. Some of the items may have already received a mention at the HF Sabres Message Board, but I think it is worth repeating them in this column so that those who had not previously seen these news items will now be caught up.
There is also some information that is new, including an assessment of the changes to the Top 20 list. A couple familiar names have been removed from the list, while some new prospects have moved up the charts, so there is definitely a minor changing of the guard amongst the Buffalo prospects.
D Dimitri Kalinin and LW Denis Hamel both have made the most of their rookie seasons, as they are inexperienced players who have stepped in and contributed immediately. Kalinin has been the more highly touted of the two, as he has performed at a high enough level to have some supporters whispering “Calder Trophy nominee” (Dimitri has struggled some of late, however). Dimitri was always known for his strong defensive play, but he has also exhibited some offensive ability which will only improve as he becomes more confident.
Meanwhile, Denis Hamel has quietly been playing solid hockey, mostly on Buffalo’s 4th line. Denis has chipped in the occasional goal while concentrating on playing a grinding, defensive style that is sure to please coach Lindy Ruff. Hamel has scored 7 goals, with 3 of those goals being game-winners.
Both players have played at least 25 games this Read more»
The 2001 World Junior Championships, which took place in Moscow, Russia, have wrapped up, with the Czech Republic repeating as gold medallists as they defeated Finland 2-1 in the gold medal game. While the Sabres had some representation in this tournament, the performances of those prospects was largely forgettable.
had the most productive tourney of the 3 Buffalo prospects taking part in the WJC, but most of his production came in one game against a lesser opponent (Belarus). Ziggy was on a line with Raffi Torres in the Belarus game, a game in which Mike tallied a goal and two assists. Mike’s performance so overwhelmed the Canadian coaches that they decided to make Zigomanis the 13th forward for the remainder of the tournament. Mike scored just one goal the rest of the way, leaving him with 4 points in 7 games.
There were some Canadian fans that complained about Mike’s lack of playing time, as he seemed to make things happen when he was in the game, so it is somewhat of a mystery as to why he didn’t play more. I’m sure it was disappointing for Zigomanis, as he missed a chance at playing for Canada last year due to an injury.
and his Russian teammates had high hopes as the host team, but their tournament ended in disappointment as they could only muster a 7th place finish. Denisov was paired with Alexandre Selouianov throughout the tournament, a partnership that did not go nearly as well as his combination with Karil Safranov in last year’s WJC. The Russian def Read more»
In my search for information on some of the Buffalo Sabres’ European prospects, I sometimes make use of a language translation web site. In particular, this site features a Russian-to-English translation feature which, when translating the name of Buffalo’s 2000 1st pick Artem Kriukov, spits out the curious moniker “Artem Of Hooks”. Perhaps Artem’s ancestors envisioned future generations of Kriukov’s spending large blocks of time in the penalty box, but I’m sure the Sabres would rather see Artem’s name appearing amongst the NHL’s scoring leaders at some future time.
In spite of the available translation site, however, finding information on both Artem and Buffalo’s 2000 5th Round pick, D Denis Denisov, has been difficult. With regard to Kriukov, he is currently playing for SKA St. Petersburg of the Russian Superleague (RHL), which is Russia’s equivalent to the NHL. Artem began the 2000-01 season playing for Yaroslavl of the RHL, where he appeared in just 2 games, registering no points. He also spent some time with Yaroslavl’s farm team, where he apparently registered 5 goals in 9 games. Prior to moving to St. Petersburg, Artem played for Russia in the Four Nations Cup Tournament which took place in Uddevalla, Sweden November 10-12. The Russian team finished the tournament 2-1, with Artem registering no points in the 3 games played.
Now that Artem is playing for St. Petersburg, he should receive more playing time than he would have received in Yaroslavl. The experience may not be the most pl Read more»
Buffalo sports fans can attest to the agony of having one of their teams’ make it to the championship round in consecutive years, only to end up the loser, as the Buffalo Bills did in the early 90’s. Rochester has experienced this feeling the last two years, as they watched their Rochester Americans lose twice in the Calder Cup finals. The hope was that the 2000-01 edition of the Amerks could at last finish the job, but early returns suggest that this team may not be up to the task.
It is probably no surprise that the Amerks have struggled this season, as they are missing the likes of J.P. Dumont, Maxim Afinogenov, Dimitri Kalinin and Denis Hamel, all players currently with the Buffalo Sabres who were involved in last year’s run to the AHL finals. In addition, offensive star Domenic Pittis has moved on to the Edmonton organization, which has further depleted Rochester’s firepower. In addition to the loss of some highly skilled players, the Amerks 99-00 MVP, goaltender Mika Noronen, has been just average so far this year.
The talent drain shows in Rochester’s current team statistics, as they are currently 3rd in the AHL’s Mid-Atlantic division, and 12th overall. The Amerks power play is ranked 13th (out of 20 teams), while their penalty killing unit is 14th in the AHL. Offensively, Rochester is tied for 12th overall in goals scored, which is a further indication of the erosion of talent.
The main focus of this article will be to update the play of some of Buffalo’s leg Read more»