The Blackhawks met the Dallas Stars in Monday -Tuesday exhibition games and the fans were treated with some prospect views but little in immediate help. The first game gave first glimpses at the progress of Mark Bell, Mike Souza, and new pros Kent Huskins and Mike Leighton, and amateur Igor Radulov.
Of this group, the guy closest to making the roster is Mark Bell. Mark Bell will be an NHLer player – that seems decided. On Monday night he showed improved speed, positioning and continued aggressive play. He scored after carrying in down the left wing in traffic and scored on a sharp angle almost over the goal line with and hard snap shot.
Prior to this season, Bell seemed a step behind the action and tentative. Tonight he showed controlled aggression, and he came to play. Bell was still at Left wing. He looked disciplined on the wing and made few errors in coverage and on offense.
Mike Souza reminded me of the Mark Bell of a year ago. Souza played well on a 3rd line and played well along the wall displaying good balance and physical board work. He gets were he is going, but just didn’t display quick feet. He just seemed behind the speed of the game in many instances. It moved at bit faster than he anticipated.
Kent Huskins had trouble with the strength of the attacking forwards. He also was unable to compensate for the speed the pro game is played. He can the puck better than he showed. Often, in his effort to speed it up. he was inaccurate. He has good size, used it on occasion, but wasn’t able to handle the stronger NHLers.
Mike Leighton came in and 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»
Though the promise was to go defense today, the Hawks did quite well at forward too. And a drop down deal today brought two additional picks.
San Jose was again this year, a willing participant in taking the #106 pick for San Jose’s #119, 186 and 216 picks.
The Hawks opened the fourth round taking RH D Brent MacLellan of Halifax, Nova Scotia with pick #104.
In talking to the 6’3″ 210 pounder, I asked the Rimouski defenseman how he thought he ended up a Blackhawk and he answered, “Good interview.” He was a likable conversationalist, who didn’t dodge my question of how he was known for his hitting and clear out abilities, but that scouts thought he didn’t make improvements this season. He answered that he thought he played the last third of the season strong and aggressively, and his “problem” early on is he started thinking he was a end rusher and scorer and forgot what got him where he was. (He usually makes the smart pass out the defensive zone.) Known to protect teammates,he was the alternate captain on team Orr at the 2001 prospects game.He will be at the Hawk camp in July and he said and knows that he can build stamina.
With pick #115, Mike Smith made his second annual western Russia pick ala Radulov last draft. It was virtual unknown Vladimir Gusev, a LHD who is 6’1″ 189 lber who played at Khabarovsk in Russia.
Pick #119 was LH Forward from the Russian superleague named Aleksey Zotkin, a 6 foot 200 lber from Magnitogorsk where he had 2 goals and 5 points in 40 games along with 34 pims. Neither was at the draft.
The fifth round is where I felt th Read more»
Atlanta’s winning of the draft lottery solidified the draft slotting for the 2001 draft in Sunrise, Florida on June 23 and 24th.
I would like to be the first to attempt to project the players to teams presently in the spots #1-8 leading up to the possible Hawk pick at #9. There is always the possibility that GM Mike Smith trades out of the #9 slot (though a questionable move in a draft with third tier up to pick #12) or out of the #29 pick which the Hawks obtained from the Detroit Red Wings in the Chris Chelios deal.
The Hawks will be picking around or lower than the slots listed below depending upon any additional draft picks added as supplementals to teams for loss of their free agents signed by other clubs:
1 – Hawks – 9th
1 – from Detroit – 29th
2 – from Stars – 61st
3 – Hawks – 75th
3 – from Flyers – 90th
4 – Hawks – 105th
4 – from Leafs – 113th
5 – Hawks – 141st
6 – Hawks – 176th
7 – Hawks – 206th
9 – Hawks – 270th
But who will be the player chosen from the 2001 crop to lead the 2004 Hawks out of the depths into playoff contention?
We can make a pretty good prediction based on that if we try and predict the players who will go first.
Atlanta, by way of their lottery win, move up two slots and have to decide between three top players in LW Ilya Kovalchuk,C Jason Spezza,and C/W Stanislav Tchistov. All have their strengths, but Kovalchuk destined to be the first Russian chosen #1 overall.