The Man from the Rock

by pbadmin
on
This is the season that Dan Cleary drops the rock of his doubters and the rest of the league. Drafted 13th overall in 1997 by the Chicago Blackhawks the world seemed to be smiling on him and was to be the next great power type forward in the organization.

However things soured a little for him for a couple years which stemmed from being brought up to the NHL too early in the 1997-98 and 1998-99 seasons instead of allowing him to stay in the farm system and grow.
All the bouncing around from Chicago to Bellville to Indianapolis back to Chicago than to Portland before being part of a trade that brought him to the Oilers at the trading dead line in March of 1998, stunted his development and confidence.

After a full season in Hamilton with regular linemates Brian Swanson and Michel Riesen where he displayed the reasons why he was picked so high in the draft. After producing 74 points in 58 games in Hamilton and 3 goals and 2 helpers in 17 games in Edmonton he did not look out of place on a line with Doug Weight and Billy Guerin in the playoff’s. His performance was enough to garner a second chance by the brass in Edmonton to crack the line up this season but he had to come in great shape display heart and desire that was lacking in the past.

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Center of Attention

by pbadmin
on
Strength down the middle is a necessity to succeed in many aspects in the game of hockey and Oilers organization has been lacking depth and talent in area for some time. But that is not the case anymore after top brass got a good look at some up and comers over training camp and the preseason.

A pleasant surprise was the play and maturity of Mike Comrie a 3rd round pick in 1999 who has play the last couple seasons with Michigan. An exceptional playmaker with great vision he often draws players to him to allow his linemates space. Despite his size at 5-9/175 he shows tremendous grit and tenacity and is willing to get his nose dirty and roam in traffic. Has the skills and desire to become a solid center but needs to bulk up to 190 lbs to handle the day to day pounding.

His rival in the college ranks Michigan Spartan stand out Shawn Horcoff received rave reviews as well. Displaying the defensive awareness that made him the defensive forward of the year and showed the spark of offensive prowess he had last season while battling Mike Comrie for the scoring title in CCHA. Has an ideal combination of size and quickness with good face off capabilities and together they should make a solid one-two counter punch at center in the near future.

The third player that came out of the U.S. college ranks was Alaska born Brian Swanson. Had great career at Colorado College compiling 88 goals and 144 assists in four years, solid first year as a pro in Hamilton. Read more»

The Weekend Warrior

by Randy Nicholson
on

Another in a series of weekly articles summarizing activity in Leafland during the previous 7 days – with some personal observations, commentary, prospect updates and fun thrown in for good measure.

Camp cuts – round two: The Toronto Maple Leafs this week announced that five additional players have been assigned to St. John’s of the AHL … they are forwards Konstantin Kalmikov, Shawn Thornton and Michel Travnicek and defencemen Petr Svoboda and Dimitri Yakushin … Kalmikov played with St. John’s last season and scored a career high 28 points (8G,20A) in 78 games … Thornton also played with St. John’s last year, scoring 16 points (4G,12A) in 60 games and leading the team in penalty minutes for the third straight year with 316 … Travnicek, who was Toronto’s 9th choice 1998, played with Litinov of the Czech Elite League last season and scored 9 points (3G,6A) in 51 games …Yakushin is also starting his third season with St. John’s, where he scored 14 points (G,13A) in 64 games last season … Svoboda, the most surprising name to be included on this list, played with Trinec of the Czech Elite League last season and has been a standout at the Leafs’ Main Camp this month … Toronto’s rationale seems to be that they want the young Czech blueliner to log heavy ice time early in the season while they are in the process of settling personnel on their NHL roster …
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Rangers’ Preseason News

by Brandon LeBourveau
on
Well, the waiver draft came and went, and like I said in my early
article, not many players change teams and only 5 did this year. I’m very
pleased to see no one got taken from the Rangers, especially JF Labbe who I
thought for sure would be taken. I might have liked to see Rich Pilon or John
MacLean be selected, but because of their age and salaries, all 29 teams
passed. However, the Rangers did select a player, 27 yr. old Swede Andreas
Johansson. Johansson spent the ’99-00 season with the Tampa Bay Lightning and
then the Calgary Flames. But don’t expect Johansson to be a Ranger any time
soon, as he signed with a team in Sweden for this upcoming season. Maybe he
has a job with the Rangers in the future, but not as of now.

To touch up on an earlier note, JF Labbe now will likely be the backup to
McLean on the opening night roster because stud prospect Johan Holmqvist, who
I thought played well enough to make it, was sent to Hartford of the AHL on
Wednesday. I am kind of disappointed by the move, however it probably will be
best for Holmqvist so spend this season in the AHL, than fight for the backup
job next season when McLean likely won’t be a Ranger as he is in the last
year of a 2 year contract.

I didn’t get to see last night’s 2-2 tie with New Jersey, but I heard
that Jason Labarbera, who was called up when Holmqvist was sent down, had a
great game. He gave up 2 soft goals in the first period, but shutout the Read more»

Youngsters the Stars of Flyers 2000-2001 Pre-season

by Bill Meltzer
on
With only one preseason game remaining before the start of the regular season, the story of the Philadelphia Flyers training camp has been the rapid emergence of a corps of young players. The Flyers are faced with a number of roster decisions that they did not initially anticipate having to make for at least one more season. From the looks of things now, their minds seem almost made up to open the season with up to three rookies on the team- 2000 first round pick Justin Williams (about to turn 19), 1999 first rounder Maxime Ouellet (age 19), and 21 year old Czech center Petr Hubacek. Hopefully, the Flyers will keep their young players’ long term development in mind when they make their decision.

At the Flyers rookie camp before the start of training camp, the most impressive position players by far were Williams, Hubacek, and Vaclav Pletka. All three showed above average skating ability and soft hands.
Pletka was no surprise, having been one of the top scorers in the Czech Extraleague last season. The degree of skill refinement shown by Williams and Hubacek were more surprising.
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