Sergei Berezin was drafted 256th overall in the 1994 NHL entry draft. Daniil Markov went to the Leafs 223rd overall in the 1995 draft. Tomas Kaberle was drafted 204th overall in the ’96 draft. The Maple Leafs have exhibited a tendency to find, develop and give an opportunity to talented players, no matter what round they are drafted. All 3 of the aforementioned players are part of the core of young players on the team as the Leafs enter the millenium season. Assistant GM and head of the NHL entry draft for the Leafs, Anders Hedberg, has become known for discovering the “diamonds in the rough” in these late rounds.
Morgan Warren, a right-winger out of the Moncton Wildcats franchise in the QMJHL, was drafted by the Leafs in the 5th round, 126th overall in the 1998 NHL entry draft. “Morgan has just not had many breaks go his way for us in his first two years”, states Frantz Bergevin-Jean, Moncton’s director of communications and assistant coach. “He has a high skill level, but you simply wouldn’t know it from the stats sheet,” he adds.
The 6-2, 190 lb. winger, born in Summerside, I.P.E., has the size, skills and skating ability to be an impact offensive forward. “We feel he could be a 40-goal scorer in our league in 99-00″, says Bergevin-Jean “as he has that type of ability. He reminds us of a young Mike Modano with his speed, creativity with the puck and his sniping ability, but every time he would get things going the last two years, something (usually injuries) would seem to slow him down”, he adds.
The 1998-99 hockey season was filled with ups and downs for Peter Ferraro. From being signed as a free agent by the Boston Bruins during the offseason, to making the starting line-up with the Bruins, to fighting through a string of injuries over a four month period, to being reassigned to Providence in the American Hockey League in early March, to leading Providence to the Calder Cup Championship and winning the Jack Butterfield Trophy as Playoff Most Valuable Player. Peter showed drive and determination to overcome the hard times and he ended the season on a very positive note.
Ferraro signed on with the Boston Bruins as a free agent on July 21, 1998. After spending the better part of three seasons (1995-96 through 1997-98) shuffling between the NHL and AHL, that road taking him from the New York Rangers to the Pittsburgh Penguins, and back to the Rangers organization, the stage was set for Peter to prove that he belonged in the ‘big show’.
The Blues gave some insight as to who they think are the top prospects in the organization. Fifteen players were selected to attend a camp designed to raise fitness awareness and inform the youngsters of the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Those in attendance included Daniel Corso, Brent Johnson, Jan Horacek, Reed Low, Maxim Linnik, Jame Pollock, Tyler Rennette, Didier Tremblay, Brad Twordik, Cody Rudkowsky, Matt Smith, Jamie Thompson, and Jason Widmer.
Players present from this years draft class were Barret Jackman and Chad Starling. The three day mini-camp focused on weight training, speed development, dietary programs, media relations orientation, and drug and alcohol awareness. This off-ice program is something the Blues believe is a good investment. So many players are drafted and then are expected to develop into professional athletes without any direction or support from the organizations that own their rights. Larry Pleau implemented this plan a year ago and only good things have resulted. Top players not in camp were Christian Backman, Ladislav Nagy, and Andrei Podkonicky
Part II: Early Inroads in Europe
While it is true that the Flyers early relations with players and officials in the major European hockey countries were often strained and sometimes downright hostile, the organization also has a parallel history of being surprisingly progressive in recognizing that the European continent had a lot to offer the NHL.
Often lost amidst the recounting of the bitter rivalry with the Soviets during the 1970s is the fact that Fred Shero, the Broad Street Bullies era coach of the Flyers, was a dedicated student of Russian hockey. Even during the days when the Iron Curtain was firmly in place, Shero was able to travel to Russia during the offseason to study the Soviet style of play and meet with Tarasov. Shero and Tarasov developed a strong admiration for one another and spent a good deal of time together, comparing notes on their respective hockey philosophies. Shero borrowed ideas on practice methods and game tactics from the Soviets and adapted them to be useful in an NHL setting. For example, Shero brought back from Moscow a three man passing drill which simultaneously utilized three pucks, rather than one.
Although often portrayed as an organization that turns its back on the European talent pool in the top rounds of the NHL draft and is less patient with young European players in the organization than with North American prospects, the Philadelphia Flyers actually have one of the more complex histories in regard to tapping in to the European talent pool. For a quarter century, the Flyers have had a love-hate relationship with the hockey countries on the other side of the Atlantic. While the Flyers carried open enmity toward the former Soviet hockey machine for a longer period of time than with many other NHL teams, the organization showed itself to be progressive-thinking in other regards, both in Russia and throughout the rest of hockey-playing Europe.
Part I. The Roots of Antagonism and the Winds of Change Read more»