Leaving home…Final Part

by Robert Neuhauser
on
Well, the puck is dropped and now we know who left the Czech Republic to hone his skills in the CHL. It’s time for the last part of this series, but first let’s summarize a bit.

All of the 11 players featured in the first two parts chose to play in the CHL. I’m sure they won’t regret it as it looks like they have adjusted to the Canadian juniors quickly and are playing significant roles on their respective teams. (just like Toronto’s Frantisek Lukes, the St.Mike’s could hit the jackpot here!) Watch those players play and you’ll see that they can look forward to being drafted at the next NHL Entry Draft. So what about the rest of the list?

Good-sized sniper Martin Vymazal is now a Red Deer Rebel, along with former Plzen’s ELHD league star Ladislav Kouba. Vymazal proved he has a nose for the net when he recorded 21 goals in 28 games for Vsetin in the ELHD and was 21G + 6A in those games. Kouba was even better with 48 points (28G + 20A) in 29 games, that number of games played was enough for him to claim the team’s second-best scorer title. Both are offensively gifted wingers, 2001 eligible.

The new Oshawa General Ladislav Kolda was the best scoring defenseman for ELHD league champion HC Ceske Budejovice. 2002 eligible Kolda (born 10-16-1983) claimed two ELHD titles before leaving for the OHL. The former Under-16 and Under-17 teams member is a mobile defenseman with an offensive gift.
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Flyers Minor League Report

by Bill Meltzer
on
The AHL and ECHL seasons are underway. Here are some updates on the whereabouts and first week performances of some of the Flyers more notable minor league players.

Tomas Divisek: Out with a separated shoulder. The latest word is that he will be out until midseason.

Francis Lessard: Recovering from a broken jaw; has lost a good deal of weight. Still not ready to return to the lineup.

Roman Cechmanek: The Philadelphia Phantoms are basically a waystation for Cechmanek. The Czech Extraleague and national team veteran was sent to the Phantoms because of the outstanding preseason play of Maxime Ouellet. He will remain in the AHL until the Flyers figure out what they are going to do with him– bring him up, trade him to another NHL team, or let him go home. He has nothing to prove in the American Hockey League, except perhaps that he can handle the small rink game. Cechmanek is scheduled to be paid $1 million this season- $300,000 of which have already been paid in a signing bonus. If the Flyers keep him all season, they are responsible for the full $1 million, even if Cechmanek were to agree to spend the year in the AHL. Cechmanek, however, is under no obligation to play for the Phantoms. His contract allows him to return to his Czech team, Vsetin, at any point (with Vsetin then becoming responsible for the balance of his salary).
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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.

Back to Mother Russia: Vladimir Kulikov, the spunky little Russian goalie who performed so strongly at last year’s Rookie Camp and then again at the Main Camp this year, has returned home to play for Red Army this season … the Leafs were obliged to try find a job for the late-round 1999 draft pick somewhere in North America after he signed their minimum $40,000 contract offer (one that had been made simply to guard the team’s long term negotiating rights) … unfortunately, he had signed too late in order to be included the Canadian Hockey League’s European Draft … as a 19 year-old, he is too young to play in the minors and as a signed player, he’s ineligible for the U.S. junior league where the Leafs had hoped to place him …
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Tim Triumphant

by Peter Westermark
on
Goaltender Tim Thomas´ early season performances for AIK in the Swedish Elitserien is leaving hockey people wondering why he isn´t playing in the National Hockey League.

Being no stranger to the European game, the 26-year-old American arrived in Stockholm this summer after spending last season with the Detroit Vipers of the IHL. He had previously starred in the Finnish SM-Liiga for powerhouse HIFK Helsinki.

AIK has started the season remarkably well and a lot of the credit goes to Thomas who has backstopped the team to a placing at the top of the league table after eight games. Looking at the American´s statistics it is easy to understand why he is being hailed as a hero with barely one fifth of the season played.

His numbers are simply Hasek-like.

He is sporting a 94.4 save percentage and a goals against average at 1.72, and that is playing behind a defense that was average at best for the most part of last season. Thomas appears calm and quietly confident in the net, whether it´s cutting angles or aggressively challenging shooters.

”Thomas won the game for us today,” said AIK Head Coach Pär Mårts after a mid-october 4-0 road win over Björklöven in which AIK was outshot 37-19. ”We lacked organization, didn´t win any faceoffs or battles along the boards. I´m thanking Tim for the three points,” Mårts elaborated.

Björklöven´s Head Coach John Slettvoll agreed: ”Tim Thomas was unbelievable today.”
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15-year-old Looking to Improve Draft Stock in NOJHA

by Brad Coccimiglio
on

Name: Jeff Whitfield
Team: Soo Thunderbirds (NOJHA)
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 200 lbs
Age: 15
Position: Defense

Last year the Soo Thunderbirds boasted the OHL’s top draft choice in
centre Patrick Jarrett. This year the Thunderbirds boast another top
notch OHL prospect in defenseman Jeff Whitfield. Whitfield, 15, is 1
year removed from Bantam hockey in the Sault.

Whitfield is considered to be a top notch draft prospect for the 2001
OHL draft. I have seen him play a number of times and was very impressed
with what I saw. There are a few rough spots in his game but that’s
expected, especially considering he is playing against players 3 and 4
years older than he is.

The biggest thing I noticed about him is that he tries not to be fancy.
If he starts a rush he tends to not try to beat the defenseman with an
outstanding move. He is more likely to dump the puck in, let a shot go
or pass the puck off to a teammate.

If there is one problem with Whitfield’s game it is that he has
somewhat of a short fuse. He tends to let his opponents get the best of
him. His size, 6’2″ and 200 lbs, is intimidating enough, especially for
his age.

Any other problems with Whitfield’s game, and let me tell you that
there are not very many, will get better as he gets more experience and Read more»