Everyone around the NHL knew that the re-signing of goaltender Sean Burke to a 3 year contract officially meant that the Phoenix Coyotes decided to start taking offers on goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who hasn’t played a game in the NHL since the ’98-’99 season because of a contract dispute. Right from the get-go lots of teams were interested in acquiring the Russian netminder’s services, with the front-runners being the Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Atlanta Thrashers. Coyotes’ General Manager Cliff Fletcher was offered a deal by the Tampa Bay Lightning that he couldn’t refuse.
Heading to the Tampa Bay Lightning is of course Nikolai Khabibulin, along with defenseman Stanislav Neckar. In return the Coyotes acquired an excellent group of young players in defenseman Paul Mara, forwards Mike Johnson and Ruslan Zainullin, and a 2nd round draft pick in the up-coming 2001 Entry Draft. In my opinion, this was a great deal for the Coyotes. They acquired some great young players for a guy that was sitting at home and wasn’t helping their team.
Paul Mara is a 6’4 205 pound, 21 year old steady two-way defenseman with a good offensive upside. He was drafted 7th overall in the 1997 Draft by the Lightning, and he was highly regarded in their organization until this season, when they grew tired of Mara’s lack of development. They felt he hasn’t been improving much over the last year or so and don’t envision him becoming the Brian Leetch/Chris Chelios type of defenseman he has been compared to. With the depth at defense in the Tampa Bay organization, they felt it wo Read more»
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.
Scouting staff prepares for D-Day: While the Maple Leafs may have permanently suspended efforts to acquire Eric Lindros, the team’s scouting staff is in the field preparing data on other potential trade acquisitions as March 13th nears … led by personnel director Mike Penny, the club held its mid-season scouting meetings during the 3rd week of February … pro scouts Murray Oliver, Floyd Smith and Mark Yannetti have been particularly busy around the league as the deadline approaches … in recent days, Toronto’s bird dogs have been most prominent at games involving Anaheim, Calgary, Long Island and Phoenix … this also is an important time of year for Toronto’s amateur scouts, who are making final evaluations for the upcoming Entry Draft in Sunrise, Florida … under the leadership of new amateur scouting director Mark Hillier, Toronto’s 5 North American-based scouts are now evaluating the players likely to be available when the Maple Leafs exercise 5 picks somewhere between numbers 15 and 55 … in Europe, where Thommie Bergman and Leonid Vaysfeld maintain the highly effective operation started by Anders Hedberg, Leafs’ scouts will be out in force at the European junior championships in April …
Rumours: There is much to talk about as we enter the final week of NHL trade speculation for the 2000/2001 season … whispers floating ba Read more»
NEW LOOK ICEDOGS KEEPING IT CLOSE
With the late season addition of three Mississauga Chargers (Provincial Junior A), the Mississauga IceDogs have put together respectable back-to-back efforts in front of the Hersey Centre faithful. Newcomers Mike Oliveria, Chris Curran and Jason Francis, fresh from a semi-final battle with the Milton Merchants, have been asked to fill the IceDogs roster for the remaining part of the OHL season. Their gritty, “nothing to loose” attitude has been a welcome ingredient to a wounded Mississauga squad that just hasn’t had the man power to stay close in recent games.
Mike Oliveria is a talented centre who led the Chargers in scoring this season with 80 points in 48 games. He plays a very determined brand of hockey and is tough to check off the puck. The shifty forward has a great imagination and anticipates the play well at both ends of the ice. IceDogs’ head coach Rick Vaive displayed much confidence in Oliveria, sending the rookie out to centre a five on three penalty kill in his first game against the Sarnia Sting.
Left winger Chris Curran was the IceDogs’ seventh pick (9th round, 167 overall) at the 2000 OHL Priority Selection. He is a product of the Mississauga Senators midget system and made the jump to the Mississauga Chargers this season. The two-way winger had a strong season posting 44 points in the 45 games he played. The six-foot, 160 pounder lead the Chargers in penalty minutes for 2000-2001 spending 112 minutes in the “sin bin”.
Jason Francis is a diminutive (5’ 6”) Read more»