MEANWHILE, DOWN AT THE FARM
The Forgotten Man
Remember this guy? Picked in the 6th round by the Leafs in 1992, he made his debut on ‘The Rock’ last year and proceeded to net himself 50 points in 64 games including 40 assists. It’s kind of hard to take someone like Mikael Hakansson seriously amidst all of the free agent signings, trades, and prospects vying to get some time with the big club. However, the fact of the matter is, the Swede could yet be a pivotal player on Toronto’s side this year. As most know, Jonas Hoglund is on his way out of the organization and when that happens a spot will be open on the roster for a responsible winger who can bring something to the offensive party. Many assume that winger will be Jeff Farkas, but the feeling here is that Farkas needs to rip it up in St. John’s once more before he is ready for the big show. Enter Mikael Hakansson. The 27 year old winger signed with the Leafs expecting to be able to crack the starting line-up at some point last season. But as fate would have it, the decision to come overseas was made late, the forward was out of condition and ended up in the AHL where injuries made his first year in North America somewhat of a wash. This campaign though is a different story. When healthy, Hakansson showed good tenacity and two way play and as his statistics attest more than a little flair for the passing game. If Hoglund does go before Farkas is ready, a smart bettor might put a farthing or two on this ex-Djurgartens product giving Travis Green, Shayne Corson, and Gary Valk a run f Read more»
During each of the last two off-seasons the Canadiens have found themselves without enough experienced NHL players to fill their roster. Fortunately, André Savard has been able to solve this problem. The recent acquisitions of Juneau, Dackell, and Quintal have increased the number of players with tangible NHL-experience to twenty-five; not including goaltenders.
This bolds well not only in regards to the team’s depth , but also in terms of intra-roster competition. The increase in the number of experienced players should force those players who find themselves on the bubble to work that much harder. Roster spots will have to be earned, rather than just acquired by default.
Of these twenty-five players with NHL experience. Fifteen of them are forwards, and ten are defensemen. Joé Juneau is the most experienced forward (616 games), while Stephane Quintal is the most experienced defenseman (822 games).
There is however a lack of balance as far as the forwards are concerned. They now find themselves with five natural centers (Perreault, Koivu, Bulis, Kilger, Darby). Although, three of them also have experience playing left wing. Seven of the remaining ten forwards are natural left wingers (Savage, Rucinsky, Zednik, Poulin, Juneau, Brunet, Odjick), fortunately five of these players have also played right wing. That said, there remains only three players who are natural right wingers (Dackell, Petrov, Asham); two of which are right handed.
Confusion aside, the team should adjust well to their new roles. Recent injury-plagued seasons Read more»
According to numerous sources, Wade Redden, Eric Brewer, Ed Jovanovski, Alex Tanguay and Ryan Smyth, among others, have been invited to a summer orientation camp, in preparation for the 2002 Olympic games in Salt Lake City. There is a clear indication that Canada is making an attempt to add some speed and youthful enthusiasm to an all-new version of its Olympic hockey squad.
It will be a while before the deciding reserves are announced, but so far there is a clearer sense of the attempt to construct a faster, more energetic team. The memories of the failure in Nagano still come to minds of Canadian hockey fans when the world winter Olympics are mentioned. The attempt to assemble a team based on experience, failed miserably. The 1998 squad looked tired and slow, showing little ability of putting the puck in the net. Although the gold medal game did not seem far away, Canada failed to score when it mattered most.
The key for Canada, as well as for any other hockey nation participating, will be to build a team based centrally on speed. With the large Olympic ice surface, skating will dominate. The key is not to build a Stanley Cup contender (and the 1998 team seemed to be built according to that idea), but a gold medal contender; two distinct goals which cannot be achieved using the same mind set. Let’s think of some recent Stanley Cup winning teams: Dallas, New Jersey, Colorado. Main players involved being Scott Stevens, Joe Nieuwendyk, Bobby Holik, Ray Bourque to name a few. Recently it has been elementary to note that to succeed in the Read more»
The Pittsburgh Penguins will recieve $4.9 Million in cash from Washington in addition to three prospects for Jagr and Kucera.
Konstantin Kolstov, the 1999 18th pick, will decide if he will remain in Russia or accept an invitation to Penguin training camp. His decision will be forthcoming according to his agent.
Brooks Orpick, the 2000 18th pick, will also decide relatively soon if he will complete his senior year at Boston College or accept an offer from the Pens.
Eric Meloche, the 1996 186th pick, has come to terms with Pittsburgh for the 2001-02 season. The 5’11” 195lbs. forward posted 20 goals and 20 assists for Wilkes-Barre last season in 79 contests.
Less than a month after being drafted by the Boston Bruins Jiri Jakes tells Peter Baptista of Hockey’s Future that he was surprised that he fell to the 5th round and would like a contract from Boston after this season.
PB: Were you surprised you slipped to the 5th round after being ranked 43rd among North American Skaters?
JJ: Quite surprised and nervous. I expected about 3rd, maybe 2nd but I was quite surprised but I can live with that.
PB: Had you spoken to the Bruins prior to the draft?
JJ: Not at all. No interview.
PB: Who did you have interviews with?
JJ: About 15, Columbus, Nashville, Chicago, Washington, Rangers. Can’t remember the rest.
PB: What is the biggest adjustment you had to make this year being your first year playing in North America?
JJ: Rink is smaller so have to play faster and be a little bit tougher. Have to move the puck a little bit quicker. Go to net a lot more.
PB: What is the strongest aspect of your game?
JJ: Make a good play. Make some good hits and score some goals
PB: What is the weakest aspect of your game?
JJ: I would think skating. I have to work on my skating.
PB: Will you be attending the Bruins training camp this year?
JJ: Yes I will.
PB: Describe your style. Read more»