USHL 2001-2002 Preview
It is time my friends, to begin another year of fast-paced, action-packed USHL hockey. Changes are aplenty this year with the additions of the Topeka Scarecrows and the Tulsa Crude. Topeka joins the league after being a minor league franchise. The fans have been a little skeptic about the quality of play they are paying for, but will soon find out it is well worth their money. Tulsa joins the league after many years being known as the Dubuque Fighting Saints. A handful of former Saints along with the entire staff made the move with the team in hopes of revamping what once was a proud franchise.
Topeka and Tulsa will move to the Western Division of the league and the Des Moines Buccaneers will then be bumped over to the Eastern Division, which better suits their location. The Cedar Rapids Roughriders look to improve upon their playoff appearance last season as their shelves are stocked this year. A lot of new faces will take the ice this year with many of the most recent stars moving on to the Collegiate or Pro ranks. This opens the door for new stars to be made. All told, it has the makings of another fantastic season of hockey in the Midwest.
1. Des Moines Buccaneers
Des Moines joins the Eastern Division this season as mentioned, and although the East certainly is tough, it clearly has not had the balance of the Western Division that Des Moines has been accustomed to. With that being said, they are my pick to win the East. T Read more»
The most notable rookie to make the Blue Jackets is Rostislav Klesla, a Czech defensman drafted fourth overall last year. Klesla is an early Calder finalist. He could win the hardware but it must be noted that young defenseman take longer to mature than forwards, see Chris Pronger and Ed Jovonovski. Klesla played only 9 games for Columbus before returning to Brampton. In the Juniors, Klesla improved his game and point total, from 45 to 54, and really improved during the postseason, scoring two goals and adding 9 assists. Klesla might, and hopefully will, improve the team PP, something Petteri Nummelin could never do last year.
Another defenseman looking to improve the PP is Radim Bicanek, another Czech who was claimed from Chicago in the Expansion Draft. After floating around the minors for a few years, Radim scored 22 goals and lead AHL defensemen with 65 points.
Up front another two young players made the final team: Chris Nielsen and Jody Shelley. Both bring qualities that Columbus needs, but both are totally different players.
Nielsen is a hard working, two-way forward, who plays both center and left wing. He played in 29 NHL games last year and figures to increase his icetime from the 10 minuted he played last year. Nielsen has a shot to see time on the PK, although he was not used in that role last year.
Jody Shelley is a player who knows his role, a fighter. Last year, Shelley fought and battled his way to 357 PIM with Syracuse of the AHL. In his one NHL game last year he managed 10 PIM. Shelley brings Read more»
Making the Cut: The Inaugural Edition
Welcome to the first ever feature of “Making the Cut” at Hockey’s Future! We hope this feature can help you track your favorite prospects and see if they made an NHL opening night squad. Hockey’s Future is also planning to get to have this list for the NHL playoff rosters and possibly expanding out to the junior and Minor League teams as well down the road. But in the meantime, please read on and enjoy!
Anaheim Mighty Ducks: G Ilya Bryzgalov, LW Timo Parssinen, D Antti Jussi Niemi.
Atlanta Thrashers: RW Ilya Kovalchuk, LW Dany Heatley, RW Brad Tapper, C Kamil Piros.
Boston Bruins: D Nick Boynton, D Pavel Kolarik, G Tim Thomas
Buffalo Sabres: None
Calgary Flames: C Steve Begin, C Chris Clark
Carolina Hurricanes: LW Erik Cole
Chicago Blackhawks: LW Mark Bell
Highly skilled Chuck Kobasew, who left Boston College to join the Kelowna Rockets has continued to give fans and management of the Rockets more excitement than they can handle and he hasn’t even played a game yet. As was written in my article yesterday, Kobasew was slated for an opening day roster spot with the Calgary Flames, however the Flames and Kobasew’s agent were unable to come to contract terms and he was returned to junior yesterday afternoon.
After scoring five goals in six exhibition games for the offensively starved Flames, Kobasew looked like a lock to dress for Calgary’s opener against arch-rival Edmonton tonight, however, a deal couldn’t be consummated in order for Chuck to be in the line up, so he was sent to Kelowna. So for now, Rockets fans will be hoping Kobasew can give them as much excitement on the ice as he has off the ice so far.
Bruce Hamilton took a risk this past summer and sent forward Chris DiUbaldo plus futures to the Prince George Cougars for the rights to Kobasew who at the time was still a member of the Boston College Eagles. Hamilton gambled that he could talk the Osoyoos native into coming to Kelowna and play close to family and friends, but at first it appeared Chuck was going to stay at school. However, after a visit to Kelowna and some soul searching, Kobasew opted to forego his final three years of a full ride scholarship at Boston College and play for the Rockets. All seemed peachy in Ogopogo land.
Chuck was no longer in need of protecting his college eligibility so next up on his agenda was a spin at the Flam Read more»