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»

IHL: Wolves are Team to Beat

by Parker Neale
on
The games aren’t won on paper; they are contested on the ice.
Therefore, it would be extremely arrogant to announce the Turner Cup
champion for the 2000-2001 season after only a few games have been
played. The only proclamation that can be made at this point in time is
that it is going to be very difficult for opponents to beat the Chicago
Wolves this season as they aim to win their third championship in four
years.

To start off with, the Wolves are oozing with experience from all levels
of professional hockey. There are only three players on the opening day
roster that have never competed in an NHL game; this includes the
youngsters Rick DiPietro, who has only played one year of college hockey
and Peter Nylander, who is playing in North America for the first time.
The third player, defenceman Bob Nardella is a veteran with loads of
professional hockey experience on this continent as well as abroad. The
other seventeen players have played an astounding three thousand, four
hundred and eighty-four NHL games between them. And, twelve of the
twenty players are age thirty or older. Such experience will go a long
way in an IHL campaign.

Up front, the Wolves are able to combine skill and grit. Jesse
Belanger, Guy Larose and Peter Nylander are mainly pure offensive
performers that can deliver on a consistent basis. Neil Brady, Glen
Featherstone, Mark Lawrence and Dan Plante are able to provide a Read more»

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