Two of the most promising players the Sabres picked up in the 1999 draft are Buffalo’s first round selection Barrett Heisten (Left Wing, 20th overall), and one of their second round picks, Doug Janik (Defense, 55th overall). The two draft Sabre picks were both freshman standouts at the University of Maine and were cornerstones of the Black Bears’ 1999 NCAA Championship season. Heisten and Janik also played together in a National Development Program held last year.
Heisten, an Anchorage, Alaska native, seems to be a prototypical Buffalo Sabre. He turned down offers to play Major Junior so he could come to Maine. A lot of people were interested in him, as he is a player who can score and has speed, yet also possesses a nasty side. Sabres GM Darcy Regier stated that he “has some Rasmussen and Varada in him” (referring to gritty wingers Erik Rasmussen and Vaclav Varada). He stands at 6′ 1″, 191 lbs. and needs to work on his scoring; like the aforementioned Varada and Rasmussen, Heisten can score at times but can be very streaky. One has to keep in mind that the Barrett is only 18 and has time to develop. Up to this point he has tried to make up for a lack of scoring with speed, grit and tenacity and has been fairly successful at it. Heisten struggled early on in the 98-99 season but, after a strong performance at the ’99 World Junior Championships, he picked up his game tremendously and was named the Hockey East Player of the Month for his strong play during January.
With the losses of Valeri Kamensky, Theo Fleury, and Sylvain Lefebvre to free agency (or should I say the Rangers?) and Billington in a trade, the Avalanche are going to have some tough decisions to make this season. As well, the loss of Forsberg for the first few months, and Hejduk throughout training camp will leave some rather large holes in the Avalanche offense. This means that the Avalanche are going to have to call on some of their highly regarded prospects to pick up the slack, if the Avs are to avoid a start like they had in 98-99.
The first void to fill is going to be at center. Forsberg is going to be rehabbing until at least December, and it would be best for all involved if Forsberg were to take his time in recovering. After seeing what he can do after playing a full season, imagine what he could do with a full tank going into the playoffs… The player most likely to step in would be Alex Tanguay.
Tanguay, who spent last season with Halifax in the QMJHL, is a highly skilled center, in the mold of Joe Sakic. Widely regarded as one of the top prospects in the NHL, Tanguay scored 61 points in 30 games with the Mooseheads last season, after coming back from a concussion. These concussions are the question mark regarding Tanguay, as several careers have been cut short the past few years by concussions.
Here is a ranking and look at some of the top prospects from the OHL who are eligible for the 2000 Entry Draft. (NOTE: A player without comments has already had an in-depth accurate profile written on them. Just click on their respective link to view their profile)
1. Darryl Bootland – Toronto St. Mike’s
2. Lou Dickenson – Mississauga
3. Chris Eade – North Bay
4. Brad Boyes – Erie
5. Dan Growden – Windsor
6. Nikita Alexeev – Erie
7. Raffi Torres – Brampton
Comments: Finished second in team and rookie scoring to phenom Jason Spezza, a
pure sniper who also likes to crash the net. A fine two-way player who is
as steady as a rock, and is difficult to knock off his skates.
8. Bobby Turner – London
9. Jared Newman – Plymouth
10. Ryan Hare – Sarnia
Comments: A center/winger, this hometown product was Sting’s first round pick in
1998. Rookie season was marred by back injury, but that still did not slow
down this road-runner. An OHL scoring champion in the making once he
11. Chris Berti – Sarnia
The Los Angeles Kings thought they had their center of the future in Olli Jokinen as recently as last Spring. He was exactly what the Kings had longed for- a big, physical centerman with playmaking ability. Whenever teams called for trades, they were told that Jokinen was off limits. Now he is gone as part of the Palffy trade, and the Kings have quickly become thin at a key position- center ice.
While they did get the enigmatic Bryan Smolinski as part of the trade, the loss of Jokinen, Ferraro (free agency) and Perrault (trade last season) have left the Kings with an opening for one of their young center prospects. Much like defense, the Kings drafts and trades of the past will have to produce a player this season, furthering the need for Dave Taylor to face the music. The success or failures of some of these young forwards may well determine Taylor’s future as General Manager of the Kings.
The Kings are set with three centermen, Josef Stumpel on the first line, Smolinski on the second and crowd favorite Ian Lapperiere as the center on the checking line. That would likely leave two center positions available, one third line center and one reserve. The Kings signed journeyman center Len Barrie who has played in Europe the last two seasons and is 30 years old. He would appear to be the safety net in case the young players cannot handle the rigors of the NHL. These are the rest of the centers with shots at the roster:
With no less than 10 NHL drafted players and a few other interesting names, such as 2000 entry draft top prospect Lasse Kukkonen on the ice, this is one of the first and most important games to report from this season. Reason being that in preseason games such as this one, young promising players often get a chance to show what they are made of. Luleå gave two players from their U20 team a chance, although they weren’t played very much. Defenseman Anders Sundvall hardly played all. Winger Daniel Lundholm only played the first half, in which he was close to scoring for the first time in senior hockey. Kärpät is a team that has an amazing number of good prospects, and many of them really showed why they are prospects in this game. A sad thing, however, was that the Toronto 1997 draft pick Jonathan Hedström wasn’t able to play due to an injury he suffered earlier this week in a charity soccer game. This was supposed to be his first game in the Luleå jersey, but that has been put on the back burner as he recovers. Below is a report from this game. The players whose names are written in bold text are those mentioned in the ”Player comments” section.
Luleå started the game with an early goal at the expense of hot 2000 prospect, Lasse Kukkonen. Read more»