It was bound to happen eventually. Former first round pick Nolan Baumgartner just wasn’t a part of the Capitals future anymore. After Nolan’s contract expired at the end of the season, there didn’t seem to be much reason to re-sign him.
Capitals’ GM George McPhee traded Baumgartner to the Blackhawks for defenseman Remi Royer in an exchange of headaches. Chicago fans had made Royer a target after watching him make several mistakes in his brief NHL stint in 1998. Both these players seem to hold a wealth of potential, but neither has put it together enough to secure a job in the big leagues.
The Capitals have made it their mission to acquire more toughness this off-season. They started by trading for defenseman Stephen Peat, and drafted Ryan VanBuskirk a month later. Two weeks ago, they brought back a familiar face by signing Free Agent Craig Berube. Now, with this deal for Royer, the Caps are certainly a tougher team – but it remains to be seen if they are better.
The Capitals main problem now seems to be an abundance of defenseman. They currently have 15 blueliners under contract, and two more ready to turn pro, in Bjorn Nord and Ryan VanBuskirk. Added to that are their three Restricted Free Agents: Sergei Gonchar, Ken Klee and Brendan Witt. With NHL teams carrying seven defensemen and AHL teams employing eight, the Caps have to find a place for the five extra defensemen to play.
With Tore Vikingstad likely to partake in the St.Louis Blues minicamp before returning to his Swedish club, the Norwegian Hockey Community was excited when they heard much rant and rave about Trond Magnussen and his brilliant World Championships but as draft day closed in…his name was not found on any of the ratings boards even as an “overage” player. The smallish Magnussen, a player in Fårjestad of Sweden showed a dominating team oriented performance against the Canadians at the World`s and was being scouted by Nashville, Islanders and others…but was not taken or offered a contract. Per Skroder of Frolunda (Sweden) was joined by Anders Myrvold (AIK) as other possible players of interest to the NHL clubs but none was offered a deal.
The next generation of Norwegian players includes Patrik Thoresen, son of long time Norwegian star Petter, Dan Tanges-Rogle(Sweden) and Anders Fredriksen lead the way. Lars Nagel who had been a bright spot in NEJHL was offered scholarships to atleast one Division One University (Yale) but there is no word on whether he will attend school there or stay home and play in Norway. The future is somewhat brighter with Espen Knutsen`s return to the NHL (Columbus) and the fairings at the 2000 World`s by Team Norway. But again time will tell.
Former Canadian Junior and Montreal Pick Jarl Ygranes who played solid hockey for Frisk(Nor.Elite) has been training like a monster and is headed back to a strong Frisk side led by former NHLer Serge Boisvert.
The defending NCAA hockey champs will have a unique feature for their new arena when it opens next year. That feature, thanks to Las Vegas tycoon and UND alumni Ralph Engelstad, is a 26 feet long, 19 foot high organ. Engelstad gave the school $100 million for a new 12,000-seat arena to be built on campus and now he has donated the organ. The instrument dates to the 1920s and is made in the Art Deco style — detailed with pillars and bright colors. It’s not a pipe organ. It’s a dance organ. Dance organs were once called fair organs because they were popular during turn-of-the-century fairs and carnivals. The organs later became popular in European dance — hence the name dance organ. But, much like player pianos, dance organs play programmed music, which Engelstad and UND can program for their needs. Some of the musical instruments in the device are flutes, drums and accordions. Engelstad had it refurbished by prisoners participating in a program in Nevada to help train inmates in a trade. contractors don’t plan to install the refurbished organ until the arena is almost complete, in about a year. At that time, the contractors will install it in the arena’s Fighting Sioux Club. It will overlook Engelstad’s bowl-shaped arena and will be visible from most seats. People can also view it in the club. No other arena in teh country has such an organ.
With a state-of-the-art arena, luxury locker rooms, weight rooms, and now an antique organ, Dean Blais has one of the best recruiting tools in all of college hockey…Ralph Engelstad.
Bruce Cassidy was named head coach of the IHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins, succeeding Guy Charron who left to become an assistant coach with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks.
Cassidy, 35, began his head coaching career during the 1996-97 season, after a 12-year playing career as a defenceman in the NHL, IHL, AHL and Europe. Chicago’s first selection in the 1983 draft, Cassidy played parts of six seasons with the Blackhawks, totalling 37 games and 17 points (4-13-17).
He spent the majority of his career in the IHL with the Saginaw Gears and Indianapolis Ice, appearing in 312 games between 1987 and 1996.
After retiring early in the 1996-97 season, Cassidy became head coach of Jacksonville of the East Coast Hockey League.
Cassidy was head coach and director of hockey operations with Indianapolis of the IHL in the 1998-99 before taking over the ECHL Trenton Titans last season as head coach and director of hockey operations.
On June 8, 1996 the Utah Grizzlies defeat the Orlando Solar Bears 3-2 in overtime to complete their second consecutive four-game sweep of the Turner Cup Finals before a record playoff crowd of 17,381 at the Delta Center in Salt Lake City.
IHL TEAMS PLACE IN IHL HISTORY
CLEVELAND LUMBERJACKS: The franchise has been in existence for 37 years, but started in Muskegon, Mich., playing uder the name of the Zephyrs from 1960-65, the Mohwaks from 1965-84, and the Lumberjacks from 1985-92. The team relocated to Cleveland in 1992-93.
The Rangers, a club last year without heart went out and bought some as well as healed some wounds with the signing of the old warrior Mark Messier which brought many smiles to the faces of the New York faithful and sent a message to the kids in the system that “you are atleast two years away from having a shot in the show”!. Messier bring the lockerroom leadership that the blue shirts so badly needed last season and joy to the vendors as his no.11 will sell like hot cakes once they are ready for sale.
One has to question the direction Glen Sather is taking. The move to hire Ron Low, everyone`s second candidate instead of John Paddock, Kevin Lowe or even John Tortella was the first shot. The second is the signing of another project in Vladimir Malakhov while dumping the one defender who cared last season Mathieu Schneider… the signing of Messier was agreeable on all sides the youth question was again brought up. As the Rangers dumped top collegiate scout Herb Hammond and goalie coach Sam St.Laurent the two who actually made the Smith drafts acceptable, Glen Sather and his lackluster drafting ability took control of the ship Ranger and placed even more pressure on Mark Messier, moreso than was placed on him prior to the 1994 Cup victory.
One expects many more moves to be made and do not be suprised if Petr Nedved is part of a package. Thus with the 2000-01 season approaching one has to look through the depth chart and list the young players in the system with a shot at the “show”.