Steve Valiquette’s stellar play in January earned him honors as ECHL Rookie of the month, as well as Goaltender of the month. Steve was stellar posting a 1.78 GAA during a month when his team experienced a rash of injuries and call-ups, making his performance is even more impressive. However, Steve is not the only hot Islanders prospect. Both Ray Giroux and Warren Luhning are having excellent season’s and were about to be recalled before they were injured early in 1999. Hopefully they will be able to regain their top form upon their returns.
Many of the Islanders top prospects have stepped their games up as of late. Mike Rupp has been coming on after Zehr was traded opening up a spot on Erie’s top line. Mike has posted 4 goals and 9 points in his last 10 games to go along with 18 penalty minutes. These numbers show falshes of Mike’s potential as a power forward. Sean Haggerty recently broke out of his post All-Star slump with 5 goals and 9 pts in his last 10 games as well. Bubba Berensweig also ended his drought with 7 points in his last 7 games. Vladimir Orszagh is enjoying a recent hot streak with 6 goals and 10 points in his last 10 games. And after not recording a goal in his first 30 games Evgeny Koroloev sparked the Lowell team with his first two professional goals in a recent game.
Montreal has drafted Centers as their top two picks in each of the last two drafts. But goaltending still remains their deepest position, with Garon and Theodore projected to be number one goalies at the NHL level. Currently the Habs have only adequate prospects on defense. A defenseman with the ability to quarterback the power play has remained ever elusive. Only two of the Habs current defensemen were drafted by the team.
POS HT WT AGE DRAFTED
Mike Ribeiro C 5-10 167 20 D-Mtl98 (2/45)
GP G A PTS +/- PIM PP SH
98-99 Stats 60 59 90 149 +55 125 19 7
#1 Strength- Vision and creativity.
#1 Weakness- Size.
Playing with Rouyn-Noranda, the QMJHL’s top offensive team, Ribeiro has been on fire this season. He is currently averaging almost 2.5 points per game and is leading the CHL in scoring. His +55 is a product of his great offensive skills, while his 7 short handed goals testify to his intelligence and ability to create offense in almost any situation. His penalty minutes have more than doubled his total from last year, which indicate he is drawing much more attention from his opponents, but is not backing down.
Ribeiro’s output of 6 points in 3 games is slightly below his season average. He had 2 points in a 6-5 win over Acadie-Bathurst, 2 goals and 2 assists in a 7-4 win over Rimouski and was shut out in a 4-0 loss to Shawinigan. (Week ending 2/21/99)
Sioux City clinches birth while Des Moines continues to roll
The Sioux City Musketeers became the 4th team to clinch a USHL playoff birth over the weekend with 2 victories. The Musketeers scored 4 goals in the first period of Friday’s game against the Fargo-Moorhead Ice Sharks and that would be enough as they eventually roll to a 7-2 victory. Morgan Roach, last weeks offensive player of the week, got the game winning goal in the Friday contest. Ruslan Fedotenko also added to his league leading goal tally twice on Friday bringing his season total to 47. Sioux City then took a game from the Twin Cities Vulcans 5-2 the following night to join Des Moines, Omaha, and Green Bay as teams that have clinched playoff births.
Des Moines continued their winning ways with a 10-5 drubbing of Twin Cities on Friday and then blanking the Dubuque Fighting Saints 6-0 in a game played in Davenport, IA on Saturday night. The wins were numbers 6 and 7 in a row, which is the longest current winning streak in the league. While offense was the order of the night on Friday with Des Moines receiving goals from Peter Sejna(2G), Pete Fregoe(2G), Nick Field (2G), Noah Clarke, Jerrid Reinholz, Nick Stodgell, and Garrett Stafford, they quickly turned to stingy defensive play on Saturday. Matt Carney stopped all 23 Dubuque shots and CSB ranked Matt Shasby was a +3 with an assist. Des Moines continues to lead the league with 79 points and an impressive record of 25 wins, 5 losses, and one shootout loss.
For those who continue to believe that the Washington Capitals still have one of the best groups of prospects in all of hockey, I would suggest you take a another look. The continual injury crisis in Washington has slowly and steadily drained much of Washington’s youth, rushing many of them into the NHL. Now, if you choose to include players like Jan Bulis, Jaroslav Svejkowski , Richard Zednik and Brendan Witt as prospects, there is little doubt that the Capitals are still powerful. However, in all fairness, all four of those players have shown they do belong in the NHL and they can no longer truly be considered prospects. The current state of looks rather bleak mainly because Washington has had two sub par drafts in a row and much of their current talent pool appears to be more career minor leaguers than NHL. If I was to honestly rank the Capitals I would have to place them somewhere between 8 and 14.
Examining the players currently within the system, the Capitals do show some balance. They appear to have at least one fairly strong prospect at every position but beyond that it looks thin. The center position appears to be Washington’s strongest area though the team seems to be fairly deep on defense as well. If a few of the goalies can regain their previous forms, the Caps seem set at that position as well for years to come.
Let’s take a look at what is left in Washington’s system position by position.
Goaltending: Read more»