The Philadelphia Phantoms have enjoyed a good deal of success during their
brief AHL existence. Most of their success, however, has been due to the
play of minor league veterans. Some of the minor league vets, most notably
Vaclav Prospal, Craig Darby and Mike Maneluk, were still young enough
during their Phantoms stay to still be considered of NHL prospect age.
More typically, however, the Phantoms have relied upon older, “career” minor
leaguers such as Peter White, Jim Montgomery, Shawn McCosh and Bruce
While the team has had a handful of standout rookies along the way
(Jean-Marc Pelletier and Mark Eaton come to mind), the team’s first year
players have more typically been eased slowly into the lineup by coach
Bill Barber. Before they earn steady ice time, they must show across-the-board
improvement in their game. If they do not show the all-around development
that Barber demands, the coach will not hesitate to bench them or have
them demoted to a club in a lower league; Francis Belanger being a perfect case
in point. If the young player succeeds in gaining Barber’s confidence with
his work habits and willingness to take criticism, he will see increasing
ice time over the second half of the season.
This season, the Phantoms have had two rookies (Francis Lessard and Tomas
Divisek) who almost immediately became integral parts of the hockey team
and a third (Ruslan Fedotenko) who responded very well to an early season Read more»
With players like Teemu Selanne, Keith Tkachuk, Alexei Zhamnov, the Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg
Jets franchise had at one moment assembled one of the deepest talent pools in the NHL.
Were they that adapt at drafting or did it just happen that they got lucky?
The Coyotes/Jets franchise has been unable to rebuild their franchise effectively through the draft. A lot of this lack of success can be directly attributed to their poor use of their first round selections.
After drafting Keith Tkachuk in 1990, it has a long time before the Coyotes drafted anyone of significance with their first round pick. Case and point was the Sergei Bautin fiasco back in 1993. Back in 1992 Mike Smith then GM of the Jets decided that the best player available with their 17th pick overall was the then 25 year-old Sergei Bautin a rugged defensive defenseman. Needless to say, that move backfired and within four seasons and a trade to Detroit, Sergei was out of the NHL entirely. He will go down in history for the Jets/Coyotes as the worst draft pick in franchise history (Some Jimmy Mann critics may disagree) and provides a clear example of how pathetic this team was at the draft table during the first round for much of the decade. Read more»
While the season has been a success for the Los Angeles Kings, there has been one area where the Kings may not have played their cards correctly. That is at the goaltender position.
Earlier in the season I wrote an article calling for a Jamie Storr trade. While this may not have been the best move, the alternative could not have been. Firstly, Storr has been at the heart of the Kings hot streak of late. Through Stephane Fiset’s injury, Storr has played well offering the big saves that never seem to come when Stephane Fiset is in the pipes. Jamie still has the lapses that have plagued him his entire career, but his record is much better than Fiset’s and he is much more likely to dominate a game that Stephane. Storr also remains injury prone and while he is getting better, he still is shaky handling the puck. All in all, Storr has proven himself to be the number one goalie. That may be the bad news.
With the regular season coming to a close in most leagues, many Islanders prospects put the finishing touches on strong seasons. The Isles boast top 15 scorers in all three major junior leagues as well as in the Swedish junior League.
The Isles hottest prospect has been without a doubt Taylor Pyatt. After a slow start the year he has really come on and has been on a tear to end the regular season. Pyatt posted 10 points in 3 games earning him player of the week honors and finished the season with 40 goals and 89 points in 68 games, good for 8th in the league in scoring. He also led the league in plus/minus at +47. Pyatt is showcasing all the skills that will make him an elite power forward in the NHL.
Justin Mapletoft currently stands 7th in the WHL in scoring with 3 games to play. He leads his team in every offensive category and has earned praise for his outstanding defensive play. His totals stand at 37 goals, 91 points, and 131 PIM in 69 games.
In the QMJHL, Juraj Kolnik was dominant all year. Despite missing time with a shoulder injury and to play at the WJC, Kolnik finished 15th in scoring. In only 47 games he lit the lamp 53 times and had 106 points. His shooting percentage has been around 30 percent all year and is a true sniper. His skating still needs a little work, but he has a nose for the net and a tremendous release.
Bryce Wandler is a kid who was passed up in the NHL draft since first eligible back in ’97. He has descent size and good ability. Sometimes it takes a trade to get a kid going and in Wandler’s case his trade to the Swift Current Broncos was one that possibly set forward in motion a potential career. He does have talent but has been on a rather mediocre at best team. He is a signing that doesn’t hurt the Rangers and at the very least gives them some depth. You have to remember that Dan Cloutier was the goalie of the future and so now the Rangers are trying to get some options out there for the future.
It’s hard to say where exactly a kid like Wandler fits in. Labarbara has been good for horrible teams. Pay no attention to the win loss records or the GAA, the key is the save percentage and in the case of Labarbara it’s always been solid. Mike Richter’s numbers don’t catch the eye but everyone know how good he has been, it’s the same with Labarbara. Holmqvist has all the tools to be a number one goalie but one questions whether or not he wants to come to North America. What he does depends on how set the Rangers are in the net. McLean is a solid veteran who will serve good as an interim backup. Labbe was just a signing for the farm club, not seen as NHL material, plus he is already getting ready to turn 28. Hnilicka is already going to be 27. Both goalies are minor league types, not NHL prospects.