The Ducks may not have a high quantity of prospects but they certainly have the quality in Vitali Vishnevsky. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound defenseman is very mobile for a big man. Vishnevsky who was picked by the Ducks fifth overall in the 1998 entry draft, has been called “a loose cannon” by some scouts, playing with the likes of Darius Kasparaitis, though he isn’t as physically imposing as Kasparaitis. Even though he’s not that big his still tough and can move the puck well. He has also been compared to New Jersey’s Scott Stevens, but with better skating. He impressed many of the scouts with his play in the 1999 World Junior Championship, being named the best defenseman. If the Ducks can sign him they would like to see him in camp next year.
The Hurricanes’ top prospect this season goes by the name of Jeff Heerema. Heerema is a right winger who plays for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario League. Heerema was drafted by the Hurricanes 11th overall in the 1998 NHL entry draft. He’s an outstanding skater who has a great shot an ability to put the puck in the net. His only real problem is strength, although that will come in time. The thing that the Hurricans like most about him is that he’s committed. He’ll pay the price to put the puck in the net. “He’s a guy who could develop into the best pure goal-scorer in our system,” said assistant GM Jason Karmanos. But Heerema is still a couple of seasons away from making a splash in Carolina, but the Hurricanes think he can become a big contributor when he arrives.
Ronald Corey, the Canadiens’ president since 1982, announced that he would be stepping down from his current post, effective July 31st. Corey sited his family and his health as the two main reasons for tabling his resignation. He has been struggling with bouts of asthma, at times waking up in the middle of the night gasping for air. Doctors believe job stress to be the likely reason for his health problems.
Corey also mentioned his frustration with the economic challenges now faced by Canadian and small market clubs in today’s NHL. As well as the Habs $9 million municipal-tax burden being paid on the Molson Center. A tax bill larger than the NHL’s 21 U.S-based teams combined.
Molson plans to hire an executive-recruitment firm to help find Corey’s replacement. The brewery will also look at the feasibility of splitting up Corey’s former responsibilities into two jobs. Hiring one person to be president of the hockey club and another to run the Molson Center.
Serge Savard has been mentioned as the early favourite to replace Corey as president of the hockey club. Other candidates rumoured include; Bob Gainey, Glen Sather, Pierre Lacroix and Ken Dryden.
Rejean Houle was visibly surprised by the news. When asked about his job security following Corey’s announcement, Houle simply said that he had a mandate to complete and will continue his job of trying to build a competitive team for the upcoming season.
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Born: August 27, 1974
If you could quantify a hockey player’s competetive drive in penalty minutes alone, the Providence Bruins’ Aaron Downey would be the American Hockey League’s undisputed leader. Downey, a prospect in the Boston Organization, came to Providence 2 years ago on a try-out agreement after spending 1995-97 in the East Coast Hockey League. In just 2 seasons with Providence, Downey has become something of a legend and is easily one of the most popular players on the Baby Bruins despite his modest point production. Why is this, you say? Well, a quick look at Aaron Downey in action will provide you with an answer quickly enough, as he throws his body around the ice at the opposition with reckless abandon and is able to ignite teammates and fans alike with his chippy, inspired play. Simply put, don’t ever use the words “quit” and “Aaron Downey” in the same sentence, lest you might find yourself on the ice dazed and confused, wondering what zip code you happen to be in.
It came down to the wire, but the Florida Panthers were able to keep a second Russian Rocket in the fold. However, the Panthers also decided not to sign 3 of their 1997 draftees.
Ivan Novoseltsev, labelled by some as the second coming of Pavel Bure, signed a lucrative $2.3 million contract over 3 years, with many goal scoring bonuses and major awards bonuses. Novoseltsev originally asked for the 1997 rookie-cap of $925,000 while the Panthers claimed a 4th round pick didn’t deserve that much.
Although drafted in the 4th round, Ivan’s post-draft development was stunning, as he broke out to score 54 goals in 63 games this season for the Sarnia Sting, a new team record. (Coincidentally, the team is owned by Panthers winger Dino Ciccarelli). He also chipped in with 10 game winning goals and was 2nd overall in goal scoring in the OHL.
As good as Novoseltsev is, don’t expect him in a Panthers uniform next season unless he blows everybody away at training camp. With a plethora of scoring wingers (Parrish, Kvasha, Bure, Dvorak, Whitney), and the fact Novoseltsev has a lot of defensive zone coverage to learn, he will likely christen the expansion Louisville Panthers and lead their new affiliate to success.
“He has a chance to play right away, but to be fair, it’s going to be tough for him because of competition with a number of young players on the team,” stated General Manager Bryan Murray, “unless he really has a great camp, we do want to be careful (with his development.)”