The Toronto Maple Leafs are one “playoff step” away from their first Stanley Cup appearance since the 1966-67 season. This fact is not lost on any Leafs’ fan anywhere. A blip by an upstart 1977-78 squad sent the Leafs to the conference finals against a very strong Montreal Canadiens squad. The Canadiens had the far superior team then and sent Toronto to an exit, one round before the Stanley Cup finals.
A veteran and somewhat overachieving team went to the Western Conference finals in 1992-93 and 1993-94 riding the coat-tails of Gilmour, Clark, Potvin, etc. But those teams were built with few young players and the team aged quickly.
The 1998-99 version has surely been a surprise, a very pleasant surprise indeed. This version has been built around some key veteran players, but the core of this team belies youth, talent and speed. Many of the Toronto Maple Leafs, circa 1999, have their best years ahead of them.
A successful regular season and an immensely exciting first two rounds of the playoffs have brought some adversity as it will for most playoffs combatants. A scoring slump, injuries to several key players and you’d think, boy are they done. Not so, as the Leafs’ improving depth reaches to the minors and the junior ranks to find their capable replacements.
The Canadiens promoted 3 of their top 4 junior prospects immediately following each player’s elimination from post-season play. The 3 players promoted to Fredericton were Mike Ribeiro, Eric Chouinard and Jason Ward. Ward has had the most success since his promotion, proving himself to be a solid bet to eventually play on one of the Habs’ top 2 lines. Chouinard has also had success, the bulk of which has been in the offensive zone. Ribeiro, on the other hand has struggled, size and strength being the likely reasons.
Russian defenseman Andrei Markov(the Habs 6th round selection, 162nd overall in the 98 draft) played very well in the recent World Championships in Norway. He had 1 goal and 4 assists in 6 games, and finished a solid +3.
POS HT/WT AGE DRAFTED
(c) 5’10′/167 Lbs. 19 D-Mtl98 (2-45)
GP G A PTS +- PIM PPG SHG
99 PLAYOFF (AHL) 3 0 1 1 -5 0 0 0
99 PLAYOFF (QMJHL) 11 5 11 16 -3 12 3 0
98-99 SEASON 69 67 100 167 +52 137 24 8
#1 Strength- Vision and creativity.
#1 Weakness- Size. Read more»
The 1999 NHL Entry Draft is projected as one of the deepest drafts in years. And for Neil Smith, it represents the most important draft in his tenure as general manager of the New York Rangers.
That’s because it could be his last.
With the Rangers having missed the playoffs for the second consecutive year, the pressure is on Smith to end that streak next season. And next season starts on June 26 at the Fleet Center in Boston. The Rangers will be picking 11th overall in this year’s draft, and it is up to Smith, Director of Scouting Martin Madden, and the rest of the Ranger scouting staff to select a cornerstone player for an organization that has very few of them.
Needs: The Rangers pool of young players and prospects is one of the shallowest in the NHL, so they have many holes to fill. But their most glaring need is at the wing position, specifically, wingers of the high-scoring variety. The Rangers haven’t had a pure sniper since the days of Mike Gartner. And their best prospect on the wings, Stefan Cherneski, is still recovering from a shattered kneecap. New York needs a scorer in their system, and they need it badly.
Another position of need is defense. The Rangers have a few nice prospects in Burke Henry, Kim Johnsson, and Mike Mottau, but they don’t have a franchise-type defenseman in the system. Brian Leetch is not going to be around forever.
The Canucks are drafting 3rd overall. Brian Burke and his scouting staff have an opportunity to salvage a lot with one draft pick.
The guy picked by the Canucks will be expected to be either a 1st line star winger or a 1st line star center, as soon as possible. A tough task, no doubt, but the 5 top guys definitely have the ability to overcome it.
The needs are many, the chances to fill those needs are few.
-a top 2 center w
Key to player reports
Player Name, Position
Chance of making the NHL: Scale between 1-10. 10 being a “sure thing”, 5 being “has to be lucky”, 1 being “no chance”.
Impact once in the NHL: Season Stats: Player stats from the NHL, AHL, CHL, US College hockey,
Projected Role: Where he will fit on his NHL team (basically “if things go well”).
Projected Stats: The types of numbers you can expect from him once he is established (best case scenario…the “peak” of his output, over an 82 game period).
Comparable Player: NHLer his style of play/potential resembles.
David Ytfeldt D
Chance of making the NHL: 8
Impact once in the NHL: B
Projected Role: 2nd-3rd agitating defenseman
Projected Stats: 5g 20a 25pts 100pim
Comparable Player: Darius Kasparitis
Notes: Drafted as David Jonsson…changed his name, hoping the Canucks would forget about him… Was voted Rookie of the Year in the Swedish Elite League…was excellent in the World Junior Championships…known for borderline illegal physical play…progressed more than any other Canucks draft from 1998.
Bryan Allen D
Chance of making the NHL: 10
Impact once in the NHL: A- or above
Season Stats: OHL: 37 7 15 22 +14 77
Projected Role: 1st-2nd stay-at-home anchor of a defenseman
Projected Stats: 10g 25a 35pts 150pim
Comparable Player: Chris Pronger, Derian Hatcher Read more»