2000-01 Saint John Flames preview

By pbadmin
The parent Calgary Flames have made their final cuts and the roster
for this season’s installment of Saint John Flames has taken shape.
The result is a team with 8 or 12 forwards with prior NHL experience and
a goaltending staff including last year’s AHL most valuable player.
The defence may need an extra name with Toni Lydman impressing in
Calgary, but all in all this is a team that has the potential
to go all the way this season.

Starting on left wing you have Jason Botterill, Miikka Elomo, Dave
Roche, and Benoit Gratton. Elomo and Gratton are solid AHL veterans
that have shown above average offencive capabilities in prior seasons.
Botterill and Roche add toughness on the third and fourth lines which
provides for a good mix.

The centre position features Daniel Tkaczuk, Marc Bureau, Steve Begin,
and rookie Blair Betts. Daniel Tkaczuk has impressed in exhibition
play and the future NHL star looks like he will be among the highest
scoring players in the AHL this season. Bureau was a surprise cut in
Calgary. His defencive capabilities and years of NHL experience will help
the young Flames progress. Steve Begin, in his third season in a baby Flames
uniform, will continue to be the go-to-man on the faceoffs and in penalty
kill situations. Among the only “frosh” in the Flames lineup the injury
plagued Blair Betts will be a welcome addition in the two-way department.

On the right wing we will see much of the same faces from last season.
Of course, speedster Rico Fata will lead the way if he shores up his
defencive game, and Chris Clark’s hard work and incredible intensity will
go to good use. From Sergei Varlamov it looks like we’re finally going to see
what made him CHL play of the year in 1998 (over Vincent Lecavalier and
David Legwand) if his exhibition and camp play is any indication. And
the hard nosed Gaetan Royer (brother of Remi Royer) returns from the
1998/99 edition of the baby Flames when he came over from the IHL.

If there is something missing when in comes to expertise it’s located on
the Flames’ blueline. Bodies include two former CHL defencemen of the year
(Derrick Walser and Micki Dupont), Mike Martin from Europe, Rick Mrozik from
the ECHL, and Steve Montador from the OHL. The only returnees are
the solid Darrel Scoville and Chris St.Croix. Dupont
looked very good in Calgary’s camp so along with Scoville, St.Croix, and Martin
you’re looking at the four guys who are going to log the majority of the
ice. There is still a possibility of someone coming back down when
Steve Smith is ready to play again out west.

In goal Saint John has the 2000 AHL M.V.P., Martin Brochu, who drew
rave reviews in Calgary’s camp and was very tough to cut. He left
many NHL teams grinding their teeth when after being passed over in the
waiver draft he wowed fans with his spectacular play. And the backup
position?? The race is on between Dany Sabourin and Hasek-esque Hungarian, Levente Szuper.
Flames coach Jim Playfair has said Szuper has the inside track but
Sabourin has made a major push with his play including a 6-0 shutout
over the Quebec Citadelles at Harbour Station. So stay tuned…

The new look Flames open their season on the Rock on back to back nights
against the Maple Leafs October 6 & 7th before heading to Quebec for the 10th.
The baby Flames’ home opener will take place on Friday the 13th versus
Garth Snow and the powerful Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins in their
only visit to Saint John this season.