Pittsburgh Penguins season review

By Marc Lapointe

Final assessment of the Penguins youth for the year.

Kris Beech : His first year as a pro wasn’t an unimpressive one. He mostly
played on the 3rd line (including a pretty long stretch with pure sniper
Krzysztof Oliwa) showing some potential but he never matched the
expectations made on him from the start. He had the team worst +/- but don’t
even think he is a Pavel Bure type of defensive player. Without being
incredible he works hard in the corners, he usually does his defensive
duties and he is often first on the backcheck. He has a wicked,
kovalesque shot that he sometimes fired up.

Stats :
7910152545-252 0001267.9

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)    PP IT     SH IT
Face-Off %
71       34                  29     13:33  min/gp   1:54        0.11

Toby Petersen : Toby, Toby, Toby! That’s what the Mellon arena’s crown was
chanting on October 16 when the “prolific” Toby Petersen scored his first
career hat trick against the Ottawa Senators. Since then : Flop, Nothing!
But it wasn’t too easy. Take this, if Kris Beech didn’t have much of a
chance playing mostly on the 3rd line, Toby Petersen didn’t have a chance at
all because he was a 4th line player rarely stepping up on the top lines.
However, the Colorado College alumni only showed limited skills and most
important, minimal aggressiveness. Petersen might be small, but he doesn’t
do much too overcome his lack of size. Look up for him in Wilkes-Barre next

Stats :
79810184-151 1001166.9

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
  Face-Off %
34          2615        12:15  min/gp     1:24 2:3745.56

Michal Rozsival : Rozsival has globally one big problem: Inconstency! When
he is on his game, he reminds me of a young Niklas Lidstrom (and no, I’m
not saying that he has that kind of potential). On the opposite end, he is
more like a Kevin Hatcher on a “bad day”. Sometimes, on a game-to-game
basis, he looks like a completely different player. He can be terrible in
his own zone but he sometimes is “okay” or “at the NHL level”. On the
offensive aspect, Rozsival is a puck-movement defensemen who join the rush
with efficacity. He had 9 goals, including 4 game-winners, and 29 points
this season. Overall, what did Rozsival bring to the team in 2001-02? A
point-man on the PP, passing skills, offensive flair, some grit, and 4

Stats :
799202947-64 1408910.1

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)    PP IT     SH IT
89         4623      20:01  min/gp     2:49  2:40

Andrew Ference : It was a year of adaptation for the young Andrew Ference.
Last season, he was going back and forth from WBS to Pittsburgh. He
picked-up his game just in time for the playoffs and had a really
impressive post-season. This year, Ference was expecting to stay and produce
in the steel city. That didn’t happen, but don’t jump too quickly on the
conclusions. First, you have to understand that Ference didn’t get the
powerplay opportunities that he had during last year’s playoff. Instead of
being on the first unit with the Lemieux, Jagr and Cie, he was relegated to
the second unit.

Another huge reason why he was on a slump offensively is that he changed
defensive partners almost as much as he changed his underwear (whoa that was
a bad one). The teenage heart throb never had a chance to develop any kind
of chemistry with his partners and that’s something prenominal for a young
blue-liner. However, he played some
hard-soul, courageous and intense hockey all season long. His skating,
agility and acceleration are really good and he is also really physical for
a 5-foot-8. Pens fans don’t worry too much about your Andy, next year he’ll
be a newly married man ready for a whole new

Stats :
75471173-111 1??824.9

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
149         32   9      18:33  min/gp     1:27  2:08

Jan Hrdina : Hrdina is one of the most underrated players in the NHL; he is
pretty much a young Ronnie Francis. But the fact that they both are so
underrated isn’t their only point in common. Like the Carolina centerman,
Hrdina is an outstanding two-way player who excels on defense and often
switches up his game whenever his team needs an important goal. Hrdina is
all that: consistent, versatile, skilled, smart and he even finds himself as
a clutch player this year.

Stats :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
  Face-Off %
41         38 30        19:50  min/gp     3:05  2:43         50.37

Aleskey Morozov : After the last home game at the Igloo, Alexei Morozov was
signing autographs whenever a fan approached him and said: “Alexei, get your
20th goal tomorrow!”. With his friendly Russian accent Morozov answered:
“I’ll try”. Coincidentally, in the next game against Boston, he reached the
20 goal mark just before the Pens fell apart. It’s enjoyable to see a nice,
hard-working guy like Morozov having some success. Effectively, the Russian
native finally had his break-out offensive season and he is now more aware
on defense. If he keeps improving like this, he’ll be a top winger for a
long time in the Burgh.

Stats :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
38         3616       16:42  min/gp     3:05 0:11

Rick Berry : It was an ugly start for Rick Berry and the Pens. During his
first shift ever with the Black-and-Gold he made 2 defensive/mental
mistakes. Let’s blame that on nervousness because he finished the game strong
and was defensively good the rest of the way. Will he establish himself as a
regular next year?

Stats (total) :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
101        1911        11:22  min/gp     0:11 0:32

Stats (Pens) :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
29           71        19:40  min/gp     N/A N/A

Ville Nieminen : Nimo looked sharp at first playing intense and gritty
hockey. He didn’t score but he had a couple good chances. Everything was
fine but it didn’t last long. He soon looked lost and he was pretty much
useful on a really struggling Penguins lineup. Wait till next year for
having a clearer idea about Nimo.

Stats (total) :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
94          2522        13:22  min/gp     1:49 0:01

Stats (Pens) :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
  2            9                  1        16:13  min/gp     N/A N/A

Milan Kraft : I’m only gonna give you a simple prediction about Kraft. He’ll
start the next season on the first line… of the Pens affiliate in
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Then, he will be one of the top players in the AHL
and he’ll eventually get a call up from the big Pens (more likely before the
All-star game). Then, if he produces (and I believe he will), he’ll stick
around as another skilled forward.

Stats :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
  Face-Off %
21         1023       12:28  min/gp    1:41        0:09         44.64

Jozef Melichar : The Penguins named 27-years-old Johan Hedberg as their
rookie of the year, but Josef Melichar had to be a close runner-up. As a
matter of a fact, I believe the Czech defensemen should have been the winner
of this award. He was their most steady defenseman for most of the season
and the whole defense started to struggled mightily when he got hurt.
-Melichar hit hard and smartly, he imposed himself physically and he won
most of his one-on-one battles.
-Melichar is a stay-at home defensemen who did an outstanding job on
-Melichar showed that he can play “some” offense
He has been everything the Pens hoped for (except the fact that he missed 22
games), not Hedberg. And finally, he is 22 not 27. Melichar: Rookie of the
year for the Pens.

Stats :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
93         2519        16:45  min/gp     0:06 2:51

Eric Meloche : Meloche played a total of 23 games with the Pens. He can
bring a few things to the table: grit, toughness, defensive awareness and
hockey sense. However, his overall skills are below average, he has no hands
and his speed needs improvement.

Meloche would probably be a useful 3rd or more likely 4th liner on a team
with less depth, but he simply doesn’t have the skill level to be on a
injury-free Penguins lineup.

Stats :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways    Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
38           54       10:10  min/gp     0:05 1:31

Shane Endicott : Shane is only 22 and at his first pro year. However, due to
many injuries he played 4 NHL games with the team who drafted him in the
second round of the 2000 draft. That his not likely to happen next year
unless Endicott is having a LOT of success in WBS. Why? The Pens management
affirmed that they won’t rush their youngster to the NHL like this year.
Give Endicott a couple years in the minors before he is ready to make the
big jump.

Stats :

Hits    Giveaways    Takeaways Average Ice Time (IT)     PP IT     SH IT
  1            0 1        8:27  min/gp     N/A N/A