Notes from the pipeline

By Guy Flaming

Leaks From The Pipeline

Challenging for the NHL next year


Assuming there is a next year, expect a few
challengers from Toronto Roadrunners for Edmonton jobs.  Jani Rita (no he’s not on the outs
with management), Tony Salmelainen, Jeff Woywitka and Doug
are all expected to push the vets. 
Joe Cullen has been excellent in the second half of the year for
the Roadrunners and could push ahead of Mike Bishai on the depth chart
because of the added attraction of his size.


see such a marked improvement in the team and I think it starts in net,” began
Prendergast.  “Valiquette was
outstanding and
very good so the team has an opportunity to win in every game and that
confidence oozes over into the rest of the team.  Defense has been solid and offensively, (
Brad) Winchester and Cullen have now gotten over that college
hump and they’re contributing every game in key situations. 
Danny Baum is another player.”


Ward’s done a hell of a job down there when he was saddled with a pretty young
hockey team and I know it was tough on him at the start of the year with them
losing as much as they did but these kids never quit on themselves.  Now they’re in a position where they’re only
a few points out of first place and they’re charging.  I see a huge improvement in all of them and I see six maybe even
seven players who have an opportunity to play for (Edmonton) next year or the
following year.” 


Mikhnov Musings


If the Oilers could sign 21-year-old
Russian left winger Alexei Mikhnov he would be eligible to play the rest
of the season for the Toronto Roadrunners. 
For it to happen though, an injury or a call up to Edmonton would have
to deplete the AHL club’s 22-man “Clear Day Roster” which was released earlier
this week.


While Kevin Prendergast admitted the scenario was
possible, he also added that it was “highly unlikely to happen”.


“Heck, he’s good enough that if we could sign
him he could come (to Edmonton)!” said Prendergast.


Mikhnov has been invited to play for the Russian
National Team in the World Cup in Prague so any trip to North America would be
a short one.


Toronto’s Clear Day Roster


Only the players whose names appear on
the Clear Day Roster are eligible to play in the remainder of the AHL season
and in the playoffs, unless emergency conditions arise as a result of a callup
to Edmonton, an injury or suspension. Toronto may also add signed junior
players or players on amateur tryout contracts, but only once their seasons are


Mike Bishai and Nate DiCasmirro are two players who
the Oilers signed in that way, both played the very tail end of the season for
the Hamilton Bulldogs a couple of years ago.


This year’s Clear Day Roster is:  Mike Morrison and Tyler Moss in goal.
Bobby Allen, Peter Hogan, Mikko Luoma, Doug Lynch, Dan
Smith, Rocky Thompson and Jeff Woywitka on the blueline. Dan Baum,
Mike Bishai, Joe Cullen, Nate DiCasmirro, Michael
, Chad Hinz, J.J. Hunter, Sean McAslan, Jani
, Dave Roche, Tony Salmelainen, Brad Winchester and Jamie
Wright up front.   


Mini-Camp Cancelled?


According to Kevin Prendergast, Edmonton
may cancel this summer’s Top Prospects camp for financial reasons.  With the league on the verge of a work
stoppage, all teams are clamping down on their operating costs and wiping out
the week long event would likely be one of the ways the Oilers could save some


“At this point it looks like we won’t (run it),” said
Prendergast earlier this week.


Last year was the debut of what was supposed to
become an annual occurrence.  Many of
Edmonton’s prospects cited the week as one of the reasons they have developed
as they have this season.


Players Awarded


Providence freshman and Oiler prospect Colin
was named to the Hockey East Conference’s All-Rookie Team. 
finished eighth on the team in scoring with 10 goals, six assists and 16
points. After struggling with making the adjustment in the first half of the
year, McDonald really began to blossom after Christmas. 

This season Zack Stortini has been named Player of
the Month, Campbell’s Scholastic Player of the Month, and he continues to play
a leading role in the Sudbury community. 
Stortini donates his time visiting elementary schools, holding charity
skates and raising funds for the Cancer Treatment Centre.  In March, Stortini was named runner up as
the Most Improved Player in the OHL by the league’s annual coach’s poll.  In the same listing, Stortini also garnered
mention in the Hardest Working Player category.

Matt Greene from the University of
North Dakota was one of 73 players the WCHA named to its All-Academic team.

Speaking of Greene, how’s this for a
positive review?


“I recently saw a couple games for North
Dakota and
Matt Greene was just a massive force; he was just
throwing guys around,” beamed scout Chris McCarthy.  “I was there with Stu McGregor and Lorne Davis and the three of
us were looking at each other saying ‘this guy could play in our lineup right
now’.  Matt is going to be one hell of a
pro defenseman, he really is.  He just lives
hockey, I remember reading your interview with him and you could tell he
just wants to play
and there’s nothing wrong with that.  There’s not much more the kid needs to do in
college hockey.”


The Newest Roadrunner


Now that the season of the Providence Friars has
reached its conclusion with a conference playoff loss to the University of New
Hampshire, Jason Platt is off to the AHL.  Platt signed an amateur tryout contract with the Roadrunners on
Friday and will join the team for the remainder of their regular season and
playoffs as well.  This season in Providence,
Platt recorded seven points and finished with a plus-9 rating and 36 penalty


No Contract Talks Yet


The Oilers have to get both Kyle Brodziak and Jeff
under contract by June 1st but negotiations with
both have yet to begin.  The reason is
that both players are on team headed for the post season and so all dealings
with the two prospects have been put on hold until Moose Jaw and Chicoutimi are
both either eliminated or crowned as champions.  The Oilers do not expect either situation to be a problem in
terms of getting an agreement completed in time.


“In both cases we like the players and
from all accounts they like the organization,” said GM Kevin Lowe.  “I would suspect that in both cases their
agents would see a great opportunity here, Brodziak’s a center and Jeff’s a
goalie, so there’s a good future and a good opportunity here for both of
them.  I suspect that they would analyze
that so I don’t expect any problems.”


Oiler Scout Moving On


Bob Mancini, Edmonton’s Michigan-based scout, has
been named as the GM for the OHL’s Saginaw Spirit.  Mancini’s tenure as the junior team’s boss will be effective July
1st as the scout will stay with the Oilers through to the end of
June and the NHL Entry Draft. 
Previously Mancini has coached for Michigan Tech and Ferris State as
well as playing an intricate role with Team USA during four World Junior
Championship tournaments including the silver medal winning appearance in 1997.


Mancini has been a friend to Hockey’s Future this
year providing valuable scouting reports and insights on many Oiler
prospects.  We wish Bob happiness and
great success in his new endeavours with Saginaw.  


Another One Bites The Dust


Scout Chris McCarthy is getting married
in Sonoma California on April 3rd to his fiancée Janet.  The eleven-year Oiler scout will be flying
back to his Boston home the next day and then taking off for his honeymoon on
the 6th to sunny and exotic… Minsk!?!  McCarthy will be spending the two weeks after his wedding by
watching the U-18 tournament in Belarus with the rest of the Oiler staff.


As if getting hitched wasn’t enough to make a guy
happy, McCarthy and his soon-to-be wife will be welcoming the birth of their
son in June as well.  Mini-Mac is
scheduled to arrive on June 22nd, just three days before everyone in
the hockey world will be in Carolina for the NHL Entry Draft.  Cross you fingers for Chris and Janet that
when the baby is born, everyone is healthy, happy and not late!



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