HF Mailbag – Mar. 16 edition

By HF Staff

And so we begin the Hockey’s Future Mailbag feature. We were impressed at the number and quality of questions that were sent in already. We thank everyone for submitting their questions and apologize if we could not address yours. Keep the questions coming as the feature will be posted on a bi-weekly basis. Please also keep in mind that if your question is regarding the NHL Entry Draft, we will be addressing that category of question around draft time. Send your questions to: [email protected].

Looking at the Avs situation, it seems as though they are in a transitional phase with some of their top players such as Sakic, Blake, and Turgeon getting older, while players such as Tanguay, Svatos and Hejduk are just hitting their prime. In looking at their prospect pool of who are the next players to wear the Avs jersey, it’s easy to see that Wolski will be NHL ready next season, but how do some of their NCAA prospects (Stastny, Fritche, and Hensick) look in respect to their NHL readiness?

Justin Barba
Denver, CO

Paul Stastny and T.J. Hensick are probably the most NHL ready of all the Avs prospects. Both have consistently improved and played at a high level each season at their respective schools and have the numbers to back it up. Stastny has been outstanding this season. He has really matured and improvements in the various areas of his game have made him an effective, reliable and well-rounded player.

While Hensick is well known for his speed and scoring prowess, this season he has also proven to be an effective leader and has made great strides in developing and improving the defensive side of his game. This has been evident by the minutes he has logged on the Wolverines penalty-killing unit. His leadership has been crucial to the Wolverines success this season due to the high number of freshmen that Michigan has played and had to rely upon this season.

We wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if the Avalanche chose to sign one or both players at some point soon after their respective teams’ seasons conclude this year.

Another player that we’d add and could also be signed is Brett Hemingway out of the University of New Hampshire. Despite being one of seven players suspended last month for team rule violations, Hemingway has been and continues to be one of UNH’s hottest players. Fellow juniors Daniel Winnik (PHO) and Jacob Micflikier have combined with Hemingway to give UNH one of the nation’s most lethal line combinations. Recently, however Micflikier was taken off of the top line and replaced with sophomore Mike Radja. One area where Hemingway has been particularly effective is his relentless drive to the net. He does it a lot and seems to always find ways to get the puck at the net. When he does score, his goals aren’t always pretty.

Hello Hockey’s Future,

I am an avid fan of the site and I just got two quick questions. One, how is Malkin performing in the Russian Super League and how will he fit in with the Penguins if he joins them in September. Is it likely for Malkin to come over to the NHL next season?

Two, what kind of role do you see Oilers prospect Andrew Cogliano filling on their roster? Power forward, playermaker, etc?

Shaun Van Dresar
Grande Prairie, Alberta

Malkin is performing exceptionally well for his hometown team Metallurg Magnitogorsk in the RSL where he leads the team in scoring and sits third in the league with 47 points (21 goals, 26 assists) in 46 games.

He will fit in very well when he arrives in Pittsburgh, which at this stage still looks to be next season. He will be used as the Penguins second line center behind Crosby, but the idea will surely be to create two top lines that can be used equally. The Pens will need to improve on the wings to compliment this one-two punch at center, but that will come in time as the young players improve and the possible addition of a free agent or two.

You may also want to read our December interview with Malkin.

The Edmonton Oilers hope to one day use Andrew Cogliano in much the same fashion that Anaheim used Paul Kariya. Although listed as a center with Michigan, we have been told from within the organization that they can foresee the possibility of Cogliano moving to the wing on a line with Rob Schremp. The feeling being that with Schremp’s tremendous passing skills and Cogliano’s world-class speed, the two would make a deadly combination.

While Cogliano’s speed is his top asset, the fact that he can operate and score while in full flight make him a valuable offensive weapon. At the very least Cogliano projects to be an excellent two-way player because his speed allows him to back check very well. However, the Oilers clearly have identified Cogliano as someone they foresee playing on one of their top two lines.

Do you think Perttu Lindgren will come over to North America next season? And if not next season, when?

Thanks a lot,
Matt Kowalchuk
Hamilton, Ontario

No Finnish finesse player has signed an NHL contract under the age of 20 in modern times. Lindgren, who turns 19 in August, is just finishing his rookie pro season with his long-time native club Ilves and has moved from the third line to the first, setting a pace for a solid few years of his career. With this momentum, he would do well to stay for at least another season and learn more about how to be an offensive dynamo. His game isn’t suited for the AHL and he needs more strength before being able to play relatively problem-free hockey and be productive in small rinks. Even assuming a positive sophomore season, signing more than a year from now would be a fairly natural option. But anything is possible.

I am from New York and a big Rangers Fan. Finally we have been able to build some prospects through trades and drafting. In 2004 our second pick of the first round was Lauri Korpikoski. I hear all good things about him, yet his offensive production is not reflective of a first rounder. Is this because of lack of ice time or does he struggle with TPS?

Jim Cody
West Babylon, New York

Korpikoski’s production is in fact reflective of a first rounder in Finland – only mediocre. Korpikoski has played on the second and third lines basically all season with the players around him changing regularly, which is typical of the league. He has had all the ice time he has earned, which isn’t all that much considering that at one point he was being outscored by all 11 other TPS forwards.

TPS is pretty much having their worst season in several decades, the team being stricken with personnel problems. That is a difficult environment for a young player to thrive in. On the other hand, Korpikoski hasn’t been a part of the problem either. He does still play an energetic, flashy game and regularly distinguishes himself from the rest of the squad, but it doesn’t show on the scoresheet. The 19-year-old forward doesn’t quite have the experience and vision to make the last moves toward scoring a goal. Even though time should help with that to some extent, that doesn’t change the fact that hockey sense is likely going to limit his potential throughout his career. Also, for a player expected to make a career as a two-way forward, he is still out-muscled in struggles for loose pucks too often.

My question is where is John Doherty playing these days? He was a second round selection and he has just dropped off the map.

Mark Tinney

Doherty dropped out from the University of New Hampshire after his sophomore year. He just joined Quinnipiac University but because of the NCAA transfer rules, he’s red shirted from college play for this year. He played for Des Moines in the USHL last year. Basically, he’ll play next year as a senior in Quinnipiac of the ECACHL, which seems to be a weaker league than Hockey East, and then the Leafs will have to make a decision to sign him. The feeling is that dissatisfaction with playing time caused the move from New Hampshire to Quinnipiac.

I am inquiring to see if you have any stats on Steven Anthony. He is a highly-touted Nova Scotia prospect who is playing at Holderness Prep School in New
Hampshire. Your assistance is most appreciated.

Jim Figley
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Well, Jim, as 14 year-old prospects are not yet on our radar in terms of coverage, we had to dig deep to find some information for you. We tracked down the head coach for the Holderness Prep School squad, Mark Traina, and asked him a few questions on Anthony. Here is what he told us.

“Steven is a skilled offensive player that knows how to use his big body to his advantage. At 14 years old, he is probably the youngest player in our league, and he is performing quite well in a league made up of primarily 17, 18, 19 and even 20 year olds. He has a line of 7 [goals] – 16 [assists] – 23 [points] through the first 25 games of his 9th grade year.” – Mark Traina

Hello Hockey’s Future!

I’d just like to say that you have an amazing and informative site. Hockey’s Future.com is at the top of my Favorites list and I check it at least 5 or 6 times daily. Any information I want to know about any prospect in the NHL is at my disposal thanks to you guys and I keep your site as my dirty little secret from all my friends. Keep up the good work!

Caledonia, Ontario

Thank you for the kind words, Dave. We appreciate our readership and will continue to work hard for you. Again, please send your questions to: [email protected] .

Dave Rainer, DJ Powers, Guy Flaming, Adrian Barclay, Kevin Forbes, and Pekka Lampinen contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.