The Houston Aeros made it to the West Division
final before they were swept in four straight games by the 2004 Calder Cup
champion Milwaukee Admirals.
Drafted: 42nd, 2004
6’1, 189 pounds
Roman Voloshenko made
a strong first impression as a rookie in the AHL with the Houston Aeros in
2005-06. A second-round selection in 2004, Voloshenko played in his native
Russia prior to coming to North America. In 69 games with the Aeros he had 33
goals, 36 penalty minutes, a team-high 20 power-play goals and 60 points. Voloshenko played in seven postseason games and managed only an assist and a
physical, Voloshenko will battle hard in the corners and possesses a strong,
hard wrist shot. A solid work ethic and the skills to become a successful power forward
may earn him a shot in the NHL next season.
Drafted: 78th, 2004
6’2, 195 pounds
Like teammate Roman
Voloshenko, Peter Olvecky made his debut in the AHL with the Aeros in
2005-06. Rookie of the year in the Slovakia Elite League in 2004-05, Olvecky put
up good numbers this season. In 67 games he had 14 goals, 56 penalty minutes, a
plus-4 rating and 32 points. In seven playoff games he had a goal and four
Reliable in his own
end, Olvecky works hard for possession of the puck and will often create scoring
opportunities for his teammates. His NHL debut may be a year away.
Drafted: 56th, 2003
5’11, 190 pounds
Another rookie with
the Aeros, Patrick O’Sullivan made the transition from the junior ranks to the
AHL look easy. The leading scorer for the Mississauga IceDogs in 2004-05, he was
also the fourth-leading scorer in the OHL with 90 points in 57 games. In 2005-06
O’Sullivan led Houston with 47 goals, had 93 points, 17 power-play markers and a
plus-5 rating. He was named to the AHL All-Rookie team for his efforts. He was
Houston’s leading scorer in the playoffs with five goals, 10 points and a
minus-6 rating in eight games.
A strong skater who
can be utilized on both the power-play and penalty-killing units, O’Sullivan has
good playmaking abilities and great skill offensively. He could see time in the
NHL next season and could stay.
Drafted: 175th, 2002
6’2, 219 pounds
In his third season
with the Houston Aeros, Matt Foy managed AHL career highs in goals, assists,
points and penalty minutes. He netted 15 goals, 40 points and 122 penalty
minutes in 51 games. His hard work didn’t go unnoticed and he was called up to
play 19 games with the Wild where he had two goals, five points and 16 penalty
minutes. He was successful in eight postseason games with the Aeros as well,
scoring five goals, with eight points and 29 penalty minutes.
A hard-working player
who has the potential to score a lot of goals, Foy has also used his size, at
6’2 and 219 pounds, to his advantage by playing a more physical game. His
increase in offense and dedication should garner him more ice time at the NHL
level next season.
Drafted: 115th, 2002
6’2, 185 pounds
Mark Rooneem has had
a tough time becoming a regular in the AHL since his junior career ended in
2004, the same year he signed with Minnesota as a free agent. This season he
played 38 games with the Pensacola Ice Pilots where he had seven goals, 15
points and 31 penalty minutes. In six games with the Aeros he had one goal and
10 penalty minutes. The Ice Pilots failed to make the playoffs.
A strong forechecker
who drives hard to the net, Rooneem also possesses a strong shot.
Drafted: 30th, 2003
6’1, 220 pounds
Shawn Belle hasn’t
even set foot in the NHL yet and he has already been involved in two trades.
Drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the first round in 2003, Belle was
traded to the Dallas Stars in 2004 for goaltender Jason Bacashihua. Then, this
past March, Belle was traded to Minnesota, along with Martin Skoula, for Willie
Mitchell and a second-round pick.
Most of Belle’s
2005-06 season was spent with the Iowa Stars of the AHL where he had one goal,
three points and 63 penalty minutes in 45 games. He was sidelined in December
with a leg injury. In 16 games with the Aeros he had a goal, two points and 18
penalty minutes. In eight postseason contests with Houston he had one goal and four penalty
An athletic, two-way
defenseman, Belle had a tough transition into the AHL, but seemed to come
around in the second half of the season. He uses his size, at 6’1 and 220
pounds to be a physical presence on the ice and he has good speed that he uses
to jump into the play. Belle could see time in the NHL next season if he shows
consistency and improvement on his defensive skills.
Drafted: 79th, 2004
6’3, 225 pounds
A rookie with the
Houston Aeros in 2005-06, Clayton Stoner was a teammate and partnered with
fellow Aero Shawn Belle on the blue line for the Tri-City Americans in the WHL.
Stoner had a solid rookie season with Houston, scoring six goals, 24 points and
posting a plus-6 rating. In three postseason games he had one goal, two points
and seven penalty minutes.
A strong player with
good size at 6’3 and 225 pounds, Stoner is good in his own zone and will do
what it takes to help his team win. His determination and drive could get him a
shot in the NHL next season.
Drafted: 40th, 2000
6’5, 235 pounds
selection of the Calgary Flames in 2000, Kurtis Foster was traded to the Atlanta
Thrashers in 2001. Then in 2004 he was sent to Anaheim for Niclas Havelid. In
2005, Foster signed with the Wild as an unrestricted free agent. He was assigned
to the Aeros in September but was called up in November and spent the rest of
the season with the Wild. In 19 games with Houston he had four goals, 15 points
and a plus-2 rating. He was the highest-scoring defenseman for the Wild with 10
goals, 28 points and a minus-3 rating.
A big presence on the
blue line at 6’5 and 235 pounds, Foster has a hard shot and is effective on
the power play. An offensive defenseman, his strong showing in the NHL in
2005-06 should make him a regular in 2006-07.
6’4, 200 pounds
Ryan Stokes, an
undrafted prospect, signed as a free agent with the Minnesota Wild in 2004. The
defenseman spent the entire season with the Houston Aeros in 2005-06 and had two
goals, five points and his 164 penalty minutes were second most on the team
behind Bill Kinkel. In six playoff games Stokes had one assist and 10 penalty
defenseman, Stokes will play the body and is effective at clearing the puck out
from in front of his own net. His chance in the NHL is likely a year away.
Drafted: 170th, 2000
6’1, 210 pounds
Erik Reitz spent the
majority of 2005-06 with the Houston Aeros, but was called up to play his first
five NHL games with the Wild. In 72 games with the Aeros he had the
second-highest point total for a defenseman, behind Curtis Murphy, with 28
points. He also had five goals and 139 penalty minutes. In five contests with
the Wild he went scoreless with four penalty minutes. He was strong in the
postseason for the Aeros with five assists and 20 penalty minutes in eight
defensive defenseman, Reitz is a character player who reads the play well and is
strong in his own end. He may get another chance to prove himself at the NHL
level next season.
Drafted: 74th, 2001
6’2, 205 pounds
Chris Heid spent the
majority of 2005-06 with the Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL, but was traded to
the Fresno Falcons in March. In 51 games with the Ice Pilots he netted four
goals, had 20 points and 69 penalty minutes. In four games with the Aeros he had
one assist and 14 penalty minutes. He also played four games for the Cleveland
Barons of the AHL and had two assists and eight penalty minutes. In 16 playoff
games with the Pacific Division Champion Falcons, Heid proved to be a good
acquisition scoring twice with four points and eight penalty minutes. The
Falcons lost in overtime in Game 7 to the Alaska Aces who moved on to the
Strong in one-on-one
situations, Heid is a mobile, stay-at-home defenseman. His stock has declined
since he joined the pro ranks and it remains to be seen whether he can turn it
Josh Harding, G
Height/Weight: 6’1, 185 pounds
The Edmonton Oilers weren’t the only ones that
benefited from acquiring netminder Dwayne Roloson from the Wild. Josh Harding
was cemented in as the backup goaltender in Minnesota following the trade.
Harding enjoyed a successful 2005-06 season with the Aeros, one that saw him win
a career-high 29 games in 38 contests. He also had two shutouts, a .922 save
percentage and a 2.68 goals-against average. His NHL debut wasn’t so bad either.
In three games he had two wins, including one shutout, a .904 save percentage
and a 2.59 goals-against average. In eight postseason games with the Aeros he
had four wins, a .886 save percentage and a 3.79 goals-against average.
Miroslav Kopriva, G
Height/Weight: 6’2, 176 pounds
of the Czech Republic, Miroslav Kopriva made his debut playing hockey in North
America in 2005-06. He spent part of the season with the Aeros and the rest of
his time with Houston’s Central Hockey League affiliate Austin Ice Bats. In 12
games with the Aeros he had six wins, a .890 save percentage and a 3.52
goals-against average. In 15 games with Austin he had 12 wins, a .938 save
percentage, one shutout and a 2.33 goals-against average.
having success in the Czech Republic, it will probably take a few years for
Kopriva to develop and settle into the style of game in North America.
Glen Jackson, Kevin Wey and Guy Flaming contributed to this report. Copyright
2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without
permission of the editorial staff.