Thursday, August 25, 2005


We're Gonna Party Like it's 1999!

I was flipping through an old issue of The Hockey News Annual Yearbook from 1999(just before the Atlanta Thrashers entered the NHL). It’s amazing how quickly things can change just 6 years…and how certain other things never change.

Just some interesting things then and now…

Calgary Flames

A 5’9” winger by the name of Martin St. Louis appeared in 13 NHL games with the Flames and had a whopping 2 points and averaged 8:15 of ice time per game. Despite some impressive AHL numbers (62 points in 53 games), St. Louis looked like another puny AHL All-Star and nothing like the future NHL MVP.

THN listed the Top 10 Flames prospects, and Marty was nowhere near the list.

1. J-S Giguere
2. Daniel Tkaczuk (105 points in 58 OHL games!)
3. Robyn Regehr
4. Rico Fata
5. Blair Betts
6. Toni Lydman
7. Dmitri Kokorev
8. Chris Clark
9. Sergei Varlamov
10. Steve Begin

While the Flames had a pretty impressive list of prospects (and, boy, did Daniel Tkaczuk bomb), it’s amazing to think that Marty didn’t even make a Top 10 team list for Top prospects.

Carolina Hurricanes

Well, the Canes always have crappy looking Top Prospects list. 1999 was no exception, as the Top 3 ‘Sure Fire’ NHLers were Jeff Heerema, Shane “Whatchu talkin bout” Willis and Nikos Tselios. Mmm hmm..

#9 and #10 and not given much respect? Eric Cole and Josef Vasicek – Who we know went on to have much better careers. Hey, prospecting is speculation, no matter how you slice that cookie.

Edmonton Oilers

Yep, 1999 saw the Oilers with yet another bad looking Top 10 Prospects list of their own

1. Chris Hajt(!)
2. Alex Henry
3. Michael Henrich
4. Shawn Horcoff
5. Dan LaCouture
6. Michel Riesen
7. Jason Chimera
8. Paul Comrie
9. Brad Norton
10. Matthieu Descoteaux

…and their top pick that offseason? Jani Rita… it’s hard to build any franchise when you draft and develop players that poorly.


Don’t expect much to change for the financially strapped Oilers, who spent nearly US$ 22mil last season.

“We have a budget and we must adhere to it,” said Sather, who will once again try his best to piece together a fiscally responsible club.

Hmm, so the Oilers were whining when their payroll nudged over $22mil, and now they can spend $30mil+ without blinking an eye. Mmm hmm

…and we know how Glen Sather forgot all about budgeting once he left for the Big Apple.

Florida Panthers

When I was wrote for back in 1999, I was covering the Panthers and gave a glowing review of a young prospect named Dan Boyle. People thought I was smoking some fine B.C. bud for touting a small, thin, offensive defenseman that played like a 4th forward made Sandis Ozolinsh look like Adam Foote. Boyle had 3 goals and 5 assists in 22 games with the Panthers the previous season in an exciting NHL debut season.

At least THN backed me up with a glowing review of their own, giving Boyle the UNSUNG HERO tag:

Boyle didn’t play his first NHL game until February 18, but he added mobility and offensive thrust from the blueline. He gambles with the proper tinge of restraint.

With him on the ice, the Panthers are looser, more excited…and more exciting.

Well, I told ya so! :)

I also said Josef Marha (d’oh!) would be a fine playmaking centerman…so it all evens out, in the end

The Montreal Canadiens leading scorer from 98-99 was Saku Koivu…with just 44 points (14+30) in 65 games. The Habs, amazingly, managed to finish 19th overall in the NHL…which is impressive given their utter lack of offense.

The New York Rangers selected Pavel Brendl with their top pick (4th overall). Brendl looked eerily similar to what Canadian Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper looks like now (If you are Canadian, you’ll know who the hell I’m talking about)

Tampa Bay Lightning

They had just come off of a 19-54-9 season and their leading scorer was Darcy Tucker with 43 points and team worst –34 in 82 games. Given their Top 10 Prospect list looked like this…

1. Paul Mara
2. Eric Beaudoin
3. Mario Larocque
4. Brad Richards
5. Kyle Kos
6. Zac Bierk
7. Matt Elich
8. Eero Somervuori
9. Karel Betik
10. Dmitri Afanasenkov

…and their top pick was Sheldon Keefe (the troubled buddy of Mike Danton), it’s amazing how quickly the Lightning were turned around into a Stanley Cup contender by GMs Jay Feaster and Rick Dudley.

The Toronto Maple Leafs wasted their 1st round pick (24th overall) on Luca Cereda. Everyone but the Maple Leafs knew this was a bad pick when it was made. The smug look on the Leafs’ Anders Hedberg when he made this pick was priceless. It was like being happy about getting crapped on by a seagull.

…and the Vancouver Canucks drafted the Sedinbots. To this day, I still can’t tell which is Henrik and which is Daniel unless they have their sweaters on. 1999 was the height of the Messier Era in Vancouver...just dark dark days.

You're pretty harsh on the Oilers here. . . I guess it's a prerequisite of being a Canucks fan ;). I'd point out that 8 of their top 10 prospects saw NHL time. P. Comrie suffered a combination of injuries that ended his career, and Horcoff is now rounding into a good second-line centre. As to picking Rita, this was in a year where Patrik Stefan went 1st overall! Brendl, Finley, Beech, Lundmark, Mezei, and Shvidki were all taken ahead of Rita. . . it was a bad draft year more than anything else. Also going in the first round- Scott Kelman, Kirill Safronov, Barrett Heisten, Cereda, and Mikhail Kuleshov. As for money, keep in mind that a) the Canadian dollar is now about 20 cents higher vs. the American, b) the Albertan govt. has since instituted tax reforms and lottery programs that save the Oilers approx. 7 million per annum, and c) with the Alberta economy booming, it's likely the owners in the ownership group all have rosier financial outlooks. And that's ignoring the fact that now they can be competitive and hope for some playoff home-game revenue. In other words, ease up a bit. Other than that, your Sather comments were bang on ;)

You make very good points regarding how different economic factors have helped the Oilers since 1999. Still, a lot of teams were whining when their payrolls were between $20-30mil and now they spend over $30mil without a fuss.

As for the Top Prospects...well seeing an NHL game and being a good prospect/player don't necessarily go hand in hand. Brent Gretzky once played a handful of NHL games, and we know why... When Chris Hajt is your #1 prospect, you know you have problems...and Canucks fans can relate to bad #1 picks (Jason Herter, etc)

and I'll pick apart any team, even the Canucks! I'm an almost-equal-opportunity hater ;)
And that's why it's so much fun reading your site! Actually, though, the Oilers record for drafting/development in Sather's last 5-10 years was dreadful. Lowe has been a massive improvement, though he's made one or two questionable decisions (hello Jesse Niinimaki!).

As for economics I agree. I can understand Edmonton, and Pittsburgh (Crosby helping sell tickets), but teams like Chicago, Columbus, and the New York Islanders confuse me. Where did they get the money?
Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?