Showing posts with label Soudek (Robin). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Soudek (Robin). Show all posts

Monday, April 13, 2009

Top 5 Tuesdays: U18 Opportunists

Now what I'm talking about here are players involved in this year's U18s currently underway in Fargo-Moorehead who can elevate their 2009 draft stock a great deal by the way they play in this tournament.

I'm not talking about Magnus Svensson-Pääjärvi who might jump from top 8 to top 4... I'm talking about players who are outside the first round, perhaps not even rated right now by Central or ISS, who could parlay a big tournament into getting taken a couple rounds earlier than previously expected, or simply drafted at all.

Got that straight? OK, here we go...

#5 Toni Rajala - Finland

Nobody is really talking about the Finns this year because their really big names are going to be eligible for next year's NHL draft in 2010, that and the Swedes are so strong this year that the rest of Europe looks rather weak by comparison.

Toni Rajala is one of the very few Finns who are considered top 2 round quality this year. At 5'10 and 165 lbs though he's going to have to have a pretty impressive performance at Fargo to standout from the 2010 guys on his own team and get some spotlight of his own. So far he's kind of done that with a team high 5 points in 2 games. Flashback a year ago and some thought he could be a top-10 prospect and last month ISS, who have him ranked 39th overall right now, had this to say about him:

"Regarded as one of the most talented players to come out of Finland in some time, Rajala has put up consistent scoring numbers as an underage player at every level, including internationally. A dominant perimeter player, Rajala could jump back into the favour of NHL GMs with another of those performances at this April’s World U18 Championship."

#4 Robin Soudek - Czech Republic

Soudek played for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the WHL this past year and was not a player who caught attention on most nights. Every once in a while he would show a bunch of hustle that would raise an eyebrow but he could not sustain much from game to game. He was much better in March than he was in November though and I like Europeans who are better in the second half as opposed to the first which is what the stereotype is - Euros fade after the mid point of a North American season because of the heavy game schedule.

At the U18's so far the Czechs have been pretty disappointing. They pushed Canada but are still fell short and sit 1-3 with losses also coming to Germany and Sweden. For his part, Robin Soudek appears to be holding his own. He actually has a couple points which is more than fellow countryman Andrej Nestrasil who is ranked 67th by both ISS and Central Scouting. Soudek meanwhile, isn't ranked by either scouting group so anything he can do at this tournament that leads to his name being heard on June 26/27th would have to be considered a huge success.

#3 Sweden - Everyone

OK, it's a cop out, I know. But the Swedes are so freakin' intriguing this year that you can't just overlook them but at the same time, all 5 players on my list could have been Swedes! Passing over the big names like Svensson-Pääjärvi (3rd), Ekman-Larsson (23rd) and Josefson (10th) there are a bunch of guys who could vault into the first round because of the way they play in front of the North American scouts this week.

Carl Klingberg is one such guy. He's 6'3 and 205 lbs so you know the scouts are all over him because of his size but he's putting up points too. So far he's got 2 goals and 2 helpers in 3 games. ISS currently has Klingberg just outside the first round sitting in the 33rd spot.

How about Anton Lander who ISS has ranked 40th right now? He's not as big as Klingberg but he might be more offensive minded as he's got a whopping 8 points already, second only to Mr. Paajarvi's 10.

And don't forget about netminder Robin Lehner who TPS first started telling you about last Christmas but is really starting to generate discussion lately. He's the 3rd best goalie available this year according to ISS (March) but I'm hearing people say that Frolunda's Lehner isn't much different than Jacob Markstrom who went early in the second round to Florida last June and was recently rated the best goalie prospect in the world by The Hockey News. Lehner is 6'4 and 220 lbs... I won't be surprised at all if he's ends up being the first goalie drafted this year.

#2 Kevin Lynch - USA

ISS has Lynch ranked 82nd overall while Central Scouting had him slotted 83rd just in North America in their mid-term rankings. Lynch plays with the US-NTDP with a bunch of guys who are mentioned a lot more often than he is. However, right now in Fargo he's outscoring every one of those guys with a team high 9 points in 3 games. He's got 4 points more than anyone else on his team including guys like Jeremy Morin and Drew Shore, both are top-20 ranked players. Hell, his 5 goals are as much as any teammate has in points.

Lynch is 6'1 and just shy on 190 lbs so he's got decent size. If you're looking for a player who is making a name for himself at the U18s... this has to be the guy for the Americans at least.

#1 Byron Froese - Canada

He's unranked by ISS and Central Scouting has him way back at #102 in North America but Byron Froese is really coming out of the pack lately. A source in Everett told me a while ago that not only would he make Canada's U18 team ahead of Silvertips rookie leading scorer Kellan Tochkin but that Frose would get drafted ahead of him too. Tochkin is ranked 137th overall by ISS but I think it's safe to say that Froese is going to skyrocket up the chart from unranked to top 100.

In Fargo, Froese has a team high 6 points, tied with underage John McFarland and TPS guest blogger Ethan Werek. He's 6' and 178lbs but Froese is a tenacious character player that isn't limited to playing a checking role because he can also put up points. His 57 points were more than Landon Ferraro (55), Carter Ashton (50), Ryan Howse (44) and Cody Eakin (48) who are all considered top 2 round prospects.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Don't Look Now...

...but the Edmonton Oil Kings are making a little noise and sit atop the WHL's Central Division.

Now before anyone starts planning the parade route, it's only a couple of weeks into the schedule and they have played more games than all the other teams in their division except for Kootenay. Still, give them credit for what they have done; They just earned 5 of 8 points after playing 4 games in 5 days and now they can boast about having the league's top scorer too.

After losing to Calgary last Wednesday, the Oil Kings came home and snuck out an exciting shootout win over the Red Deer Rebels on Friday night in front of several hundred puking kids (more on that in a minute).

They dropped the second half of the home-at-home with the Rebels on Saturday but stole a point in the O.T. loss. Then on Sunday night, their third game in as many days, they snatched a 2-1 victory from the Ice in Cranbrook.

Brenden Dowd, an undrafted 20-year-old center, now leads the WHL in scoring with 9 points in 6 games - one point ahead of 2009 draft eligible Landon Ferraro of the Rebels.

Winger Brett Breitkreuz is tied in third place (with 11 other players) with 7 points.

Three Oil Kings are tied for third in the league with 5 assists including Dowd, Breitkreuz and defenceman Adrian Van de Mosselear who had a 4-point night earlier this year.

Special teams continue to give the Oil Kings trouble; they rank 19th on the power play with just a 7.4% effective rate while the PK is dead last in the WHL (69.7%).

One thing you know you'll see at an Oil Kings game is a pile of goals - they've score 16 and have allowed 21 both of which are near the tops in each category.

Sunday night saw the debut of 16-year-old netminder Cam Lanigan who both Dean Millard and I agree, will be a solid starter one day in the 'Dub, perhaps sooner rather than later depending on how Dalyn Flette perorms this year.

Czech product Tomas Vincour (right) has 4 point thus far but in the games that I saw, has been fairly average. Robin Soudek, Edmonton's newest import, has been held off of the scoresheet to this point but has an ugly minus-6 on his stats line.

Fan turnout at Rexall Place has been pretty disappointing in my personal opinion. To date the team has announced crowds of 7662 (opening night), 5317 for Calgary the next night and just 3734 for Red Deer's first visit of the year.

That last home game, against the Rebels who are currently in first place, saw the organization get creative and hold an All-You-Can-Eat night for fans aged 12 and under. Basically the premise was that parents, or in my case just dad, would bring their kids to the game and be able to let their off spring pig out on as much as they wanted. Of course parents, or in this case ME, got the risidule left overs so we all got to eat on the house.

The fun promotion was for the first 1000 kids through the door. Unfortunately, the crowd was so sparse that night that I seriously doubt if they hit the 1000 kid mark - they may have but if they did it was probably pretty close.

My biggest complaint about my experiences at Oil Kings games since their inaugural match lasdt year hasn't changed. I still believe that the team is aiming their demographic cannon too low. These days it's teenagers that have all the money - they live at home, have jobs yet pay little if any rent or bills... they should be targeting an age more similar to that of the players on the ice, the 15-20 year olds.

Parents will still come and bring their kids but as of now... that's about all that are coming.

I sat in the seats at the last game as opposed to the press box. To my surprise, my 9 and nearly 4 year old found the music too loud. I was surprised because I felt their music at home was louder but still, something I didn't consider before.

Until the third period when the Oil Kings decided to show up, the most intersting thing to my kids was the bloopers played on the screen during intermissions. Of course once the home team started to play well, they were watching the game.

Now it might seem a bit confusing that my complaint is that there are too many children and yet I myself brought mine. Well I don't normally but I felt the promotion that night was a great opportunity to bring them and not take the hit in the wallet that many parents feel on most nights.

I still think that on a nightly basis they should be quicker on the draw for the in-rink games and annoucements, the 'get ready for another EnMax Power Play' stuff and overall just do more things to get the crowd into it. Someone once told me that they purposely dulled down the music at Oil Kings games so as not to compete with the atmosphere at Oilers games. I find that ironic because I believe it's pretty easy to get the crowd going for the Oilers and so more effort should be put into picking the right music selection for the WHL team.

Less Mini-Pops and Disney soundtracks... more rock!

Anyhow, this has been a long winded venting but overall I think fans should be aware that on the ice, the Oil Kings are doing some good things. Off of it they still need some work but getting more butts into the bulding would be a big help.

Don't get me started on ticket prices; I don't know how many of the $10 game day tickets there actually are but apparently they were all sold out when I took my kids on Friday. The building was two thirds empty so somewhere there is a scalper with about 4000 unused tickets I guess.

Friday night the team is giving mullet wigs to the first 2500 people through the gate. At least they're trying to do something creative and fun... I hope it turns out better than last Friday, especially for the kid that puked a rainbow of yuck all over the main concourse.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Top 5 Tuesday

This week on Top 5 Tuesday, we'll explore what we think will be the top 5 stories to watch with the Oil Kings this year. The season begins this Friday as the OK kids host Medicine Hat at Rexall Place. You can win a pair of tickets Tuesday night on The Pipeline Show during Bad Ass Trivia, so without further babbling, here is the TPS Top 5 Tuesday:

5. Where will goals come from? The good news is 4 of Edmonton's top 4 scorers are back from last year. The bad news is, none of then had more than 16 goals or 39 points. You would have to expect Tomas Vincour, who led the way in the points department, will be on top again, and could hit the 75-80 point mark. Fellow Czech forward Robin Soudek will be expected to put up some numbers, as will Brendan Dowd, Craig McCallum (pictured) and Brett Breitkreuz. They will all have to be better, as will some others like Brent Raedeke, and Jeff Lee, who potted 11 points in his final 11 games last season. If lee uses his size down low properly, he might be able to notch 20-25 goals.

4. The Evolution of Mark Pysyk. I first watched Mark Pysyk skate at a practice in Sherwood Park as a bantam, and was amazed at his effortless stride and take over the play ability. The Oil Kings snapped him up 3rd overall. Once his midget season ended, Pysyk joined Edmonton for a 14 game run. He didn't look out of place at all, registering 1 goal 2 assists and 8 penalty minutes. While he was -8, not one player with Edmonton was a plus player. Pysyk at times ran the power play during his 14 game stretch. He'll do more of that this year, and will learn from offensive blueliner Brandon Lockerby along the way. Touted as a high 2010 draft pick, Pysyk should help the Kings transition from their own end this year, whether he skates it out with smooth strides, or passes with precision. The only concern is his youth and the Kings will have to be careful not to put to much pressure on his young shoulders.

3. What impact with Robin Soudek have? Last year as one Robin went, so did the Oil Kings, and Steve Pleau are hoping that happens again, albeit with a new Robin in town. Robin Figren had 31 points in 35 games last year, the Islanders prospect battled through injuries, signed with New York in the off season and will play this year in his native Sweden. Edmonton grabbed Robin Soudek from the Czech Republic in the CHL import draft this summer and when it comes to first impressions, he gets top marks from me. During the team's pre season tournament a game against Regina turned rough. Soudek didn't hide in the corner, rather he engaged in a fight. He was physical all game long, and looks to have a potent shot. What will make the transition off the ice easier for Soudek is having countryman Tomas Vincour around.

2. How will Tomas Vincour handle pressure? It's a big year for the big Czech winger who some think has power forward potential. Her certainly doesn't shy away from driving to the net or battling in the corners. Vincour led the team with 16 goals and 23 assists last year, and really seemed to step up when Robin Figren was out of the line up due to injuries and the world junior tournament. It was similar to what Evgeni Malkin did when Sidney Crosby went down. This year Vincour will be the main target of oppositions, he'll suit up for the Czech Republic at Christmas for the world junior championship in Ottawa and it's his draft year. It will be up to head coach Steve Pleau, and G.M Bob Greene to make sure Vincour keeps a level head and doesn't get weighed down by the pressures of expectations. The Oil Kings have a few other players that are hoping to get drafted this June as well. Robin Soudek-RW, Lougan Proulx-LW, Rhett Rachinsky-LW, Michael Burns-RW, Jesse Pearson-D, Henrik Tervonen-D

1. Who will end up as the #1 Goaltender? Daylyn Flette has been handed the starters job. He saw action in 28 games last year compiling a record of 6-15-2-1, a hefty goals against average of 3.50 and a leaky .890 save per centage. But let's remember he was playing behind a team that struggled mightily in the second half. Can Flette carry the mail as a starter for the first time in his WHL career? I don't think so for the whole season. Luckily Edmonton has a top notch back up, who will eventually be their main man. Cam Lanigan has grown 3 inches since last year's training camp. His lateral movement is terrific and his positioning rarely leaves him having to make a desperation save. Lanigan will start the year as the back up, and the Oil Kings hope they don't have to turn to him to often, and that Flette will take the starters roll and run with it. Unfortunately for them, I think Lanigan will overtake Flette for the starters job at some point this season. And when you look at the pipeline for this team, you see some real strength between the pipes. Patrick Terris was in camp, and will play Junior A this year so as to not ruin any college eligibility he has, but he could be a contender for the Kings crease down the road. And the team drafted Laurent Brossoit this year in the 2nd round, he was the highest rated goalie in the bantam draft. It gives Edmonton a similar situation to what the Red Deer Rebels were in during the 2001 season where they were able to trade Michael Garnett to Saskatoon for Martin Erat, because they had Cam Ward coming down the pipe. With Erats help, Red Deer went onto win The Memorial Cup, and who knows maybe it's a situation the Oil Kings find themselves in down the road.