SCOUT'S POSTCARD FROM...LAKE PLACID
[Editor's note: This is the first in a series of occasional emailed "postcards" from Islanders scouts as they travel across the globe in search of future NHLers. As today's entry from assistant director of pro scouting Kevin Maxwell proves, there is even important hockey to be seen in August].
Hi Islander fans,
I'm at Lake Placid this week, keeping a close eye on the World Junior evaluation camps for the national teams from the USA, Sweden, and Finland. It is a good chance for me to see the next wave of talent coming into the NHL. The skill level here is almost always outstanding; it was at this camp that Tim Connolly first opened our eyes with an array of dazzling moves.
You may wonder why I'm here when our Islanders do not have a player on Team USA and Sweden, while Petteri Nokelainen is not at the camp because he has already clinched a spot on Team Finland. There's a good reason.
For the last few years Mike Milbury has discussed with our scouting staff the importance of keeping a book on every player out there. This practice is very valuable for a number of reasons. For example, if Mike is discussing a trade with another team and can get a prospect as part of the deal, he needs to know from us what these kids do, how far along they are in their development and if they are a good fit for the Islanders.
The mandate from Mike is to look for character, character, character. That is what the staff has done in recent drafts with picks like Nokelainen, Sean Bergenheim, Jeremy Colliton and this year's first-rounder Ryan O'Marra. The only way to truly judge a player's character on the ice is watching him in games. Most of the kids on Team Finland seem to be real battlers. Last night they got down 3-1 to the Americans and just never stopped working. They tied it up before losing on two late USA goals (one a last-second empty-netter), 5-3.
Mike also wants us to look out for more young defensmen. Our last four first-round picks have been forwards, and although we're pleased with young dmen like Chris Campoli and Bruno Gervais, we have to continue to stockpile. When it comes to the blueline, USA Hockey has been developing defensemen at a rapid pace. By my estimation, at least 8 of the 14 American defensemen at the week's camp are bonafide future top-tier NHLers. The Americans have vastly improved their talent pool in the past 3-4 years. The Americans won both games in the first day of competition, as you will see from the USA Hockey report I have included below.
When I leave Lake Placid in a few days, I will come away with a better handle on these talented young kids -- all this a couple of years before they enter professional hockey. When you're on the road, you also try to find some time to take away a memory. That's what happened this afternoon as I had the privilege of riding the bobsled at the track where they held the Olympics 25 years ago, when my good friend Kenny Morrow and Team USA stunned the world. Maybe I didn't win a gold medal like Kenny, but today I was lucky enough to go more than 60 mph down the Lake Placid Olympic bobsled track. It's something I will never forget.
But, of course, first and foremost I'm here for hockey. In this business you have to be prepared for everything. If any of these players' names come up in discussion with Mike, we will be ready with an evaluation.
That's it for now from Lake Placid. I'll catch up with you down the road...
August 10, 2005
United States Under-20 Teams Open 2005 National Junior Evaluation Camp With Two Wins
LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- A pair of Team USA squads, comprised of 42 players eligible for the 2006 U.S. National Junior Team, knocked off teams from Finland and Sweden here today at USA Hockey's 2005 U.S. National Junior Evaluation Camp. All four teams will return to round-robin action for games Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
The United States' Team Blue used a late goal from Blake Wheeler (Robbinsdale, Minn.) to earn a 5-3 win over Finland, while Team White skated to a 5-0 shutout victory against Sweden. "The purpose of this camp is to evaluate players in a lot of situations," said Walt Kyle, 2006 U.S. National Junior Team head coach. "The scores aren't indicative of so much, and they're probably not worth reading much into, but it's great competition and it's a great environment to evaluate in."
Team Blue was led offensively by Wheeler who scored first and third-period goals, while goaltenders Ian Keserich (Cleveland, Ohio) and Johnathan Quick (Hamden, Conn.) each made 16 saves in the win.
Wheeler's first goal gave Team Blue a 1-0 lead at the 10:10 mark of the first period, with assists from Jordan LaVallee (Corvallis, Ore.) and Justin Abdelkader (Muskegon, Minn). After Finland tied the game at 7:10 of the second period, Team Blue regained the lead with two goals in less than a minute. Adam Pineault (Holyoke, Mass.) assisted on a Shawn Weller Glens Falls, N.Y.) goal at 14:59 of the middle frame and scored one of his own, unassisted, just 34 seconds later.
Finland notched two quick goals at 12:27 and 15:57 of the third to draw even and set the stage for Wheeler's game-winning tally. Wheeler split through the defense, drove to the slot and converted at 18:21 of the third period. Robbie Schremp (Fulton, N.Y.) closed the scoring with an empty-net goal at 19:42.
In the second game of the night, Team USA White scored three times in the first period and received 30 shutout minutes each from goaltenders Cory Schneider (Marblehead, Mass.) and Jeff Frazee (Burnsville, Minn.) en route to a 5-0 win.
Brandon Dubinsky (Anchorage, Alaska) gave Team White a 1-0 lead at the 1:36 mark of the opening frame, followed by a Nick Foligno (Hummelstown, Pa.) shorthanded individual effort at 14:45 and a Jack Skille (Madison, Wis.) goal at 18:11.
Bobby Ryan (Cherry Hill, N.J.) scored the only goal of the second period, walking from the end boards and in front of the net to tuck the puck in for a 4-0 Team White lead. Defenseman Matt Lashoff (Albany, N.Y.) finished the night's scoring with the lone third period tally at 6:47.
Both Ryan and Foligno recorded both a goal and an assist, while Bryan Lerg (Livonia, Mich.) picked up a pair of helpers.
On Wednesday, Team White will play the early game (4 p.m. EDT) against Finland, followed by Team Blue vs. Sweden at 7 p.m. EDT.
GAME SUMMARY 1
USB 1 2 2 -- 5
FIN 0 1 2 -- 3
First Period - Scoring: 1, USB, Wheeler (LaVallee, Abdelkader), 10:10.
Penalties: FIN, Jokila (cross checking), 12:01; USB, Pineault (roughing), 15:55; FIN, Seitsonen (elbowing), 16:02; USB, Abdelkader (elbowing), 18:26.
Second Period - Scoring: 2, FIN, Joensuu (unassisted), 7:10; 3, USB, Weller (Pineault, Zalewski), 14:49; 4, USB, Pineault (unassisted), 15:33.
Penalties: FIN, Koistinen (interference), 5:46; FIN, Wirtanen (holding), 9:43; FIN, Ahtola (tripping), 19:06.
Third Period - 5, FIN, Sailio (Wirtanen), 12:27; 6, FIN Joensuu (Sailio), 15:57; 7, USB, Wheeler (unassisted), 18:21; 8, USB, Schremp (Fritsche), 19:42 (en).
Penalties: USB, Kessel (cross checking), 6:38; USB, Abeldkader (cross-checking) 8:08; USB, Mueller (roughing), 13:41; USB, Pineault (roughing), 20:00; FIN, Kolehmainen (roughing), 20:00.
Power Plays - USA 0-5, FIN 0-5
Shots - USA 37, FIN 35
USA: Keserich (16, 17 shots, 29:26), Quick (16, 18 shots, 30:34)
FIN: Karri (32, 36 shots, 59:10)
GAME SUMMARY 2
USW 3 1 1 -- 5
SWE 0 0 0 -- 0
First Period - Scoring: 1, USW, Dubinsky (Davis, Lerg), 1:36; 2, USW, Foligno (unassisted) 14:45 (sh); 3, USW, Skille (Gerbe, Lee), 18:11.
Penalties: USW, Lerg (roughing) 13:51.
Second Period - Scoring: 4, USW, Ryan (Foligno), 19:57.
Penalties: USW, Foligno (tripping), 0:51; SWE, Anderson (cross checking), 5:36; SWE, Demen-Willaume (holding), 6:40; USW, Fraser (slashing), 11:16; SWE, Svennson (high sticking), 14:37; SWE, Hedman (delay of game), 17:53.
Third Period - Scoring: 5, USW, Lashoff (Ryan, Lerg), 6:47.
Penalties: USW, Lashoff (roughing), 3:32; USW, Foligno, (high sticking, double minor), 6:56; USW, Fraser (elbowing), 16:23.
Power Plays - USW 0-4, SWE 0-6
Shots - USW 36, SWE 25
Saves - USA: Schneider (11, 11 shots, 30:00), Frazee (14, 14 shots, 30:00)
SWE: Akerlund (31, 36 shots, 60:00)