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GETTING TO KNOW KATIC AND GREGOIRE

Saturday, 06.23.2007 / 3:24 PM / News
New York Islanders
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GETTING TO KNOW KATIC AND GREGOIRE
Islanders Country may have known next to nothing about the Isles' recent draft selections before today, but a couple of them – third-rounder Mark Katic and fourth-rounder Jason Gregoire – received their fair share of media attention leading up to the draft.

Below are a few stories pertaining to the Islanders' 2007 draftees.




Mark Katic, Photo Courtesy of Sarnia Sting
Mully's Musings
Mike Mulryan, Timmins Times - May 23, 2007


As the NHL draft approaches in June a lot of you have asked about Timmins' native Mark Katic's status for the draft.

Mark's ranking has seen a wide variance over the last year. While NHL central scouting has mark at or about 59th overall, we at Redline Report have mark at 15th in the world. Either way Mark is generally considered no worse that an early third round pick. I have always considered Central Scouting to be a little ancient in their rankings.

There seems to be a prevailing mentality there that "size is wise" when it comes to drafting young players.

The game has changed to a point where smaller more creative players have a better chance to be successful in the new NHL. Yes, a big player with skill will have an advantage over a small player, and has much more of an upside that the little guy.

But in a lot of cases the bigger players are getting the benefit of the doubt regardless of skill levels. At Redline, the combination of size and skill plays more of a factor and most contributors realize the way the game has changed and rank players with a closer eye to skills and ability to compete. Mark Katic can play in any type of game.

I really feel that either NHL (new or old) had a place for a skill player like Mark. Although Mark isn't as tall as Chris Bosh, he is probably stronger. From the waist down Katic is among the top handful of players when it comes to lower body strength. In a game where everything is about skating, isn't that a huge advantage for him? And when defensive leverage is crucial in your own end, doesn't the solid lower based provide a distinct advantage? Mark is with a doubt the best passer in the draft and top five in skating. As a coach wouldn't you want a player like that to get the puck out of your own end and initiate the attack?

Katic's uncanny ability to take out the evade checkers in his own end, and his lightning quick first step acceleration make him the prototypical quarterback type defenseman to carry the mail. Did I mention his laser sharp tape-to-tape passes? If Katic doesn't possess ideal qualities for today's NHL (except over 6 foot stature) what's he missing?

At the recent world under 18 championships Redline Report published ratings of the players who made significant contributions and jump out at the scouts.

Katic was among those who made a significant impact. (He led Canada in plus/minus)

A number of other top end talents did nothing or little to enhance their draft status. Katic did. I still fully expect Katic to be a solid first round selection and to become an excellent pro.If Katic isn't a first rounder it will be a size related issue and it will once again confirm that a large number of Neanderthals still exist to this day.A few critiques of Marks' game are that he may back in too much and not maintain tight enough gaps. That are freakin' minor and easily corrected. They may also be a reflection of coaching philosophy.

Tactics. From smarts to skills Katic is the complete package.

If he should fall in where he is drafted it will not be a reflection of his skills, but a reflection of NHL stupidity. Mark can then make the naysayers look stupid once again the near future.

Marks drops into the store on a regular basis and inside his calm demeanor, I know he is excited and nervous. That is normal and Mark should enjoy this time. It only happens once. First or 15th Round doesn't really make Mark any less a player or person. He has made his mark (bad pun eh!) in hockey and has a tremendous future in the game.

P.S. To Mark: Your fishing still needs work!

Later skater.




NHLer in the making
Vincent Man, The Timmins Daily Press - January 11, 2007


Timmins native and Sarnia Sting defenceman Mark Katic is ranked 60th among North American skating prospects entering the 2007 NHL entry draft in the NHL Central Scouting Bureau's midterm draft rankings.

The ranking caught Katic by surprise.

"To be honest, it's a little disappointing," he said. "Just to be rated is an honour in itself, but I was hoping to get a higher rating.

"He's one of the most dedicated and hardworking kids you can have ... Nobody tries harder."

Former Timmins Majors coach Bill Monahan

"That's the way it is. I'm going to have to have a better second half of the season."

In his second season with the OHL's Sting, the 17-year-old has played 40 games, scoring four goals and 22 assists. He is on pace to eclipse his totals in those categories from last season, but Katic thinks his offence is an area of concern thus far in the current campaign.

"I think I struggled a little bit in the first-half of the season, " Katic said. "I wasn't putting up nearly as many points as I should've."

In order to improve on his play and move up the rankings, the former Timmins Major said he must re-examine his play.

"I think I've got to get back to playing my game," he said. "I've got to work harder and do the little things a little better."

Former Timmins Majors coach Bill Monahan expected that very reaction from the player he coached in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons.

"He always wants to improve," Monahan said of Katic. "He's a sponge, question-wise; he's a sponge learning new drills. He has an intensity to learn.

"He's one of the most dedicated and hardworking kids you can have ... Nobody tries harder."

As a Major, Katic was a force in the Great North Midget Hockey League, being named to the first all-star team in both seasons and collecting the Quinnsport Trophy for most valuable player in the 2004-05 campaign.

Monahan has no doubt Katic will have a bright future because of his passion for hockey. Katic is well-prepared to handle the pressures the NHL throws at its players, Monahan said.

"He loves the game and it's not work to him, but he plays that way, " Monahan said.

"It's a tough spot adjustment-wise, but if anyone can take the steps necessary and be mentally strong enough, he's going to be the guy to be able to do it. He's stable in a game and he has a willingness to work."

Katic tries to avoid looking too much into the future, especially when he has several games looming.

The Sting host the Erie Otters tonight at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre at 7:35 p.m.

Starting with tonight's game, Katic is optimistic that the second- half of the season will serve notice to NHL scouts.

"I think I'm going to take some time to focus before the game and relax," he said. "I'll start from scratch and go back to doing the simple things.

"I think I'm one of the hardest workers. I try to give it my all and I think that's helped me with my game so far."




2007 prospects: Mark Katic
Jason Menard, Hockey's Future – October 30, 2006

It's a long way to the National Hockey League from Porcupine, ON, but one young defenseman is hoping to prove that he can be a thorn in the side of NHL opposition for years to come.

Sarnia Sting defenseman Mark Katic has been ranked fifth amongst skaters for the upcoming 2007 Entry Draft by ISS. And while Katic said he wasn't aware of the rankings, he was understandably pleased by the news.

"It's a deep draft from what I've been told," Katic explained. "To be ranked that high so early in the season, it's certainly an honor, but there's a whole season still left to be played and anything can happen."

Things haven't always been so rosy for Katic, or the Sting. The squad has missed the playoffs for the past two seasons – and hasn't won a playoff round in almost a decade. But the cornerstone for change was laid the moment that John Tavares received a last-minute inclusion into the OHL entry draft.

Because of that, Katic fell to the Sting with the second pick – and the club couldn't have been more pleased. "He's just an unbelievable kid and he just wants to get better every day," explained assistant coach Greg Walters. "He was easily our best defenseman last year and that's a tough thing to put on a 16-year-old kid."

And that showed in Katic's stats. While he enjoyed a solid offensive season with five goals and 29 assists, a minus-24 ranking betrayed his – and the club's – difficulties. The club finished in the OHL basement with a record of 17-46-2-3. This season, the resurgent Sting has taken the OHL by storm, and the 5'10 rearguard is providing much of the fuel for the team's playoff aspirations. He's posted 12 points in 15 games. But more importantly, he's a plus player.

True to form, Katic credits the organization for his improvement. "Overall the biggest thing that's affected my game has been the improvement of the team in general," Katic said. "When we can bring in key people over the summer – and now we've added Trevor Kell -- my plus/minus has been showing for it.

"If I look at the score sheet and I've got an assist, but I'm minus-2 then it means I've hurt the team more than I've helped it. But if I had no points, but was plus-3 I realize that I've contributed somehow to the team's win."

Katic's success this season shows that it doesn't always matter how talented the artist is. To truly showcase his abilities, his efforts have to be framed in just the right way. And this year, the Sting took a measured leap into respectability, obtaining defenseman Ryan Wilson (the team's scoring leader), as well as landing the first-overall pick in the OHL draft and selecting the dynamic Steven Stamkos. With a more balanced supporting cast, Katic's been able to shine.

Sting head coach Dave MacQueen wasn't with the club last season, so Katic's enjoyed a carte blanche status. MacQueen's been impressed with what he's seen, but he's also seen room for improvement. "He's a skilled player and he has the ability to skate and get you out of trouble," he said. "He's got the skills, the talent, and the ability.

"He's dynamic when he has the puck, but he needs to work on what to do when he doesn't have it because that's what it's going to take to get to the next level."

Sage wisdom, especially when you consider that not all scouts are as positive about the impact Katic will have at the next level. While they like his skill set, some have indicated that they'll need to see something more – especially considering his size.

"I could make a compelling argument that the people who are benefiting from the new rules changes are the big forwards with skill – like the [Jaromir] Jagrs," explained one scout. "When you've got them coming down the wing at full speed, how are the smaller guys supposed to check them?

"Defense is never going to be [Katic]'s meal ticket. He has to bring something else to the table because size is obviously a major concern."

The reviews aren't all bad, though. There is plenty of raw material with which a team can work. "He has a lot of hockey sense," an NHL scout opined. "His skills are well above average."

However, Katic said a lot of the changes in the way the game's officiated have worked in his favor – at least offensively.

"When you look at the old drafts you'd see a lot of 6'5 defensemen taken who weren't really able to move, but could get away with all the clutching and grabbing. Now the game's built for speed and I think that suits my game pretty well," Katic explained. "I noticed that the smaller skilled forwards and defensemen are getting the chance, not just here but also in the NHL, like John-Michael Liles.

"It's changed my game a bit because now I can go wide on the guys and they won't be able to get away with hooking me or clutching and grabbing me as much. It's better for skating out of our own end and not worrying about getting hooked and turning the puck over because of it."

Another thing that's in Katic's favor is his willingness to learn – a trait that's well appreciated by his coaching staff. "Mark's continuing to work on his game, and we're trying to help him learn when to skate with the puck, when to move, when to stay back, and when to jump in," Walters said. "He knows the game well and he's really taking his defensive responsibility seriously."

Candidly, Katic admits that he thinks about the upcoming draft from time to time, but he does his best to put it behind him and only worries about the one factor that he can control – his play. "Obviously the draft is always in the back of my mind, but if your team's successful then there's probably a better chance for you to be picked higher," he said. "I look at it game by game and if I worry about today's game, then I only have one focus."

Walters added that the coaching staff does its best to reinforce that idea. "We keep telling him that he's not going to get drafted in October or November – the draft isn't until June," he explained. "So he's just got to not worry about one game here or there. The good thing is that the draft's never been a problem in affecting Mark. He puts a lot of pressure on himself – in a good way."

As Katic has said, the season is long and much can change before he finally hears his name called in Columbus. And where he goes depends not so much on his performance in the junior ranks, but rather the potential he can show to grow and improve.

"It's easy to see what he's doing now," one NHL scout explained. "It's harder to project what he'll do at the next level."



Stamkos, Katic selected for Under-18 team
DAVE BORODY


Two members of the Sarnia Sting have been chosen to compete for Team Canada at the Under-18 hockey championships this month, The Observer has learned.

Forward Steve Stamkos and defenceman Mark Katic will be on the team. The official announcement is expected sometime today.

The Canadian team is made up of players from the Canadian Hockey League. Their teams were eliminated in the first round of playoffs.

Stamkos becomes the second youngest player ever to play for the Under-18 team. The other was John Tavares of the Oshawa Generals, who was on the squad a year ago.

Stamkos enjoyed an outstanding rookie season with the Sting in the Ontario Hockey League when he scored 42 goals and assisted on 50 others for 92 points.

Stamkos also played for Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games back in February and led the team to a gold medal. Stamkos set a record in the tournament for most points with 11 goals and four assists.

Katic completed his second season in the OHL. He has international experience playing with the Under-17 team last summer. Katic is expected to be a first or second round pick in the June National Hockey League draft.

Katic had five goals and 35 assists in 68 games and was a plus- eight.

The last Sting player to compete in this tournament was forward Richard Clune two years ago.

Trent Yawney, former head coach of the Chicago Blackhawks, will coach the Canadian team.

Team Canada will depart for Finland on Friday and open play in the tournament on Wednesday. They are in a division along with Germany, Latvia, Russia and the United States.

The Americans are the defending champions.

In other Sting news, the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League has signed forward Tomas Pospisil to an amateur tryout contract.

Pospisil, from the Czech Republic, had 29 goals and 67 points in 55 games with the Sting this past season.

Pospisil was a fifth-round draft pick of the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2005 NHL draft. Chicago is the top farm club of the Thrashers.

Atlanta has until June 1 to sign Pospisil or he will become a free agent.




Jason Gregoire, Courtesy of the Lincoln Stars
UND picks up Winnipeg winger
Brad Schlossman, Grand Forks Herald - May 23, 2007



May 23--It took Jason Gregoire just one year to go from a low United States Hockey League draft pick to a projected mid-round NHL selection.

He went from obscurity to prominence in the eyes of recruiters. He went from the frustration of injury to the satisfaction of a breakout season in the USHL.

The latest change: Gregoire now has decided he will attend UND in the fall of 2008 instead of Denver.

The left winger, who originally gave a verbal commitment to the Pioneers a few months ago, said he wants to be closer to his home in Winnipeg.

"When I had my surgeries, it was a real emotional time in my life," said Gregoire, who suffered ankle injuries last fall. "And coming from a big city like Lincoln, I liked the bright lights of Denver. But as I started playing again, I didn't see my family as much and I realized what I wanted in my heart. The grass isn't always greener."

Gregoire said the first step was to tell Denver. "Luckily," he said, UND was still interested.

That's not a huge surprise, judging by his first season with Lincoln.

The 5-foot-11, 175-pound left winger had 36 points in 32 games. Gregoire had the best plus-minus rating in the entire league at plus-28.

"I'm not great at anything," Gregoire said. "I'm good at a lot of little things. I'm more of an all-around player."

At the end of the 2005-06 season, Gregoire exploded in the Manitoba Junior Hockey League and grabbed the attention of Bemidji State and St. Cloud State. He continued to open eyes when he went to the Lincoln Stars, where he earned more scholarship offers and heavy praise from his coach, former Sioux forward Steve Johnson.

"Our guys don't have to watch hockey on television to see how to play the game," Johnson told the Lincoln Journal-Star three months ago. "They can watch Jason Gregoire."

Gregoire is the second recruit UND has landed in a week. Hopkins (Minn.) High forward Mike Fink gave a verbal commitment last week for 2009.



SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STATS

2013-2014 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
K. Okposo 71 27 42 -9 69
J. Tavares 59 24 42 -6 66
F. Nielsen 80 25 33 -11 58
J. Bailey 77 8 30 -8 38
B. Nelson 72 14 12 -10 26
M. Grabner 64 12 14 -10 26
T. Hickey 82 4 18 5 22
C. Clutterbuck 73 12 7 -9 19
C. McDonald 70 8 10 -22 18
R. Strome 37 7 11 -1 18
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
E. Nabokov 15 14 8 .905 2.74
K. Poulin 11 16 1 .891 3.29

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