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June 1, 2003

June 1, 2003

The Hockey News has been providing the most comprehensive coverage of the world of hockey since 1947. In each issue, you'll find news, features and opinions about the NHL and leagues across North America and the world.

TEAM DRAFT REPORTS

GM thrilled by draft crop

That Columbus once again finished near the bottom of the NHL standings holds a silver lining for the Blue Jackets. Though the team harbored dreams of qualifying for the playoffs in only their third NHL season, what the organization really needs is young talent for the future, not a flash-in-the pan, miracle playoff run. So it’s good news for the Blue Jackets they will pick fourth overall. “In years past, there has been one or two or three guys who really stood out,” said GM Doug MacLean, “but this year it goes five or six guys, maybe more. We’re going to get a very good player, so I’m excited.” The Blue Jackets traded up to get the No. 1 overall pick last season, drafting Calder Trophycandidate Rick Nash. Don’t look for similar fireworks this…

TEAM DRAFT REPORTS

DRAFT WATCHDOG

Here are Atlanta’s best and worst picks in the past four drafts, since the Thrashers began participating in the entry draft in 1999. Astute selections are players delivering above and beyond expected from that spot in the draft. Disappointing picks are players performing exceedingly below expectations. ASTUTE SELECTIONS Pasi Nurminen, 189th overall, 2001 He has won and lost the starting goaltending job a couple of times the past two years, but he’s not playing behind any Selke or Norris candidates. Garnet Exelby, 217th overall, 1999 Simon Gamache, 290th overall, 2000 Tommi Santala, 245th overall, 1999 DISAPPOINTING PICKS Patrik Stefan, 1st overall, 1999 Luke Sellars, 30th overall, 1999 Ilja Nikulin, 31st overall, 2000 THRASHERS FAST FACT Atlanta has picked either first or second overall in its first four NHL drafts-first in 1999 and ’01 and second in ’00 and ’02. This year, though,…

TEAM DRAFT REPORTS

DRAFT WATCHDOG

Here are St. Louis’s best and worst picks in the past 10 drafts. Astute selections are players delivering above and beyond expected from that spot in the draft. Disappointing picks are players performing exceedingly below expectations. ASTUTE SELECTIONS Ladislav Nagy, 177th overall, 1997 He has had back-to-back 20-goal seasons in Phoenix since the deal with Michal Handzus and Jeff Taffe for Keith Tkachuk. A big scorer in junior, the Coyotes think he has 30-goal skills. Mike Grier, 219th overall, 1993 Petr Cajanek, 253rd overall, 2001 Eric Boguniecki, 193rd overall, 1993 Alexander Khavanov, 232nd overall, 1998 Barret Jackman, 17th overall, 1999 Michal Handzus, 101st overall, 1995 Reed Low, 177th overall, 1996 Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre, 179th overall, 1995 Tom Koivisto, 253rd overall, 2002 DISAPPOINTING PICKS Maxim Bets, 37th overall, 1993 Maxim Linnik, 41st overall, 1998 Tyler Rennette, 40th overall, 1997 * Stanley Cup winner drops to 30th overall in the…

TEAM DRAFT REPORTS

How much for that Euro vet in the window?

About six years ago, older Europeans were all the rage-the instant-meal replacement for NHL teams looking for a depth chart pick-me-up. Can’t afford free agents? Don’t want to wait for the kids? No problem. Somewhere in the Elite League, Superleague or Extra League there’s a LuBornir (Visnovsky) or a Radek (Martinek) or a magical Magnus (Arvedson) just waiting to be drafted and step in. Not any longer, if you listen to the pessimists. They say the pipeline is finished. It’s true things have slowed. In fact, 29-year-old Columbus forward Lasse Pirjeta was the only European veteran drafted last summer able to make an impact. But is it right to say there’s no one left? “There might be that perception,” said one scout, “but I think that’s the furthest from the truth. It’s…