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  • 2 weeks later...

I had posted this on old site.


S1: Between the Pipes
We are just around the trade deadline and while normally I like to look at how each team is doing, this time I want to discuss the men between the pipes.  There are very few goalies having solid seasons, with most hanging around the .885 mark.  However, two goaltenders have really stood out this season and unsurprisingly they are on the VHL's best teams.
Drew Barclay of the Calgary Wranglers has the benefit of playing behind the league's best team, but don't let that fool you.  He can certainly play and has proven it so far this year.  With the second best save percentage in the league (.901) and an incredible goals against average of 2.13, he is a big reason for Calgary's success in the Inaugural season of the VHL.  Barclay isn't getting a lot of love because of the calibre of his team but that needs to change.  Technically he isn't the most impressive goalie, but he has an approach where he just wants to get in front of the puck.  He'll use his head, his stick and has no issue diving across to make a miraculous save when needed.  Along with the likes of Brett Slobodzian and Scott Boulet, Barclay has emerged a fan favourite in Calgary and is looking forward to leading the top team in the league to the promise land.
Matthew Pogge is certainly not to be forgotten either.  The best technical goalie in the league, Pogge has proven why he has so much hype around him.  With a league best .904 save percentage and tremendous 2.26 goals against average, it is hard to argue that he is the favourite to take home the Tretiak Trophy for the VHL's top goalie.  Some have even included his name in talks for the Most Valuable Player Award, arguing that if it wasn't for him, Vasteras wouldn't be leading the European Conference.  While this writer doesn't agree with that since they have Scotty Campbell and Jonathan McKelvie, I definitely see the argument for him being the top goalie in the league.  He is a cornerstone netminder and has played a huge role on a great team that will certainly try and take out Calgary come playoff time.
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  • 2 weeks later...

S1: To the Playoffs We Go


The Inaugural Season of the Victory Hockey League is over and we are moving on to what should be some exciting playoff battles!  The Calgary Wranglers finished the season with the best record and what may become an unmatchable record in this league's history.  With a 69-3-0 record, it is hard to imagine anyone ever topping such an incredible feat.  However, it's a new season and their regular season record has no impact on the playoffs.  Regardless though, the Wranglers will be a team to watch due to their high power offense that features Brett Slobodzian, Scott Boulet, Sterling Labatte and Brad Janssen.  They also have a solid goaltender in Drew Barclay, that will need to be solid to help defeat times like Vasteras.


As for who reigned supreme in the regular season, it appears that Brett Slobodzian is the favourite to win the MVP as he was absolutely astonishing this season.  His 79 goals, 92 assists and 171 points led the entire league.  His teammate Sterling Labatte is the obviously deserving winner of the Orr Trophy for Top Defenseman.  His 102 points and 77 hits make him the easy choice in what should be a sweep of the voting, with the likes of Petr Shirokov and Joey Kendrick being on the ballot.  In net, it seems clear that Matthew Pogge has a good chance of winning Top Goalie.  While Barclay gave him a run for his money, word is that due to the clear difference in teams playing in front of each goalie, that more people are leaning to Pogge in this tight vote between the two netminders.  The final award to talk about is the two-way forward award that clearly looks to be going to Scott Boulet.  He led the league in hits and was one of its top scorers which makes him an obvious front runner, being such a major part of the destructive Wranglers lineup.


As for who I think will win it all.  I expect it will be a battle in the finals between Calgary and Vasteras, but with how well the Wranglers played in the regular season, how can I not go with them? Vasteras will need Pogge to steal the cup away because Calgary is too fast, too skilled, too strong and too good for the majority of that lineup.

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S1: Shocker of Epic Proportions


After the Calgary Wranglers would take out the Seattle Bears and the Iron Eagles dispersed of Amstel, the two best teams in the regular season, would face off for the VHL's first ever Continental Cup.  However, while it seems like the perfect setting for a tightly fought battle, the regular season series proved to be anything but that.  The Wranglers went 7-2 during the season against Vasteras, outscoring them thirty to eighteen.  While the Iron Eagles clearly did better against Calgary than anyone else, no one was really expecting this to be close.  Well, everyone was wrong.


Off the backs of Scotty Campbell and Matthew Pogge, the Iron Eagles would not only keep themselves in it, but actually put the Wranglers to the edge of the cliff.  In game six, with Calgary down 3-2 in the series, the Wranglers would fail to find the back of the net as Pogge would shut the door.  Markus Lidstrom scored two goals and Campbell racked up another one in the shutout cup-clinching victory.  The Calgary Wranglers would lose more games in that series then they did all season long.  Why did this happen? Matthew Pogge proved to everyone that he is a star.  He pitches a shutout in game six and two really solid wins right before that against a tough and ruthless offense.  Scotty Campbell also was huge with seven points in the final three games of the series, including a hattrick in game five that put Calgary's backs against the wall.


With eleven points in the six games, Brett Slobodzian did everything he good for the Wranglers, and Drew Barclay was solid as well despite being left out to dry at times towards the end of the series.  So how did Calgary lose with their best players performing well? Simply, Vasteras stepped up.  They proved that the Wranglers were not unbeatable and that with great goaltending, anything can happen in any given series.  When true superstars step up, any team can win.  The parity the VHL has is part of the reason this league looks to be so great.  So with the season now complete, we head into the offseason to see what may lay ahead of us down the road.

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S1: Award Controversy Sparks Debate


This entry will be a little different than how I usually write things.  Normally I recall the events as I see them and present a historical piece.  However, this will become an opinionated historical entry that will argue against the decision to name Petr Shirokov GMOTY in Season 1.  


With Season 1 ending, the Calgary Wranglers and the Vasteras Iron Eagles were the two squads that really separated themselves from the competition.  Calgary had an incredible 69-3 record in the regular season as they stomped opponents on a consistent basis.  Vasteras, on the other hand, would knock off the Wranglers in six games to win the VHL's first Continental Cup.  Therefore, with these two teams standing out so much, the Sam Pollock Memorial Trophy would have to be awarded to one of the two, right? Wrong.  For whatever reason, Petr Shirokov would receive the honours much to the surprise of the attending audience.  


Now, let me preface this by saying that I do respect the work Mr. Shirokov did as the General Manager of the Amstel Tigers.  He made some great moves and built a decent team.  However, his team finished under .500, and while they were in a playoff spot, they were a full thirty-nine points back of first place in their division.  Going further than that, they lost thirty-six more times than the Wranglers who were dominant throughout the season.  Perhaps it may have been voted that way due to Amstel not expecting to do much, but is it really that impressive to finish ahead of Stockholm, who only had fifty-one points?


In contrast, the work Brett Slobodzian did with the Wranglers is incredible.  The easiest argument is that they were stacked and because they lost in the finals, he doesn't deserve it.  The fact is, Amstel didn't even make the finals, and the Wranglers may go down with the best record in VHL history.  It is truly a record that may never be topped.  Why shouldn't Slobodzian receive more credit when he built a team full of superstars, creating a wrecking ball that hit anything in its path?  A 69-3 record should be recognized and it is insane that it didn't receive more credit.


Then there is the work of PensFan who controlled Vasteras.  While his team finished second in the campaign, they were far better than Amstel and were the only team within striking distance of Calgary.  This continued to prove true when they went on to defeat the Iron Eagles in six games to win the Continental Cup.  The Wranglers lost more times in that series than they did all season, proving just how good of a team PensFan built in Vasteras.


Whatever the reason for the decision, my argument is that it was the wrong one.  You reward the best in Season 1, and the Wranglers and Iron Eagles were clearly the best constructed teams.  The Wranglers had the best team all-around and showed it with an unimaginable performance, while the Iron Eagles knocked off that team to win the prize we all play for.  Meanwhile, the GM of the Tigers was able to construct a team who finished under .500 and was fourth in the league.

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  • 3 weeks later...

S2: Stolzy Taken First Overall; Labatte Falls


The Season Two VHL Draft has just ended and there are some very notable highlights to discuss.  The first of which is who went first overall? Former Seattle Bears forward, Christian Stolzschweiger, was the lucky winner of that honour.  Toronto made the somewhat surprising pick after the forward recorded 71 points in 72 games last year for the Bears.  Stolzy is a player who is believed to have tremendous potential but he certainly wasn't the most successful last year if we compare him to some of his other fellow draftees.


The two most successful players when looking at statistics were Jon Clarke and Sterling Labatte.  Clarke was a linemate of Scotty Campbell in Vasteras last season, and recorded 94 points to finish second among left wingers in scoring.  Stockholm lucked out and was able to snag him third overall, which was a bit of a surprise given his success just one year prior.  Sterling Labatte though is the big shock of this draft.  The league's top defender, as voted by the league in Season One, fell all the way to seventh overall and back into the laps of the Calgary Wranglers.  I don't really get why he wasn't taken in the top two or three or why he wasn't even the first defenseman taken in the draft, but congratulations to the Wranglers on stealing him away after having such a fantastic season.


Finally, what about the late picks that will work out and become top players? A lot of talk has been made about a few players who weren't heavily scouted due to where they were playing, but actually have a lot of potential and could become top guys.  Robbie Zimmers and Edward Eldred are the two names that we have heard about the most, although there has been some talk about other players not getting along with them so perhaps that came into play as well.  The last thing you want to do is take a cancer high in a draft.  Regardless, if these two stay smart and continue to progress, they will become valuable members to not only their teams, but the Victory Hockey League as a whole.  

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S2: Wranglers off to Blazing Start; Seattle in a Tailspin 


The Calgary Wranglers are out to get revenge after their shocking lost in the Continental Cup finals last year.  The Wranglers, who are still a very balanced and talented team, have came out blazing hot with a 9-0-1 record to lead not only the North American Conference, but the entire Victory Hockey League in points.  Brett Slobodzian is once again having a great year as he is currently second in the league in scoring with 19 points in 10 games.  Scott Boulet has been the real star of the team though with 18 points and 36 hits, as he is once again proving that he is the best all-around forward in the league.  The team also has Brad Janssen who has 16 points and Doug Schneider who has 13 points and 19 blocked shots to lead all defenders on the team in both categories.  The only downside for this Wranglers team has been the play of Sterling Labatte who won the Orr Trophy last year for the top defender in the VHL.  Labatte has had a slow start to the season with just 4 points, 9 hits and 8 blocked shots.  In response to his play, Labatte said: "It's just a slow start for me.  I expect to be around a point per game and to be the near the top of the league in hits and blocked shots.  I will work hard to achieve my goals and I feel unstoppable regardless of how I have been playing."  Only time will tell to see if Labatte can pick his game up.  If he responds well to the recent criticism and starts to make a bigger difference, the Wranglers will be tough to stop going forward.


On the opposite end of the spectrum is a team that played pretty well last year, but has stumbled out to a 1-10-0 start.  The Seattle Bears have had outstanding play out of Brannan Anthony (9 goals, 14 points) and Danny Tremblay (12 points, 29 hits, 46 blocked shots) but have lacked the offensive and defensive depth that a quality team possesses.  With no other playing having more than 6 points and Alex Deslauriers owning a rough .829 save percentage, it doesn't appear that the Seattle Bears will be climbing the standings at any point soon.  Deslauriers has received a lot of criticism for his play of late and recently responded to it by saying that, "there is no way I can play like I have and expect the boys in front of me to carry this team.  I have to be better and I need to take the responsibility and make myself more successful."  Look for Seattle to make a trade at some point this season to add some offensive talent to go around Anthony, and perhaps acquire a defender to compliment the all-around ability of Tremblay.


The season is fresh and these two teams have stood out in a positive or negative way.  This season seems to have a lot more parity with four other teams possessing similar records, hovering just around .500.  What players will step up? What talents will hurt their team with unproductive play? Will any teams come out of nowhere to compete? Will we see a very good team struggle to win games? This is the beauty of a new season and this second campaign promises to be more eventful than the first one.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Season 2 – Stolzy on Pace for Greatness              


Despite the fact he was easily the favourite to win Rookie of the Year in the VHL’s second season, many are surprised about the impact that Christian Stolzschweiger has made on the dominant Calgary Wranglers squad that has continued to make noise.  The young rookie has helped the Wranglers to a dominant 29-5-1 record as Calgary continues to have the best record in the league.


While many prefer to recognize the likes of Boulet and Labatte, it has been the young rookie forward that has come out and made the biggest impact not just for players on Calgary, but for the entire league.  Stolzschweiger has recorded 37 goals and 36 assists to give him an outstanding 73 points in 35 games.  He is currently tied for the league lead in goals with Scotty Campbell and is third in points behind the aforementioned Campbell and his linemate Jonathan McKelvie.  What makes this achievement more incredible if that Stolzy is 29 points ahead of Guillame Latendresse and 32 ahead of Matt Defosse who sit second and third in points among rookies respectively.  When asked about the impact he has made on the Wranglers, teammate Doug Schneider revealed how welcoming and energetic he is around the guys.  “There is no one like him in our locker-room.  The dude is a class act, a great worker and an even better player.  He has been the big reason our team has played so well and I think he can continue this pace and maybe even lead the league in scoring.  As a rookie, for anyone to even have the opportunity to be in the talks for leading the league in scoring, that’s pretty incredible.”


After a tremendous season last year and what seems to be a landmark of a year going on right now, Christian Stolzschweiger is making quite a name for himself around the Victory Hockey League.  You don’t like to make predictions but with the way he has played so far, it wouldn’t be very surprising to see him bring some significant awards home going forward, and possibly even earn himself a spot in the Hall of Fame.  All of it seems so sudden, but he has been so good this year and is now being slotted into the discussion of the league’s best player.  Perhaps Scott Boulet put it best: “He will be the standard for rookies to come.  That will be the legacy future rooks will want to live up to and be better than.  All I can say is good luck because I have seen very few players have anywhere near the talent Stolzy has.”

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Season 2 - Seattle Slump


After a relatively successful season last year, the Seattle Bears came into this season with high hopes.  Looking to build on their 78 point season, which was good enough for second in the North American Conference, many had them pegged to make a second consecutive run into the post-season.  However, what is quickly becoming apparent is that there won't be a second consecutive appearance in the playoffs.  Instead, it is turning into a battle to stay out of last position in the Victory Hockey League.  The Seattle Bears currently have a record of 5-39-4 and already sit over 45 points back of the next best team in the North American Conference.  Furthermore, they sit in last place, six points back of Avangard who are the next worst team in the league.  So why the sudden slump for Seattle? Is this something long-term or is everyone just slumping at the same time? This article will look at the three main reasons for the current Bears record.


1. Goaltending Struggles - Alex Deslauries and Tyler Vassell have had terrible starts to the season, as the two combine for a .882 save percentage and a goals against average over 4.00.  They currently have the most goals against surrendered in the league and with the way these two and the defense group is playing, that doesn't appear to be changing any time soon.  The bigger issue going forward is that neither goalie has showed any sort of potential either, with both tenders being listed in the bottom tier talent wise, Seattle will have to find a fix sooner rather than later, if they want to make the playoffs any time soon.


2. Offensive Depth - Despite the acquisitions of Alex Gegeny and Viatcheslav Trukhno and the consistent play of Brannan Anthony and Danny Tremblay, the Bears do not really have anyone else that can contribute consistently on offense.  With just four players on pace to be over fifty points at the end of the season, the Seattle Bears do not have the offensive talents to make up for their goaltending difficulties.  The Bears will definitely need to take advantage of their high draft position and make a move for some forwards that can put the puck in the net.


3. The Strength of the NA Conference - It is safe to say that there isn't a lot of parity in the North American Conference at the moment.  With three teams in the conference near the top of the league statistically, the Bears are already way behind their rivals.  Seattle also has yet to win a game against anyone in their conference, with three of their wins coming against Avangard and one a piece against Helsinki and Stockholm.  While the Bears have struggled regardless of who they have played, it doesn't help that they are in a Conference that would sink any average team.

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  • 4 weeks later...

New magazine column is called "The Rookie Report"?


Mag Edition 173 - Parity At Its Finest


Normally there are one or two rookies that consistently stand out from the rest of the pack.  Last year it was Davey Jones that was just that much better then everyone else on road to the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy. However, this year the road to the "Stolzy" trophy is looking much more competitive and is filled with some terrific young talent that is taking the Victory Hockey League by storm.  The top seven rookies in scoring all come from either New York or Riga while the first overall pick in last year's draft follows them in eighth in scoring, but is still just ten points back while playing a defensive position.  Nevertheless, this article will look at the top three candidates for Rookie of the Year as we stand right now.


1. Connor Low (NYA) - This man has come out of the gate on fire and currently sits tied for second in rookie scoring alongside Robin Gow of the Riga Reign and fellow teammate Lucas Smith.  What makes Low stick out from these two and the rest of the pack is that he is a defender that has been equally impressive on the defensive side of things.  With Low contributing 72 hits and 48 blocked shots to go along with his 23 points, he has the most complete resume of all rookies at the moment.  In fact, at this very moment he is probably the leading candidate for the Sterling Labatte Trophy, which is annually rewarded to the league's top defender.  Low has stood out in every way and deserves the top spot on the current race for the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy.


2. Robert Gow III (RIG) - Hard to complete a list of the top rookies without including the leading scorer.  Robert Gow III currently leads all rookies in scoring with 26 points in just 22 games.  This puts him on pace to record 85 points this season, numbers that look very similar to Davey Jones' destructive rookie campaign last season.  RGIII came in overlooked due to his brother's success last season with the Ottawa Lynx, but it is Robert's turn to shine and he has taken advantage of every opportunity given.  Playing the most minutes out of every forward on the team, Robert Gow III has been opportunistic while showing his elite young talent that got him drafted in the first round of last year's draft.


3. Brennan McQueen (RIG) - An interesting development is taking place in the VHL this season.  Two rookies stand atop the hits lead after just over twenty games this season.  Xin Xie Xiao of the New York Americans and Brennan McQueen of the Riga Reign have been a revelation this season for their respective teams, providing both solid offensive and a lot of physicality.  Since McQueen has a slight edge in points and hits, this spot goes to him for his amazing start to the season.  While McQueen may not have the offense to overtake someone like Zhumbayev for the Scott Boulet Trophy, this season has really shown just how complete some of the VHL's new rookies are.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Edition 175 - Conner Low Reaching New Heights


Rookies rarely make a gigantic impact in the Victory Hockey League.  Sometimes you will get a few players who hit the point per game mark or will have solid defensive stats, but they rarely ever happen at the same time.  Conner Low not only has achieved both of those characteristics, but is right now on pace to take home some serious hardware at the end of the season.  


At the moment, Conner Low is tied for first for defensemen in scoring and is also top ten in both hits and blocked shots.  This puts him on track to win the Sterling Labatte Trophy at the end of the season, which is an award that has been held by greats like Sterling Labatte, Jochen Walser and Daniel Braxton.  However, if Low is to win the trophy, he would become the first rookie to ever win the award.  In addition to that, Low is just one assist back of Sergey Brovalenko for the league lead in assists.  If Low manages to pass Brovalenko and can stay on top of the pack, he will become the first ever rookie to win the Alexander Beketov Trophy, awarded to the league leader in assists.  These are two awards that guys like Ryan Sullivan made a name off of, and Low might win both in just his first season in the Victory Hockey League.


His incredible rookie campaign has him on pace for 85 points, 270 hits and 176 blocked shots.  While they aren't quite as amazing as Clark Marcellin's from last season, they do stand out as the elite statistics of a defender in what seems to be a weak year for scoring from the point.  Given that the surrounding talent in New York is either a rookie or a nobody, the season that Conner Low is having should stick out as the first step to a potential first ballot Hall of Famer.  At the very least, Low is having the best start you could ever wish for.

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Mag Edition 176 - Two Way Talents


Most two-way players put it all together after a couple seasons in the Victory Hockey League.  However, Season 36 has seen multiple rookies show off what can only be described as a completely sound all-around game.  As we explained in last weeks article, Conner Low is one of the best defenders in the league this year as he is in the top-10 for scoring for all defenders, hits and blocked shots. This article will look at two other rookies that have truly stood out for their all-around play this season.


Xin Xie Xiao (60 GP, 57 P, 292 H) - This man was a very hyped player coming into this year after being drafted third overall by the New York Americans last season.  He has been dubbed as the VHL's best young power forward and XXX has lived up to that label this year.  The winger currently sits second in the entire league in hits and is fifth in rookie scoring with just under a point per game.  General Manager Christopher Miller had this to say on Xiao: "Xin has been very impressive for us.  There are times that he is disappointed with his play because he has such high expectations for himself.  He is his biggest critic and that will enable him to work harder going forward."  The work ethic Xin Xie Xiao has shown should allow him to become one of the leagues prime forwards and it currently has him as not just one of the true elite rookies in the league, but perhaps even one of the better two-way forwards that the VHL has to offer.


Brennan McQueen (60 GP, 54 P, 316 H) - This Seattle Bears draft pick was traded last season to the Riga Reign for defender Edwin Encarnacion.  Safe to say, the Riga Reign do not regret that trade whatsoever.  McQueen has been an absolute stud for the Reign this year with 54 points and 316 hits.  That hit total has the young rookie leading the league in hits which is not all that common from a freshman.  While McQueen does sit sixth in rookie scoring, it is important to note that he is only seven points back of third, which is not much of a difference when you consider the talent of McQueen.  One young scout had this to say on the impact McQueen has made on Riga this season: "One could argue that Brennan has been the team MVP.  While the Gow's may have more points than him, they have not shown the committed effort physically and defensively that McQueen has."  The Reign have certainly seemed impressed with the development of Brennan McQueen and hope for that to continue going forward.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mag Edition 178 - The Forgotten One


Damon Tyrael is a member of the Riga Reign and was the fourth overall pick in the Season Thirty-Six Entry Draft.  However, despite this he is often overlooked when talking about the future cornerstone players in the Victory Hockey League.  Tyrael is easily one of the hardest young workers in the league and has shown the ability to be a consistent producer despite his age.  This article will tell the story of how Damon Tyrael has gotten to this point and try and answer his critics who think he will not be a top line star down the line.  


After being drafted into the VHLM, Damon Tyrael took his talents to Brampton where he had the pleasure of playing with other talents like Andrey Zadorov and Sami Kravinen.  Tyrael was very impressive recording over a point per game with 29 goals and 72 points in just 68 games.  He showed off his great vision with 43 assists and even added a physical element to his game with 120 hits.  Did he have the flair that guys like Xin Xie Xiao and Phil Villeneuve did? No.  However, he was your simplistic north-south player that provided offense when you needed it and was responsible enough to take care of his job in the teams own zone.  After finishing up in the VHLM it was clear that he had impressed a lot of scouts with his season.  Tyrael was drafted fourth overall by the Riga Reign to join both Robin Gow and Robert Gow III as a part of the teams brand new core.


This year with the Riga Reign, Damon Tyrael showed that his talent translates well to the VHL as well.  He recorded an impressive 29 goals and 33 assists in 72 games and finished just five points back of the top five in rookie scoring.  He showed off a more disciplined aspect of his game as well taking just three minor penalties all season.  His numbers are clearly good enough to earn a lot of recognition but with Robin Gow, Robert Gow III and Brennan McQueen all recording more points, Tyrael finished just fourth on his own team in rookie scoring.  Add the incredible seasons of Xin Xie Xiao and Conner Low to the list and even both Brick Wahl and Mike Szatkowski Jr., and Damon Tyrael all of a sudden becomes the forgotten one.  For those who think he isn't good enough to become a top guy, I would suggest seeing a doctor.  Tyrael has shown to be a consistently productive offensive forward that is ready to explode.  He has shown the commitment and skill required of a top guy and in the right opportunity, expect him to flourish as an elite player in this league.

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Mag Edition 179 - First Overall Pick Struggles?


When Godavari Yumalatopinto was drafted first overall in the Season 36 VHL Entry Draft, most including the Seattle Bears management, felt the player was an excellent candidate to not only be the league's top rookie but potentially the future of the position of defense in the Victory Hockey League.  Over the years, it seems that there is usually one defender that controls the Labatte race on a rather consistent basis, with Daniel Braxton and Ryan Sullivan being the most recent examples.  However, it wasn't the year that Yumalatopinto expected as the Seattle Bears barely squeaked into a playoff spot and the young defender struggled at times to find his place on the roster.


Now this writer is not trying to say that Godavari will be a first overall bust and the Bears will regret taking him, because that is not the case at all.  Yumalatopinto clearly has a lot of talent and he showcased it at times last season.  His goal going forward is to become more consistent and if he can do so, will be right there with the Conner Low and Matt Bentley's of the world as the future of defenders in the Victory Hockey League.  Finishing the season with thirty nine points was a pretty big disappointment for a player known as a two-way defender.  His skill-set resembles a lot of other premiere defenders that have showcased their talents in this great league, but you wouldn't know it when just looking at the stat sheet.


As Yumalatopinto improves his work in the gym, expect a more polished defensive and physical game to come as well.  He has the size and the positioning but just needs to improve his strength and mobility to be the best player he can be.  It is important to remember (and his critics never will) that he is a very young player with all indications pointing to a bright future ahead.  One critic remarked, "I never saw the potential with Godavari.  Isn't the quickest skater and doesn't really stand out in anything in-particular.  Should have taken someone like Robin Gow or Xin Xie Xiao instead."  We have always known that the first overall pick receives a different kind of pressure and more expectations and this appears to be no different.  This writer definitely feels though that he will bounce back and maybe even have a good shot at winning the Dustin Funk Trophy next year.  Daniel Braxton also had a slow start to his career but went on to win four consecutive Sterling Labatte Awards, so there is still a lot to be hopeful for if you are a Seattle Bears fan.

Edited by Advantage
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  • 1 month later...

Can this topic be changed to the Rookie Report?




Heading into the S37 VHL Entry Draft, it seemed that two players were being considered for first overall pick. Tom Slaughter, who is coming from a long line of successful players from his player agency and Slaeter Fjorsstrom, who was also coming from a successful line of players. Both had a great amount of practice hours heading into the draft and were ready to take the VHL by storm.


Riga eventually opted for defense when they selected Fjosstrom, and half-way through the season it seems like they are happy with their pick. Slaughter would end up going to New York third overall during their three picks following Riga’s pick. Half-way through the season now, let’s take a look at how things are going for both players!



Riga has certainly expected a lot out of their franchise defender’s first season, and he has delivered. The rookie is playing an average of 30+ minutes a game on the team’s top pairings, which could be the reason the rookie is doing so well so far this season. In his 38 games this season, Fjorsstrom has put up 35 assists and 40 points, enough to keep him tied for the lead of the rookie scoring race. Fjorsstrom has been on fire for his team since he took to the ice at the beginning of the season, and if his development keeps up on this pace there is no doubt that he will be leading Riga for seasons to come.


Fjorsstrom is also leading his team in +/- with 18. Plays just seem to work out with him on the ice and that may be the reason Riga holds a commanding lead for the third playoff spot in the European conference. Slaeter is seeing lots of success on his team’s powerplay as well. Fifteen of the defender’s points have come on the powerplay so far this season.



New York knew when they selected Slaughter at third overall that they had a fantastic piece for their offense going forward. Slaughter is tied with Fjorsstrom for the rookie scoring title so far with 10 goals and 40 points through his 38 games. It just goes to show just how close things are between the two franchise players. While Slaughter has a slight lead in practice hours over his rival, he is also playing considerably less time on the ice. His average of 29 minutes a game is three minutes fewer than Fjorsstrom.


Tom also matches Fjorsstrom, as his +/- leads New York. Slaughter holds a +23 on the season so far and like Riga, New York is also sitting third in their conference. Slaughter has also seen success on the special teams with nine powerplay points and an assist on one of New York’s two shorthanded goals.


These two rookies are quite even with each other right now with both showing that they can lead their teams going forward. As the second half of the season goes on we’ll have to see which rookie pulls away with the scoring title.

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Hmm..okay?  Anyway, I will write my regular Rookie stuff.


This season has been a pretty clear two horse race between Tom Slaughter and Slaeter Fjorsstrom for the Rookie of the Year Award.  Slaughter and Fjorsstrom are the only players to record at least thirty points which shows that while the league has had a lot of young talent come into the league lately, this season's rookie race lacks the depth of typical VHL seasons.  This article will take a look at the three rookies who have disappointed the most this season, and will explain what they have to do in order to improve their production.


1. Logan Laich - No one really expected Logan Laich to record much offense.  He is a power-forward type that is still trying to improve his offensive production at the top level.  At the same time, on one of the best offensive teams in the league, Logan Laich has been stifled all season with just ten points in forty games.  He has the least amount of points on the team and has frustrated some viewers with his puck-handling ability and offensive vision.  At the same time, Laich has had a lot of success on the physical side of things with 173 hits, tied for the most on the New York Americans.  At the same time, we expected the physical side of the game with Laich and had bigger expectations offensively.  This writer expected somewhere around forty points this season and he is nowhere near that at the moment.


2. Andrey Zadorov - Another member of the New York Americans, a lot of people had big expectations for Zadorov since he took the extra year of development in the VHLM.  Zadorov was a stand-out two-way defender in the VHLM but has struggled to generate any offense with zero goals and seventeen points in the forty games this season.  In addition, Zadorov's fifty-six hits and sixty-nine blocked shots, while decent, are not good enough to make up for Andrey Zadorov's disappointing season offensively.  For a guy that has been a big part of the defensive unit on New York and a regular member of both the Power Play and Penalty Kill, many expected Zadorov to produce more in all three zones of the ice.


3. Sami Kravinen - Here is a similar story to Andrey Zadorov.  Kravinen is a player that has spent extra time in the minors to further improve his craft and due to that, should be farther along than some other talents in the league.  However, Kravinen only has eleven points this season for Vasteras, and is last on their team in points overall.  While he has recorded a pretty good amount of blocked shots, he doesn't log enough ice time, play a physical enough style of brand or recording the offense to be anything more than a mediocre second pairing defender.  The Iron Eagles need players like Kravinen to step up if they want to go anywhere this year and in the future.


While rookie scoring is down, that is not to suggest that the Victory Hockey League is not bringing in enough talent.  This just happens to be a year where the only two legitimate rookie studs are Slaughter and Fjorsstrom.  After that, there is little talent that appears ready to bust onto the scene and have a huge impact for their respective Victory Hockey League teams.  

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Mag 186 - Brookside Making a Name for Himself


A lot of rookie talk has been about Tom Slaughter and Slaeter Fjorsstrom and deservingly so given the years both of them have been having.  However, there has been barely any attention paid to the Calgary Wranglers franchise goaltender, Martin Brookside.  To be fair, Brookside has only played thirty-eight games this season but has been very impressive given the mediocre team that plays in front of him.


Brookside has recorded the second worst goals-against-average with it being 4.45.  This has soured those who like to put all their stock in the team-based statistic that goals-against-average is.  What people really need to pay attention to is his .914 save percentage.  Is that an outstanding save percentage that is worthy of a Shaw Trophy? Of course not.  Is it even middle of the pack this year? No it is actually ninth overall.  However, what people need to realize is that in a strong year for goaltenders, a .914 save percentage looks mediocre but is actually already better than the rookie seasons of Brick Wahl, Mike Szatkowski Jr. and Skylar Rift.  All three of those goalies either had great careers or are on their way to having great careers, so this is quite an accomplishment for Brookside.


It isn't just myself or even Calgary officials that have noticed how overlooked Brookside is but also others that are affiliated with the league.  Americans General Manager, Christopher Miller, stated that "Brookside is truly a treat to watch.  He may not get the attention he deserves but his play will do a lot of the talking on his way to becoming a fantastic Victory Hockey League goaltender."  New York's standout rookie goaltender Brick Wahl had something to say about the start of Brookside's career.  "The guy really impressed me last year when I watched him in the VHLM.  He dominated all last year and has been a tough guy to beat so far in his rookie season.  A lot of guys on our team respect him so it should be interesting to see the battles going forward."  Of course last year Martin Brookside brought home just about every award possible along the way to a VHLM Championship.  Brookside will look to do that down the road with the Calgary Wranglers as they look to break out of this rebuild and build towards the big stage once again.

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MAG 188 - Rookies Making a Post-Season Impact


There were a lot of excellent performances in the regular season by rookies this year.  However, the time of the year that often makes the careers of players is the playoffs.  This week’s Rookie Report will look at the three rookies performing in the playoffs and see how they have fared.  With Tom Slaughter, Logan Laich and other rookies not being involved in the playoffs, it has allowed for a couple others to take center stage. 


D – Slaeter Fjorsstrom (RIG) – 13 GP, 3 G, 7 A, 10 P, 18 H, 17 SB

Slaeter Fjorsstrom has become the face of all the rookies in the playoffs.  Fjorsstrom has a good chance to win the Christian Stolzschweiger this year and may be bringing home some team hardware as well.  His Riga Reign are going into game seven against the heavily favoured Davos Dynamo, and Slaeter has been one of their main performers along the way.  He leads all defenders on his team in scoring with ten points in the thirteen games he has played.  That is good enough for third overall on the Reign for scoring just behind Mikey Blade and Kameron Taylor.  Fjorsstrom has also been solid defensively which has been a big help for Riga with players like Malcolm Spud struggling to make the impact they are capable of. 


D – Phil Villeneuve (RIG) – 12 GP, 0 G, 5 A, 5 P, 33 H, 21 SB

Speaking of defenders that play for the Riga Reign, Phil Villeneuve is another player who fits this category.  Villeneuve is nowhere near the offensive or defensive presence that a player like Fjorsstrom is, but he is having a solid playoffs so far.  His five points are nothing earth-shattering but his physical play and interest in blocking shots have given his game more purpose in the series’ they have played.  If players like Villeneuve step up and continue to improve, Riga has a good chance to not only win the title this year but more in the future as well. 


D – Sami Kravinen (VAS) – 6 GP, 0 G, 3 A, 3 P, 18 H, 11 SB

The final rookie defender we will profile is Sami Kravinen.  Vasteras is unfortunately no longer in the playoffs after losing to the Riga Reign in the first round.  However, the performance of Sami Kravinen was pretty impressive for a depth defender.  Kravinen only had three points in the six games, but averaged three hits per game and almost two blocked shots per as well.  The Vasteras Iron Eagles will continue to have a bright future if players like Kravinen can perform at the level they are capable of.


There you have it.  This playoff’s only has three rookies playing in it and they are all young defenders.  With no forwards in the post-season, it seems that the often overlooked position of defense will get the spotlight for once.  

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Mag 189 - Who's Next?


With the season coming to an end and the award show on its way soon, it is time to start looking at who might be the top rookies in the Victory Hockey League.  With the draft happening very soon, I thought this would be a great chance to look at three draftees that will play in the Victory Hockey League next year.


Bruno Wolf (RW) -> 72 GP, 57 G, 75 A, 132 P, +39, 257 H, 9 GW

Bruno Wolf made an incredible impact for the Minot Gladiators this season.  He finished seventh in points and ninth in assists and was a constant physical presence throughout the year.  Wolf also played some tough defensive minutes for the Gladiators, blocking over ninety shots.  A lot of people seem to feel that Wolf will go in the number two position but don't be surprised if he ends up as the top prospect in the draft.  Wolf has a very complete game and he is only going to get better.  With soft hands, good vision and a strong skating stride, Wolf has all the tools to become one of the league's best offensive threats.  In addition, he has the will and leadership to be a player that makes a huge impact on a championship winning team.  One just has to look at the impact he had for the Minot Gladiators in the playoff's this year.  Wolf had seventeen points, thirty-eight hits and eleven shot blocks in eight games for the Gladiators and was by far one of the top threats in the playoffs.  This man will make a very serious play at the Stolzschweiger Trophy next season and if he ends up in the right fit, with a good playmaking center, do not be surprised if he takes some hardware home.


Vojczek Svoboda (D) -> 72 GP, 29 G, 98 A, 127 P, +37, 126 H, 123 SB

Many have suspected that Vojczek Svoboda is the likely first overall pick in the upcoming draft.  The Turku Outlaws defender showed off an incredible offensive game that saw him finish fifth in assists.  Svoboda also showed off a fairly solid defensive game playing a big role in the excellent season for the Outlaws.  His physical play will likely have to improve for him to find himself amongst the VHL's best, but he definitely has the offensive game to reach that point.  One scout said this to me about Svoboda: "He is the next great VHL defender.  We have seen the likes of Daniel Braxton, Ryan Sullivan, and most recently, Conner Low.  His skating ability is flawless and he has fantastic vision.  Honestly, he reminds me a lot of Braxton when he was in the minors.  Going forward I really think Svoboda has a chance to be a perennial top defender in the Victory Hockey League."  With the clear success he has had so far, I think Svoboda is the favourite to win the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy next season.  His offensive game is good enough to be a near point per game defender and with the rest of his arsenal, I see no reason why he can't be the league's top rookie in season thirty-eight.   


Don Draper (D) -> 72 GP, 20 G, 24 A, 44 P, +88, 103 H, 67 SB

This man did not have anywhere near the statistically impressive seasons that Wolf and Svoboda did.  However, what Draper did do was play impressive defense to go along with a simple offensive game that focused on low, accurate shots from the point and crisp passes to his teammates.  It was a slow start for Draper but as he got going he showed a bit of swagger, especially in his own end.  His playoff run was solid and that experience will only help him going forward.  When asked about his expectations going into next year, Draper said: "it largely depends on where I end up after the draft.  In general though, I really just want to focus on improving my play and getting my feet wet in VHL hockey."  While he may have modest expectations, this writer fully expects Draper to have one of the better rookie campaigns next year due to the hard work he has showed and his impressive defensive game that is miles ahead of most players at that age.  

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With the season about to begin, all the lovely analysts are starting to predict who will win the different awards in the league.  Among these awards is the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy, which has been won by legendary players like Matt Bentz, Alexander Labatte and Ryan Sullivan.  After looking through all of the predictions that have been made by the members of the Victory Hockey League, I have come to the conclusion that there are three clear front runners that have been determined by the majority of the league.  At the end of the day, these predictions don’t mean anything but usually one of the front runners does end up going on to win the trophy. 


Johan Hallstrom (RIG) – 29 of 52 Members Predicted to Win

The overwhelming favourite to bring home the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy is Johan Hallstrom.  It seems appropriate that he is considered one of the favourites after his incredible 128 goal campaign in the VHLM last season, as a member of both the Oslo Storm and the Yukon Rush.  Hallstrom is a member of the Riga Reign franchise that is clearly on the rise, and he should have an opportunity to play with some talented players that can help propel him to a potentially elite rookie campaign.  However, the counter point to this fact is that Hallstrom might end up as the seventh forward.  With seven capable forwards on the team, one of them will have to sit and it will likely be either Hallstrom or former first round pick Konstantin Azhishchenkov.  It will be a difficult decision for Riga to make and one that should have some very serious implications on the potential rookie of the year race.



Jakob Linholm (NYA) – 12 of 52 Members Predicted to Win

This was my personal choice to win Rookie of the Year as Linholm will fit in nicely for the top six of the Americans.  With New York acquiring Wesley Kellinger in the off-season, it does appear that Linholm will have an excellent center dishing to him in the upcoming season.  Linholm had a tremendous season for the Minot Gladiators and will look to have that translate into his upcoming rookie season.  One scout had this to say about Linholm: “He does everything right.  I think with the passing ability of Kellinger and the scoring ability of Laich, Jakob might have one helluva season in the blue, white and red.”  The best thing going for Jakob is that he is in a great situation and with his ability to work hard that should work well in his favour.  The only issue that might stop him from winning is that he does everything good but perhaps nothing excellent and that could make it hard for him to stick out from others.


Bruno Wolf (SEA) – 7 of 52 Members Predicted to Win

This definitely appears to be a bit of a dark horse based on the predictions that some of the members made.  With that being said, there were seven people who feel that the recent second overall pick stands out as the top rookie going into the season.  Wolf has a very solid all-around game that doesn’t have many weaknesses.  He is on a team that is very solid and will likely be a factor in the North American Conference, and that should really benefit Wolf.  His confidence should also be a big boost as rookies can often get nervous when the players are faster, stronger and better.  However, what might hurt Wolf is that he is a little greener due to being younger than both Linholm and Hallstrom.  That extra year of development could help those two be superior then Wolf in their rookie season.  

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Mag 192 - Standing Out From the Pack


It has been a very productive year for the new blood in the Victory Hockey League.  There are two rookie goaltenders making big impacts on rebuilding teams and seven rookies who already have at least ten points on this young season.  In what appears to be one of the best rookie classes in a long time, it is nice to see so many rookies thriving under the spotlight that comes with the Victory Hockey League.  With all that being said, there are two rookies in particular who have stood out from the rest.  One is a goaltender that has been arguably the best in the league so far, and is doing so on one of the league’s worst teams.  The other is a forward who will be counted on as his team’s franchise forward for now and the future. 


Kimmo Salo is a finnish born goaltender playing in his home country as a member of the Helsinki Titans.  There were many skeptics on how Salo’s season would go.  Most seemed to figure that under the weight of what most expected to be a ton of shots per game, that he would struggle and give up a lot of goals.  One of those two things has come true.  Salo has faced the most shots in the European Conference by a huge amount, being peppered with just under thirty-nine shots per game.  Despite facing so many shots, Salo only has a 2.88 GAA, which is just behind former Shaw and Kanou winner Remy LeBeau.  His .926 save percentage is incredibly the best in the league by seven points, as the likes of Tuomas Tukio and Eggly Bagelface trail him.  While he only has five wins on the season, it is hard to not be impressed with a rookie goaltender that is keeping his mediocre team in every game they play.  At the moment, he is definitely one of the leading candidates in the Stolzschweiger Trophy race.


The franchise forward I previously talked about is Travis Boychuk of the Calgary Wranglers.  Along with Godavari Yumalatopinto and Martin Brookside, Boychuk will have the pressure of being the franchises cornerstone up front, on his shoulders.  So far, Travis has handled the pressure with ease.  With an absolutely stunning thirty-two points in just nineteen games, Boychuk is on pace to have one of the best rookie seasons in league history.  He currently sits tied for third in the VHL for assists and is seventh in the league in points.  These accomplishments are even more impressive when considering that the Wranglers do not have too much talent playing around Boychuk.  While his pace may be unsustainable, Travis Boychuk is certainly making a mark as one of the league’s premier young forwards.

Edited by Advantage
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For every rookie playing incredibly well right now there have been an equal amount that have really struggled to adapt to the much faster, stronger and more talented players that make up the Victory Hockey League.  We recently examined the strong seasons that Travis Boychuk and Kimmo Salo are having, so now the Rookie Watch will examine three first year players who need to pick up their game for their respective teams.


Konstantin Azhishchenkov – 32 GP, 3 G, 4 A, 7 P, 11 Hits, 0 GWG


Azhishchenkov is quite likely the most disappointing rookie so far this season.  Some had him pegged as one of the leading candidates to win the Christian Stolzschweiger Trophy, especially given all the talent that surrounds him on the Riga Reign roster.  However, the once dominating minor league player has struggled in his debut season.  Recording just seven points so far, Azhishchenkov’s one-dimensional play hasn’t served him well so far.  With the lowest plus-minus rating on the Reign, Azhishchenkov needs to start scoring if he doesn’t want to be looked at as a liability.  While there is no question that Konstantin will turn it around at some point and become a great player in this league, his rookie season has left a lot of people wanting more.


Penis Hudson – 32 GP, 0 G, 5 A, 5 P, 65 Hits, 35 SB

Penis Hudson was never expected to be an offensive force or even a two-way defender.  However, one cannot ignore Hudson’s terrible start offensively.  With just five points in his first thirty-five games, Hudson finds himself with the least amount of points on the team, the worst plus-minus and even the least amount of blocked shots among all defenders on the Legion.  Playing just eighteen minutes per game, his production isn’t solely on him.  However, he hasn’t been as effective in his own end as you might expect one who is fairly defensively focused should be.  This writer could see Hudson carving out a career not unlike Till Lindemann’s as a defensively oriented defender.  However, even with that label, he needs to be producing better offensively.


Jakob Linholm – 32 GP, 6 G, 8 A, 14 P, 6 Hits, 3 GWG


Linholm has certainly not been as bad as Hudson and Azhishchenkov.  However, given the expectations that were surrounding Jakob, he hasn’t had the season many expected.  With Wesley Kellinger coming into the fold, I felt that Jakob Linholm would have a huge year and record somewhere around sixty points.  However, it looks like Linholm is having a typical adjustment year that many rookies experience.  While he has found some success, Linholm has yet to find the chemistry needed to become a top scorer.  It seems unfair to have those expectations, but many acknowledge the potential that is clearly there.  The one thing working for Linholm is that the talent surrounding them will continue to be elite and he will be given every opportunity to succeed going forward.  He just has to BOlieve.

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Title - Helsinki Pride


There have been a lot of great rookies making an impact in the Victory Hockey League this season.  Three of those rookies have been playing some of their best hockey in Helsinki, Finland.  Kimmo Salo, Jake Wylde and Vojczek Svoboda have become three of the team’s cornerstones and are already making a tremendous impact for their franchise.  This edition of the Rookie Watch will look at the three talented freshmen and give them the deserving spotlight that they have worked so hard for.


Kimmo Salo has shocked many as he has come to the Victory Hockey League on a mission.  Despite only having ten wins as a starting goaltender, Salo owns the third best save percentage in the league (.923) and a respectable 3.09 GAA on a team that is still very green.  Salo has given the Helsinki fans hope like Dominik Stryker and Jakub Kjeldsen once did a long time ago.  What Helsinki now knows is that their goaltending situation is no longer weak and that they truly have found someone they can count on, and someone that can potentially carry them to a Continental Cup in the near future.


Jake Wylde was considered the marquee player for the Helsinki Titans franchise.  Some have compared him to some of the greatest defenders to ever play the game, and most do feel he has that kind of potential.  Wylde hasn’t disappointed in his rookie year and has turned many heads along the way.  With twenty-nine points in forty-three games, Wylde has shown that he does have an offensive touch.  He actually has a pretty impressive fourteen goals which ranks him fifth among all Victory Hockey League defenders.  In addition, he has also shown off his complete game as he is currently fifth in blocked shots and seventh in hits.  These impressive statistics lend proof to the fact that Wylde is an up and coming star in our great league.


Wylde will not be doing it alone though on the backend.  Vojczek Svoboda has arguably been the most impressive rookie skater this season.  The first overall pick has shown that he was deserving of that selection, with an already incredible thirty-nine points and over one-hundred and twenty blocked shots.  He ranks second among all rookies in scoring and is first in the entire league in the blocked shots category.  Svoboda excels on the penalty-kill and has been their best player on the fourth best in the league.  Wylde and Svoboda as a pairing presents the potential that we don’t often see.  We saw it with the Valiq’s in Quebec and they won a cup in result.  Helsinki hopes that the result will mimic that one.

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Mag 195 


A lot of the focus in the VHL ends up on those who are up there in goals, assists and points.  Those who excel in hits, blocked shots and the rest of the defensive side of the game, never get the attention they deserve.  These are the players that play the not-so-flashy style that still remains efficient and important for their team.  This article will look at these players so that we can get a great idea at who has been the best rookies in the defensive zone.  It's a rarity to see young players excel defensively but here are three players that fit the bill.  
Vojczek Svoboda was the first overall pick for a reason.  It seems that I end up talking about him every week but there is a very legitimate reason for that.  He is just that damn good.  Svoboda has been the defensive leader for the Helsinki Titans all season as he leads the league in blocked shots with 180 and has a pretty respectable 82 hits as well.  His performance on the penalty-kill has been fantastic and Titans fans have to feel good with this man on their blue line going forward.  As he continues on in the Victory Hockey League, it does seem likely that he will add an even more physical element to his game, allowing him to become the complete all-around player that was expected from him.
Speaking of Helsinki Titans that have made a big difference defensively, how about Jake Wylde? He was considered a marquee player for the Titans and was allowed to skip the draft to sign with the European team right away.  Jake Wylde has a less than impressive plus-minus rating but has been a physical and defensive beast all season.  He currently sits in the top ten in both hits and blocked shots with 240 and 137 respectively.  Along with Svoboda, Jake Wylde will help bring an elite defensive element to the Titans for a long time.
The final player we will look at is one that is usually pretty overlooked.  Ron World Peace has made a significant impact for the Cologne Express this season.  With 147 hits and an equally impressive 149 blocked shots, the Express fans have been quite thrilled with the impact he has made for their team.  While he gets overlooked by many, he is already showing a solid defensive game that should help him go forward in the future.
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Looking Forward to the Playoffs


Most teams that draft impact rookie players had to usually a pretty high pick to get the individual.  This typically means that the team is in a transitional period where they are not having as much success and are missing the playoffs.  However, there are some rookies this year that are on competing teams who will be in the post-season.  This is an excellent opportunity for these players to make an impact in the most important time of the year.  This article profiles these players and will make some predictions on just how big their impact will be.


Jakob Linholm -> This former second overall pick made some significant strides as the season went on.  After a very slow start, Linholm now has seventeen goals and twenty-two assists, giving him a total of thirty-nine points.  With the emergence of Wesley Kellinger late in the season, Linholm has thrived with the talented veteran center.  Jakob could very well play a big role for the Victory Cup New York Americans, as the first line has been fairly quiet of late and the second line (featuring Linholm) has been picking up the slack.  Expect this young forward to have a pretty solid playoffs and to chip in offense here and there, as New York looks to win a second Continental Cup in the last decade.


Johan Hallstrom -> The second player we will look at is on the Americans rival, the Riga Reign.  Hallstrom is a season thirty-six draftee who has finally found his niche in the Victory Hockey League.  Despite being on a fairly stacked Reign lineup, Hallstrom managed to find enough ice time to finish with thirty-three points, which was enough to be top ten among rookies.  The Riga Reign have been on fire recently and that bodes well for Hallstrom and the rest of the lineup heading into the playoffs.  They will have a tough task beating the iron Eagles in the first round, but if they are to do it, expect guys like Blade, Hallstrom and RGIII to step up and provide the team with an offense that is spread throughout the lines.  Johan Hallstrom's biggest benefit is being one of the older rookies in the playoffs, and perhaps he can use that to his advantage as Riga looks to make some noise and get themselves to the Continental Cup finals.


Bruno Wolf -> It was not an easy year for the first round selection of the Seattle Bears from the most recent draft.  Being younger than Hallstrom and Linholm, he did have a more difficult task but overall came through with a decent year.  Finishing with thirty points, Wolf worked hard to become a better two-way player throughout the year.  The Seattle Bears will need to have a great series against the Legion to even face off with the Victory Cup winning New York Americans.  It will be a tough challenge but one that players like Wolf can make a big difference on.  Do not expect an earth-shattering offensive performance by Wolf as he still needs seasoning and some experience, but he definitely could chip in some offense here and there for the improving Bears.

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