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Friday, October 14, 2005

Scouting the Chicago Wolves

The constant loss of goalies in the NHL affiliate Thrashers is causing serious problems for the Wolves. Now, people who follow the ECHL affiliate of the Thrashers/Wolves, the Gwinett Gladiators, say the well has run dry: the next guy up isn’t up to the job.

The Thrashers are in trouble enough, they at least have our good goalies. Who have the Wolves got left? I guess that remains to be seen. In net for the Wolves as of today is Gregg Naumenko. Naumenko, a Chicago native, played two games for the Disney-owned Mighty Ducks in 2000-1, but has spent most of his time in ECHL clubs in the last few years. His best GA was 3.09 in this period.

I don’t want to slight Naumenko, but we are accustomed to better stuff here.

Lord help the Wolves. Here’s a rundown of the rest of the team. Obviously, we’ll need some decent defense (and the new rules are crippling the defense). All the Black Aces of the championship-run team from last year are gone. That includes Greg Hawgood. Hawgood wasn’t loved by the fans and I remember even screaming from my seat to stop dumping the puck when no one was chasing it in. But, he is missed now.

Chris Tamer an NHL vet with 85 points in 644 is anchoring the d. He also had 1183 Pims. He sat last season out. Travis Roche put 50 points on the board last year. He has some NHL experience and I think is a bit underappreciated. They are backed by two guys from the juniors, Pat Dwyer of the University of Michigan and professional AHL player Nick Naumenko, a Chicago native and brother of Greg, our goalie.

This thin line of defense is protecting us, but backing a strong offense, you’d think. Well, Steve Maltais is simply missing. The organization is not discussing plans for Maltais, who was the captain for several years. Rumors fly that Maltais is retiring or headed for Europe. I think the NHL Collective Bargaining Agreement is to blame, though I could be wrong, it could be the cap of four AHL “veterans” on each team. Maltais is one of the few active players in the world who meet the definition of veteran as defined by the AHL. So he may be hung up on either losing tens of thousands of dollars to play with the Wolves, or a bureaucratic definition that seems to have been almost aimed at him. Jezz Steve, it’s only money, get over it.

Ramzi Abid played for the Penguins since being traded by the Coyotes. 23 pts in 49 games. Welcome to town Ramzi. Can you please stay out of the sin bin? Since starting with the Wolves, Abid has sat out 11 minutes in two games. Fans are crying, why take STUPID penalties? Looking over the Internet Hockey Database of his career, you have to go back to the days he was a junior to find him racking up Pims like this. He comes from some tough teams that like to get physical. Abid needs to stay focused on the game.

Scott Barney, was with the Monarchs and Kings in 2003-4. He has already scored 5 pts in 2 games. In his last year he scored 45 points, some at the NHL level, in 63 games. He has been all over the offense and will be very exciting to see for the first time on Saturday. Captain Derek MacKenzie is a fan favorite. Several veterans from last years team return to help him bring the biscuit to the five hole. Karl Stewart is back. There are lots of continuing concern about his concussion last year in the playoff when he was slashed, while unconsious. Remember the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks responsible for this? It was a team effort by ????? and ?????
Stewart is just out of the Plymouth Whalers, it must be remembered. Last year he had 226 Pims and 26 pts in the regular season and 32 Pims and 6 pts in his abbreviated post season. He is an agitator, and a fan favorite. Colin Stuart, a native of Oak Park, is out of Colorado College. last year he scored 9 pts in 44 games in Gwinett and at the Wolves. Brian Maloney has played two seasons with the Wolves without being called and Brad Larsen, an NHL veteran whose time to move up is about expired, join former Cincy Duck Mark Popovic and another NHL vet who played 2004-5 in the Czech leagues, Tomas Kloucek. Together they will back D Mac on the offense.

The remaining juniors on the team include Guillaume Desbiens, is a 20-year old junior out of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. Guillaume has fans very excited. Jim Slater is fresh from Michigan State where he scored more than 44 points in each of the last 3 seasons. This guy looks great. He is a 1st round Thrashers pick and #30 pick overall.

Jimmy Sharrow was with the Halifax Mooseheads last year. Data is difficult to get on Sharrow, but it appears he was a good scorer. And finally, Adam Smyth was with the Gladiators last year. He had 217 Pims and 16 pts in 49 games.


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