Scouts say Boston University freshman goalie Rick DiPietro would
be the first netminder taken in June's NHL draft, provided he
enters it. Observers are impressed with his puckhandling,
skating and desire to win. If DiPietro stays with the Terriers
another year, he'll have more competition in the 2001 draft
because highly regarded junior keepers Pascal Leclair of the
Halifax Mooseheads and Danny Blackburn of the Kootenay Ice will
be eligible for selection....
If the Predators fall farther out of the postseason
picture--through Sunday they were 12 points out of the last
playoff spot in the Western Conference--don't be surprised to
see defenseman Bob Boughner dealt to a Cup contender. Boughner,
28, is an intense and physical player who is being heavily
scouted by playoff-bound teams....
Hardy Nilsson, coach of Djurgarden in the Swedish Elite league,
has used a system this season that has intrigued NHL coaches and
scouts. He has deployed four forwards and only one defenseman
for even-strength situations, with lots of success. (The team
was in first place in its division.) This alignment has helped
Djurgarden come out of its zone quickly (the extra forward adds
speed), control the puck longer and average 10 more shots per
game than last year. The defense has not been hurt because the
offense dictates the pace. Some NHL clubs, such as the Red Wings
and the Sharks, use this setup on power plays, but it shouldn't
be long before some coach tries it at even strength....
Rookie defenseman Brian Rafalski, 26, is another example of the
outstanding work of the Devils' scouting department. At 5'9" and
180 pounds, Rafalski was undrafted after playing four years at
Wisconsin; he toiled in Europe for four seasons before New
Jersey showed interest and signed him as a free agent in June.
He made the Devils out of camp, has been paired with captain
Scott Stevens for most of the season and has efficiently run the
Devils' potent power play.