When the Oilers traded defenseman Bryan Marchment and centers
Steve Kelly and Jason Bonsignore to Tampa for underachieving
23-year-old Roman Hamrlik last week, they got a defenseman with
a big shot and superior puckhandling and skating skills. Not
many players have his raw ability. Edmonton is the perfect place
for Hamrlik, who was the No. 1 draft pick in 1992, to finally
reach his potential. First, he'll be playing in the Western
Conference, where most teams employ a more wide-open style.
Second, he'll be tutored by 19-year-veteran defenseman Kevin
Lowe. Last season Lowe helped bring along young defensemen Dan
McGillis and Greg de Vries, and both developed into solid
players. I think Hamrlik will too.
Vancouver and Carolina also made a major swap: goalie Sean
Burke, winger Geoff Sanderson and defenseman Enrico Ciccone to
the Canucks for goalie Kirk McLean and winger Martin Gelinas. I
like this trade for Vancouver. Burke is big, strong and fit,
and, maybe most important, he has lots of incentive because
he'll be an unrestricted free agent next summer. Canucks coach
Mike Keenan loves athletic goalies who can handle a heavy
workload. (Do the names Hextall, Belfour, Richter and Fuhr ring
a bell?) Sanderson, an elite goal scorer who has performed
poorly this season, should improve under Keenan because he needs
a firm hand, and Keenan will provide that. Also, the 25-year-old
Sanderson has never played with a leader such as Mark Messier.
Sanderson grew up in Edmonton watching and idolizing Messier.
Like Hamrlik, Sanderson will flourish in the free flow of
Western Conference hockey. McLean and Gelinas did not like
Keenan, and the feeling was mutual. Big trade, and big help for
The defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings are off to a strong
start. How have they played so well without two-time Selke
Trophy and Hart Trophy winner Sergei Fedorov? By using his
absence as motivation. During the summer Fedorov chose not to
accompany his Russian teammates Slava Fetisov, Slava Kozlov and
Igor Larionov to their former home with the Stanley Cup.
Fedorov's mates were also not impressed that instead of visiting
Vlady Konstantinov in a Detroit hospital after the tragic limo
accident, he was in England watching his girlfriend, tennis star
Anna Kournikova, play Wimbledon. Since the start of the season
Fedorov, a restricted free agent who is hoping for a lucrative
contract offer, has been to Russia to watch Kournikova play
tennis and spent 18 days in the Bahamas helping her train, and
he's now living in Florida. He is one of the game's most dynamic
talents, but his teammates are wondering about his commitment to
the Red Wings and to hockey.
Pierre McGuire coached the Hartford Whalers in 1993-94.
COLOR PHOTO: RAY GIGUERE/AP With tutoring, Hamrlik should loom large in Edmonton [Roman Hamrlik]