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Wolves End Summer Hockey with a Championship

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The Chicago Wolves won the AHL Championship last night beating out the Penguins farm club. It was entertaining to watch, especially that 3rd goal by Jason Krog. The eternal post-game victory celebration was also entertaining. I thought both Pavelec and Valabik came across very well in their post-game comments. Pavelec was clearly moved by the experience and Valabik was very articulate and thoughtful in a moment when most people get swept in emotion.

I missed a couple of games during the finals as I was out of town. I recorded them and may go back and view them again later, but here are my impressions of some Thrashers prospects right now:

Arturs Kulda: I REALLY liked him at last summer's Thrasher Prospect Camp and he won the confidence of the Wolves coaching staff at the young age. He made a fantastic pass in the final game that led directly to a Wolves goal. I like his potential but he's not ready yet. Nearly every game he took a hit deep in his own zone and coughed up the puck. He simply needs to keep his head up more and chip that puck forward BEFORE receiving the hit. NHL guys do it all the time--it is something he must learn to reach the next level.

Ondrej Pavelec: First let me say I find evaluating goaltenders to be a challenge since I've never played the position (unlike defense and forward). Pavelec has some great building blocks in terms of his lateral mobility and size. Both Lehtonen and Pavelec are really big guys but Lehtonen is more a "play position and let the puck hit me" while Pavelec is more of "react to every shot" sort. Pavelec makes great saves that take him out of the net and leave him vulnerable to 2nd shot attempts. At the NHL level he will really need defensemen who can cover up his back door side.

Bryan Little: Great defensive player, great speed and determination, very little professional level finish right now. He's still really young and should improve some, but right now he looks more like an above average checking center with some skill. He just doesn't finish enough to be a guy you can count on to score in the NHL. To me he is the natural successor to Holik on the 3rd line and Erik Christenson and Todd White play on the top two scoring lines next season.