2004 Entry Draft
It had been years since the Los Angeles Wizards had a true franchise player, but the team believed they finally had just that when they selected Russian sensation Oleg Gusarov with the first overall pick. Gusarov led the Russian national junior team in scoring and even played a few pro games in the European Elite League. The hope was that Gusarov would play in the World Hockey Challenge and then turn pro right away with the Wizards. The Portland Cascades selected Patrick Diaz, a big winger from Winnipeg with the second overall pick, while Pittsburgh took another forward, Chad Hartley. The New Orleans Sound made some particularly big picks, taking Czech goaltender Petr Kaleek 11th, and Russian star Dimitri Kozkov 18th. Both players were late 1985 birthdays and had played pro in the European leagues in 2003-04. Kaleek even backstopped his team to a championship and has been named Czech Republic’s starter for the 2004 World Hockey Challenge.
1. LA – Oleg Gusarov, F, RUS
2. POR – Patrick Diaz, F, CAN
3. PIT – Chad Hartley, F, CAN
4. OAK – Justin Ramsey, D, USA
5. CGY – Niklas Ohlin, D, SWE
6. WSH – Josh Lyons, F, CAN
7. DEN – Ryan Farmer, F, CAN
8. STL – Dominik Dvorak, D, CZE
9. CLE – Jamie Ward, D, CAN
10. NYC – Sami Tuominen, G, CAN
11. NOS – Peter Kaleek, G, CZE
12. WPG – Tristen Weaver, F, CAN
13. MIA – Kyle Hughes, G, USA
14. ATL – Dion Hoyt, D, USA
15. MTL - Nick Paszek, F, CAN
16. DET – Kurt Ostrowski, F, CAN
17. QUE – Jaroslav Kovac, D, SVK
18. NOS (From MIL) – Dimitri Koskov, F, RUS
19. MIN – Pascal Lafrois, F, CAN
20. VAN – Ben Schmitt, D, CAN
21. LI – Alexander Marinov, F, RUS
22. DAL – Dan Wolanski, F, CAN
23. KC – Jordan Cox, F, USA
24. OAK (From BOS) – Sean Miller, F, USA
25. CAR – Cameron Carr, G, USA
26. NOS (From TOR) – Ulf Hagelin, F, SWE
27. EDM – Bryan Taylor, D, USA
28. PHI – Jay Foster, D, CAN
29. CHI – Mike McMaster, D, CAN
30. SEA – Nikolai Ozerov, F, RUS
Viktor Skogg, F, LA, MTL, 1986-2004
One of the greatest European talents in PHL history, Viktor Skogg came over from Sweden as part of the legendary 1986 draft class as a member of the Los Angeles Wizards. Playing with legends Stuart Holly and Sheldon Hopkins, Skogg proved to be a natural goal-scorer, finishing third all-time in Wizards goals. When Holly retired, Skogg became the face of the Wizards and was one of the few bright spots during a difficult decade for the franchise in the 1990s. In 2002, Skogg left LA to join the Montreal Royale, where he finished his career. Sadly, Skogg may be the greatest player to never reach the Lewis Cup Finals.
Jonathan Adams, D, CGY, MTL, VAN, 1986-2004
Another product of that 1986 draft, Jonathan Adams earned a reputation as one of the fiercest competitors the PHL has ever seen as well as one of its most feared hitters. Adams was perhaps best remembered for his devastating hit that took out California’s Matt Pope and Ilya Severov at the same time in 1992 while he was a member of the Calgary Wranglers. Adams signed with Montreal in the summer of 1999, just missing out on a Lewis Cup championship that would unfortunately elude him his entire career. He finally reached the final with Vancouver in 2004, his final season, where the Bighorns lost a game seven heartbreaker to Philadelphia.
Elliot Andrews, D, MIL, DET, MIA, CGY, KC, DAL, CLE, VAN, CHI, EDM 1985-2004
Elliot Andrews was a valuable shut-down defenseman throughout his career. But the man nick-named “U-haul” was probably best remembered for the distinction of playing for more franchises than any player in league history. Andrews was drafted by the Milwaukee Choppers just days after the team moved from Dallas but only played a handful of games in Milwaukee before being dealt to Detroit for hall-of-famer Cliff Lyle. Ultimately, Andrews would play 19 seasons for ten teams, three of those teams within the 2000-01 season. Andrews managed to win one cup once, with Kansas City in 2000, the team he spent the most seasons with.
New Orleans trades G Viktor Holmqvist to Boston in exchange for D Jarkko Nikula and a 1st round pick in ’05.
Holmqvist gives Boston a true star in net, while the Sound get some big pieces for their rebuild.
Pittsburgh trades G Ryan Shultz to Minnesota in exchange for 1st round pick in ’05.
Shultz will replace Christian Grayson in Minnesota as the number one goalie after Grayson left for Calgary.
Key Free Agents
F Jake Wilson signs new 12-year deal with Quebec worth $9 Million/year.
D Corey Clark signs new 10-year deal with Chicago worth $8 Million/year.
F Jayson Clarke signs new 5-year deal with Atlanta worth $7 Million/year.
D Jyrki Rainimak signs new 4-year deal with Portland worth $6 Million/year.
G Jussi Sykko signs new 5-year deal with Toronto worth $5 Million/year.
G Martin Barker signs new 4-year deal with Denver worth $5 Million/year.
F Justin Pratt signs new 6-year deal with Denver worth $5 Million/year.
D Matt Potter signs new 5-year deal with Calgary worth $4 Million/year.
After 12 years in DC, Zharkov leaves for Broadway as the Civics attempt to rebuild a contender through free agency.
G Matt Darwin signs new 6-year deal with Milwaukee worth $9 Million/year.
The Choppers lock up their star goaltender for the remainder of the decade.
F Drake Klausen (SEA) signs 4-year deal with New York worth $8 Million/year.
The Grey Wolves lack cap space to resign the popular Klausen, who becomes the second big-name player of the summer to sign with New York.
G Christian Grayson signs 3-year deal with Calgary worth $3 Million/year.
After a backstopping a legendary Lumberjacks team through the 90s and early 00s, Grayson takes his two Lewis Cup rings to Calgary, where the Wranglers hope to return to the playoffs.
G Jake Borman (TOR) signs 1-year deal with Atlanta worth $1.5 Million/year.
Borman will likely finish his career in Atlanta, splitting playing time with Ben Kerrigan.
F Kim Brodie (KC) signs 2-year deal with Toronto worth $1 Million/year.
Brodie will finish his successful career with the team he grew up cheering for and with a chance at a championship.
During league meetings in June, 2004, several rule changes were discussed. Among them, the league considered adding a shootout to decide tied games during the regular season. Shootouts had been used in International hockey for years and the league no longer wanted paying fans to have to settle for a tied game. In the end, the shootout was tabled for the future but would be tested at the 2004 World Hockey Challenge in Stockholm.
One rule change that was adopted for 2004-05 was a change to the league standings system. Previously, the three division winners in each conference were awarded the top three seeds, regardless of point totals. Beginning in 2004-05, the division winners would only be guaranteed playoff positions. For example, in 2003-04, the South Division champion Carolina Raiders were given the third seed despite finishing with the fewest points of all Eastern Conference playoff teams. An identical scenario in ’04-’05 would see the Raiders finish eighth. “We want to make sure we’re rewarding the teams that win hockey games” said Darryl Byrd.
The Atlanta Copperheads suffered a blow in July. Their star forward Jason Ferland had been arrested and charged with assault causing bodily harm when a brawl broke out in a Miami bar late in the season. On July 6, Ferland accepted a plea deal that resulted in a six-month jail sentence, meaning he would not be in the Atlanta lineup until at least February, possibly longer if the league decided to suspend him for the season. Though Atlanta GM Paul Needham was faced with faced with the dilemma of replacing his top center, his biggest concern seemed to be for the young man in his organization. “I think Jason made a big mistake and now he’s willing to pay for it and learn from it” said Needham. “He’s a good kid, we will be behind him as he deals with this.”
The soap opera that was the New Orleans Sound finally seemed to be coming to an end in August. With the league unable to find a buyer committed to keeping the team in Louisiana, Houston billionaire Bernie Cratt finally bought the team for $150 Million. Cratt was honest when asked about his intentions with the franchise. “I will look to get the team moved to Houston hopefully within the next year or two” said Cratt. “All we can guarantee at this point is that the team will remain in New Orleans for 2004-05”.