Originally created 03/20/99

Hockey notes: Who's the fastest skater in the draft?



Quick, who's the fastest skater among the top-rated Canadian junior prospects eligible for this year's NHL draft?

Answer: Taylor Pyatt of the Sudbury Wolves of the Ontario Hockey League.

The forward had the best time in on-ice tests conducted by the NHL and the Canadian Hockey League in Calgary. Pyatt skated one full lap in the rink in 14.139 seconds.

Defenseman Martin Grenier of the Quebec Ramparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League had the hardest shot at 96.3 mph. Forward Jamie Lundmark of the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League was also impressive, finishing among the top five in the 60-foot dash, the 150-foot dash, the hardest shot and puck control.

It was the fourth year of the tests, designed to measure skating speed, agility and hardest shot for 40 of the top-rated junior prospects.

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STRANDED ISLANDER?:

With the New York Islanders recently trading defenseman Scott Lachance, Rich Pilon was left as the only player from the Islanders last playoff team, which lost to the New York Rangers in the first round in 1994.

"He's a good friend, and I'm going to miss him," Pilon said. "But this is a business and these things happen."

Pilon said he wasn't worried about being moved.

"If it happens, it happens and so be it," Pilon said. "My paycheck says `New York Islanders,' and until it says something else, I will be here."

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BIG DEALS?:

With the NHL trading deadline coming Tuesday, it's a good bet there will be a last-day flurry of deals.

Last season there were 19 trades involving a record 38 players on the day of the deadline. Since 1979-80, there have been 188 trades involving 350 players on the final day, and never fewer than 10 deals in all but one of the last nine years.

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RAY OF HOPE:

Buffalo's Rob Ray has a reputation for tough play on the ice -- a player who would rather give than receive. Now he's been recognized for giving off the ice.

Ray recently received the second annual NHL Foundation Player award, which cites players for community service. Ray will receive a grant of $25,000 for donation to local charities as part of the award.

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STEADY IMPROVEMENT:

The Ottawa Senators are on pace to improve their record for the sixth straight season. What's so special about that? Only one other team has accomplished that in NHL history: the New York Islanders.

In their first season in the NHL, the Senators had a 10-70-4 record. Through games of Wednesday, they were 38-20-9.

The Islanders made their steady climb from the 1972-73 through 1978-79 seasons.

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GOOD WITHOUT THE GREAT ONE:

While the New York Rangers are awaiting Wayne Gretzky's return from an injury, they have put together a strong effort. The operative word is "together," goaltender Mike Richter said.

"The guys who have hopped in have played so well. Each individual has taken it on himself to play a little better," he said. "We're playing a better team game. There's a lot more communication. It's a pretty chatty locker room."

In the first 10 games since Gretzky was sidelined by a neck injury on Feb. 26, the Rangers were 6-2-2.

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MAJOR LEAGUE PERFORMANCE:

Darryl Noren has played over 500 games as a professional. And while never making it to the NHL, he has at least made his mark in the East Coast Hockey League.

With a goal and two assists in a recent game against the Florida Everblades, the 30-year-old center with the Charlotte Checkers became the ECHL's all-time scoring leader with 637 points. Noren, a player-coach with the Checkers, surpassed the mark of 634 he shared with Trevor Jobe.