Latvian Hockey News Report

By Didzis Rudmanis

Archive for the ‘Latvians in the NHL’ Category

Sotnieks still unsure

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Latvian defender Kristaps Sotnieks, who just recently returned from Washington Capitals Development Camp and as of Monday has joined the Dinamo Riga pre-season camp in an interview for states that he is still unsure, where he will play next season.

“Right after the Capitals camp I did not receive any offers. Presumably, I did not manage to strike them with my play, in order to receive a contract offer. At this point I am not sure, whether I will go and play in North America. Together with the agent we decided to wait for another week. During that time we will take care of the necessary KHL permissions and begin to train with the club.”

Dinamo Riga general manager Normunds Sejejs confirmed that Sotnieks will be in the camp, but also he was unable to conclude that Sotnieks will play in the KHL next season. “At this points I have nothing to comment on. We are ready to see Sotnieks on the team, all we need to do is make him a qualification offer. Currently we are all waiting for any further updates with the Capitals.”

Written by Didzis Rudmanis

July 26, 2010 at 09:33

Ivanans signs with Calgary Flames

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31-year-old Latvian enforcer Raitis Ivanans has signed a two year contract with the Calgary Flames, during the first day of free agent frenzy last night. Ivanans will earn 0.6 million USD each of the upcoming two seasons.

Ivanans made his NHL debut in 2005-06, when he was called up from the farm club of the Montreal Canadiens. Already in his first game in the league he got into a brawl against Slovakian giant Zdeno Chara, during which he broke his orbital bone. When he finally healed the injury, Ivanans had just another three appearances with les Habitants.

In 2006-07 Raitis was already in Los Angeles, where he played until the end of the previous season. However, once the season was about to end, Kings board made Ivanans to realize that starting from next season his role will be filled by Kevin Westgarth, who, being almost the same weight and height, produced a lot more points and was also five years younger.

There was a reason for the Kings to be dissatisfied with the play of Ivanans – after 2008-09 club suggested Raitis to lose some weight, so that he would become more agile on the ice. However, although Ivanans lost 20 pounds during the off-season, the previous season was the first one, which Raitis finished without scoring a single point.

Oilers pick Pelss

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After three “empty” draft years for the currently 12th highest ranked country in the IIHF rankings, 1992-born forward Kristians Pelss has been selected by Edmonton Oilers #181 overall. Last season Pelss played for the Dinamo-Juniors Riga.

Pelss, who learned the game of hockey in Daugavpils, scored nine points in 48 games last season. He also played in the U18 IIHF World Championship in Minsk, where was one of the Latvian national team leaders, although managed to score only two goals.

Pelss is not the first Latvian player drafted by Edmonton Oilers – in 1993 Oilers picked Aleksandrs Kercs, who then played five games for the club in 1993-94.

Latvian players had not been drafted in the National Hockey League since 2006, when Senators chose Kaspars Daugavins, but Thrashers picked Arturs Kulda. Both made their debuts in the league last season.

Latvian hockey community does not expect another three years to pass, until the next Latvian is selected during the NHL Entry Draft, because 1994-born center forward Zemgus Girgensons, according to some North American draft analysts, is believed to be picked during the first or second round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft. Being 16 years old, he also played at the U18 World Championship in Minsk.

Another perspective 1994-born player is defender Kristaps Bazevics, who will play for AIK J18 in the Swedish U18 Elite league next season. He will turn 16 only in August.