Bucks acquire 6 Seibu veterans
Posted by simon c on 2009 June 28日 Sunday
The Nikko Ice Bucks of Asia League Ice Hockey has acquired six veterans from the now defunct Seibu Prince Rabbits. The new players include Japanese national team captain Takahito Suzuki, national team goalie Naoya Kikuchi, defencemen Kazuyoshi Yamaguchi, Tomohito Okubo, and Masahiro Kawamura, as well as forward Tomohiko Uchiyama.
This basically gives the Bucks an entirely new and capable first set with a national team goalie and makes them instant playoff contenders instead of fighting to escape the cellar with the China Sharks. No word on what the new players will get paid but they are likely taking a significant pay cut as the Bucks operate at about 2-oku yen ($2m) budget while Seibu ran with about 5-oku ($5m).
All the newcomers are 29 or older, so the Bucks will be looking for immediate results. Suzuki had received offers from other teams, but settled with the Bucks who are coached by his childhood friend and former Toyo University teammate Tadahiro Murai. Okubo and Yamaguchi had previous stints with the Bucks, four and six years ago, respectively. All but Okubo have national team experience, this instantly increases the number of national team players on the Bucks from zero to five.
2008-09 regular season stats
Suzuki 36GP, 16G+29A=45P (6th, 4th, and 4th in the league)
Uchiyama 36, 7+8=15
Okubo 36, 4+18=22 (expect this offensive defenceman to quarterback the powerplay)
Yamaguchi 35, 1+2=3
Kawamura 22, 4+9=13
Kikuchi 32GP, 90.5 SV%, 2.85GAA