Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Springfield Predictions Part 1: Lineups and Positions
I didn't see much of the Springfield Falcons last season, so I'm not exactly an expert here. For that, you'd have to look to Lowetide and BryanBryOil on HF, who are familiar with the workings of the team. But I've done all I could to research how the team functioned last year, and what additions have been made heading into next year. Here are my projections for next season's Falcons:
To be consistent with my past predictions, I'm choosing Ryan Potulny to make the Oilers lineup come opening night. So guys like Brule and Schremp are going to be staying down. There are a plethora of prospects listed as left-wingers, but I think we'll see many of them playing RW.
Line 1: Schremp Brule Corazzini
Corazzini has been an upper-tier player in the AHL for a while now, and adds a great scoring touch to complement Brule and Schremp's playmaking. He's basically a less-skilled version of Cogliano, and uses his speed to be effective. Until Lerg grasps the pro game, he'll probably be option #1 at RW.
Line 2: Jacques Reddox Lerg
I don't know how Jacques will do this season; regardless he's going to have to rehab his back and slowly work himself back into top-flight form. I think taking a regular shift with steady Reddox and the offensively gifted Lerg should be a great way for him to return to his old style of play.
Line 3: Trukhno O'Marra McDonald
Unlike most 3rd lines, this one is going to see limited ice time to start the season. O'Marra is going to have to play the 2-way role effectively, and should get a serious boost from having the creative Trukhno on his wing. Colin McDonald is the AHL version of Marty Reasoner, he plays everywhere without looking terrible. Hopefully he can fulfill his draft pedigree here playing with some legitimate prospects.
Line 4: Goulet Sestito Spurgeon
Stephane Goulet is ready to play consistently in the AHL. He's an offensive force in the ECHL, and should prosper under less intense minutes playing alongside the gritty Sestito. Tyler Spurgeon is coming off a disappointing, injured season, and is going to have to work his way up back to a second or third line spot.
This all has been Oiler signings. Other guys who could grab a spot include:
Toby Lafrance: Solid offensive player in the Q, could crack the bottom-6; simply too good for ECHL.
Luke Lynes: My wild-card pick. Former '06 4th round pick went unsigned by the Capitals and could grab a 4th-line spot if one of Spurgeon or Goulet disappoint.
The Oilers are going to be gifted on defense this season, and it's scary to think that some of these guys are going to be sent down to Stockton in the ECHL. What is going to be felt is the loss of veterans like T.J Reynolds and T.J Kemp.
1st Pairing: Peckham Hrabal
Mathieu Roy is going to have to pass through waivers to play in the AHL this year, and he's probably going to get picked up too with his cheap contract. After a successful rookie campaign, Peckham is expected to have a huge sophomore year, and potentially get interest from the big club later on due to injuries. He should play a lot of big minutes. Josef Hrabal is going to get a long look at camp, as the guy has played a solid 2-way game in Russia for a while now, and is coming off a Grebeshkov-esque season in the RSL (KHL). He should get the nod over Chorney to be Peckham's linemate.
2nd Pairing: Taylor Chorney
The young Taylor Chorney is going to be given some top-4 responsibility to start his pro career, and I think he'll be fine. He should get a security blanket playing with veteran Jake Taylor, a newly signed defenseman from the Hartford Wolf Pack--thanks to BBO for this bit-- (Robby Bina, Chorney's linemate in college, signed with the Falcons in the off-season. He's expected to start the season down in the ECHL before potentially working his way up)
3rd Pairing: Young Wild
Bryan Young did make a lot of progress in the latter half of last season, but should find himself babysitting the young and raw Cody Wild, who's going to have to work his way up before getting some serious minutes.
Who else could get some consideration:
Sebastian Bisaillion looked like the next Bergeron early last year before suffering a horrific leg injury. I project him to start the year in the ECHL, but if he hasn't lost much of his game he's a lock for the top-4 next season.
With no more Deslauriers, the Falcons are going to depend on a former 1st-round draft pick, and a kid fresh from the OHL
Starter: Devyn Dubnyk
After putting in the work in the ECHL and AHL the last couple of years, Devyn Dubnyk is finally getting his chance to start. He should get almost 60 starts this season, and this may be a key year in his development. If he can prove himself a legitimate AHL starter, he not only moves up on the Oilers' depth chart, but puts the Falcons in a great position in the AHL standings.
Backup: Bryan Pitton
After a stellar final season in the OHL, where he was literally the MVP of the Brampton Batallion in leading them to the playoffs, Pitton is ready to make the jump to pro. He's going to get at least 10-15 starts behind the young Dubnyk, and hopefully he turns out to be a solid future NHL goalie.
Powerplay (thanks BBO)
Jacques Brule Brule
Schremp is a monster operating on the right side on the PP, where he sets up as QB, as wel as with his wicked one-timer. Trukhno gets BBO's vote of confidence to be a pointman on the PP, while Cody Wild should fulfill his offensive potential here by getting quality 1st-unit time. Schremp and Brule go without saying as the top two forwards on this unit, which will from having J.F Jacques wreaking havoc in front of the net.
Corazzini Goulet Lerg
Hrabal will use his pro experience to help Chorney manage this PP, which is filled with goal-scoring talent. Corazzini is the closest thing to a playmaker, and should be handling the puck a lot here. Goulet is going to be around the net using his 6'3 frame to open up space for himself, while Bryan Lerg plays a poor-man's Rob Schremp role on the right side, using his one-timer to create chances. I think the defense on this unit will handle the puck more than on the first unit.
Liam Reddox was the top defensive player for the Falcons last year, and should get time with speedy, defensively underrated Lerg, who was vital to the strong MSU PK last year. Peckham and Young are going to be relied upon to use their size, physicality, and strength on this unit.
Taylor Chorney is going to have to play some minutes on the PK, which he did a decent job of in college. Hrabal should be able to handle some SH-minutes, but with this unit the defenders are going to have to be quick on the dump-ins and rely on puck-possession to kill the clock. O'Marra will get a chance to prove himself an effective 2-way player playing alongside Spurgeon, an established defensive presence in past stints in the AHL.