Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
NHL Regular season hockey starts tonight! Who’s ready for action?
Predict your Stanley Cup Champions below in the comments. I will share mine at the end of this ramble.
The NHL website posted starting rosters for all 30 teams. With several teams juggling cap issues right now, there will be plenty of movement with prospects so don’t consider these official for the entirety of the 2013-14 NHL season (as it never is).
Here’s a look at some notable prospects and surrounding news who were either made opening night rosters or were cut:
Can Sami Vatanen take the next step in his career? Opportunity is certainly there with injuries to Sheldon Souray and Luca Sbisa. Time to make it count.
Jordan Caron and Reilly Smith are two B’s prospects to watch this season. It’ll be tough for them to remain earn their way up to top-six action but they’re probably better suited for depth roles at this point in their careers anyways. Torey Krug will be looking to prove that his stellar playoff performance last year was no fluke. Will Dougie Hamilton take a significant step offensively? I’d suspect he’s at least another year away.
Zemgus Girgensons and Mikhail Grigorenko will earn meaningful NHL minutes this season. Girgensons will earn his keep playing tough minutes in his prime and we’ll see his responsibility increase over the course of the season but I expect Grigorenko to bust out this season. It will be fun to see how the Sabres utilize prospects Johan Larsson, Mark Pysyk, Joel Armia (once he returns from injury) and Rasmus Ristolainen. I expect Ristolainen and Larsson to showcase themselves really early. Nikita Zadorov remains with the Sabres but is currently injured with a finger injury. I would expect him to stay with the big club to watch from the sidelines until he is fully healed….then he will be sent back to the London Knights.
Brian Burke blasted Sven Baertschi for his inability to play two-way hockey so keep an eye on how he responds. The young Swiss forward has had heavy expectations placed on him over the past few seasons and the whole scenario reminds me of Nazem Kadri’s upbringing in Toronto. Sean Monahan was named to the opening day roster and will see (at least) a few games with the Calgary Flames. He’s an intelligent and responsible pivot who can contribute in all three zones and his length of stay in Calgary depends largely on how effective he is early on. If he returns to the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s, he will become the most sought after trade option.
The ‘Canes sent defenseman Ryan Murphy to the AHL after many (including myself) felt he would replace the injured Joni Pitkanen. I don’t believe he will stay in Charlotte for very long. Carolina’s 2013 5th overall selection, Elias Lindholm, has made the roster but is just coming off an injury that kept him to limited action so don’t expect to see him in the lineup too soon. He will be phased in as he returns to full health.
Of note: Sergey Tolchinsky, signed as a free agent after being passed over in the draft, has exploded into his second OHL campaign scoring five times and recording nine points in three games for the Soo Greyhounds (2nd in league scoring).
Remember Kyle Beach? He was a favourite of mine coming out of the 2008 draft (11th overall) but the Hawks have loaned him to HV71 of the SHL. Joakim Nordstrom is a prospect to watch in Chicago.
Nathan MacKinnon is the obvious prospect to watch in Colorado this season as the 2013 1st overall selection eyes a potential Calder nominee. It will be interesting to see how the Avalanche utilize this speedy forward this season.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
After splitting time between the NHL and AHL last name, Ryan Johansen is a prospect who could be had cheap in some keeper leagues and should be presented with an opportunity to prove himself under the restructured Blue Jackets organization. Despite being drafted 2nd overall in 2012, Ryan Murray is another under-the-radar prospect to keep tabs on after missing last season with a shoulder