We aren’t far away from rookie and training camps opening, with that in mind, Dobber Prospects will look at the names you need to know and may see emerge into roles with the big club or set themselves up for near future recalls through battles in camps. Most of the time rookies are not advised to pick in one year league drafting, but can be plucked during the season, while in keeper leagues drafting younger players close to the show and with potential can be effective.
We will start with 8 of the teams in the Eastern Conference:
Boston – I fully expect Reilly Smith to sign soon, with that in mind Boston has an opening for a lower line forward and extra. It seems like the ‘bottom six’ opening will be mainly contended by the 6’4, 24 year old, Justin Florek. He appeared in four games during the season scoring a pair of points and appeared in six more playoff games. The size is attractive for the lower lines and has some offensiveness to get him over. The more attractive camp battle will be between Anthony Camara, Ryan Spooner, Alex Khokhlachev and Seth Griffith. Spooner currently holds the upper hand due to his experience and production in limited showcasing so far, while ‘KoKo’ and Griffith are quickly earning notice for Providence and could be better long term plays. Camara has an ability to flexibly play on higher or lower lines with a mean streak.
On the blue line there is no real opening as it is expected that Matt Bartkowski and Kevan Miller hold onto their spots, but recently there has been some discussion to Johnny Boychuk on the move which may lead to the arrival of Joe Morrow, something that we seem to have been waiting for a while.
The goalie battle will be quite good as the temporary ‘heir apparent’ is Niklas Svedberg, but Malcom Subban has stated he fully intends to give a huge run. Both are waiver exempt so the winner may not hold the job all season but we are projecting Subban get a run as starter in Providence with Jeremy Smith supplying insurance and a veteran presence.
Buffalo – Bottom teams are always fun to watch in camp for poolies as they don’t really have openings, they are just looking to put out the best roster they can. Buffalo is in just that situation, several prospects will be getting opportunities on a largely rotating basis. Sam Reinhart will start with the big club and likely stays the year, the big question is what responsibility he is given and the production he can get out of it. Outside of Reinhart, Nicolas Deslauriers, Joel Armia and Nicholas Baptiste are the next attractive forwards to watch, while William Carrier, Brendan Lemieux attempt to impress and Phil Varone attempts to sneak into a lower line role.
Defense will feature Jake McCabe & Rasmus Ristolainen. Mike Weber need to be strong in camp to keep a roster spot as Nikita Zadorov will be knocking on the door, but he has so many options but the most likely scenario is the AHL even with an OHL option, the team will want to keep him close. Mark Pysyk likely gets bumped due to waiver exempt status but is an option for stability. Lots of interest in Chad Ruhwedel, I don’t see it materializing, in Buffalo with the high quality of blue line options available in the system and a pair of vets on long term deals. One name to watch is Brady Austin, a sizable 7th rounder with some offensive acumen and highly responsible. Look for him to get noticed and build a position to battle into a role within 2 years.
Jhonas Enroth and Michal Neuvirth will be the expected tandem on paper, after that the situation is interesting and murky. Matt Hackett had an off year and is now subject to waivers, he is still a good quality option, but the Sabers need to keep room o