After the first season, nothing much changes at this time of year. As a broadcaster, you run over the depth chart, make your own pre-camp decisions on what you think the composition of the team will be, and break down the schedule.
I have found it is usually best not to read anyone else’s evaluations – at least until you have made your own determinations! That’s not arrogance, but rather a way to ensure the thoughts are entirely your own.
Sixty players – 34 forwards, 19 defensemen and 7 goaltenders are expected when camp check-in time comes on September 12th. Keep in mind; a maximum of 23 can be on an active NHL roster at any time.
There is very little room up front to make the team. While the combinations certainly are not set, after the free agent signings of Viktor Stalberg, Matt Cullen, Matt Hendricks and Eric Nystrom, that lessened the chances for several young forwards.
On defense, Shea Weber, Roman Josi and Kevin Klein are all expected to get big minutes. Then the competition: much is expected of first-round pick Seth Jones. This camp will serve as litmus tests for Ryan Ellis and Mattias Ekholm. Victor Bartley earned a shot with his play at the end of last season also.
In goal, it’s simply a question of Pekka Rinne’s health. He had off-season hip surgery, much the same as Tim Thomas had before he backstopped the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup. I don’t think that surgery comes with a “Cup Guarantee,” but it isn’t a bad indicator, either.
Who will back up Pekka this season? Will it be former Blackhawks’ farmhand Carter Hutton, or will 22-year old Magnus Hellberg rotate into that equation as well?
So, there are some questions that need to be answered in this training camp…and it will all begin to unfold in a few days! All of which will help determine how
well the celebration of Season XV will go!