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Forward Depth Developing

by Jay Levin / Nashville Predators
Young forwards Patric Hornqvist and Mike Santorelli put forth impressive showings in tonight's 4-2 win at Carolina. The Hurricanes dressed a much more NHL-ready roster tonight than Atlanta did in last night's preseason opener, but Hornqvist – one of the standouts in last night's win – made it back-to-back strong outings to open the preseason slate with three hits and a game-high seven shots on goal. Santorelli, making his preseason debut, looked comfortable playing on a line with Martin Erat and David Legwand, registering a goal and an assist.

Hornqvist (22-years old) and Santorelli (23), are joined by Cal O'Reilly (22), Peter Olvecky (23) and Colin Wilson (19) in a solid group of up-and-coming young skilled forwards capable of making an impact in the NHL this season. And that's not meant to overlook rising prospects Nick Spaling (20) or Andreas Thuresson (21). Or college seniors Ryan Flynn (21) at Minnesota, Blake Geoffrion (21) at Wisconsin, and Ryan Thang (22) at Notre Dame.

At 25-years old Ryan Jones looks like a gray-beard by comparison. (Which says what about free agent signees Marcel Goc, 26, Ben Eaves, 27, and Ben Guite, 31?)

Spaling has drawn rave reviews from the Milwaukee Admirals coaching staff for his work in the AHL last season and was a standout during the Rookie Games against Atlanta earlier this week. Thuresson, overlooked by many fans, has quietly had a break-through performance during the first week of Training Camp; he hasn't been flashy and hasn't figured on the scoresheet, but he's been a consistent physical presence in drills during practice and carried that play over to his preseason game appearances.

While it's been Hornqvist, Santorelli, and Wilson (three points in last night's preseason game plus three points in the rookie games at Atlanta earlier in the week) that have generated the most “buzz” through the first week of Training Camp, the improved depth of the Preds forward corps has been the feel good story from Week 1.

Meaning whoever ends up earning the final spots on the Opening Night roster will have to beat out some impressive players for that honor.
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