The start of any season brings so much new. It brings new hope for 29 teams. It brings new faces in new places. It brings the possibility that some new players may be entering the NHL for the first time. We all know Nathan Mackinnon will be there. Same with Aleksander Barkov and Seth Jones. Finding those guys who make the NHL, and stay, in the NHL can help set up your pool for years to come. On the eve of the new season, here are a few guys, by position, to keep an eye on as the take the next step in their careers.
There are a bunch of young goalies on the brink of fulltime work in the NHL. Guys like Jack Campbell, Jake Allen, Oscar Dansk and Robin Lehner are one trade, one injury, one extended chance away from being NHL, number one options. Oddly enough, there are a couple of goalies that may get that chance this year, and you may not know them.
Jeff Zatkoff (26): will get a chance to backup MA Fleury due to an injury to Tomas Vokoun. If Fleury continues to slide, Zatkoff will be given the golden ticket. What he does with it is anyone’s guess but don’t bet against the goalie of an ubertalented team like the Penguins. No matter who it is.
Eddie Lack (25): with the crazy goaltending controversy in Vancouver now settled, Lack will be the backup to Roberto Luongo. This is a unique situation to be sure. How will a new coach handle the pressure in Vancity? If Luongo does not start well, Lack will see more games early on. Canucks fans are notoriously tough on “Bobby Lou”, which makes Lack an instant favorite if he can string a few wins together.
Any Calgary Flames goaltender: talk about an open competition. Any of the Flames netminders are in the best position of their careers. From Karri Ramo, Joey MacDonald and Reto Berra, who are all currently vying for the top spot, to Laurent Brossoit and Joni Ortio who have already been assigned to Abbotsford, the job is up for grabs. The retirement of Mikka Kiprusoff has left the Flames in a tough spot but is the chance that these goalies have worked towards their whole hockey life. First one to go on a streak wins.
While there are a bunch of NHL ready defencemen playing in the minors and junior leagues, keep an eye on these guys as they push for a permanent NHL job this season.
Ryan Murray (20): not really going out on a limb here but anytime a 20 year old makes an NHL team on defence, you should take notice. Slated to start the season as the seventh defenceman, watch as Murray climbs the depth chart in Columbus.
Griffin Reinhart (19): “big cat” is just that, big and agile. The Islanders have a future shut down defenceman on their hands. What he lacks in offence, Reinhart more than makes up for with sound positioning and he uses his size to his advantage. There’s always room for someone like him on every team. Some highlights of "the big cat"
Jacob Trouba (19): the standout from the US junior team has found his way onto the Jets roster and will be tough to move off of it. Providing the Jets with some youth and offense from the backend, Trouba will be a fixture for years to come.
Filip Forsberg (19): take an offensively gifted forward and put him on an offensively challenged hockey team and you have the Filip Forsberg story. A lock to spend the season in the NHL, Forsberg will be the pillar the Preds build around for years to come.
Boone Jenner (20): when your head coach says you will be starting on the first line with two of the best players on your team, you know you’ve arrived. Jenner is a great compliment to Marian Gaborik with his robust style. There is also some Calder trophy buzz surrounding the future 30 goal man. Take a look here:
Tomas Hertl (19): the budding power forward for the San Jose Sharks is in a good position as the Sharks are close to a “changing of the guard” so to speak. He will be able to learn from veterans while not feeling the pressure of having to do everything on his own.
Agree? Disagree?? Agree to disagree??? Feel free to leave your comments and follow me on Twitter @fiveminutemajor. Enjoy the new season and best of luck to you in your pools.