In two weeks, players will start arriving to San Antonio in preparation for San Antonio Rampage training camp. Questions still remain in Denver as to who will win those final two or three spots on the Avalanche but, we have a pretty good idea who will be suiting up in the AHL on opening night.
The forwards on this year’s team will be a polar opposite of last year. Gone are the giant human beings with skill (Everberg and Rendulic) and the giant human beings with no skill (Bordeleau and Schumacher). This year, the team will be small, fast, and skilled with dynamic play makers up and down the lineup. There is still a few of the bigger guys left, but with over half of the forwards measuring six feet or under, Rampage fans will be seeing an all new style of hockey this season up front.
Joe Whitney – Jim O’Brien – Reid Petryk
Sam Henley – JT Compher – Mike Sislo
Turner Elson – Rocco Grimaldi – Trent Vogelhuber
AJ Greer – Troy Bourke – Garry Nunn
Extras: Julien Nantel/Alex Belzile
ECHL: Shawn Oullette-St.Amant/Cole Sanford
I have Ben Smith making the Avs out of camp and Gabriel Bourque turning his PTO into a one-year deal. Those are your extras in Denver. In my eyes, putting JT Compher in the AHL and letting him play top 6 minutes with a pure scorer like Sislo on his wing is the best thing they can do for his development.
Troy Bourke is our big winner of the summer. He will see regular minutes in the AHL centering players like AJ Greer, Garry Nunn, and Alex Belzile instead of Bordeleau/Maggio.
If you were to look back at these projections every year, I probably say this every time, but I am in love with that third line.
St. Amant and Sanford -and possibly Nantel to get him minutes- start in ECHL.
Bigras – Siemens
Stanton – Clark
Boikov – Geertsen
I see the Avs going with seven D to start. This pushes Bigras (for now) to get top pairing minutes, in all situations, with the Rampage. He will be the first call up and probably won’t be in San Antonio for long.
There is promise on the blue line with the young guys, but it’s all unproven at this point. Clark was dreadful last season and Siemens hasn’t played a full season in his pro career. The defense could be the Achilles heel of this team, yet again.
I’d love to see an under the radar signing for the Rampage on Defense, just to add some much needed depth at the position.
ECHL: Spencer Martin/Kent Simpson
I know Avs fans. I’m crazy. I’m not sure Martin stays in Loveland for a long time, though. The Avs put him an hour away to start, play him three out of every four games, then call him up in December/January for the 60/40 split with Smith for the rest of the year.
The early impressions of Eric Veilleux out of rookie camp should have all Rampage fans feeling optimistic. The first day of practices were up-tempo and intense, he was getting on guys for “cheating” through the drills, and his systems featured discipline and constant movement.
September is the time when fans of all 30 NHL/AHL teams feel optimistic. The proof will come when the team is pared down and they step on the ice against a real opponent. Until then, I’m going to enjoy looking at the roster and thinking of what might be.