Friday, September 21, 2007

Preseason leaders


*Hensick, T.J., Colo 3 3 3 6
Stastny, Paul, Colo 2 4 2 6
Armstrong, Derek, L.A. 3 2 3 5
Calder, Kyle, L.A. 2 3 2 5
*Foligno, Nick, Ott. 2 2 3 5
Hlinka, Jaroslav, Colo 3 0 5 5
Kariya, Paul, St.L 2 1 4 5
Willsie, Brian, L.A. 3 2 3 5
Brodziak, Kyle, Edm. 2 2 2 4
Brunette, Andrew, Colo 1 1 3 4
Chimera, Jason, ClBJ 2 2 2 4
*Cumiskey, Kyle, Colo 3 1 3 4
Jokinen, Jussi, Dal. 2 0 4 4
Liles, John-Michael, Colo 2 0 4 4
*Stuart, Colin, Atl. 3 1 3 4
Vrbata, Radim, Pho. 3 1 3 4
*Wirtanen, Petteri, Ana. 4 2 2 4
30 tied


Colorado has been on fire in the preseason, and they lead the NHL with 16 goals in three exhibition games so far. The Avalanche was third in goal scoring last season, and with some new firepower on the way in, they could be the league's highest-scoring team this season.

Yes, even better than Pittsburgh.

T.J. Hensick has been one of the surprises there so far, although just how he fits in on the roster remains to be seen. An undersized centre who led the NCAA in scoring last season (69 points in 41 games) with Michigan, I had him pencilled in to be the top forward in Lake Erie of the AHL but he's making a big push to stick in the NHL.

Even if it doesn't happen now, he'll be making an impact with the Avs in the near future.

Roster spots are tight in Colorado given the arrival of Jaroslav Hlinka, a 30-year-old Czech league veteran who lit up his homeland last season while with Sparta Prague. Hlinka's a shoe-in on the roster, even if he is on a two-way deal, and is another undersized forward to put into the mix.

Colorado's got a slew of guys fighting for fourth-line duties that includes Cody McCormick, Brad Richardson, Ben Guite and Wyatt Smith, so it really comes down to how Joel Quenneville wants to put his roster together. If he decides he can afford to go with a smallish, speedy and offensive line-up, look out.

In Los Angeles, the Calder-Armstrong-Willsie line is something that's likely to stay together given their success so far, and the fact that this would be, nominally, the team's third line shows just how much Dean Lombardi has improved his team's depth in the off-season.

And how about Nick Foligno in Ottawa, who could make the jump from the OHL right into the NHL, albeit in a limited capacity. Of course, the Senators are good enough that they don't need to rush their youngsters, so even if he continues to have a strong showing in camp, it's not hard to envision a scenario where he starts in Binghamton.

Ottawa's top 10 forwards are set right now anyway.

Stuff to read:
Hensick shining early, often
Newcomer Hlinka finds comfort zone
Foligno responds to challenge in Sens' camp



At 12:22 a.m., September 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Off the top of your head. Name a 30-year-old Euro "rookie" who ever made a dent since the first wave of Iron Curtainers.

At 3:49 p.m., September 22, 2007, Anonymous Frank said...

James, don't extrapolate too much from these early pre-season games.

I went to the Vancouver Edmonton game the other night and both teams dressed only the minimum 8 veterans, and even the veterans were given minimum ice time as the coaches wanted to evaluate the prospects.

Essentially, I ended up watching two AHL teams competing. While many of the prospects looked good, it was hard to really evaluate their performance since they were playing against other prospects - not NHL talent.

At 11:20 p.m., September 22, 2007, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Didnt Calder do this last year just to become one of the many reasons the Flyers were garbage?


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