WHO STAYS AND WHO COMES BACK FROM NHL CAMP?

NHL rookie camps got under way this week and the Guelph Storm, past and present, were well represented across the league. With many of the eldest Storm players away trying to impress NHL scouts, Guelph was left with a slew of rookies to battle the Plymouth Whalers in pre-season action Friday night. The Storm fought hard for a 4-3 win against a Plymouth squad in a similar situation as they. Essentially it was our best rookies and sophomores against theirs, which begs the question; what does our team look like on opening night two weeks from now? Surely the Storm won’t compete if no one returns from the NHL rookie and development camps. It’s inevitable we’ll see players trickle into Guelph throughout September and October as they’re cut from their respective NHL squads, and technically there are thirteen players away at camp that could again make their home in Guelph this year. Of these thirteen, let’s take a look and see which ones we expect to return to the red and white again this year using the patent pending “Chance of ThunderSTORM” scale I just invented.

*Chance of ThunderSTORM: 100% – player returns from camp before the OHL season starts and stays all year; 0% -we don’t see him in the the OHL all year.

Robby Fabbri

By now we all know the Robby Fabbri story. He had a breakout campaign last year, was signed 21st overall by the Blues, and is going to light it up in St. Louis for years to come. But he’s only 18 years old and I doubt the management over in Missouri is going to jeopardize his future by having him compete at the NHL level this year. Fabbri will be back folks, I have little doubt.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 85%

 

Nick Ebert

After a paultry 2012/13 OHL season, Ebert scored at a near point-per-game pace after being acquired by the Storm mid-season and had a phenomenal showing in the OHL playoffs and Memorial Cup last year. Word on the street is, Ebert is ready to take the next step. The 2012 7th-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings, it’s likely he’ll spend the year with the Kings’ AHL affiliate Manchester Monarchs.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 20%

 

Matthew Mancina

The third goalie taken in the 2012 OHL Priority Draft, it is widely assumed Mancina is good enough to warrant starting goaltender time somewhere in the OHL. A free-agent by NHL standards, Mancina has indeed been invited to rookie camp by the Calgary Flames. Mancina may be good someday, but he hasn’t played starter minutes anywhere in his young career. He won’t make it past this “rookie stage” in camp and we’ll see him real soon.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 100%

 

Matt Finn

No surprises here but it isn’t really a possibility we see former captain Matt Finn suit up this year. He’s a Toronto Marlie now seeing as he’s old enough and good enough to play professional hockey in the AHL.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 0%

 

Brock McGinn

Being that this is technically his 20-year old season, the potential is there for him to rejoin the Storm this year. One of the reasons Guelph was so successful last year was the amount of depth they had up and down their lineup and McGinn, who placed 7th in league goal scoring with 43, played an integral role last year. However, he will likely be tested out with the Carolina Hurricanes’ AHL affiliate in Charlotte first and may even make the Canes’ squad in 2014/15.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 20%

 

Kerby Rychel

GM Mike Kelly pulled the trigger on a huge deal last year, bringing OHL superstar Kerby Rychel in from Windsor to help the Storm push for a Memorial Cup. It feels like we just got him and we already have to let him go. He’s too immensely talented to continue playing in junior and it’s likely when he turns 20 in October he’ll earn full-time duties in Springfield with Columbus’ AHL affiliate. If he struggles there it is still possible they send him back down to junior, but don’t get your hopes up.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 30%

 

Scott Kosmachuk

Guelph’s leading scorer, with 101 points a season ago, could technically see the Sleeman Centre ice this year (as he’s in his 5th year of eligibility) but there’s no way he does. He’s too good, and he’s old enough to play with the Winnipeg Jets’ AHL affiliate in St. John’s. Sadly, Guelph will have a new leading scorer this year.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 0%

 

Tyler Bertuzzi

His on-ice presence and solid skill set will make him a prized position of the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings soon enough, but the 58th overall pick of the 2013 NHL Draft will be back. He’s just too young at this point to play in the big show. Look for him to play a crucial role for the Storm this year.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 90%

 

Zac Leslie

This one’s tough. Leslie, yet another Guelph Storm player drafted by the LA Kings (6th round, 178 overall), will spend time in NHL camp this month. Many down in California feel Leslie could be a quick riser through the ranks of the Kings’ farm system but for this season at least his status seems in question. Being completely realistic, Leslie probably stays in Guelph this year to anchor the backend.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 80%

 

Chad Baumann

Baumann is getting some serious hype in the media this year. The 6’3”, 230-pound defencemen played for the Storm last season, but didn’t factor into serious playoff action last spring. With fellow blueliners Finn, Ebert and Trojanovic heading out the door, Baumann is going to have to play big. He’ll get some attention in rookie camp, but not nearly enough to punch his ticket out of Guelph this season.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 100%

 

Ben Harpur

Having been described by the Ottawa Senators scouting staff as a “project”, it’s obvious they see him as a long-term investment. Could be a breakout year for him this year though, so look for him to step up.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 100%

 

Jason Dickinson

If we fast-forward a year from now, when Dickinson is 20 and eligible to play in the AHL, then we’ve got more of a debate. But he’s too young to play in Texas, the Dallas Stars’ AHL affiliate, and not yet good enough to make Dallas out of camp. Much of the focus is on Robby Fabbri to lead the team in scoring this year, and while I don’t question this I expect Jason Dickinson to be right behind him.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 90%

 

Justin Auger

The one real question mark on the list; what lies ahead this season for Justin Auger? A few months ago, I little doubt we’d see play another year in Guelph. However Auger has improved since last season and has had a very productive short stint this pre-season. Los Angeles is going to take a real good look at him this September, but I still maintain he doesn’t make the team or remain in New Hampshire (Manchester Monarchs, AHL) for a few reasons. One, the Kings are a powerhouse in the NHL’s Western Conference and their depth doesn’t signal to me the need to keep Auger right now. He’s best left off the NHL roster to allow for further development in a more familiar setting. Two, Auger has yet to show he can truly be a top-3 forward in the OHL. He’s better left in junior, giving him another year to prove to the Kings exactly what type of player he is. So why not leave him in Manchester if he’s good enough? I have a feeling this is one of those situations where Kings management will let him return to Guelph to play out his final year in junior. Just a hunch. I fully expect to see Justin Auger this year and I am thrilled to see him continue to develop.

Chance of ThunderSTORM – 75%

For the most part, Storm fans should be happy to hear that most of these players will be returning. Guelph should remain strong in the Western Conference despite growing competition from teams like Windsor, Erie, Sault Ste. Marie and perennial contenders in London. Best of luck goes out to those leaving Storm City as they play under bigger roofs and brighter lights this season.

Joe Krizman

In 2013, Joe graduated from Queen’s University with a degree in Physical and Health Education. During his years in school, he spent his summers off working with kids at a summer camp; an experience he credits as being highly influential in shaping who he is today.

Joe followed up his university degree by moving out to Calgary for the 2013/14 hockey season, where he served as the Coordinator of Player Development & Recruitment for the Western Hockey League (WHL) in their head office. Having developed a love for major junior hockey with the WHL, he is excited to be getting involved with it again this season back in his hometown of Guelph.

A self-proclaimed “sports enthusiast”, Joe is thrilled about getting the opportunity to share his thoughts and sports insights in a new way.

2 Comments

  1. Jim Broadley

    September 16, 2014 at 9:34 am

    With regard to Jason Dickinson, you stated “not yet good enough to make camp in Dallas”. I believe that he will be attending the main Dallas Stars camp. Check out http://www.defendingbigd.com/2014/9/15/6154367/dallas-stars-training-camp-schedule-roster.

  2. Joe Krizman

    Joe Krizman

    September 16, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    Silly wording on my part… Should have read “won’t make Dallas out of camp”. Good catch!