I've been pondering what to write about this years' projected line-up. I've heard people saying that the team is going to be bad, won't be able to score goals, etc. I really can't agree with anyone that says that. If anyone has any sense they would just look at last years statistics.... The Pats lose 52 goals (that includes Bartley, Robertson, MacAngus, Prokop, Cerveny, Dudas and Doucet). They may lost 2 of their top 10 scorers.
The Pats brass has a few choices to make this season and they are probaly going to be some tough choices. The overage situation and the goalie situation.
The overagers is going to be a tough one to figure out. I think Matt Delahey is a lock for one of the spots so that leaves 2 spots for four other players. One would think Brett Leffler would also be a sure thing coming off a 33 goal season. Okay now there is 1 spot for 3 players. Each one brings their own integral part to the club. Matt Strueby could provide the Pats with some secondary scoring after potting 25 goals and 50 points. Mitch Czibere brings a defensive side to the game, has the speed and I've heard that he is a huge leader-type player. Then we've got the 2 spotter Linden Rowat in net who in my opinion was not fairly criticized for his play last year (I did criticize him at times but I have learned what to expect game in and game out).
My picks as hard as they may be would be Delahey, Leffler and Strueby. I think Rowat would be a wanted commodity as a few teams are in need of a veteran goalie. Czibere I think could add a lot of leadership to any team looking to make a run.
Now onto the goalie situation: I explained Rowat in the overager situation and I think he will be playing somewhere else before long. So that would leave 3 goalies that could play in the league: Ketlo, Guhle and Tendler. Ketlo would be the obvious choice to start as he has played the most games and did alright for the team last year. Now the battle goes to the 17 year-olds.... In camp both Guhle and Tendler have done fairly well and in my honest opinion neither one has really taken the lead. I would consider them pretty much equivalent. So now it gets a little stickier. Tendler is a homegrown talent that has nothing left to prove in Midget is ready to get lots of playing time in the WHL and eventually become the teams starter. Guhle is attempting to throw a monkey into the wrench with his play; he is ready. His only "problem" is that he hasn't fully commited to playing in the WHL and could just as easily go play in the AJHL and have a long career somewhere else (we will see this weekend, if he plays or not).
With the defence it's a little murky as well as Teubert, Delahey, Pym and Bell are definite locks for the top 4 spots (unless a deal is made). After watching camp I think Perrault, Sparrow and Miller are on very thin ice and should really be looking over their shoulders as Slobozian (looks fully recovered), Borstmayer, Davidson have really pushed for spots in the top 6. Graham & Pavkovich I don't think are ready.
Forwards are a whole new thing. I'm thinking (hoping and praying) that Eberle gets returned to the Pats for his sake and the Pats. Weal will have another great year. Now they need the rest of the team to step up and help out. Hricina, Poletin, Leffler and Mitchell look to round out the top 6.
I'm going to take a stab at my projected lines for the start of the season in my next post.