With training camps starting around the league tomorrow and Saturday, talk turns from signings and player movement to focusing on what you've got and who will play where. Unless you're a Stars fan. Then you're still wondering about the only two RFA's left to sign in James Neal and Matt Niskanen. But I digress.
We must wait patiently for Frank Provenzano and Joe Nieuwendyk to do their work. In the mean time it's time to turn our attention toward camp as well. In the past two seasons we've seen impressive forwards taken deep in the draft make undeniable pushes for NHL roster spots in Jamie Benn and James Neal. A survey of the prospect-land reveals no such likely candidate this season and the Traverse City prospect tournament didn't help any.
We'd all like to accelerate a top prospect's development such as Scott Glennie and get the speedy RW to the NHL as soon as possible, but it's not going to happen this year. This will be Scott's first (real) NHL training camp after an injury forced him to watch from the sidelines last year, and he will finish his junior career and likely play for Canada's junior team this winter before taking a better whack at things next fall.
Still there are a few items of intrigue this year in camp and three individuals in particular that could be on the opening night roster if things fall just right... But which is most likely?
The former (hated, around these parts) San Jose Shark has seen a complete reversal of fortune since winning the Rocket Richard trophy in 2006 after having scored a league high 56 goals. A string of injuries have hampered him the last several years, and he was tossed in the trade that sent Dany Heatley to the Sharks and found himself in Ottawa. He played 61 games with the Senators last year and managed only...5 goals. His conditioning and skating were called into quesiton and he was re-assigned to the AHL in February. At the conclusion of the season, Cheechoo's contract was bought out by the Sens, making him a free agent, and his name was seldom heard in the hockey media until the Stars offered him this try-out contract.
More on Cheechoo, Philip Larsen and Brent Krahn after the jump...
He will be given "every chance to make this team" according to misters Crawford and Nieuwendyk, paired with Brenden Morrow and Mike Ribeiro, who famously likes a right handed shot on his line. The first question is, can he do it, and what would the cost be contract-wise? Also, what does that do to the forward roster as a whole? Fabian Brunnstrom and Brian Sutherby become two players too many, and what of Jere Lehtinen?
The 20 year old Danish defenseman was taken 149th overall in 2008 and has spent his time in Europe with Frolunda HC, amassing 116 games in the Swedish Elite League. He makes his transition to North American hockey this fall, and is considered after the departure of Ivan Vishnevskiy to be the Stars best defensive prospect.
Larsen showed well defensively in this weeks Traverse City tournament, managing an even +/- on a team that gave up 17 goals in 4 games.
The Stars defense seems set to bring back the same 7 players from last season, but Larsen could compete for Matt Niskanen's job with a strong pre-season, and a Niskanen hold-out could spice this situation up in a hurry. We'll see if Jeff Woywitka has anything to say about this.
28 year old Brent Krahn has journeyed through the ranks of North American hockey, playing for the Calgary Hitmen and Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL, the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL, the Lowell Lock Monsters, San Antonio Rampage, the Omaha Ak-Sar-Ben Knights, the Chicago Wolves, and the Quad City Flames of the AHL, and finally, the Texas Stars last season.
Injuries limited his regular season and playoffs last year, but in 22 games with Texas he had a 1.83 GAA and a stellar save percentage of .945%. The Stars purposefully built a two-way contract year into Raycrofts deal to give Krahn the opportunity he has worked so long for: A shot at the NHL. (the backup job, at least.)
Is this the 28 year olds year?