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10-06-2004, 03:46 PM
  #14
exterminator-x
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Join Date: Aug 2003
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Predicting the Falcons Roster Part I

There will only be two parts. The netminders represent a trivial solution. This post explores and invites speculation on what the Springfield defense will look like. I'll post a second part soon in which the forward positions will be explored.

Blueliners remaining in camp
Marc Busenburg; Gerard Dicaire; Mike Egener; Andreas Holmqvist; Doug O'Brien; Harlan Pratt; Paul Ranger; Darren Rumble; Jeremy Van Hoof; Terry Virtue;

Lock-ins
There's probably only two or three real lock-ins on defense. Two are blueline veterans Darren Rumble and Terry Virtue. I think Gerard Dicaire is also a lock-in, but he'll likely begin the first week or so of the season as a scratch because he'll still be recovering from surgery.

Looking good
Recent feedback from the organization indicates that Busenburg and O'Brien are impressing the coaching staff. Unless these guys self-destruct over the next week or so, they are looking like virtual lock-ins.

Should-be's
Andreas Holmqvist should be on the roster based on skill alone, but no definitive word is forthcoming yet. With this organization, work ethic, smarts, and defensive commitment are key components to earning roster spots and ice time. IMO, Holmqvist still has to prove himself. Another high-end defensive prospect for Tampa is Mike Egener. Physical and defensively solid, this stay-at-homer should also make the squad. However, his Traverse City performance did not standout, nor did his first Falcon pre-season game. Egener could be one of the unnamed guys that the staff has called out as needing to work harder in order to earn a roster spot.

The rest
The remaining guys, Ranger, Pratt, and Van Hoof are definitely on the bubble.

Top Six
The top six blueliners should be Rumble, Virtue, Dicaire, O'Brien, Busenburg, and (likely) Egener.

Depth
That basically leaves four guys fighting to serve the popcorn in Springfield: Andreas Holmqvist, Paul Ranger, Jeremy Van Hoof, and Harlan Pratt.

Holmqvist has the highest offensive upside of any Lightning blueline prospect. He should earn a roster spot as a seventh d-man at least. And with the early season injury/illness to Dicaire, might get some early starts as he battles with Egener for playing time. Holmqvist is the early favorite for the last roster spot. In fact, he needs to earn a Falcon roster spot.

Ranger clearly has the biggest upside of the remaining three, especially offensively. But I suspect Tampa will prefer he gets lots of ice time in order for him to continue his development, both skill-wise and physically (leg and upper body strength). As a result, I think we'll see Ranger play in Johnstown a good part of this season.

Jeremy Van Hoof and Harlan Pratt will have to simply outwork Egener or Holmqvist in order to win a Springfield roster spot, but are looking like depth guys for the team and likely will be tucked away in Johnstown for safe keeping. Between the two, Pratt has a bit of AHL experience, while Van Hoof has been laboring in the ECHL for a three/four years waiting for his big AHL-break. Van Hoof has the underdog appeal, but Pratt totes the experience. Van Hoof has the edge on size, but is the younger of the two by a few years. Both are stay-at-homer's that will be of little offensive impact. Both are former members of the Lightning organization, so there's equal familiarity there. Neither dressed in the Falcons first pre-season game.

Comments?


Last edited by exterminator-x: 10-06-2004 at 04:28 PM.
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