How have some of the top defensive prospects in the fantasy hockey world faired so far through their respective training camps, and what should be expected of them in 2009-10?
1) Alex Goligoski – Pittsburgh
After notching 20 points in 45 games in his AHL/NHL transition year, Goligoski continued to produce
offensively in the preseason, scoring two assists in four games. His +3 didn’t hurt either, as it led
the Pens in their four preseason games. Goligoski, 24, added two assists in Pittsburgh’s 3-2 win over
the Rangers Oct 2nd, grabbing third star in the process. For now, the 2004 second round pick will be paired with Jay McKee at even strength and with Gonchar on the first power play. Dobber’s prediction of
46 points this season looks right on the button.
2) Victor Hedman – Tampa Bay
The real “monster” from Sweden, 6’7 Victor Hedman, scored two assists in five preseason games. Like
Goligoski, Hedman led his team in the preseason with a +3. By all accounts Hedman lived up to the hype, logging 26 minutes in each of his first two games in what amounted to a ‘trial by fire.’ Hedman passed the test with flying colors and will start the season as the second pairing defenseman alongside countryman Mattias Ohlund.
3) Erik Karlsson – Ottawa
Ottawa’s 2008 first round pick has a relatively quiet way about him on the ice but makes few mistakes
and appears more than ready for prime time. Karlsson played mostly with Philip Kuba and Brian Lee in the preseason and managed two points in five games. Most impressively, Karlsson led the team with a +5,
earning a top-four spot to start the season. Karlsson owners should be satisfied to this point, but the
real test will come in the latter third of the season when the 5’11, 170-pound defenseman may start to wear out.
4) John Carlson – Washington
After an impressive camp by all accounts, Carlson was sent to Hershey on September 22nd. This shouldn’t
come as a surprise to Carlson owners as the Caps’ absolutely require AHL seasoning from their blue chip
defenders. Both Mike Green and Karl Alzner played more than half of their first pro seasons in the
minors. Don’t expect Carlson to be any different. It will be a surprise if he plays 40 games with the
Capitals this season.
Carlson played two preseason games with Alzner and John Erskine, likely his future even-strength
partners. He averaged 18 minutes of ice time, scored no points and had an even plus/minus.
5) Alex Pietrangelo – St. Louis
Pietrangelo made the Blues as a 19-year-old, a rare feat for a defenseman. After a solid training camp,
he averaged 18 minutes of ice time in four preseason games, playing alongside Mike Weaver and Erik
Johnson. The Blues have a fair amount of blue-line depth so expect Pietrangelo to be brought along
slowly. He was a healthy scratch in the Blues opener against Detroit, but he’ll get his minutes, and more importantly, his 6’3, 210-pound frame will help him from wearing down over a full season. Once Carlo
Colaiacovo goes down; Pietrangelo will get an opportunity to play a more offensive role.
6) Bobby Sanguinetti – New York Rangers
Coach John Tortorella repeatedly emphasized the need for his players to come into
camp in great shape, but Sanguinetti wasn’t ready when camp started. The last player cut, Sanguinetti
gave former Shark, Alexei Semenov the seventh defenseman spot by default. Sanguinetti has also fallen
behind Mike DelZotto on the depth chart, as DelZotto will likely be kept for a nine-game stint before
he’s sent back to junior. Sanguinetti has to take the demotion as a wake-up call and not sulk in
Hartford as his bad situation could easily become worse.
The 6’2, 190-pound defender had one point and was +3 in three preseason games. He saw limited ice time
however, averaging less than 14 minutes a game.
7) Anton Stralman – Columbus
Stralman was traded to Calgary from Toronto on July 28th, had a solid camp in Calgary but the Flames had eight defensemen on one-way deals and needed to move one of them. Stralman was dealt on September 28th to Columbus for a 3rd round pick in 2010. The problem is that Stralman doesn’t have a visa to work in the US and won’t be able to suit up for Columbus until the paperwork gets sorted out. The good news is that Stralman would not have cleared waivers had Calgary tried to drop him to their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford. The 23-year-old, puck-moving Swede is a valuable commodity, with 88 NHL games under his belt and a promising future ahead of him. His one major roadblock is that Columbus also has seven NHL defensemen on their roster. Stralman will battle for power play ice time.
Stralman had one assist and was +3 in four games for the Flames. He averaged 18 minutes of ice time in
that span and saw lots of time on the power play.
8) Jamie McBain – Carolina
It looked for a while like McBain, 21, would break camp with the Hurricanes. Carolina’s odd decision to keep Jay Harrison, a lumbering 27 year old, who played in the Swiss League last season, robbed McBain of an NHL roster spot. At 27, Harrison has played only 21 NHL games, so expect this to be McBain’s transition year. It’s likely he’ll play more games with Carolina than with Albany. Because Carolina doesn’t draw many fans on the road, they played the fewest preseason games. McBain played 23 minutes in his one and only preseason tilt.
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