The long slumber that is the off-season is near its end. The Nashville Predators pre-season activities will start with their Rookie Camp on September 15th. Plus, the new World Cup of Hockey will open up with exhibition games tonight with competitive fixtures beginning a little over a week from today on September 17th. Hockey season is finally upon us and all is right with the world once more.
There are plenty of talking points when looking at the released roster for the Predators Rookie Camp. A good chunk of the names listed are quite familiar, some were on hand during this summer’s Rookie Development Camp, and a few others are invitees who could potentially land with the Milwaukee Admirals or the Cincinnati Cyclones for the 2016-17 season.
~Rookie Camp Roster~
Forwards: Kris Bennett, Kevin Fiala, Max Görtz, Vladislav Kamenev, Justin Kirkland, Mathieu Olivier, Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau, Anthony Richard, Eric Robinson, Tylor Spink, Tyson Spink, and Shane Walsh.
The players that are listed as invitees, or are under contract through the Admirals, are: Bennett, Olivier, Paquin-Boudreau, Robinson, Spink, other Spink, Walsh, Doherty, and Sawchenko.
My first head turning moment with the roster comes in the form of Robinson being listed. The 26-year old winger made his pro debut with the Milwaukee Admirals at the end of the 2014-15 season and returned on an AHL contract last season. His 2015-16 season started with a bang: 4 points (3 goals, 1 assist) in 5 games with the Admirals (AHL) and 9 points (4 goals, 5 assists) in 8 games with the Cyclones (ECHL). This all came to a thundering halt on 11/26/15 when he suffered a significant knee injury that required surgery and put him out for the rest of the season. It’s unclear if the forward is officially set to rejoin on an AHL contract with the Admirals but his inclusion on the Predators Rookie Camp Roster is a welcome sight given the story of “what if” for him a season ago. Not to mention, if not for his injury, who knows if Matt White would have entered the fold.
It’s not all that often that you see identical twins playing on the exact same team but the Spink twins are looking to make a splash together in their first full-season of professional hockey. The two 23-year olds played at Colgate University where they both enjoyed a solid four-year run of NCAA Division I hockey. At the end of last season they both joined the Toledo Walleye in the ECHL on ATO contracts and Tylor managed to get a bump up to the AHL with the Toronto Marlies. Telling the two apart off the ice might be a bit tricky but on the ice it becomes a bit more clear: Tylor is a center with a right shot and Tyson is a winger with a left shot. All things told these two combined for 243 points (92 goals, 151 assists) at Colgate University. They’re in as invitees but could both add to an already deep AHL forward group for the 2016-17 season.
To end with some final notes: If Sawchenko manages to climb up from being an inclusion to Rookie Development Camp and Rookie Camp all the way to a pro contract – that would mean the AHL and ECHL setup having five goaltenders. Allard attended Rookie Development Camp this summer but did not participate in on-ice activities due to injury. Paquin-Boudreau was involved in on-ice activities this summer with the Predators, looked great, and could be yet another forward slated for a pro contract.
Who do you feel has an opportunity to best elevate themselves from invitee to a contract for the 2016-17 season?
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