Here’s a primer for the Guelph Storm 2014-2015 training camp that opens Thursday at the Sleeman Centre.
BY THE NUMBERS: 50 players reporting to camp: 28 forwards 16 defencemen, six goaltenders.
FREE AGENTS: Seven free agents (four forwards, three defencemen and a goalie), including former Storm pick Ryan Migliaccio who tried out for the QMJHL’s Saint John’s Sea Dogs. None played higher than junior B last season.
WHO’S BACK: Eight forwards return from last year’s team, led by NHL first rounders Robby Fabbri and Jason Dickinson. Tyler Bertuzzi, Pius Suter, Stephen Pierog, Justin Auger, Marc Stevens and Adam Craievich also look to fill the scoring void left by graduating players
Four defencemen return, led by Ben Harpur. There’s also Phil Baltisberger, Zac Leslie and Garret MacFadden. Chadd Bauman, who played forward last season, has been moved back to the blueline.
Goaltenders Justin Nichols and Matt Mancina both return.
WHO’S NOT BACK: Up front: Kerby Rychel, Scott Kosmachuk, Zac Mitchell, Brock McGinn and Ryan Horvat. On defence: Matt Finn, Nick Ebert, Steve Trojanovic.
NEW BLOOD: The team has already signed four rookie forwards (first rounder Matt Hotchkiss, third rounder Evan Brown, 2013 picks Tyler Boston and James McEwan) and three 17-year-old rookie blueliners (Noah Carroll, Kyle Rhodes and Austin Hall).
It will take quite an effort for anyone else to crack the lineup.
KEEP YOUR EYE ON: Up front, the team will be watching draft picks Cole Gallant and Nicolas Sicoly very closely. If anyone was going to steal a job, it could be one of these two. Tyler Boston is also a player with a lot of offensive upside.
On defence the trio of 17 year old rookies will battle for playing time, with Austin Hall perhaps slightly ahead of the pack.
GOALTENDING: With Nichols and Mancina both back, a trade is likely in the next couple of months as both look for first-string minutes.
A pair of 2013 draft picks, Bradley Van Schubert and Gabe Mollot-Hill, will be looking to impress in the event of a job opening up.
OVERAGERS: The Storm enters camp with three overage spots likely filled by Pierog, Auger and Leslie. The latter pair will be hoping to impress at the Los Angeles Kings training camp and earn a contract.
LOCAL FLAVOUR: There are five players in camp from Guelph: Sam Natale, Ryan Migliaccio, Stephen Pierog, Greg MacPherson and Logan Percy. A pair of Fergus natives, Noah Cameron and Brock Phillips are also attending.