Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hits and Misses: How Well Did The Queen Predict The Roster?

It's a few hours until puck drop in Vancouver, and before I head out to enjoy the action at the Kings official Watch Party in Burbank, I thought it would be a good time to follow up on my roster predictions.  During training camp, I offered my best guesses on which players would make the cut. 

Looking at the results, a few things are clear. 

1) I was wrong more than I was right.
2) I will never make money as a NHL scout.
3) Scott Parse getting injured during camp messed me up big time, since many of my picks were contingent upon him starting the season healthy.
4) Dean Lombardi still has the power to surprise me.
5) I'm actually happy to be wrong.

Let's start with the hits.  

I correctly predicted Davis Drewiske, Peter Harrold and Kevin Wesgarth would make the roster.  I was also right in predicting Bud Holloway, Alec Martinez, Dwight King, Justin Azevdeo and Oscar Moller would return to Manchester.

Now for the misses.

Who saw Jake Muzzin coming?  He won the open defensive spot fair and square from Thomas Hickey, in part on on the strength of his size, which has always been one of Hickey's downsides.  That said, I don't think we've seen the last of Hickey, and this story will be one to watch throughout the season.

Trevor Lewis making the team still surprises me based on his performance in camp.  He also seemed just a step off in his pre-season appearances, but perhaps he'll find his groove with more NHL play.   If not, I predict he'll be a scratch if Scott Parse gets healthy later in the season.

The Clifford-Clune battle was one of the more interesting in camp.  Clune came into the season with the best fitness testing scores and a partial season on the Kings roster last year.  Yet who dropped the gloves during the pre-season and brought the more openly physical game?  That was Clifford.  The kid clearly saw his chance to make the squad, risked some penalty minutes with his aggressiveness and earned the right to stay.  Clune was placed on waivers and remains Kings property, now playing in Manchester.

I am actually thrilled I was wrong about both Andrei Lotkionov and Brayden Schenn. 

Schenn was determined to make to big squad.  Hard work pays off!

They were both terrific in camp and more than earned their shot.   I thought they wouldn't get it because of the number of roster spots.  They are both also young and have long term NHL potential, so risking their development would not be a good option for the Kings organization.  In Schenn's case, the WHL rules meant he could not have been sent to the AHL, so putting him on the NHL roster was the best option.  I have been a Lotkionov fan since I first spotted him in camp 2 years ago, and he played in Manchester last year, so no complaints there either.

As the regular season kicks off tonight, Kings fans will know pretty quickly whether these picks are true winners.  Schenn, Clifford and Wesgarth are the fourth line tonight in Vancouver...


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