Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sixteeen Former Badgers To Start Year In NHL

We've been trying to update you on former Badgers as they learn of their NHL fates for the upcoming hockey season. With the NHL roster deadline approaching in a matter of minutes, we're all but certain that sixteen former Badgers are going to start the season in the NHL.

An additional site note, you can now easily track the progress of your favorite former Badgers from this link which can also be found on the side bar of our site. Currently, only the NHL Badgers section is complete but within the next week or two when minor league rosters become finalized we'll finish that up too. Should be a good resource to follow your favorite former players from one database.

As I talked about on Monday, Derek Stepan has made the Rangers. Also, according to the Rangers official website, Stepan has been named the winner of the 2010 Lars-Erik Sjoberg Award, given to the best Rangers rookie in training camp, as voted on by the members of the media.

Also noted on Monday was the likely hood that Jake Dowell and Jack Skille would make the Blackhawks. The Hawks did send one more forward down, but it was former Gopher Ryan Potulny. Dowell and Skille are set to open up the season on a line together, with Dowell in the middle and Skille on the RW.

Another interesting note that was overlooked late last week was that Kyle Turris (pictured) has made the Phoenix Coyotes. The young center spent the entire 2009-2010 campaign in the AHL with San Antonio. After a strong camp, he beat out veteran Kyle Wellwood for the final spot on the Coyotes roster.

Besides the four previously mentioned, the rest of the Badgers who are going to start the year in the show were considered locks. Rene Bourque sat out a few preseason games for "general maintenance" but is back and is healthy.

Adam Burish has moved to Dallas and is expected to take a bigger role with the Stars.

With a one way contract with L.A. it was all but a lock that Davis Drewiske would be up with the Kings and he is. He's projected on the third d-pairing with Jake Muzzin. There has been some Internet rumors that when Matt Greene returns from injury that Drewiske could be on the trade block. Stay tuned.

Edmonton is looking for a bounce back year out of Tommy Gilbert. Statistically, the Bloomington native had a down year but rebounded towards the end of the season. Gilbert's role is expected to expand this season with the young Oilers.

After another disappointing playoff loss, the San Jose Sharks are changing up their philosophy of stacking the top lines and are spreading out the talent this season. Currently budding NHL superstar Joe Pavelski is centering the Sharks third line with Ryan Clowe, two players who were on the second unit for the Sharks last season. Dany Heatley is in his familiar position as the top line RW.

Jamie McBain looked fantastic in his late season call up for the Hurricanes last season and is being thrust into a top four role for the Canes this season. Expect some growing pains from the 22 year old McBain, but he's ready for the role.

The 37 year old Brian Rafalaski looked about 10 years younger in last years Olympics for Team USA. It should be noted he's moving off his familiar pairing with Nik Lidstrom to a tandem with Brad Stuart. Should be an interesting move to watch.

The player who should have been Wisconsin's first Hobey Baker winner, Steven Reinprecht is apparently being sent a message by the Florida Panthers. After spending most of camp as a first or second line center. He's now been moved to a wing on a lower line. We'll see if this fires up Reino or if it may signal the downside of his career.

Madison native Ryan Suter has been a top line pairing defenseman for the Nashville Predators along side Shea Weber seemingly since they broke into the league. Word has broke recently that head coach Barry Trotz may separate his two stud defensemen to better spread out the talent.

Brad Winchester will be in a familiar role with the St. Louis Blues this season. Expect the 6'5 winger to get into a lot of fights and stir the pot.

The goaltending situation in Ottawa has the fans concerned. Neither Pascal LeClaire, nor former badger Brain Elliott stood out during camp or the pre-season. Both are being challenged by young goalie Robin Lehner who is going to start the year in the AHL. The first few weeks of the season will be crucial for Elliott to prove he's the man for the job.

With upwards of 20 former Badgers starting the upcoming season in the AHL. I fully expect the total number of Badgers to play games in the NHL by the end of the season to be anywhere from 18-20.