There were quite a few prospects who had a good shot to start the season in the NHL , yet for many of them , they now find themselves in the AHL or even back in juniors. Below is a list of those who didn’t make the final cuts and a couple reasons why they might not have made it.
Brooks Orpik , Colby Armstrong , Michal Sivek (PIT) : The Pens proved they weren’t fooling around by sending almost all the young talent in the Pens system to Wilkes-Barre of the AHL. Along with the 3 above , Kris Beech , Toby Petersen and Milan Kraft were also sent down. The Penguins are counting on newcomers Alexandre Daigle and Vladimir Vutjek. Also a healthy Mario Lemieux and Martin Straka are key if Pittsburgh wants to go anywhere. Alexei Kovalev cannot do it all alone.
Marcel Hossa , Mike Komisarek (MTL) : Hossa looked very good late last year with the big club before sustaining an injury. I certainly thought he did enough to make the team this preseason. Yet with the addition of Mariusz Czerkawski , I guess Montreal felt they added another offensive weapon. Hossa will get his shot before too long. Komisarek on the other hand left college two years early and the move of sending him to the AHL was a very good one in my opinion. This is going to be his first year of professional hockey and besides a handful of preseason games he has no experience at this level. It will be good for him to get his timing together , especially for a guy who is going to be counted on as a physical force once he makes it to the NHL.
Mikhail Yakubov (CHI) : Without Eric Daze , I thought Yakubov would be a sure thing to make the team. Now with the suspension to Theo Fleury , he still might find himself in the lineup by opening night. Last year , his first in North America , Yakubov might of been the best player in the WHL. Looking over the ‘Hawks roster , even with Fleury , there is a real lack of scoring punch. I think this kid could make a impact now. Stay tuned here , Yakubov might be here before you blink.
Jared Aulin , Mike Cammalleri (LA) : Both were on the bubble coming out of camp and will play in Manchester of the AHL. LA has a strong offensive team. And with the addition of Alexander Frolov making the team as a rookie , there just wasn’t enough room for either Aulin or Cammalleri. Like Komisarek , Cammalleri is right out of college , so I think time in the AHL would help him greatly. Right now , Aulin is probably more NHL ready. He has been through several years of junior in the WHL and has been the heart and soul of his teams. Both will get the first looks if a injury occurs.
Igor Knyazev (CAR) : Knyazev just fell victim to the numbers game. There are just too many defenseman in Carolina , many of whom are veterans who have to play. He was hurt last year in training camp so the ‘Canes never got a full look , this year he played and looked solid. He isn’t going to score a ton , but he is very solid. He is more then capable of coming up at anytime and not looking a bit out of place in the NHL. This will be his first season in North America.
Brian Sutherby (WSH) : It has to be a disappointment that Sutherby got sent down. After all , he started last year with the Capitals and most thought he would certainly be there this year. He got off to a slow start after returning to juniors last year , but he eventually got it going. He will now play in Portland. The addition of Robert Lang and the recent re-signing of Danius Zubrus filled a pair of roster spots. I just got information that it’s possible Sutherby has an injured shoulder and that played in his re-assigning. If that is the case , the Caps have not made an official statement regarding the siutation.
Jason Spezza (OTT) : Ottawa knows that Spezza wasn’t going to play on the first two lines this year and they were smart to send him down to Binghamton and let him play twenty minutes a night down there. There is no need to rush your top prospect in your system , when Daniel Alfredsson , Marian Hossa , Radek Bonk and Martin Havlat are sitting on your NHL roster. Spezza will still be under the spotlight to perform in the AHL , he has been under the watchful eyes of the hockey world since he was 15.