The college hockey season is
approaching and excitement is in the air. For Kings fans, there is plenty of
reason to be more excited than the rest. The 2003 Entry Draft added some of the
top players in all of college hockey to the Kings prospect roster while
graduation moved Noah Clarke and George Parros on to Manchester.
Currently, the Kings have nine forwards, three defensemen, and two goaltenders
honing their skills in the college ranks. Here is a quick snapshot of expectations
for each prospect for the upcoming season.
Brian Boyle (Fr, Boston College) was
one of three talented forwards the Kings drafted in this year’s first round.
He’ll be joining an already stacked Boston College team. Coming off of their
disappointing double overtime loss to Cornell in the East Regional Finals, this
BC team has aspirations of winning it all. Boyle will be battling fellow
freshman phenom Adam Pineault for
ice-time while skating somewhere on the second or third lines. Expect a
freshman season of adjustment as Boyle learns to use his size against increased
competition. Projection: 15 goals + 10 assists.
Marty Guerin (Fr, Miami, OH) is
another recent draftee. He takes his leadership and sold skating skills to
another stacked team with high aspirations. As a freshman, Guerin will be hard pressed
to find significant icetime on a Miami team that returns most of its forwards.
Projection: 4 goals + 6 assists.
Greg Hogeboom (Sr, Miami, OH) will
be looking to improve on a breakout junior season which saw him lead college
hockey in powerplay goals. This Miami team returns each of its top six
defensemen and will lean heavily on its senior crop of forwards as graduation
has pressed two freshman goaltenders into service. Hogeboom will be skating on
the number one line and powerplay unit. Expect huge seasons out of Hogeboom, Mike Kompon, and Derek Edwardson as each produced at a point a game pace last
season. Becoming a Hobey Baker Finalist is not out of the question. Projection:
35 goals + 30 assists.
Connor James (Sr, Denver U.) will be
relied upon to lead the offense for Denver U. occasioned by the recent
graduation of point leader Kevin Doell.
James possesses a speed and skating ability that creates an endless stream of
scoring opportunities for he and his linemates. Expect a lot of icetime this
season, as he’ll be used extensively at even strength, on the powerplay, and
the penalty kill. Projection: 26 goals + 25 assists.
Ryan Murphy (Jr, Boston College) is
still waiting his turn on the deep powerhouse of Boston College. Look for
Murphy to steadily improve on his offensive numbers while maintaining his
reliability as one of the top defensive forwards in college. He’ll be slotted
somewhere on the third or fourth lines stuck behind some great juniors and
seniors. Check back next season for quality icetime. Projection: 10 goals + 14
Brady Murray (Fr, North Dakota) is
quite possibly the best freshman recruit this season. Coming over from Salmon
Arm of the BCHL, Murray has been reunited with former Shattuck teammate Zach Parise. The two have developed
great chemistry between them and will likely be joined by Brandon Bochenski on the top line for North Dakota. Expect big
things from Murray en route to what might be a Freshman of the Year campaign.
Projection: 20 goals + 25 assists.
Dave Steckel (Sr, Ohio State) must
step up and lead this team with the recent departures of RJ Umberger and Ryan Kesler
to the NHL. No one can doubt Steckel’s work ethic and attention to his own end
of the ice. But the question remains: can he regain the scoring touch that made
him a top prospect in his freshman year? If he can, Steckel will definitely see
time on the number one line. Otherwise, it’s back to a defensive role on the
second line. With quality icetime available and in his senior season, this
becomes the most intriguing story for Kings’ fans. Projection: 15 goals + 12
Mike Sullivan (Fr, Clarkson U.) will
suffer from the same disease that most freshmen suffer from – too many upperclassmen
and not enough playing time. Sullivan finds himself in a log-jam of forwards.
However, the good news is that practically every position is open for battle
with few dominate incumbents and Sullivan’s size might give him an edge over
all others. Projection: 4 goals + 3 assists.
Jeff Tambellini (Soph, Michigan) is
coming off the best freshman season for a Michigan Wolverine since Mike Comrie.
Tambellini led the team in goals scored and total points. What more can he do?
Expect Tambellini to see top ice time on the number one line. Michigan lost in
triple overtime to Minnesota in the semifinals of the Frozen Four last season.
Anything short of a Frozen Four berth again this season will be a
disappointment and Tambellini will be called upon to lead the way. Expect him
to compete for both a scoring title and to be Hobey Baker Finalist. Projection:
35 goals + 25 assists.
Joel Andresen (Soph, Nebraska-Omaha)
was already seeing a lot of icetime as a freshman last season. With the loss of
number one defenseman Greg Zanon to
graduation, Andresen will look to assume an even larger role on the blueline
for the Mavericks. Already a top four defensemen, he might be able to squeeze
into the top pairing. Projection: 4 goals + 10 assists.
Mike Gabinet (Sr, Nebraska-Omaha) is
the senior leader on Nebraska’s blueline. Gabinet will be on the top defensive
pairing. Scoring only four assists in 40 games last season, don’t expect huge
numbers from Gabinet, instead contributing solid defense first. Projection: 2 goals
+ 8 assists.
Richard Petiot (Jr, Colorado
College) is one of the best stay at home defensemen in the Kings system.
Bruising hits and bone-crunching checks, Petiot will look to continue his
tremendous play paired with transfer Brady
Greco and will see some time on the second powerplay unit. Colorado College
has lost four of its top five scorers on a team that fell to Michigan in the
Midwest Regional Finals. If the Tigers hope to get to the Frozen Four, they’ll
need Petiot to be his usual dominate self as the anchor on the blueline. Like
Gabinet, he won’t win any scoring titles but success for him is measured in
other ways. Projection: 4 goals + 10 assists.
Nathan Marsters (Sr, Rensselaer)
will look to regain full-time starting duties in a battle with fellow senior
net-minder Kevin Kurk. The two had
platooned all season long until Marsters took over the job with a string of
five consecutive great starts to end the season. But will he be able to carry
that momentum into camp and secure the starting job for good? This season is a
pivotal one for Marsters. Projection: 34 games played as he regains his
Matt Zaba (Fr, Colorado College)
will be backing up junior incumbent Curtis
McElhinney. The return of Kjell
Bennemark to Sweden has opened the door to Zaba to assume the back-up role
exclusively. Rated as one of the top goaltending recruits of the 2003 class,
Zaba has come into camp and impressed. But he’s only a freshman and will spend
a couple of seasons learning the game as a back-up. Projection: 10 games played
with an occasional spot start.