Syracuse Crunch 2007-08 season preview

By Ryan Madden

  The Syracuse Crunch enter their 14th AHL season with a brand new look from the team that
  finished in fifth place, five points out of a playoff spot in the North Division last season.  The team
  announced on Monday their 23-man roster for the upcoming season, and it includes only eight
  returning Crunch players from last season and nine AHL rookies.  Being the farm club for a
  transitioning NHL team, this roster is bound to make many changes during the course of the
  season, and already the parent club has announced two new additions in Kris Beech and Marc
  Methot.  The club has also since signed some AHL veterans to add leadership and experience.

  The Crunch will begin their 2007-08 season Oct. 5 in Rochester.  Ross Yates will return
  behind the bench for his second year as head coach, following six years as an assistant with the
  Crunch.  The team will be looking to return to the postseason for they showed in 2005-06 when
  they finished in second place in the North division with 102 points.

  Forwards

  At the head of any list of prospects to watch for the Crunch this season is 20-year-old center
  Derick Brassard.  Brassard has produced well in during his years with Drummondville of the
  QMJHL, and will now be entering his first year of professional hockey.  Brassard has the offensive
  abilities to step right in and contribute for the Crunch, and he will be among the most anticipated
  rookies playing in the AHL this season.

  The Crunch will also have a pair of returning prospects that all saw significant AHL time last
  season.  Center Geoff Platt and left wing Joakim Lindstrom will be counted on to play large
  roles this season.  Platt will be among the first call-ups to Columbus, but if given a full year in
  Syracuse, he should challenge for the lead in most offensive categories.  Lindstrom, who scored
  48 points with the Crunch last season, has already shown he can contribute offensively, and will
  be counted on to continue his solid play and to help the younger Crunch.  Another veteran,
  Alexandre Picard, will probably join the Crunch mid-season when he recovers from his off-
  season surgery.

  Traditionally a breakout year for young AHL forwards, right wing Adam Pineault and center
  Philippe Dupuis will be entering their second professional seasons.  The two Crunch
  sophomores will be expected to make big improvements in the scoring column this season.
  Pineault and Dupuis could go a long way towards showing management that they are ready to
  take the next step by excelling this year in Syracuse.

  Among the rookie forwards expected to make significant contributions, Tom Sestito was a hit at
  Columbus’ main camp and is expected to bring his rugged style game to the Crunch’s lineup this
  season.  The 6’4 Sestito, who scored 42 goals with Plymouth of the OHL last year, will work on
  fine-tuning his power game to be ready for the bigger and faster NHL players.

  Other rookie forwards looking to make impacts with the Crunch this season include right winger
  Petr Pohl, who played most of last season with Dayton of the ECHL, center Kirill Starkov, and
  right winger Derek Dorsett, who is presently listed among the Columbus injured reserve.

  Defense

  With Kris Russell making the Blue Jackets out of junior, the Crunch have several returning young
  players, some of whom will look to make their mark this season with the parent club.  Marc Methot
  was the last player cut by the Blue Jackets, to make room for Adam Foote’s return from injury.
  Methot is NHL ready and his steady play should help the Crunch blue line until the Jackets make
  room for him.

  Signed out of the NCAA, Darcy Campbell will be playing his first full season of professional
  hockey.  He has his sights on getting important minutes with the club, after beginning his
  professional career with a one-game tryout with the Jackets last season.  Former second-round
  pick Kyle Wharton, who was on loan most of last season in Germany, will also look to earn coach
  Yates’ trust.

  Russian blue liner Andrei Plekhanov has been signed to an AHL contract, which is good news
  for Crunch fans.  He will begin his North American professional hockey with the Crunch this
  season.

  These four young blue liners will give Yates the talent, along with the veterans that are in place, to
  field a solid defense corps, with reserves Trevor Hendrikx and Jon Landry ready in Elmira of the
  ECHL in case injuries or call-ups take a toll.

  Goaltenders

  The Crunch goaltending situation will be an interesting battle to monitor this season.  Tomas
  Popperle is returning to take the No. 1 goaltender position.  Popperle posted a decent 25-
  19-4 mark last season, and managed to suit up for a couple of NHL games to boot.  The young
  Czech netminder is facing stiff competition this year, however, as Steve Mason of the OHL’s
  London Knights has seemingly leap-frogged him in the team’s depth charts with an impressive
  camp.  Popperle will also battle AHL vet Adam Munro signed by the Crunch in the offseason.
  Popperle must also look behind him, as 2004 third-round pick Dan Lacosta, who split time last
  season between the Crunch and the Dayton Bombers of the ECHL, has played well and will be
  looking to see regular time with the Crunch this season.  With Munro injured to start the season, it
  may give time for either Lacosta or Popperle to assert themselves before Munro returns to the
  picture.

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