Saturday, September 15, 2012
Lucky for me, that's the case this season and I couldn't be happier about it. It's going to be very busy, but in the end it's going to be a fantastic event and will be a great opportunity to branch out in my career and learn some new skills.
Along with those things, it will also gives me a great blogging topic to run with all season. It's almost a way to track progress towards the event, update my thoughts on how the host Saskatoon Blades are doing on the ice and maybe even take a peek or two at teams that could potentially be here next May (crossing fingers for the Halifax Mooseheads).
In the end, the blogging leading up to the Memorial Cup won't be for readership only. It will be a great way for me to get my thoughts down somewhere and allow me to look back in 2, 5 and 10 years time and re-live the experience, so to speak.
For the first entry, I figured I would touch on how the Blades roster is rounding out. It's a fairly easy topic and it's something I've been very close to since the Blades were awarded the event almost one year ago.
As the roster sits right now, there are 25 players still hanging around as we approach the start of the 2012-13 season. The team has played 3 exhibition games, winning two of them and I have had the chance to see them all live. My goal this year was to not miss one Blades game during the year, including exhibition, so that's on the right path so far.
I've been fairly pleased with how the team has looked. The acquisition of Brenden Walker looks to be a great one as the kid works his tail off, plays physical and looks to be a great fit with a winger like Matej Stransky on the team's top line. Shane McColgan and Jessey Astles have looked good so far too, even though McColgan's knee has limited his ice time lately and Astles hasn't been able to find a dance partner through the exhibition season.
When looking at the roster there are basically one forward spot and one defensive spot up for grabs, for now. I say 'for now', because I think it will be a moot point in about two months because those spots will have been upgraded via trade. This doesn't necessarily mean certain young players will make the team, then get traded, I just think the club is still 4-5 players away from being a true Memorial Cup contender and those players are likely going to be 18-19 year olds. I also think the people running the club know this, so it's not like I'm alone in my thinking on that.
At this point of the first post I would like to urge that throughout these pieces I will never leak information or potential roster move information. I am free to speculate like anybody else, but if I ever hear whispers of things from trusted sources, that stuff will not be put here.
Back on topic. So what does this team's roster need? For me, I would ideally like to see another top 2 centre. Someone with some size. To have a guy like Lukas Sutter as your 3rd line centre would be damn impressive and that would be the case if you picked up another top centre and played Shane McColgan on the wing. Looking at the wings, another two players could be used there...one left handed and one right handed...one for the 2nd line, one for the 3rd line. On defence, it's hard to say. I still think a top 4 guy on the left side would be ideal, preferably a guy known as a very good offensive player. Another 19 year old guy to log safe minutes as a #5 or #6 would be great too. In goal, Makarov is one of the best in the league. Does Alex Moodie thrive as his full-time backup this season? I think so, but it's up to him to prove it.
I think when looking at this year as a whole, it's a very different year, for obvious reasons. The biggest might be the mindset of having to peak at the right time. There isn't a ton of urgency surrounding the Blades right now and I think that's probably a good thing. Nobody needs to feel rushed about this situation. There will be peaks and valleys this season with new players coming and going throughout. The mindset just has to be simple. Play hard, play smart, play as a team and be prepared to start peaking come February. It's a slow uphill climb and having everyone on the same page in that regard will be huge.
None of these concepts are ground breaking stuff, but for a season-long piece like this I guess I have to start somewhere. My goal is to do a similar piece to this atleast once a month and maybe more than that. I hope you find it entertaining, interesting and informative.