In college hockey, there really is no "preseason" or "training camp". In reality, teams only have 30 days to prepare for their opening game, meaning a team like BC, with lots of new faces, is going to have to really skate hard these next three and a half weeks before they fly out to Ann Arbor. I don't know if I can remember a year where there will be so many individual battles for lineup spots October 10th @ Yost Ice Arena. I mean in reality, I think only 7 guys- Johnny G, Arnold, Hayes, Matheson, Smith, Macleod, and Brown are set in stone to start next month. So, let's take a look at the battles taking place.
1. Who will play with Johnny G ? I'm fairly confident the staff will keep Arnold and Hayes together because when Hayes was healthy, they worked real well last season. I think each guy compliments the other in multiple ways and I also believe putting a skilled forward like Fitzgerald could really make for a big first line. That leaves us with the question, who will the staff put with Johnny G ? I'm a firm believer that Johnny makes the guys around him 5x better than they are because of how skilled he is but if you put a bigger, more physical forward like Chris Calnan with him, he could really "protect" Johnny from the goons that will surely go after him this season. Putting Calnan at center with the most skilled forward coming in, Austin Cangelosi, at right wing, would make for a really dangerous second line. Prediction- staff puts Calnan, Cangelosi, and Johnny G together.
2. Which two guys will win the last two defenseman spots. Whether you like it or not, the staff is going to put Linell on defense. Personally, I don't love the move because Danny thrived in a fourth line role two seasons ago. He isn't a first or second line winger like he had to be last season. With all the skill in front of him this time around, I would like to see him on fourth line right wing but the staff is going to try him at defense. Two other guys, Teddy Doherty and Scotty Savage, will compete along with Linell for the 5th and 6th spots on the blue line. Let me put it this way, I'd be absolutely shocked if Teddy Doherty is not playing opening night @ Michigan. He is a solid offensive defenseman that could be a huge asset on the second power play unit. Expect him to win spot #5. As for the 6th slot, it's going to be a pretty tough choice for the staff. I think by midseason Savage will eventually be an everyday guy but for October and November, I believe they will give the 6th spot to Linell. Defense on opening night- Matheson/Santini, Macleod/McCoshen, Linell/Doherty.
3. How will the staff sort out all the skill coming in ? The best thing about this season compared to last is that the coaches will have a lot of options. At the end of last season, they had zero options up front. It was four forwards and one defenseman every power play, every late game situation, and they eventually ran out of gas. Well, now they have about 7 or 8 really skilled forwards that will be able to play power play, kill penalties, and help out in late game situations. Yes, Johnny, Billy Arnold, and Kevin Hayes will get more minutes than anyone but guys like Cangelosi,Gilmour, Calnan, Fitzgerald, and Richardson are expected to come in and play some serious minutes both 5 on 5 and on the power play.
4. Who will be the goalie ? Everyone I run into ask me the same question...." Ya, they lost Milner, who the heck is going to replace him....a freshman ? " This kid Demko is good.....really, really good. He is one thing that Parker Milner just simply wasn't: he's big and he takes up a ton of net. You don't get accelerated a year to sit on the bench and watch. He is going to play opening night, without question.
Hayes- Arnold- Fitzgerald
Johnny G- Calnan- Cangelosi
Smith- Gilmour- Richardson
Straight- Brown- Silk (Big battle for right wing)
First Unit- Johnny G, Arnold, Hayes, Matheson, McCoshen
Second Unit- Fitzgerald, Cangelosi, Calnan, Doherty, and Santini/Gilmour.