Awful August is upon us and I've got the hockey itch already (the only cure is more hockey, by the way - not more cowbell). I think this is going to be a big year for several players down in Grand Rapids. In particular, I think some of the defenders are going to have to take some big steps forwards. Did something similar to this last season, and I was pretty much WAY off with my line combinations. That said, here we go...
Campbell/Frk/Nastasiuk (Two as #13-14 forwards, One in Toledo... perhaps more based on the GR signings like Hirschfeld and Zombo).
First off, I know AA has been used as a center. I think Larkin is a smart choice there, and AA-Mantha can continue their chemistry. Heck, they could even put Miele there instead, but I think Larkin would work, too. For that second line, Miele-Bert showed some chemistry, if I'm not mistaken. Tangradi adds size and has shown he can score at the AHL level when healthy. Zengerle might not be a popular choice over Frk on that third line, but he was sixth in scoring among GRG forwards. Fourth line is pure grit, but I could see Hoggan being slotted somewhere higher in the lineup. I would love to see Nastasiuk push his way into the lineup at some point, but we'll see. Solid group of forwards, in my opinion, but they're going to be without the production of Pulkkinen, Ferraro and Callahan (assuming Landon and Mitch don't want to return/get picked up on waivers). Hopefully Larkin and Bertuzzi can jump right in and contribute, and AA and Mantha can stay healthy and rack up the points.
Czarnowczan/Nedomlel (One #7, One in Toledo)
Gives the team three solid pairings. They could change some, but I think those are your six, main blueliners. First pairing is just solid, all around. Second pairing allows Jensen to roam around, and Lashoff looked good in GR to end the season. I think this year will be crucial for Sproul, so hopefully he gets paired with Paetsch and they can put up some points together. With Evans moving on to Texas, it might give Nedomlel a chance to get some time with GR. I think they like the offense that Czarnowczan can bring, but Nedomlel plays that heavy, gritty game that Evans did. I think it'll really depend on what the Griffins need at the time.
Paterson (In Toledo to start)
Goaltending is pretty obvious, but I wonder if Paterson could make a push during his time in Toledo. He finished strong in Kitchener last season, so hopefully he can continue that trend.
Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?