Opinion: What The 2005-2006 Falcons Roster Will Look Like

Fran Sypek of the Republican did [url=http://www.masslive.com/falcons/republican/index.ssf?/base/sports-0/1127348101241090.xml&coll=1#continue]a good, concise writeup on the impending Falcons training camp Wednesday after the Lightning reassigned 18 players to Springfield.[/url] So, with the Falcons' beat writer breaking the tape I believe it can be officially declared that speculating on Springfield's roster to be fair game. In this blog entry I'll give a good crack at it. [b]Forwards[/b] Already waiting in Springfield even before the Lightning made its first cuts was veteran LW Steve McLaren as well as newly signed C Ryan Vesce. Both should be considered locks to make Springfield's opening night roster. The Lightning on Wednesday added three other pro veterans who are locks to play in Springfield: RW Jim Campbell, LW Mitch Fritz and LW Norm Milley. In addition to them, prospect LW Adam Henrich and RW Darren Reid look to also be slated for Springfield. In Tampa, salary cap restrictions will likely prohibit the Lightning from carrying a 13th forward on their roster. Therefore, for the remaining hopefuls in Lightning camp the only road to the NHL will be by unseating an incumbent NHLer like Martin Cibak to make the Lightning's top 12 forwards. That is probably unlikely at this stage meaning the Falcons can probably pencil C Ryan Craig, C Jason Jaspers, C Nick Tarnasky, RW Evgeny Arttukhin, RW Andre Deveaux and RW Marek Kvapil into their roster plans as well. That would bring the Falcons' forward corps to 13 leaving a glut of hopefuls on the bubble for a 14th forward spot that may not even be there when camp breaks for reasons I will explain in the next section. Bubble players would include Falcons properties C/RW Justin Kelly and LW Randy Rowe as well as Lightning prospects LW Brandon Elliot, LW Dennis Packard, RW Zbynek Hrdel, C/LW J.F. Soucy and C John Toffey. That's seven players fighting for one roster spot that may not even exist at the end of the day. The remainder will likely be sent to Johnstown of the ECHL. [b]Defensemen[/b] Veteran Brad Tiley was already in place in Springfield before Wednesday's Lightning cuts which added prospects Mike Egener and Paul Ranger. Veteran Harlan Pratt, who was in Lightning camp on a tryout, probably also is slated for Springfield. Barring miraculous recoveries, Todd Rohloff and Gerard Dicaire look destined to join them. That means six defensemen are likely already locks for Springfield. Meanwhile, in Tampa, competition for the vacant #6 defenseman job continues between Doug O'Brien and Timo Helbling. At least one will end up in Springfield. Both could very well become Falcons [url=http://www.sptimes.com/2005/09/21/Lightning/Canadiens_school_Bolt.shtml]if the St. Pete Times' Tom Jones is correct and the Lightning fill the job via trade or waiver pickup. [/url] That could mean the Falcons would carry 8 defensemen, squeezing the 14th forward job out of Springfield and sending all the bubble forwards to Johnstown. Back on the blueline, defensemen Brady Greco and Jay Rosehill look like the odd men out and headed to Springfield. [b]Goaltenders[/b] The starting position, barring injury to John Grahame or Sean Burke is set. After courting veteran European goalie Fredrik Norrena unsuccessfully, the Lightning will make Brian Eklund their starter in Springfield. The battle for the backup position will likely come down to undrafted free agent signee Morgan Cey and former London Knight Gerald Coleman. Coleman had the edge on paper going into Lightning camp but Cey's consistency and competitiveness have vaulted him even if not ahead of Coleman at this stage. [b]Projected 2005-2006 Falcons Roster[/b] Jim Campbell/Jason Jaspers/[i]Evgeny Artyukhin[/i] [i]Adam Henrich[/i]/[i]Ryan Craig[/i]/Norm Milley Mitch Fritz/[i]Nick Tarnasky[/i]/[i]Andre Deveaux[/i] [i]Darren Reid[/i]/Ryan Vesce/[i]Marek Kvapil[/i] Steve McLaren Brad Tiley/Timo Helbling [i]Doug O'Brien[/i]/Todd Rohloff [i]Paul Ranger[/i]/[i]Mike Egener[/i] [i]Gerard Dicaire[/i]/Harlan Pratt Brian Eklund [i]Morgan Cey[/i] [b]Projected Reassignments to Johnstown of the ECHL[/b] G [i]Gerald Coleman[/i], G [i]Jonathan Boutin[/i], D [i]Brady Greco[/i], D [i]Jay Rosehill[/i], LW Randy Rowe, LW [i]Brandon Elliot[/i], LW [i]Dennis Packard[/i], C/LW [i]J.F. Soucy[/i], C [i]John Toffey[/i], C/RW Justin Kelly, RW [i]Zbynek Hrdel[/i]