Friday, September 23, 2016

A look at Portland's roster and possible lineup

With opening night only a day away, I thought it would be fun to play around with the roster and guess who will play where. Four guys will miss the first two games, while at NHL camps or because of suspension, leaving some ice time for a lot of rookies. They could have as many as eight rookies lacing up their skates over the two weekend games.
It would be fair to expect this young team to struggle in the early going. 

Left Wing
Right Wing
Ryan Hughes
Ilijah Colina
Evan Weinger
Skyler McKenzie
Alex Overhardt
Colton Veloso
Bronson Sharp
Cody Glass
Joachim Blichfeld
Lane Gilliss
Jake Gricius
Brad Ginnell/Ty Kolle
Out: Keegan Iverson (Minnesota Wild camp) and Rodrigo Abols (Vancouver Canucks camp). Brett Clayton (suspension).
-Clayton will serve the fifth and sixth of his six-game suspension this weekend. He will not be eligible to play until Portland takes on Everett next Friday. I would expect Portland to rotate Ginnell and Kolle as their last, dressed forward.
-Mike Johnston has already confirmed that Hughes-Colina-Weinger will be one of their lines, at least to start. The rest are just guesses on my part.
-I like the idea of McKenzie-Overhardt-Veloso as the checking line that M.J. usually likes to put together. They did have some success in the preseason, especially in the final game vs. Kootenay. Also, Glass playing with the speedy Sharp and sniper Blichfeld would be a fun line to watch, though Gilliss would be a good option on one of his wings as well. Despite missing all of the preseason, M.J. assured intrepid journalist Scott Sepich that Glass is healthy and ready to go.

Left Defense
Right Defense
Brendan De Jong
Keoni Texeira
Conor MacEachern
Henri Jokiharju
Carter Czaikowski
Jake Hobson
Matt Quigley

Out:Caleb Jones (Edmonton Oilers camp).

-With how well De Jong played at the Neely Cup, I would expect him to start out in the top pairing. This is a put up year for Czaikowski and since he didn't really stand out too much at the Neely Cup or the preseason, he needs to in the regular season. If he does not, when Jones comes back, he could find himself released. It is no secret that the coaching staff is fond of Quigley and Hobson is a year younger, so it would make more sense for Czaikowski to be pushed out. We have seen flashes of Czaikowski's play-making ability, but we have not really seen it in a game. At five-foot-eight, he needs this to be his calling card, or the team will just go with someone older.

Michael Bullion
Cole Kehler
Ethan Middendorf

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