Monday, June 6, 2011

B³ Preview: 2011 Lincoln Stars Tryout Camp

With the Lincoln Stars' 2011 tryout camp just a few days away, I thought it might be a good idea to do a quick preview for those interested.  At the 2010 tryout camp, a total of 89 players were in attendance, all divided into five teams.  The 2011 camp will also have five teams, so I am assuming another group of 80+ players will be competing with one another.  Let's first look briefly at the Lincoln players from last season who *should* be in attendance:

Brent Tate (F)
Dominik Shine (F)
Teemu Tiitinen (F)
Jared Hanson (F)
Austin Hervey (F)
Zach Aston-Reese (F)
Cole Martin (D)
Zach Frye (D)

Richard Coyne (D)
Lukas Hafner (G)

Just because a player spent the season before with the Stars, doesn't mean that they automatically have a spot on the roster for next season.  We have seen veteran players in the past get cut after the tryout camp, so nothing is guaranteed.  Everyone has to earn a spot.

Stars will be able to protect 25 players at the July 1st deadline, along with a number of players that they drafted previously on their affiliate list.  Last summer after the 2010 tryout camp, the Stars protected 25 players and 13 affiliate players for a total of 38.  Players protected on the affiliate list, from my knowledge, had to have been previously drafted by the Stars, and not "free agents."   

Once the 2011-12 USHL regular season begins, the Stars and every other team in the league will have to cut down to 23 rostered players.   For the majority of the 2010-11 regular season, the Stars rostered a total of 13 forwards, 8 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders (23 total).  So when you consider the numbers of players coming back, all of the former draft picks, and then all of the free agent invites, there will be a lot of competition for not too many spots on the roster.  It's like that every year, and at every USHL camp.  If a player shows up and has a bad couple of days, there's good reason to believe that they might not make it on the roster.  It doesn't mean that player is bad, or isn't deserving, but the camp can be a pressure cooker.  If you don't impress the coaches, you can find yourself on the outside looking in.

Regarding the defensemen, there are two names that not a lot of people have mentioned thus far:  Dax Lauwers and Brandon Carlson.  Lauwers played two seasons ago in Lincoln, during the 2009-10 campaign, before signing with Army and playing collegiate hockey last season with the Black Knights.  Dax is a big, physical, shutdown defensemen who I'm sure would be welcomed back by the coaches.  Again, he'd have to make the team, but if he does attend camp, I'm sure the coaches will find a spot for him on the roster.  During the 2009-10 season, Dax scored four points (all assists) in 54 games played, with 88 penalty minutes.  Last season with Army, Lauwers scored three points (1g, 2a) in 33 games played, with 53 penalty minutes.  Will Dax attend?  There have been a lot of rumors flying around as to where he will play next season.  We'll have to wait and see.

Former Fargo Force defenseman Brandon Carlson was picked up by the Stars during the entry draft when Lincoln traded a fourth round pick to the Force for his rights.  Last season, Carlson split time with the Fargo Force before being sent to the NAHL's Fairbanks IceDogs.  In 32 games with the Force, Carlson scored 4 points (2g, 2a), with 59 penalty minutes.  After the Force decided to call up a couple of up-and-coming high schoolers, they shipped Carlson to the NAHL where his team went on to win the NAHL championship.  In a total of 27 games with Fairbanks (includes regular season and post-season), Carlson accumulated 7 points (2g, 5a), was +16, with 40 penalty minutes.  Carlson has a total of 87 USHL games under his belt, so he may very well be in the mix for a spot on the roster at defense.  I've been told that he was a very popular player in Fargo, and is a gritty guy who plays with a definite mean streak.

Stars went with 8 defensemen last year, so with Martin, Frye, Coyne, Lauwers, and Carlson all with USHL experience, the newcomers will have their hands full outplaying that group to make the roster.  Depending on how many of the above mentioned d-men show up to camp, I expect that only 4-6 spots will be open at that position.  Protected defensemen like Bryan Sinz and Josh Bretner are just two names who should be in the mix at this position, if they report.

At offense, the Stars have some good players returning, but they also have a number of players drafted in the past couple of years who could make a splash.  Forwards such as Bradley Hawkinson, Thomas Schutt, Max Coatta, Luke Johnson, Bob Kinne, Kevin Roy, Ryan Cole, Matt Friese, Brent Wold, and Logan Smith are just a few of the playmakers who will all be fighting for probably 7-8 positions on offense.  I'm leaving a lot of other talented players off this list, only because there are really too many to mention.  I believe the Stars have drafted very well the past couple of years, and it shows when you look at the players previously protected by Lincoln.  A lot of those players attended the tryout camp last season, some even made the all-star team, but were not chosen as the final cut of 23 players.  Those particular players should be very hungry this time around.

Finally between the pipes, the only three goaltenders that I am aware of that should be at camp are returning netminder Lukas Hafner, Mike Taffe, and Trevor Gutierrez.  Taffe played last season for the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and Gutierrez is a former draft pick of the Stars who was at the tryout camp last season, and performed well enough to make the all-star game.  The Stars invited a total of seven goaltenders last year to the 2010 camp, and I expect the same amount this season.

Don't forget all of the tryout camp free-agents who were invited by the Stars.  You never know when one of those players will show up and wow the socks off of the coaches.  Defensemen Matt Prapavessis did that last season.  He came out of nowhere and impressed just about anybody who was at camp, and went on to have one heck of a season for the Stars.  He earned a scholarship to Bemidji State, and will be playing hockey there next season.  

I don't want to get too wordy with this, so I'll just end it here.  The above is just one fan's opinion.  I'll post a quick article Wednesday night before I leave for Minnesota on Thursday morning.  

1 comment:

nutz4puckz said...

Have fun this weekend and thanks for the update. I do like what looks to be a an experienced group of D coming back for the 2011-2012 season.