NHL Preview: Adam Larsson and 5 Promising Preseason Players Who Could Impress
Training camp provides a lot of hope. The promise of a new season and the viewing of new players excites fans and brings optimism. Some of these players turn into the real deal while others are "training camp wonders" and slump when the games really matter.
If a team can find a player who shines in training camp and he can help in the regular season, the team may exceed expectations and surprise a lot of people. Having said that these players are few and far between and often a team has to strike gold with what they have.
So here are five players who will shine after a strong training camp.
Adam Larsson: New Jersey Devils
The Devils got the best player in this year's draft when they selected Adam Larsson with the fourth overall pick. Larsson is a smooth skating defenseman who is already raising eyebrows in his first NHL training camp.
Larsson has made the opening-day Devils roster and should transition nicely to the NHL's quickness and rink dimensions. He will make an immediate impact with the Devils, who may need an extra burst to crack the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Jake Gardiner: Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake Gardiner has made the Maple Leafs roster as a long-shot and will be partnered with Mike Komisarek on the blue-line. Gardiner was the 17th pick in the 2008 draft and beat out other more experienced players to grab the spot with Toronto.
I'll let Ron Wilson tell the rest of the story:
"He's been excellent up to this point. I'd have to say he's been the biggest surprise of our training camp, of how well he played, so he's earned the spot on the team." From TSN
Matt Read: Philadelphia Flyers
The speedy 25-year-old has impressed the Flyers in training camp and has won a spot on the opening-day roster. After notching seven points in six preseason games, Read has done enough to earn that spot. He ended last season with 13 points in 11 games for the Adirondack Phantoms.
Read could make a huge impact as a bottom-six forward for the Flyers. The Flyers are a very deep team and if Read can give them speed, he can be very dangerous for an already dangerous team.
Brandon Saad: Chicago Blackhawks
Brandon Saad is ready to make history as only the second player not selected in the first round to make his NHL debut in his first year of eligibility (Ryan O'Reilly was drafted 33rd overall in 2009). Saad was picked in the second round, 43rd overall by the Blackhawks. He had one goal and three points in five preseason games with the Blackhawks.
Saad is slated to play on the top line with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Sharp. Stan Bowman had this to say about Saad:
"He was disappointed to be not a first-round pick. To his credit, he took that as a challenge. We noticed him starting out in the summer with our prospect camp. When we get here, the competition has gone up each time and he's responded to the challenge." From NHL.com.
Michael Del Zotto: New York Rangers
Michael Del Zotto made his debut on Broadway in 2009-10 and came out with a bang. He was immediately a fan favorite as a puck-moving defenseman and power-play quarterback. He struggled defensively and should have been sent to the AHL but the Rangers' best option for winning was Del Zotto, so he was thrown to the wolves.
Last season was a disaster for Del Zotto. He got off to a horrendous start defensively and was demoted, which he did not handle well. He then sustained a hand injury in March that ended his season. He did play 47 games for the Rangers last season.
Del Zotto was Rookie of the Month in October 2009 after scoring 12 points in 14 games and was named to the 2010 NHL Rookie All-Star Team. Del Zotto's power-play and puck-moving skill makes him a valuable asset to the Rangers.
Del Zotto was relied upon too heavily as a rookie in 2009, but with a deeper defensive unit (at least when Marc Staal returns), Del Zotto will play less minutes and will be a huge part of the Rangers this season.
Today is the day, ladies and gentlemen. Hockey takes center-stage tonight as the season opens with the Boston Bruins receiving their Stanley Cup rings and watching their banner get raised. This is a very exciting day for all hockey fans as the long offseason is over.
These players can help their teams immensely if they continue their success in training camp during the regular season. Their roles as supporting players will help them by not having too much pressure and allowing them to play freely and help the team in that way.
At least the teams are hoping for that.
Enjoy the games!
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