Three days of training camp for the Houston Aeros have been completed, and the team, after its second scrimmage Sunday at Xcel Energy Center, has hit the road for a caravan down to Houston. Camp will continue there in the middle of this week with Opening Night coming against Charlotte on Oct. 13.
Remember, all Aeros radio broadcasts are streamed for free on their web site, or you can purchase the Aeros' season-long visual stream for about $150 at the AHL's web site.
After the Aeros' first exhibition game, a large cutdown will occur Wednesday, with some players heading to the Central Hockey League and a handful heading to Orlando, the Wild's new East Coast Hockey League affiliate.
Colton Jobke will either make the team or head back to his junior team, Regina of the Western Hockey League, the team that once upon a time put Bryan Murray on the map. Jobke could end up Regina's captain, so I'd think he would head back.
Frankly, barring injuries, the Aeros' lineup, to me, is pretty obvious. It should consist of: Matt Hackett and Darcy Kuemper in goal; Marco Scandella, Jonas Brodin, Brian Connelly, Steven Kampfer, likely captain Drew Bagnall, Tyler Cuma, Chay Genoway and Kris Fredheim on the blue line; Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Johan Larsson, Brett Bulmer, Zack Phillips, Chad Rau, Jarod Palmer, Kris Foucault, David McIntyre, Carson McMillan, Justin Fontaine (who looks awesome and had a monster summer, went from 18 chin-ups to 33 in a summer), Joel Broda and Nick Palmieri up front.
Of known names, my guess barring injuries is Mike Brodeur, Sean Lorenz, Kyle Medvec and Josh Caron end up in Orlando with others. The Wild wants them playing, and right now it looks like there's no room for them in Houston in my opinion.
The scrimmages were a fun affair, especially for the fans who came down to the X starving for pro hockey because of the NHL lockout.
In Saturday's scrimmage, the Jason Zucker-Mikael Granlund-Charlie Coyle was fantastic. Zucker scored two goals, one after Mikael Granlund settled Zack Phillips' pass in midair, the second when he split the D and scored a top-shelf, backhanded breakaway goal off Coyle's headman pass. In that scrimmage, Darcy Kuemper played the full 60 because Mike Brodeur got hit in the chin, and Kuemper, coming off season-ending shoulder surgery, had the shutout.
In Sunday's scrimmage, the teams worked on special teams for much of the session. Granlund opened the scoring by burying Steven Kampfer's rebound off the post for a power-play goal. Brian Connelly had the second assist.
The red team tied it when Kris Foucault blasted a shot from the left circle through a screen. Tyler Cuma and Brett Bulmer.
Green took a 2-1 lead on a Matt Hackett unforced error. Phillips flipped in a dump-in and Hackett served it up to Justin Fontaine. Soon after, Jarod Palmer made it 3-1 by burying Colton Jobke's rebound off the back wall. Then, in the final minute, great Zucker-to-Charlie Coyle set-up to complete a tic-tac-toe started by Connolly.
In the second half, red scored first, with Johan Larsson (sneaky good) scored a backhander by Kuemper from Marco Scandella and Foucault. Phillips scored an empty-netter to cap it.
John Curry and Kuemper split the win. Hackett played the full 60 and got the loss.
Jonas Brodin is special. The guy is like a human breakout. Mobile, sees the ice incredibly and makes quick outlet passes to get the puck up. Assistant Mike Van Ryn, a former offensive defenseman with Florida and Toronto, should help his offensive game immensely, and it'll certainly help playing with the very vocal Scandella.
It'll be interesting watching how John Torchetti divvies up the ice time. For instance, 9 forwards and 5 D could conceivably play the power play.
In other news, Wild prospect Tyler Graovac had a natural hat trick yesterday to lift the Ottawa 67s to an 8-1 pounding of Erie.