While there is still a lot of the off season left we currently have a pretty good picture of what the line up could look like for the Habs new AHL club, the St. John's IceCaps. This past season saw Jacob de la Rose, Nathan Beaulieu, and Greg Pateryn become permanent fixtures in the Canadiens lineup, with players like Sven Andrighetto, Jarred Tinordi, and Christian Thomas also receiving ample call up time as well.
The AHL squad also lost Eric Tangradi to Detroit, leading scorer T.J Hensick to Carolina and behemoth defensemen Joe Finley in the offseason. All three of those veteran players saw large amounts of ice time under Sylvain Lefebvre and will need to be replaced.
The main trio entering the AHL this year is made up of 2014 1st round pick Nikita Scherbak, 2013 1st round pick Michael McCarron, and 2013 2nd round pick Zach Fucale. Both Scherbak and McCarron will likely feature prominently into the IceCaps offense, especially with players like Charles Hudon and Andrighetto battling for NHL spots. Fucale will possibly take a back up role alongside Eddie Pasquale behind Mike Condon, or become a starter for the Brampton Beast of the ECHL.
2012 3rd round pick Tim Bozon and 2013 6th round pick Jeremy Gregoire will add some much needed scoring depth for the IceCaps this year. Bozon managed to see some time in the AHL last year which was a great story after his battle with meningitis. Former draft picks Josiah Didier and Brett Lernout will join the IceCaps full time after short stints at the end of last year in the AHL. Joining the fray from the free agent market are, defensemen Joel Hanley, Ryan Johnston and Mark Barberio who will shore up the blueline behind a trio of solid prospects.
The IceCaps defensive core will be tested mightily this year as there won't be the likes of Beaulieu, Tinordi, Pateryn, or Drewiske to take on the major minutes. That responsibility falls on the shoulders of Morgan Ellis, Darren Dietz, and Mac Bennett this upcoming year.
The forward core will lean heavily on players such as Daniel Carr, Andrighetto, Hudon, team captain Gabriel Dumont and on the top prospects in Scherbak and McCarron.Also coming back is the ever truculent Connor Crisp and NCAA product Brandon McNally who will likely form a solid checking line alongside former North Dakota standout Mark MacMillian for Lefebvre this upcoming season.
The starting goaltender will once again be NCAA product Mike Condon who is coming off a highly successful rookie campaign in which he won 23 games and had a .921 SV%. Backing him up will be fan favorite Eddie Pasquale or Zachary Fucale, the situation isn't totally clear as of right now.
Potential Opening Night Roster
Charles Hudon - Gabriel Dumont - Sven Andrighetto
Daniel Carr - Michael McCarron - Nikita Scherbak
Tim Bozon - Jeremy Gregoire - George Holloway
Connor Crisp -Mark MacMillan - Brandon McNally
Brett Lernout - Mark Barberio
Mac Bennett - Darren Dietz
Morgan Ellis - Joel Hanley
Ryan Johnston - Josiah Didier