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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Season Preview Continued

Things changed last week with the contract signing of Greg Scott... I was prepared to start this season preview and just like that things went... POOF.

So let me continue by admitting this... things are going to change a lot more before the season starts but I'm going to forge ahead anyways just for the sake of arguments.

So today let's take a look at the 1st forward line.

With Greg Scott as good as gone two thirds of last season's line 1 is now gone and I think Lindsey Nielsen drops back to Line 2 to make room for a line that played together all of last season.

Left Wing - Prab Rai, 19 year old, 3rd season with the team, acquired: via trade with the Prince George Cougars for Chad Hohmann in 2006.

Prab returns as the Tbirds top play-maker from the 07-08 season as he led the team with 45 helpers. Rai was recently selected in the 5th round of the NHL entry draft by the Vancouver Canucks and has legitimate potential for a 30-50 and 80 point season. Most fans will scoff at the notion that Prab could become a 30 goal scorer... but most fans will also forget that Rai did not score the 1st of his 20 goals until the 29th game of the season. I personally think he can score at the rate he did in the final 44 games of the season which would project him as a 32 goal scorer. I'll stand by my prediction... I think Prab is a 30-50 guy this season.

Center - Jim O'Brien, 19 year old, 2nd season with the team, acquired: list player via Minnesota.

Jim O'Brien becomes the teams top Center and also the biggest threat to become the top goal scorer after the loss of Holloway and Scott. I expect Jimmy O to become a point per game player and finish around 35-40 on the season. Some might think this is also a bit optimistic until you look at the monthly splits from last season. After his initial adjustment to the WHL style of play O'Brien had 26 points over his final 23 regular season games. I expect this line to come together earlier this season and with Rai and Hickey providing the setup I think he becomes a 35 and possibly 40 goal scorer, though I admit that 40 goals might be a bit optimistic. Bud Holloway went from 27 goals to 43 in his 18 to 19 year old years and I expect O'Brien to be close.

Let's call the official projection 38 goals and 40 assists for 78 points.

Right Wing - David Richard, 19 year old, 4th season with the team, acquired: 2nd round selection in the 2004 Bantam Draft.

Richard could be the wild card of this line and also the team. If he scored 40 goals I wouldn't be shocked and if he scored 25 goals I wouldn't be shocked. Richard is another Seattle player who could make the "jump" as he also was a point per game player over his last 37 regular season games tallying 41 points. I could see Richard scoring only 25 goals if he ends up with bigger assist numbers and "his" goals going to either Rai or O'Brien but I can also see a kid who might also be a 40 goal scorer if the balance of scoring on this line tilted his way. Over those final 37 games Richard tallied 18 goals which would put him on a full season 35 goal pace. In this scenario we will split the difference and I'll put my official projection at 33 goals and 37 assists for an even 70 points.

Line 1

Rai - O'Brien - Richard

Rai - 30 goals, 50 assists, 80 points
O'Brien - 38 goals, 40 assists, 78 points
Richard - 33 goals, 37 assists, 70 points

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