Thursday, August 23, 2012

Questions heading into main camp

  • Who will be backing up Jordon Cooke? Cooke finds himself in the drivers seat as a Western Hockey League starting goaltender. Spending the last two seasons playing second fiddle to Adam Brown, Cooke showed great promise in limited duty as a 17 and 18 year-old. Now 19, Cooke is ready for prime time and should make the easy transition to the starting role. But unlike Brown, Cooke doesn't have the luxury of having a reliable back up. Who will take on that role? With a raw rookie stepping forward, Cooke, the Rockets 4th round bantam pick from 2008, may see between 60 and 65 starts this season. The Rockets club record for starts by a goalie is 68, set by Kevin Swanson in 1999-2000.
  •  Can the Rockets win consistently at home? One of the concerns for the team last year was their inability to win at home. Prospera Place seemed to bring out the worst in the Rockets and the best in the opposition. The Rockets won just 16 games on home ice in 2011-2012, one more than the 15 they managed to win on the road. Half of their home dates (18) resulted in no points at the end of the night leaving fans unhappy and the coaches sour. The players didn't like it either. Home ice dominance needs to return after plaguing the team the last two seasons.
  • Who leads the team in scoring? Shane McColgan led the Rockets the last two seasons but he was traded this off-season to Saskatoon. Captain Colton Sissons should come to mind considering his 26 goals, but could the player the Rockets received from the Blades in the McColgan deal rise to the top of the scoring leader board? Ryan Olsen had 15 goals as a sophomore forward and arguably could double those totals with first line minutes and power play time. A first round bantam pick of the Blades in 2009, wouldn't it be ironic if Olsen and Sissons, who was also Blades property before being acquired in the Curt Gogol trade, were 1-2 in team scoring?
  • Euro scoring is always a concern. As hard as he tried last season, Slovakian born Filip Vasko failed to find the back of the net as a WHL rookie. The 18 year-old is back for another crack at making the squad, but will be hard pressed if the Buffalo Sabres send first round draft pick Zemgus Girgensons to major junior. If Girgensons lands in Kelowna, problem solved. If that doesn't happen, how good is Swedish forward Henrik Nyberg?  Nyberg was taken along with Girgenson in the CHL Import Draft this summer which tells you the team wants to upgrade in that department and Vasko will be hard pressed to earn a spot. The Rockets would give anything to have a European forward score in the neighbourhood of 20 goals. If Girgensons lands on the Rockets doorstep, 20 goals could be attained by the 18 year-old power forward by Christmas.  
  • Can Spencer Main contribute? After a 19 year-old season he would like to forget, can the now 20 year-old stay healthy enough and rebound from a series of concussions to lead his team in the ever  important leadership department? While Sissons is the captain, Main carries with him a lot of respect from his teammates and would be a helping hand to Sissons. A fifth year player with the organization, Main should be good for 20 goals despite his best work at the opposite end of the ice as a reliable face-off man and defender. Let's hope the hockey gods look favorably upon him this season and he stays as far away as possible from the helpful hands of athletic therapist Jeff Thorburn. 
  • The Rockets dressed one of the youngest teams in the WHL last season, which included two-16 year-old defencemen and a forward. It was a steep learning curve for Madison Bowey and Jesse Lees and rookie Tyson Baillie found a greater appreciation for WHL goaltending. Who is next in line to make the team at the tender age of 16? With a strong finish to his season with the Saskatoon Contacts, you would think Rourke Chartier has a legitimate shot at earning a roster spot. While he is a first round pick from two years ago, I don't think the Rockets want to rush him into the league prematurely. It all depends on how good he is at training camp.  If you look traditionally at how the Rockets handle first round selections, Chartier has played his last game of midget hockey.
  • What questions are on your mind heading into this season? Leave your comment below.


jaz301 said...

Will we see a better effort from the team this year then last year?

Last season was really disappointing. It wasn't the fact that we lost so many games it was how we lost them. If you lose, but you still played a good entertaining game fine. Still sucks you lost, but at least they tried. The problem last season though was a lot of times it looked like they were not even putting in the effort. Then they would be shooting when they should pass and pass when they should have shot. Maybe some of this had to do with having such a young team?

Unknown said...

According to Small Thoughts at Large Prospects, James Fisk was dropped from the Rockets' protected list, so is unlikely to be the goalie back up. It seem that listed player Cam Barnes (also from Alberta) would have the inside track.

Besides Rourke Chartier, other 16 year olds who have a shot at earning a roster spot would be Ryan Donaldson, Austin Glover, Justin Kirkland, and Riley Stadel.

Regan Bartel said...

I don't have a protected list so appreciate the comment.