We've reached the point in the fall where teams are starting to release their rosters for the upcoming season. As a way of previewing the season, I'll be taking a look at each team's roster, and how their team looks for the upcoming season.
Up next is St. Cloud State. Since breaking through with their first ever NCAA tournament win two seasons ago, St. Cloud hasn't been able to build off that momentum, muddling through two average seasons. One of the main catalysts of that NCAA tournament team, Garrett Raboin, is now behind the bench as St. Cloud's newest assistant coach. Will his presence be enough to restore some of the toughness that St. Cloud has lacked since his departure?
Here is the Huskies' roster
F-David Eddy(Pro contract)
G-Mike Lee(Pro contract)
The Huskies lose three pretty good, underrated forwards here. Festler quietly hit double digits in goals his final three years in St. Cloud. Novak was one of the fastest skaters in the league. Eddy struggled off the ice, and as a result, never really reached his full potential at St, Cloud, but had the raw skill to be a dangerous offensive player. Add in Cam Reid's puzzling mid-season departure last year, and the Huskies will need a lot of production early from their new players to make up for the loss of a pretty good group of forwards. The upside is this would have looked all the more devastating if the Huskies had lost Ben Hanowski to the NHL, and not gotten a fifth year from Drew Leblanc, after he missed most of last season with a leg injury.
There's big expectations for Benik, after an impressive season with Penticton in the BCHL. The question will be whether he can score enough to make up for any defensive shortcomings he might have. Murray is tiny, but certainly tough enough to play at the WCHA level. The two Finns are complete wildcards, at least to me, since I know nothing about them. It's also worth noting that David Morley redshirted last year, after missing all season due to concussion problems.
Getting Ben Hanowski and his 23 goals from last season back in the lineup was huge for the Huskies, because their situation at forward doesn't seem particularly pretty with him, and downright dire without him. If Drew Leblanc can return to the form he showed two seasons ago, that gives the Huskies another top-caliber forward, and Nic Dowd is quietly a pretty solid player, and an underrated pro prospect. Beyond that, the Huskies are looking for huge contributions from their new guys, or hoping for big jumps in production from older juniors like Brooks Bertsch and Cory Thorson.
The Huskies made huge strides forward in this area last season. They've two of the best offensive, puck-moving defensemen in the league in Nick Jensen and Andrew Prochno, and another really good one in Jarrod Rabey. If junior Kevin Gravel can make the jump as an upperclassmen to being a shutdown defender, the Huskies could have a very good, though somewhat thin, group of defensemen.
Ryan Faragher's strong play last season after Mike Lee went down with an injury really helped ease the loss of Mike Lee to Phoenix. Faragher's numbers weren't quite as good as Lee's, but certainly good enough to be a regular starter in the WCHA.A better defense in front of him should help him out as well.
This year's Husky team is much different from teams of the recent past, in that they should rely more on a very strong blue line, while not having as much power up front. St. Cloud has the talent to fight their way into the middle of the pack in the WCHA, but probably lacks the depth to make a serious run at the top of the league.