Alright, back to the guys fighting for roster spots, etc.
Montreal Canadiens: Mathieu Dandenault- Once a valued player for his ability to transistion between defense and right wing, Dandenault suddenly finds himself 5th on the depth chart at wing. Enforcer Tom Kostopoulos proved his worth last season with 7 goals and 13 points in 67 regular season games, and then 3 goals and 4 points in 12 playoff games. Dandenault, on the other hand, had only 9 goals and 14 points in 61 regular season games, and went scoreless in 9 post-season games. The main worry, however, was his weak -11 rating.
Helpful Aspect: He'll be a useful injury call-up, at the least, and can provide some veteran leadership with Hamilton.
Negative Point: Formerly a strong defensive player, a -11 makes Dandenault look about as useful as AHL enforcer Greg Stewart.....or even less useful, for a lack of fighting.
Nashville Predators: Jed Ortmeyer- Ortmeyer never truly secured an NHL job, but he was always one of those kind of heart-soul-and-guts players that never seem to run out of desire to play the game. However, this season, Ortmeyer has been pushed out of the main picture by rookie Patric Hornqvist. Ortmeyer could still make the team out of camp, but would only recieve a fourth-line job.
Helpful Aspect: Not many other Preds play with the drive that Ortmeyer does.
Negative Point: The Predators also have a few other young wingers who'll be fighting for a spot, making the training camp battle even tougher.
New Jersey Devils: Barry Tallackson- The Devils prospect has been scoring at a reasonable level in the AHL for a while, but has only scored a goal and an assist in 16 NHL games over three seasons. With fellow up-and-coming Devils Mike Hoeffel, Alexander Vasyunov, and Mattias Tedenby also on the left side, this season may be Tallackson's last chance.
Helpful Aspect: Last season, Tallackson potted a career-high 22 goals for Lowell.
Negative Point: He's only earned 3-game runs for the past two seasons after getting 10 games in 05-06.
New York Islanders: Jeff Tambellini- The dynamic AHL scoring ace hasn't produced very well in 79 NHL games over the past 3 seasons, scoring only 4 goals and 17 points. Many experts have surmised that if Tambellini doesn't have an impact this year, he'll be just another "AHL star", like Kirby Law (who apparently is playing in the KHL now).
Helpful Aspect: He has done very well in the AHL. If he can finally translate his success, he'll stick with the big club.
Negative Point: Although slated for the fourth line, he'll have to duke it out with winger Andy Hilbert, who's been a solid defensive player for the past two seasons, and he can contribute offensively as well.
New York Rangers: Fredrik Sjostrom- This is Sjostrom's make-or-break season. He's been inconsistent since 2003-2004, and although he's got lots of potential, he can't seem to produce at either the NHL or AHL level. He'll be given a chance on the fourth line this season, most likely swapping in and out with fighter Colton Orr.
Helpful Aspect: He did score a career high 12 goals in the NHL last season.
Negative Point: That's only two less than his AHL high of 14 goals.
Ottawa Senators: Lawrence Nycholat- Nycholat has been a strong AHL defenseman who hasn't really earned a chance with any team's blue-line. He had what looked to be a jump-start run in 06-07, scoring 8 points in 19 games with Washington and Ottawa, but was relegated to Binghamton for 77 games last season, and only got into 3 NHL games. However, Ottawa's blue-line has weakened this year with the departure of Mike Commodore, Luke Richardson, and Wade Redden. Nycholat has an outside chance to make the team, but might be beaten out by rookie Brian Lee.
Helpful Aspect: Nycholat's been able to produce offense in the AHL, scoring 12 goals and 49 points last season.
Negative Point: Nycholat could turn out to be just another AHL player who can't find his game at the NHL level.
Philadelphia Flyers: Steve Eminger- The ex-Caps blue-liner has been heavily criticized for not living up to his potential as the #12 overall draft pick in 2002, a first round that included Rick Nash, Jay Bouwmeester, Ryan Whitney, Keith Ballard, Alex Steen, and Cam Ward. Last season, Eminger was a healthy scratch often, only getting into 20 games, and posting a meager 2 assists and a -4 rating.
Helpful Aspect- The Flyers still thought enough of Eminger to give up a first-round pick.
Negative Point: Eminger hasn't had a strong rating in the plus/minus area in a while...
Phoenix Coyotes: Jeff Hoggan- The former Blue and Bruin hasn't been able to stick with an NHL club. Heck, he's barely been able to hold down a job in the AHL before, although last season did produce impressive results (71 games, 29 goals, 60 points). However, Phoenix has a lot of youth coming up at forward in the next couple of seasons, and Hoggan will most likely be lost behind Mikkel Boedker and Enver Lisin, and may even be beaten by Viktor Tihkonov in training camp.
Helpful Aspect: Hoggan has plenty of AHL experience, compared to Tikhonov and Boedker, who are just coming out of Russia and the OHL, respectively.
Negative Point: The Bruins only called Hoggan up for one game, despite his high-scoring in the AHL.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Kris Beech- I'll be honest here and say that Beech is actually one of my favorite minor-league players. However, this may be the last season that he can win a solid NHL job, and he'll only get the fourth line at best. However, Beech would have to beat out Maxime Talbot and Jeff Taffe for just the fourth line, and Talbot seems to have that job pretty well locked up. Beech's only real chance would be if the Penguins move up Jordan Staal back to left wing to play with Evgeni Malkin, and the fourth line spot opens up.
Helpful Aspect: Beech actually has some playoff experience, having gone on deep AHL playoff runs with Wilkes-Barre Scranton and Hershey.
Negative Aspect: Beech hasn't played a full season in the NHL since 06-07, and only scored over 20 points twice, in 06-07 and 01-02.
San Jose Sharks: Marcel Goc- Goc has a chance to secure the fourth line center spot while filling in for Torrey Mitchell, whose broken leg will cost him 8 weeks. Last season, Goc scored 5 goals and 8 points in 51 games, but his main contribution is on the defensive end. However, that's also the reason that could lose Goc his NHL job, as he was a poor -15 in those 51 games. Mitchell scored 10-10-20 in 82 games, and was only -3. Goc will have to prove himself in the limited amount of time that he runs the fourth line.
Helpful Aspect: Goc hasn't suffered any major injuries throughout his NHL career, and would've played all of last season if he hadn't split time with Curtis Brown.
Negative Point: Goc's offensive output has gone down in the past 3 seasons, from 22 points, to 13, to 8 last season.
St. Louis Blues: Alex Pietrangelo- With the recent injury to star defender Erik Johnson, the Blues have a gaping hole on the blue-line, and Pietrangelo is hoping to close it. He had two assists in his first pre-season game against (grr) the Dallas Stars, helping the Blues to a 3-2 win. He has a chance to make the team, and even stick, if he can outplay Jeff Woywitka or Steve Wagner for a spot on the third pairing.
Helpful Aspect: Many considered Pietrangelo's offensive skills to be on par–or even better–than 2nd overall pick Drew Doughty, although Doughty has been said to be a better skater.
Negative Point: Pietrangelo probably needs at least half a season of AHL play to adjust to the pro level before earning a full-time NHL job.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Brandon Bochenski- On another team not so loaded with forwards, Bochenski might be a regular—if it weren't for the fact that Bochenski has been on 5 other teams, each one giving him a chance on the third or fourth line. Last season was the worst–Bochenski played 20 games with Boston, 8 with Nashville, and 12 with Anaheim. He signed with Tampa as a free agent, but is listed at 6th on the depth chart for left wing alone, behind several forwards with a lot more credentials on either offense (Vinny Prospal, Ryan Malone, Jussi Jokinen) or grit and leadership (Gary Roberts, Nick Tarnasky).
Helpful Aspect: Tampa is vaguely turning towards youth, and Bochenski is still young.
Negative Point: Playing for 6 teams in 4 years? That looks pretty bad, unless your name is Mike Sillinger.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Mark Bell- The ex-Hawk and Shark, Bell's offensive game has dropped back to the level it was at in his first two seasons, and it may have dropped even lower. He was originally going to man the fourth line left wing position, but after the additions of rookie Nikolai Kulemin and free-agent signee Niklas Hagman (27 goals in 07-08), Bell may be stuck in the minors. He's lost the look of the Bell who had two seasons of 20+ goals and 40+ points, and can only hope to stick by adapting to the role of a grinder.
Helpful Aspect: Bell can still put up about 10 goals and 20 points a season, which wouldn't hurt.
Negative Point: 10 goals and 20 points may not be enough to sastify the Leafs management.
Vancouver Canucks: Jannik Hansen- The Danish winger showed some exciting offensive potential last season, going 21-22-43 in 50 games with the Manitoba Moose. Offense is what the Canucks desperately need (haven't they needed it since Pavel Bure left the team?) and Hansen can provide it. On a weak right wing side, Hansen can potentially beat out Ryan Shannon for at least a fourth line spot, and work his way up from there.
Helpful Aspect: Hansen had a strong playoff run with Vancouver in 06-07 as a rookie, garnering one assist in 10 games and keeping up an even rating.
Negative Point: The Canucks may be looking more towards experience rather than youthful potential this season, meaning players such as Darcy Hordichuk and Jeff Cowan may get chances first.
Washington Capitals: Eric Fehr- A scoring beast in the WHL and AHL, Fehr has yet to show his prowess at the NHL level. He was close to at least having a consistent job last season, but injury struck him after only 23 games. This year is key–if he doesn't earn a solid roster spot, he may be on his way out of town. The Caps have several other scoring prospects (Mathieu Perreault, Francois Bouchard, Chris Bourque) and can't afford to wait much longer for Fehr to stick.
Helpful Aspect: Fehr totaled 22 goals in only 40 games in his last half-season in the AHL, and before that, tallied 25 goals in 70 games.
Negative Point: Drafted 18th overall in 2003, Fehr has had plenty of time to make his mark, especially in 03-04 and 05-06, when the Caps were still a fairly weak team offensively.
There's the end of that series. Now, it's probable that only a few of these players will make their teams, and possible that none will. We'll just have to see. Any comments or criticism on my writing is welcome! And make sure you read part one of the series as well.