Saturday, September 26, 2009

Training Camp Notes: September 26th

Viktor Stalberg (LW), TOR - We mentioned Stalberg in an earlier column but he is worth mentioning again. His play this pre-season has got stronger with each game. He has tremendous speed and size and uses that to his advantage to track down pucks on the forecheck and backcheck. Every time his huge 6'3, 210 frame hits top gear, you are left in a state of awe. Trying to put the finishing touches on making the big club, Stalberg was all over the ice against Detroit last night. He had 2 goals and an assist in over 18 minutes of ice-time. His first goal showcased his great wrist shot, which helped him snipe 24 goals for Vermont last year. A Hobey Baker finalist, grab Stalberg off the FA list and hope he can stay in Ron Wilson's good books. He is a deep sleeper that should be targeted in keeper pools.

Maxim Afinogenov (RW), ATL - Mad Max played a strong game for the Thrashers last night, scoring a goal and an assist in 16 minutes of ice-time. The speedster has struggled to stay healthy and produce with the Sabres over the past 3 seasons. A change of scenery might be what Max needs. He had many offers to go to the KHL but wanted to return to the NHL to prove he could still be a difference maker. If Max can land on one of the top two lines in Atlanta, he could have a bounce-back year. Playing with any of Kovalchuk, Antropov, Kozlov, White or Little should help him get back to being a relevant goal-scorer. Watch him early and be prepared to snatch him off the FA list if he produces.

Jonas Gustavsson (G), TOR - The long-awaited debut of "the Monster" took place in the Motor City last night. After having a minor heart procedure at the beginning of camp, Gustavsson has been practicing with the team, waiting for the incision to heal. He played just one period last night, stopping all 7 shots he faced. The Monster uses his huge frame to get in front of shots and has surprising quickness for a goalie that big. While he showed a bit of rust last night, Toronto is commited to this guy and will give him every chance to steal the starter job from incumbent Vesa Toskala. With an improved Toronto Defence, Gustavsson could be a great sleeper goalie this season and have a Pekka Rinne-type of year 1 impact. Target him in your drafts and keeper leagues.

Vladimir Sobotka (C), BOS - Sobotka has been on the cusp of making the Bruins for two straight years but has been buried on the depth chart behind all of Beantown's other young talents. After putting up 44 points in 44 AHL games in Providence last season, he has nothing left to prove at that level. He is an AHL+ player waiting for a shot at a regular NHL job. This should be his year. With David Krejci coming off surgery for a torn labrum and Phil Kessel traded to Toronto, suddenly their are some openings in Boston's very talented top 9. Sobotka is looking to seize one of those spots and had an assist last night in over 17 minutes of ice-time. Watch him early as he could be a great FA pick-up if he lands a permanent gig with the Bruins.


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