With about six weeks to go before opening night, things are shaping up quite nicely for the River Rats. Offense, defense and goaltending all look solid.
Last season's rock between the pipes, Justin Peters, and his new partner, two-time OHL goalie-of-the-year Mike Murphy, are set to be a dynamic duo. Ensuring depth in net, former NHL'er Mike Morrison will be just a call away in Florida.
Defensively, the team is stacked with talented heavy hitters and point snipers. The familiar faces of Casey Borer and Brett Carson will likely become essential elements of the Rats' blue line. The newly acquired Jay Harrison will provide leadership and experience. On the physical side, Zack Fitzgerald, if reports are true, should be the opposition's worst nightmare. Carolina may steal Bryan Rodney for his offensive abilities, but rookie sensation Jamie McBain should be able to fill any void at the point. The additions of Brett Bellemore and Jonathan Paiement will provide additional depth.
Up front, the Rats are loaded with explosive young prospects. Potential future stars Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman are expected to crack the pros with a bang. Playmaker Brandon Sutter will lead the team at center. Jerome Samson will attempt to defend his title as top scorer. Rookie prospects Chris Terry and Matthew Pistilli will bring all-around skill and character. Nick Dodge will return for his second pro season, looking to build on his stellar rookie performance. Steven Goertzen will provide grit and toughness. Michael Ryan, Pat Dwyer and Mike Angelidis should all be back as reliable staple power forwards. Nicolas Blanchard, all healed up from the bus crash, will be eager to play and produce points. Stefan Chaput will be back from last year's knee injury to complete the breakout season he never finished. Also available in the system will be Harrison Reed, Rob Hennigar and possibly Jacob Micflikier, Brad Herauf and Yannick Tifu, all of whom will likely play in Florida.
This time around, there will be no shortage of talented skaters. The Rats should be a very competitive team, especially if the first-year forwards adapt well to the pros.
Names could still be added or subtracted, but as of now, this is what your 2009-10 Albany River Rats will look like...
Casey Borer (neck surgery 9/21/2009)
Benn Olson (added 9/10/09)
Rob Hennigar (added 8/31/09)
Jacob Micflikier (added 9/10/09)
Brad Herauf (added 9/10/09)