Saturday, May 17, 2008

Chicago Steel 2008-09 Preview

Fresh off an award winning season, head coach Steve Poaspt will look to build on the success he and the Steel had last season. The Steel are no longer the joke of the league, and are going to be a team to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future.

Key Departures:
Brian O'Neill-Top player, won Unofficial POY Award.
Rob Madore-Top notch goalie.
Will Weber-Team's best defenseman.

Goalie (1):
Nick Pisellini (1990) - Will have a larger role now that Madore is gone.

Goalie Evaluation:
Pisellini returns for his 3rd year, 2nd full, with the Steel. He will have a larger responsibility now that Madore has moved on, but I'm not sold he is ready to be Chicago's #1 just yet. Nick is continuing to get better though, and could surprise a lot of people this season.

Defense (4):
John Moore (1990) - Probably one of the most underrated defenseman for Chicago last season.
Mike Walsh (1989) - Physical in your face type player.
Max Nicastro (1990) - Had a solid campaign with 20 points and +7.
Barron Smith (1991) - Big and young, could jump to OHL.

Defense Evaluation:
Only 3 returning, but they are all very good in their own way. Walsh is a leader and a physical player. Moore is quick and like I said before, is very underrated. He's a quality player and should continue to get better. Nicastro was a nice surprise this season. He will be a top defenseman in the league come next season and he has size to go along with his offensive talents.

Forwards (11):
Robin Sjoren (1989) - Didn't notice him.
Luca Cunti (1989) - Dynamic player, not sure his intentions for next season.
Dominic Morrone (1989) - Quick player, should make a bigger impact with a year under his belt.
Mark Anthoine (1990) - Gritty forward that is tough and can score.
Jak Knelman (1988) - Seems more of a character guy and chips in when he can.
Ryan Schnell (1989) - Big and tough, Chicago's enforcer.
Eric Alexander (1989) - Big hitter and scored some big goals in the playoffs.
Andrew Miller (1988) - A nice surprise for the Steel. Should be near the top of the point chart this season.
Corey Chakeen (1989) - He's probably good for 13 goals next season :)
Alex Simonson (1990) - Don't remember seeing him play.
Simon Olsson (1989) - Small, but very gritty and quick. Could jump to OHL.

Forward Evaluation:
Chicago returns a lot of power up front, though it remains to be seen what Cunti and Olsson will be doing next season. Miller and Alexander should be the main scoring threats next season, though I'd keep an eye on Anthoine. Chakeen has kept a steady pace of goal scoring, as he has scored 13 goals in each of his first two season with the Steel. Schnell is the type of player you love to have. He's big and strong, and isn't afraid to muck it up as well as stand up for his teammates.

Futures Evaluation:
The Steel feature a couple top notch players in Mark Alt and Brett Kostolansky. I'm not real familiar with the others, though J.R. Lafferty could be a good one to watch, as the New Jersey Rockets tend to develop some top notch kids. Also, keep an eye on Josh Kesler. Yes, he's related to Vancouver's Ryan Kesler.

Overall Evaluation: B

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