Monday, June 2, 2008

Omaha Lancers 2008-09 Preview

To finally conclude with the 08-09 previews, the Anderson and Clark Cup Champion Omaha Lancers will round things out. Should be an extremely interesting season in Omaha now that Mike Hastings has moved on to Minnesota. Bliss Littler brings loads of coaching experience to the table, but how will the fans like the style he likes to play?

Key Departures:
Chris Hepp-Team leader.
Matt Thurber-One of the best two-way forwards in the league.
Barry Almeida-One of the most dynamic players in the league.
Chris Connolly-Another great forward.

Goalie (1):
Drew Palmisano (1988) - One of the league's best, returns for another year.

Goalie Evaluation:
Palmisano was originally slated to head off to Michigan State, but with former Lancer Jeff Lerg still there, it didn't make much sense. Drew was a solid goalie in his time with Ohio before they traded him to Omaha. Since being acquired by the Lancers, Palmisano has been nothing short of great. With Palmisano in net, the Lancers will continue to be a force.

Defense (3):
Jake Sloat (1990) - Rarely played, and when he was suited, didn't see a ton of ice.
Tyler Elbrecht (1988) - Developed into a reliable defenseman.
Patrick Wiercioch (1990) - Had an injury, and came back to be one of the best D in the league.

Defense Evaluation:
Wiercioch is still slated as an 08 or 09 recruit for Wisconsin, so it's uncertain as to whether or not he will return. If he does, he will be one of the best in the league. Elbrecht is a great team players, as he was willing to step up and play forward when the Lancers needed him to. He consistently got better as the season went on, so I look for him to be a leader on the blue line. Sloat didn't play much, and didn't appear in a single playoff game. If he is to return, I think he'd still be too inexperienced to be relied on early in the season.

Forward (3):
Ben Arnt (1989) - One of the best uncommitted forwards.
Dakota Eveland (1991) - Highly regarded, could have a big year.
Matt White (1989) - Really came on in the playoffs, look for that to continue into next season.

Forward Evaluation:
Though a small group, this is a very talented trio of returners. Ben Arnt is probably one of the best forwards yet to commit, and could be a 30 goal scorer next season. He had shown interest in schools out east and possibly signing over the summer, but I'm not sure on the interest there. He's definitely ready to move on. Eveland had a lot of hype coming into the season as one of the better 91 born players, and had a pretty solid rookie season. I feel he's ready to be a big producer already next season and should be watched carefully by other teams. Matt White really found his stride in the playoffs, putting up 10 points in 13 games. I see that momentum and production carrying into next season, as well as a larger role for the California native.

Futures Evaluation:
The Lancers boast some top notch young guns on their futures list. Danny Kristo is a kid fresh out of the NTDP, so you have to believe he's a gamer. A few elite players from the Minnesota high school ranks include Drew Olson, Ben Hanowski, and Danny Mattson. This trio of Minnesotans have the potential to be great in the USHL. Kyle Beattie and Michael Chiasson are a couple of 91 born players that have a load of potential and could sneak into the Lancer lineup with a good tryout camp. The best of this group is probably Quebec native, Louis Leblanc. I think he can be a dynamic player right of the gate.

Overall Evaluation: B

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