The Swift Current Broncos have cut down their roster to 32 players with only 29 of them eligible to make the team this year. Glenn Gawdin, Max Lajoie and Travis Child are the 1997 born players still with the team as they enter pre-season play tomorrow in Moose Jaw. That tells you about the impression they made at training camp.
As for the rest of the roster, there really aren’t many surprises. The guys you thought might be in the mix for a roster spot are still in that mix. None of the favourites played themselves out of contention at camp and as most suspected, the tougher decisions will end up getting made during exhibition season.
One guy who played himself into contention was Tanner LeSann. The undrafted 17-year-old from Yorkton impressed with his skill and his will over the five day camp. He has the type of character that would fit right in with the way this group played last season. LeSann has created an opportunity for himself and now it’s up to him to take it up to even another level.
Here is Mark Lamb’s take…
Interview with Broncos Coach/GM Mark Lamb (Download)
So who are the candidates? Up front the eligible rookies still left with the team include Denis Bosc (95), Dakota Odgers (96), Zac Mackay (95), Tanner LeSann (95), Jordan Wittman (96) and Cavin Leth (95). As noted a few times heading into camp, this is not a big group of kids. Wittman is the only one of them over 161lbs. They will have to show in pre-season that despite smaller frames they can hang with the bigger, tougher men they will face every night in the WHL.
They’re all talented players who have shown an edge before in camp and at other levels. I’m not saying they need to prove they can bulldoze people and get in fights. These are players who have been scorers, two-way players and leaders at other levels. These are players that the Broncos hope will eventually assume top six roles later in their careers. These young men are also far from soft, but can they stand up to the physical tole the bigger 18, 19 and 20 year olds will bring and still do what makes them effective? Exhibition will be a good test.
Earlier in camp I had a chance to chat with one of the forwards on this list about what it would take to get to this point and beyond…
Interview with Denis Bosc (Download)
Coach Lamb believes each one of those guys is ready to play in the league now. It’s more a question of who is most ready, who fits team needs… who will do more to help the team now? The Broncos will get an injection of youth from the 2-4 guys in this group that stick with the team. Now we wait and see which ones.
On the blue line it is again no surprise to see who is left. Before camp almost any Bronco fan could have predicted it would be Brycen Martin, Zack Gonek and Bobby Zinkan battling with each other and returning veterans to crack the roster. All three are still here and the battle continues into pre-season action. The rookies on D are all at least a pretty decent size. Gonek is already 6’1, 193lbs at 16. Martin at 6’1, 181lbs and Zinkan at 5’10, 191lbs are not exactly small either. The three of them and Dillon Heatherington should form a tremendous core on the back end that carries this “generation” of Broncos.
Now we wait and see if they are ready enough to push an established veteran or two out of the job or onto the trade market. This is a situation where even the highly touted prospects really have to show they are ready to be here and win a job.
In goal it’s also down to exactly the players most thought it would be. Eetu Laurikainen will wear #41 this season as the Fin likely assumes the top job in Swift Current. Who will be here with him? Steven Myland and Landon Bow continue their battle for that second spot into exhibition. I talked to both of them earlier in camp as well.
Interview with Steven Myland (Download)
Interview with Landon Bow (Download)
Now the fun really begins. We are very close to seeing what the 2012-2013 Broncos will look like to start the season. Only a few more cuts to make and the guys that are still here are going to be giving everything they have to make sure they aren’t one of those few.
Their first chance to do that? Tomorrow night in Moose Jaw for the annual rookie game against the Warriors. I’ll have a live blog here updating you on the action, but it would be great to see a big Broncos cheering section there as well.
The action gets underway at 7pm tomorrow night in Moose Jaw.