Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Camp Torturella Set to Open

The lingering questions from this past season will begin to be answered Thursday as the Bolts report to Brandon for "Camp Torturella 2007". Looking at the projected camp lineups, and Feaster's comments below, it appears the goalie competition will mainly be between Ramo and Denis for the #2 spot. It will be interesting to see how Richards, Ouellet and Hlavac will gel. That 6th defensman spot will also be something to keep an eye on. I'm planning to make it out on Monday, so hopefully I will have some 1st hand opinions to offer up. Here's what Erik Erlendsson at the Trib is reporting will be the squad split:

Vinny Prospal-Vinny Lecavalier-Marty St. Louis
Andre Roy-Craig MacDonald-Nick Tarnasky
Norm Milley-Ryan Craig-Karl Stewart
Paul Ranger-Dan Boyle
Bryce Lampman-Jay Leach
Mike Lundin-David Schneider
Johan Holmqvist

Jan Hlavac-Brad Richards-Michel Ouellet
Andreas Karlsson-Chris Gratton-Jason Ward
Mathieu Darche-Blair Jones-Kyle Wanvig
Shane O’Brien-Filip Kuba
Brad Lukowich-Matt Smaby
Dan Jancevski-Doug Janik
Marc Denis
Karri Ramo

Erlendsson is reporting that Vladimir Mihalik was supposed to be in camp, but has just been told to report directly to Norfolk. In his place will be David Schneider.

With regard to the goaltending, here's what Feaster had to say in an interview with -- Were you a little surprised at what happened with your goaltending last year?

Feaster -- Yeah, we were a little surprised. A pleasant surprise in that Johan Holmqvist had a great year. He won 27 games. He's back on a one-year deal. We're excited about that because he acknowledges that he has things to accomplish. Going into camp, he's the No. 1 guy.

We'll take three goalies into camp. Marc Denis has to have a bounce-back year and we're confident that he will. He learned a lot of things last year. He dealt with a lot of things that he didn't have to deal with before in terms of the way John holds his goaltenders accountable, just like every other player on the team. I think Marc will bounce back. Then we have the youngster, Karri Ramo, who Bill Barber and all our scouts and minor-league guys have said is ready to play as a backup right now in the NHL. So, those three guys will come into camp fighting for two spots.

"I think we're deeper now than we've been at any point since the 2003 Stanley Cup Final." -- Would Ramo benefit from another year in the AHL?

Feaster -- I don't think there would be anything wrong with that. In fact, that would be a good thing for him. But we're not going to hold him back. If he winds up one of the two best goaltenders, we'll move him along. -- Was Denis' main problem a cultural change from one organization to another?

Feaster -- I think so. Honestly, because of the way we work, the goalies are just as accountable as the position players. If you don't have a good game, “Torts” is going to take you out and he's not going to come with you if the other guy is playing well. That's one of the things that happened. Marc struggled a little bit and we put “Homer” in there and he took the ball and ran with it. I do think it was a bit of a cultural change for Marc.

There are few rumours floating around. Keep an eye on that old Bryzgalov rumour though. If the goaltending in Tampa is as bad as most think it will be, this might gain some momentum. The Ducks just "suspended" Niedermayer, so his $6.75 mil salary won't count against their cap. Will Temu now re-sign? Will they move Bryz? What will they want for him? We shall see...

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