With the 2012 AHL season rapidly approaching, it's time to start looking at the roster in Rochester, and today we look at the guys up front.
Yes, I know the Rochester Americans season started a few days ago - heck, they've already played three games. But once you start a preview series, it'd be a poor man indeed who doesn't finish it. So let's soldier on.
In our final season preview, we'll take a look at the revamped Amerks offense. As with the defense, there's plenty of new talent, both coming down from the AHL and coming up from the draft.
The Amerks, like many AHL teams, began the season with a top line stocked with NHL-caliber talent. Corey Tropp, Cody Hodgson, and Luke Adam wouldn't look out of place together in the big leagues, let alone in Rochester. Tropp's season-ending knee injury put a kibosh on what should have been one of the most dominant lines in the league, but thing still look bright for the Amerks.
Aside from the aforementioned Hodgson and Tropp, Marcus Foligno joins the Amerks as another near-lock for the NHL sent down during the lockout. His combination of size, offensive skill, and NHL experience should be a dominant combination for the Amerks no matter who his linemates are.
Perhaps the most interesting Amerks forward is 2012 draftee Zemgus Girgensons. The big Latvian gave up his hockey scholarship at the University of Vermont to play for the Amerks, and was a player that fans thought may have an outside chance to crack the roster thanks to his incredible work ethic and leadership skills. Side note: he notched his first professional point last night with an assist.
Rounding out the forward list are a group of career AHLers, but there's one big fish in there - Mark Mancari is back with the Amerks, and brings his 30+ goals per season with him. Returning Amerks Phil Varone, Kevin Porter, Evan Rankin, Maxime Legault, Brian Flynn, Rick Schofield, and Nick Tarnasky round out the starters, while the Amerks retained a few interesting backups, none more so than Frederick Roy, son of NHL legend PAtrick Roy, who earned a roster spot with a phenomenal rookie camp.
As it stands after three games, Hodgson, Mancari, and Foligno are tied for the team lead with three points apiece, and should pace the Amerks offense as long as they're in the AHL. Look for Adam, Varone, Rankin, and possibly Girgensons to be not that far behind.