2012 Rochester Americans Season Preview: The Defense

With the 2012 AHL season rapidly approaching, it's time to start looking at the roster in Rochester, and today we look at the blue line.

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.

The Amerks blue line has seen a nice infusion of talent from two opposite directions. Coming down from the NHL for some lockout fun is Brayden McNabb, the big bruiser from Buffalo that Sabres fans have dubbed "The Better Mike Weber." However, Rochester has also gotten help from some former major junior players now eligible for AHL duty, most notably Mark Pysyk.

Pysyk impressed last season as the captain of the WHL champion Edmonton Oil Kings. The 20-year old scored 38 points in 57 games last year while playing rock-solid defense on the Oil Kings top pairing, and already has a goal for the Amerks this year in just 3 games.

Sabres fans should be familiar with AHL stalwart TJ Brennan after his call-up last season, he of the monster slap shot. Fellow AHL veterans Drew Schiestel, Joe Finley, Matt MacKenzie round out the starting lineup, and all feature as players still with some potential.

Fellow major junior addition Jerome Gauthier-Leduc hasn't yet been able to crack the starting roster, but has immense offensive potential - but his lack of size and highly average defensive play may make it tough to crack the lineup. Alex Biega and Nick Crawford round out the defensive roster, both likely career AHLers.

The Amerks should be fairly strong on the blueline, and will definitely be big - aside from Biega, all the defenseman are at least 6'1'', and the smaller guys like Pysyk still have a lot of room on their frames to add bulk. The longer McNabb stays in Rochester, the stronger this unit will be, but look for Gauthier-Leduc to get his chance if the NHL ever figures itself out.