Minneapolis, MN – An impressive performance by many rookies at the Minnesota Rink Rats' training camp will leave head coach Dan Bylsma with some difficult decisions heading into the preseason. Rookies Gilbert Brule, David Jones, Kyle Cumiskey and as expected, Jimmy Howard all showed Bylsma they can compete at the WHL level but questions will remain how Bylsma fits them in to the depth chart. Other rookies such as Jamie McBain, Cam Fowler, Kevin Shattenkirk, Peter Regin and Nathan Gerbe impressed but they look a year or so away from competing in the WHL.
“There’s going to be some decisions to make that’s for sure,” stated Bylsma. “Viktor Stalberg is one that stands out – he’s probably not quite ready for the WHL but we’ll need to use him because of the lack of depth at wing. I like how well the young guys competed too. McBain, Fowler, Quincey, Shattenkirk and Cumiskey all look really strong on dee. I’m excited about these guys’ future with us. They all skate really well and have a lot of offensive upside. Cumiskey is just so quick. No wonder he got the nickname the road runner. The future of the Minnesota defense isn’t too far away.”
“Some of the new guys looked good too. Dustin Penner and Michal Rozsival both will play big roles on the team this season and they were able to find the back of the net quite a few times during camp. Jay McKee and Scott Hannan looked strong for us defensively. Derek Roy appeared to be in good shape which should hopefully help him bounce back this year. Both David Krejci and Matthew Lombardi appear to be ready for good seasons again and Ryan Miller looks better than ever. We’re in a transition state to say the least, but we’ll still have a pretty competitive team if these guys can stay healthy.”
Bylsma also acknowledged the job the front office did during this year’s draft. “I liked what we did this year. We had some needs; on defense especially, and they went out and got two very good defenseman in Fowler and McBain. McBain will likely play with us next season and Fowler isn’t too far behind. We’re really high on McBain’s potential. He should fill the void left by Burns. I liked our second round a lot too; getting Stalberg, O’Reilly and Wellman. There are some guys you draft and you wonder if they’ll succeed in the WHL. With our first five picks there’s no question. In the 3rd round, I really liked that we snagged Dustin Jeffrey in a trade but also were able to draft Justin Peters and Bobby Butler. Butler obviously was moved for Mike Santorelli, a deal we felt very comfortable with seeing as Santorelli is a very good and exciting young offensive player. We’re probably not a contender for this season but I feel this is a very exciting time for Minnesota hockey.”