Early Season Thoughts
The overage deadline is October 10th which is almost here. The Tigers need to be under the limit of 3 Overagers and 25 players. Decisions will need to be made SOON. They still have 28 players and 4 overagers
Dalton Gally & Defenceman
I noticed his weight has dropped 10-12 lbs from last season.(depending on what site you get your stats from.
Last year I half wrote him off as a guy I wasn't keen on. A "defensive filler" so-to-say, but his work ethic has completely changed. He is a lot leaner physically and looks way more mobile on the ice. So far he has my vote as the most improved player.
Gally has been behind the veteran defenceman on the depth charts. He is being given 3rd line minutes as expected with other veterans ahead of him. As a 19yr old with limited offensive numbers in his whl career, his trade value is low, but he is giving the Tigers great experience and value on the 3rd line.
In an ideal situation you'd want your 3rd unit to be younger up and coming guys, unless you plan on an "up" season and wish to maintain a veteran presence.(Which is what we want this year to be)
Going forward the Tigers will be answering the question on what to do with their younger defenceman and Gally's improvements has made that decision tougher. They still have 10 defenceman on the roster.
Moving Gally means more regular ice-time for Clayton/Macphee, and being able to keep another guy such as Joel Craven, Daniel Baker, or Trevor Longo.
IF we look at turnover for next year the Tigers assuredly loose 2 of their top 4, with potentially a 3rd in David Quenneville.
IF the Tigers want to "go for it" keeping Gally is probably a better option. IF they are unsure about how good they will be(which I am) going with some younger defenceman is probably a better route. as those younger defenceman will need to play 2nd line minutes next season, and exposing them to a regular 3rd pairing would do more for their development.
The Tigers have been guilty of having last years depth guys takeing icetime away from newer players.
So this decision on defenceman is quite important going forward for next season and this season.
Mark Rassell -
6 goals in 6 games. He has been the Tigers most dangerous threat on the ice. He is the type of player that has a lot of 1v1 skill, and can create chances for himself rather than relying on a systematic "overwhelm with speed" approach the Tigers have been known for the last dozen years.
Tyler Preziuso & Gary Haden
Last season I was disappointed in the improvement paths of both players. The Tigers only dressed Haden for a paltry 32 games and he didn't see a lot of ice-time.
Both players are playing better, but I fear that their age and their value are in danger of becoming mis-aligned. As 18 yr olds they need to become impact players with hopes that next season they turn into top 6 forwards. I don't see that from either of them yet.
The Tigers need those two to play top 6 minutes next year, and right now that is a scary thought because they need to find big improvements in their game. Both are behind schedule so they need to step their games up.
He was good in the pre-season. He shows potential for very high 1v1 skill. He is still learning the ropes and adjusting to faster play. I'll give you a little tip when it comes to recognizing who the next breakout player will be.
The direct sign before a point breakout is consistently winning the small battles that may or may not translate into points. Coming up with puck possession on 50-50 scenarios, skating past a guy standing still, stealing/stripping pucks away from veteran players. Central 1v1 positioning and only taking off after receiving puck possession and not before.
These are the types of small battles that don't necessarily generate points by themselves, but are the starting blocks to something more
Williams is on the step before that.
He isn't yet consistently winning the small battles outright, but he is coming out in advantageous positions. I feel that it may take some games for things to click, but when it does it may click quickly. He has a lot of skill for a 16yr old.
Still need to see more from him, but I'm getting a Dawson MacAuley vibe, but a little more mobile. A big goaltender who stops the first shot and his size will prevent lots of second shots.
The Tigers are great at training mobility and stick-handling puck control with their goaltenders, and those are two areas Hollett will look to improve upon.
Their is a reason why most goaltenders in the NHL are 6"2 or taller. I have a feeling that fans may not see Hollett as talented as other goaltenders because he isn't as mobile as what the Tigers have seen in the past. While that may or may not be true, he needs to work on his mobility and likely will have some up and down games.
The reason you don't see small goaltenders in the NHL is that shots are now much faster than what a goalie can react too. A smaller goalie simply needs to react to a longer distance.
It is too early to judge Hollett's potential, but so far his showing has been decent.
The first couple games he played really well. I expected maybe a slight bit more from a 3rd round NHL Pick. He isn't a bad player, but he needs some time to get used to the North American game. I understand why Florida wanted him to play Junior, as he needs some seasoning and a little more aggressiveness/drive to his game. I notice he is becoming a little hesitant in high traffic areas, and they need to nip that in the bud before it becomes a bigger issue.
Dislikes - Overall chemistry
With Mason Shaw out for the majority of the season, the Tigers don't have a legit 2nd line centreman and are using a player who shouldn't be in the top 6. They have (Hamblin, Chyzowski, Haden, White) as their centremen, and Hamblin is the only one who should be in the top 6.
The lack of a 2nd line centreman and trying to keep the roster balanced, has seen production dips from Zach Fischer and James Hamblin.
Will they re-balance their lines and put a winger at Centre? or will they continue to try and force what they have and hope something changes? Receiving a 2nd line centre in return for Gally is too much to ask for and would need more going back, and I haven't seen the Tigers trade a key youngster unless they demand a trade.
Rookies & Sophomores.
I like the group of newer players the Tigers have. Ryan Chyzowski is leading the way and has shown a noticeable improvement. The Tigers next season could be a little lean up front and someone like Chyzowski will be looked to provide a scoring presence. As the season goes on I expect to see Chyzowski, Rybisnki, Heathcote become more noticeable.
I would like more time to watch Heathcote and Rybisnki they both look strong on the puck and look to have solid 1v1 potential.
He is showing big improvements in his skating & work ethic. We know from last year he has a very good shot. If he can connect the dots between his skating and his shot by improving his puck handling ability, points will rise. He is better slotted into the 3rd line, but I'm hoping to see those dots start connecting.
The Tigers have been ok. Not great, but not terrible. 3 of the 6 games their shots against has been pretty low, which is great!! I think their is a lot of room for improvement here.
I see some communication issues and getting used to new players/roles.
Their was a battle for the PUCK inside P.A's blueline. Macpherson took a slightly risky line change, just as P.A gained puck possession and fed the puck up the ice.
Now if Quenneville noticed this, he could have been more aware of the approaching P.A raider, but he was not aware, and was caught flat footed at center. Now this play is not entirely Quenneville's fault, but a combination of a communication fault, with Macpherson making a slightly risky late change and Quenneville not being aware of it.
Quenneville has been a lot better defensively so far, but this is one play where 2 veterans misplayed the situation with poor communication.
Looked amazing in his first game back, not so much in his second game, but then again their whole group looked flat against P.A
An average start to the season which was almost expected with some late returnees and injuries. It is good to finally see everyone healthy minus Mason Shaw.
The Shaw injury completely changed things. Him being out has diluted the skill, and it may take the Tigers a few games to work out solutions.
The good thing is that I don't expect Fischer and Hamblin to be held off the scoresheet forever. Once they start scoring the Tigers should start rising from .500.