St. John's IceCaps deep with veteran
Experience is the name of the game for the St. John's IceCaps in their inaugural season.
David Aebischer is making his return to North American hockey after spending nearly four seasons in the Swiss-A league.
33-year old Swiss goaltender, who played for HC Lugano while in Switzerland, will be between the pipes for the St. John's IceCaps this season, which is good news for the new franchise.
While Aebischer is obviously not at the same level he was in the 2003-2004 season, when he started 62 games for the Colorado with a .924 save percentage and 2.09 goals against average, but he will bring a strong veteran presence between the pipes.
Joining Aebischer between the pipes will be 27 year-old Peter Mannino and 20-year old prospect Edward Pasquale. Pasquale will be plaing his spohomore season of professional hockey, while Maninno is entering his fourth professional season.
Veteran Jason King leads the way up front, as he makes his return to North American hockey.
The 30-year old right wing from Corner Brook, Newfoundland will be relied on to provide offence and leadership for the squad. King spent the last three seasons playing in Germany, so it will be interesting to see if he can still provide the nearly-point-per-game production of his previous AHL stints.
Garth Murray, who has played in 116 NHL games and 411 AHL games, Jason Jaffray, a veteran of 378 AHL games, and Marco Rosa, with a total of 322 AHL games, will also be counted on to help lead the team.
Entering his fourth AHL season, 23 year-old Spencer Machahek will be looking to continue his scoring ways. Machacek posted 53 points in 67 AHL games last season, and posted 48 and 49 points in his first and second season respectively.
The IceCaps will be looking to develop some of their young prospects this season. Leading the pack will be 20 year-old Swedish left wing Carl Klingberg. Klingberg played the last three seasons in the Swedish Elite League with Frolunda HC Goteborg, and Timra IK. Klingberg also featured for Sweden at the World Junior Championships in 2009-2010 and 2010-2011.
Kilingberg posted four points, including three goals, in six games for Sweden last tournament.
Another prospect to watch is Patrice Cormier. The gritty 21 year-old was taken in the second round by the New Jersey Devils in the 2008 draft. Cormier played for Canada at two World Junior Championships, posting a total of eight points in 12 games.
Offence will also come from defenseman Paul Postma, who posted 45 points in 69 games for the AHL's Chicago Wolves last season. The 22 year-old defender scored 15 goals in 2009-2010, and 12 in 2010-2011.
Mark Flood should also inject some offence into the IceCaps line-up, as he posted 40 points in 63 games for the AHL's Manitoba Moose last season.
Brett Festerling, a 25 year-old veteran of 83 NHL games and 179 AHL games, will help steady the ship for the IceCaps. Arturs Kulda, a 23 year-old Latvia native with 197 AHL games to his name, will also bring a lot of experience to the table.
With such an experienced squad, there is no reason the St. John's IceCaps should not be a playoff team this season.
The IceCaps open their season on the road Oct. 7 against the Providence Bruins.