The puck drops Friday night for the start of the Connecticut Whale season and the team's roster is set.
There are some injuries that will keep players sidelined for the opener. Cam Talbot, the starting goaltender, is out with a foot injury. Dylan McIlrath, potentially an impact defenseman, is still recovering from knee surgery.
Forwards Ryan Bourque and Marek Hrivik, two of the team's better players in the playoffs, are also out with injuries.
Fans will see Chris Kreider skating with veterans Chad Kolarik and Kris Newbury. And NHL veteran and former Ranger Matt Gilroy will be anchoring the defense.
Kreider (and J.T. Miller) will receive lots of attention, deservedly so. Kreider would probably be in the NHL if there wasn't a lockout, so he's the one player Whale fans are seeing as a result of the labor dispute.
Not that he won't benefit from spending a little time riding the buses in the AHL. Ken Gernander, entering his 22nd year in the league, believes Kreider will improve thanks to his time in Hartford.
Here's what Gernander said Sunday:
“The success he had with the Rangers is a little bit different in that you’re kind of thrust into it and running on adrenaline,” Gernander said. “You have success, so you’re feeling confident, and all those things. Now part of it is going to be dealing with the grind and being a professional and being competitive night in and night out. There might be nights or stretches where things aren’t going your way and all the chips aren’t falling into place, and now part of being a professional is that you can’t give up anything and you have to fight through and still make your off-night a productive night for the team.”
It will be fun for fans around here to watch Kreider for as long as he's in Hartford. Enjoy him.
Here's the Whale roster, released on Tuesday:
Goal (3): Jason Missiaen, Scott Stajcer, Cameron Talbot Defense (8): Sean Collins, Sebastien Piche, Sam Klassen, Dylan McIlrath, Jyri Niemi, Blake Parlett, Logan Pyett, Mike Vernace. Forwards (16): Ryan Bourque, Tommy Grant, Micheal Haley, Marek Hrivik, Kyle Jean, Chad Kolarik, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, Kris Newbury, Scott Pitt, Brandon Segal, Kelsey Tessier, Christian Thomas, Shayne Wiebe, Jason Wilson, Andrew Yogan