2008-09 predictions and projections

I'm not Karnac, but I thought it would be a good idea to lay out some projection targets for the group of prospects this season. (Or perhaps I'm just getting a little cocky after nailing the Adam and Fienhage picks this summer.) Whatever the case, let's put our forecasting cap on and see what the season could look like. Do the Sabres have a potential 50-goal guy this season? The Sabres haven't had a 50-goal prospect since Shawinigan's Jason Pominville back in 2001-02, but this season could see a quartet knocking on the door. Tyler Ennis - 50 goals in 64 games with Medicine Hat. Paul Byron - 47 goals in 62 games with Gatineau. Luke Adam - 46 goals with Montreal. Nathan Gerbe - 44 goals combined - AHL and NHL Dylan Hunter was the last 100 point prospect when he hit it back-to-back in 2004-05 (104) and 2005-06 (117). Can one hit the mark this season? After notching 91 last season with Medicine Hat, Tyler Ennis should land somewhere around the century mark. We'll project 102 points but it's not going to come easy. I'm setting the bar high and hope he goes for it. Jacob Lagacé can do 32-51-83 in Chicoutimi with Nicolas Deschamps and Joel Champagne around him. Fellow Q-men Byron and Adam should fall in a slightly higher 82-88 point window. Who is going to rack up the most PIMs this season amongst the prospects? A healthy, suspension-free season could see Mike Funk sit atop the prospect PIM-meter. After finishing last season with 104, the WHL product still isn't a policeman but will be one of the more experienced blueliners on the Pirates roster. Mike Weber is likely to post big numbers in this category and is the clear favorite, but we don't expect him to be considered a "prospect" much longer. The dark horse here is actually Tyler Myers. The number "144" keeps flashing into my head, so I'm thinking he'll spend at least two hours in the box this season. A safe forecast would suggest that names like Gerbe, Weber, Chris Butler, and Marek Zagrapan could all see time in a Sabres sweater this season. What about a call-up sleeper? Felix Schutz has pro experience and enough shiftiness in his game to sneak up on everyone, including the Sabres - possibly before January. How about a projection for Jhonas Enroth in his first AHL season? The Swede should see plenty of action, going 24-15-4, with a 2.29 GAA, .912 save percentage, and two shutouts. Is Marek Zagrapan going to see his production increase? After seasons of 38 and 40 points, Zagrapan will have more talent around him to help him eclipse the 60 point barrier for the first time as a pro. 24-37-61 -3. Ambitious? He has it in him. Philip Gogulla more than doubled his previous year's output last season in Cologne with 44 points in 51 games. Can he do it again? No. The Sharks are awful this season, and there's a mess waiting for Gogulla when he returns. They have a new coach, and have started the year 0-7 after losing Ivan Ciernik's production to the KHL. Gogulla isn't a dominating figure at this juncture, so he'll be lucky to equal last season's numbers. I'd love to be wrong. Can Corey Tropp achieve the 20-pt sophomore bump that Gerbe and Kennedy did while in school? It's going to be close, but after a 6-11-17 season as a freshman, Tropp projects to 14-26-40 in year two in Spartanville. Which QMJHL defenseman will score more points this season - TJ Brennan or Jordon Southorn? Both will see loads of power play time, and both will be stride-for-stride in terms of offense. Brennan is on the better club and likes to shoot the puck more. I believe that Southorn will have more pressure to produce, landing somewhere between 45-50 points. Brennan, though, should hover in the neighborhood of 48-54 points. How about individual honors? Junior D Alex Biega is set to produce for a solid Harvard squad, projecting to 7-23-30 and +16 to get himself on the ballot for the Hobey Baker. Brad Eidsness has the skills, opportunity, and club in front of him to earn a spot on the WCHA All-Rookie Team. Breakout players: Andrew Orpik will be ready to elevate himself as a senior leader with pre-season #1 Boston College. Much has been made of his checking ability as a forward, but his underrated offensive contributions will surface once 2009 hits. Justin Jokinen will make a bit of a splash, as he's capable of 9-15-24 as a Minnesota State freshman. Other predictions... Underrated as a senior, Matt Generous will post his second consecutive season as a +12 with St. Lawrence. Chris Butler - 6-17-23 +6 with Portland Tim Kennedy - 18-26-44 with Portland. J.S. Allard - 22-52-74 with Quebec. Drew Schiestel 12-33-45 +11 with Niagara. Mike Kostka - 4-12-16 +2 with Portland. Bowling Green goaltender Nick Eno will post big wins against Michigan and Miami this season, finishing the year 14-11-0, 2.56 GAA, and .912 save percentage. Corey Fienhage will engage in a battle for the #6 defenseman in Grand Forks this fall, and should firmly cement himself in the Sioux lineup by Thanksgiving. Marc-Andre Gragnani - 19-44-63 with Portland. Nick Crawford - 5-19-24 +7 for Saginaw. Dennis Persson - 3-9-12, 15:49 TOI average in 46 games with Timra Derek Whitmore - 12 goals in Portland. Mark Mancari will again be named an AHL All-Star. Dylan Hunter - 55 points in Portland. I'd love to see yours, so have at it.
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