I know. I usually post this in July.
1) I was incredibly busy with real work. 2) I don't have a clue how this is going to turn out.
But I owe it a shot. So here goes.
As usual, these lines and all are nothing more than my opinion. I'll throw in some comments after each position group, as always.
Kyle Osterberg - Tony Cameranesi - Justin Crandall
Austin Farley - Cal Decowski - Karson Kuhlman
Alex Iafallo - Dominic Toninato - Adam Krause
Charlie Sampair - Jared Thomas - Brett Boehm
Blake Young - Austyn Young - Sammy Spurrell
I opted to keep Cameranesi and Toninato with the linemates they finished last season with, but there are arguments for switching a few guys. Krause is probably the extra pivot, a guy who can play in the middle if there's an injury or someone isn't effective. Thomas is a guy who could move to the wing to make room for Krause if the coaches want to start with more experience down the middle.
Farley could re-crack the top line if he can get back to the production we saw in his freshman year. I know Cameranesi's numbers tailed off, too, but if you watched this team, you'd know he was a very effective player who didn't seem to have any luck around the net. It's not like he wasn't in the right places or doing the right things. If he's healthy, he could conceivably double his point total from last year (21).
Decowski continues, I believe, his steady ascent from "part-time guy" as a freshman. I thought he had a very good season last year, getting a shot to fill in on the second line (Caleb Herbert's line) when Farley was out injured. He's a very smart player who is still developing his offensive skills. There's absolutely more to come from him.
While I concede that the Toninato line is more than a typical "shut down third line," they're really good in that role. There's more this group can do offensively, too. If Krause moves to center, Boehm could be a fit to help in that area. Iafallo is going to be a beast at this level. Probably could argue he already is.
Kuhlman and Boehm should put pressure on the veterans for "top six" roles. As a whole, this forward group is as deep as it's been in some time. You have at least nine or ten guys who could easily argue for top six minutes, including the two aforementioned freshmen.
(There are a lot of interesting combinations, including Sampair - Decowski - Crandall and Farley - Cameranesi - Kuhlman. I'd also like to see Iafallo with Cameranesi at some point, maybe with a guy like Kuhlman on the right side. Whatever combos we see in the exhibition and against the Gophers at the Ice Breaker could completely change by the time we see the Gophers again in November, even if everyone stays healthy and the team is playing well. Scott Sandelin likes the term "work in progress" early in the season, and it'll be just that as the coaches try to find what clicks the best.)
Carson Soucy - Andy Welinski
Derik Johnson - Willie Raskob
Willie Corrin - Brendan Kotyk
Nick McCormack - Dan Molenaar
Again, I decided to keep the top pair together from a year ago. It just makes sense. I thought they developed a good chemistry, and I like how their styles mesh on the ice. As Soucy becomes more confident and more responsible, it should help Welinski's offensive contributions.
Kotyk is the wild card. He isn't what you picture from a Division III transfer. Eligible to practice last year, he stepped right onto the ice and showed he belonged at this level from the start. A giant at six-foot-six, Kotyk is a good skater for how big he is, and let's face it: This isn't the biggest defensive corps in college hockey. That size could be a huge asset with this group.
Raskob should make a bigger impact offensively this season, and the coaches know Johnson will block any shot he can get to and defend any teammate at any time. Molenaar finished last season healthy and I thought he played well, especially considering how much time he had missed over the last couple years. He's smart as heck with the puck and will challenge for playing time.
Kasimir Kaskisuo - Matt McNeely - Alex Fons
I don't know how this will play out, but I believe Kaskisuo -- who was one of the better goalies in all of junior hockey last season -- will start the opener against the Gophers. That doesn't lock him in for the season by any means, but I don't think he was brought in so he could warm the bench while someone else plays. McNeely has every physical tool in the bag, and though he obviously had his struggles last year, he will be a huge factor if he puts everything together. Fons has played in three games -- starting one -- in two years at UMD. He isn't likely to play much, but his experience and attitude make him a great asset in this group.