The Hounds GM has his hands full again this summer and will be earning every single peso from his paycheck. After a season that saw the Hounds contend for a league title ; the seasoned young GM can put a contending team on the ice once again if he brings in the right coach and assistants.
Returning to the ice this year will be the 5th overall pick in the NHL draft, Barrett Hayton, star goaltender Matt Villalta, along with a seasoned defense core featuring Mac Hallowell and when the ink is dry Rasmus Sandin.
Did I mention Morgan Frost will be eligible to return as an OA along with Kieghan Howdeshell.? The Hounds also have some talented sophomores returning in Joe Carroll and Ryan Roth who both played quite a bit of hockey last year.
The Hounds just picked up a couple of Czech players (Roman Pucek and Jaromir Pytlik) and they could be used as potential trade bait as I feel signing Sandin and Kupari will be the game of choice.
The chances of the Hounds securing both Rasmus Sandin and 20th overall in the NHL draft Rasmus Kupari are other reasons why I think the Hounds can compete at nearly the same level as last year.
Aside from the few comments from Sandin that he’d like to play against older men this year ; I don’t think he will play anywhere but in the Soo this year. He will be advised the fast moving hockey (small ice surface) that he came to adapt to last year is the only option he should consider.
I am confident whiz kid Kyle Dubas will be very instrumental in convincing Rasmus that his first Metro Toronto condominium will come quicker by playing in Northern Ontario once again.
…And then we have the other Rasmus…..Rasmus Kupari who opted to stay and play in his native Finland last year and not report to Sault Ste. Marie. This is also an interesting developing story. Being finally drafted by Los Angeles this year will certainly potentially land him in a red and white jersey alongside another King in Matt Villalta. He is currently under contract to his elite team in Finland, but in the same scenario as above; if he wants to make it to the NHL, he’ll take what his advisors tell him very seriously ……..and they’ll be seriously advising him to get used to a quicker game of hockey in North America.
Kupari, having only played in 39 games last year, is going to have to get used to a more demanding schedule and more experience. Players on the Hounds played twice as many games as Kupari and when your developing to go to the next level, game playing experience is everything.
Having said all of the above, I am starting to get anxious for the upcoming announcement regarding the New head coach for the Soo Greyhounds. Kyle has been recently quoted as saying that he would like to have somebody in place in the next couple of weeks but he has not finished interviewing.
So who is it going to be? Your guess is as good as mine but I hope it will be another rising star; someone that will give us at least 3 more years of winning hockey. Since the Keefe days, this fan base has certainly been on the receiving end of some good years.
With the talent returning and a savvy GM, this season can be just as enjoyable as last year was. All there is left is for Kyle to pull another rabbit out of his hat.
Ernest Skinner Jr.