Roster takes shape
As it stands, three Sioux commitments are expected to play juniors this season -- Trupp (forward), Jake Marto (defenseman) and Derrick LaPoint (defenseman).
Coming this fall are forwards Forney, Chris VandeVelde and Darcy Zajac and defenseman Chay Genoway.
This gives UND 14 forwards and 8 defensemen. I'm tallying Scott Foyt as a forward, where I anticipate he will get most of his work this season because the Sioux have less depth there. Genoway also gives the Sioux flexibility, as he played forward when he was at Shattuck-St. Mary's. If they get short on forwards, moving Genoway up front seems logical.
I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Sioux signed another forward this summer. Having just two guys for depth might be a little bit of a concern, especially when three forwards (Erik Fabian, Brad Miller and Forney) have had pretty major operations in the past 16 months.
You have to figure they will lose Jonathan Toews for the World Junior tournament and Forney also is an outside possibility for Team USA. They won't be able to move Genoway up to forward during WJC either, because Brian Lee and Taylor Chorney are virtual locks to make the team. Defenseman Zach Jones nearly made it last year and is eligible again this season, as is Joe Finley.
Here's my take on the team of skaters/lines the Sioux could put on the ice this fall:
Ryan Duncan--Jonathan Toews--Michael Forney
Andrew Kozek--T.J. Oshie--Chris Porter
Erik Fabian--Rylan Kaip--Matt Watkins
Chris VandeVelde--Darcy Zajac--Brad Miller
Depth: Ryan Martens, Scott Foyt
Brian Lee--Taylor Chorney
Joe Finley--Kyle Radke
Zach Jones--Robbie Bina/Chay Genoway
Depth: Todd Alexander
I feel that Lee, Chorney, Finley, Radke and Jones all secured spots with their play on the blue line last season. It definitely will be a battle for that sixth spot in the lineup each night.
Obviously the forward lines will change throughout the season. They always do. Here's why I projected what I did.
Duncan--Toews--Forney: A big question is whether Forney can step into a scoring-line role. I have him playing Drew Stafford's role from a year ago -- a power forward to complement Toews and Duncan. Forney has good size and was easily able to push opponents off the puck in high school. He won't be able to do that as easily in college, but with his big frame he still is a prototypical power forward. I've heard some concern about his health holding up because of the injuries he suffered during his senior season. My response: In high school, he was the target of every opponent. Playing on a line with Duncan and Toews, he won't be.
Kozek--Oshie--Porter: Oshie is going to score points, and so will whoever plays with him. Kozek is ready to have a breakout year and could score 15 goals. Porter has proven he can play a physical game, and he's put together three solid seasons on the scoresheet, too. If Watkins proves he can be a consistent scorer, Porter may be moved to the third line again, where he excelled last season. If you put Porter there, you have a checking line with three players capable of putting up 15-20 points.
Fabian--Kaip--Watkins: Has anyone seen Fabian give 99 percent during a shift? He will set the tone and Kaip and Watkins will follow. All three of these guys work incredibly hard every shift. Kaip was very good at the end of last year, even before he started to get the goals to fall. Watkins quietly had a good season. This line can provide a physical presence and is extremely capable of chipping in offense consistently. They are everything you want out of your checking line.
VandeVelde--Zajac--Miller: After falling behind because of a shoulder injury, Miller was a regular by the time UND made the Frozen Four. Zajac is said to be a little bit grittier than Travis was, but he still put up marvelous numbers in the BCHL. VandeVelde came on strong at the end of the season in the USHL. That's a fourth line with definite offensive ability.
What sort of lines do you all envision? Do you like what you see?