After a season that surprised many outside of the Lambton County area, the Sting are once again predicted to become basement dwellers. They will be without the firepower or Arniel, Martin, DiBenedetto, Katic, and the stellar goaltending of Dan Spence. Some questions are still out there such as which OA's will Sarnia use? Will Adam Courchaine show up to steal a few games, or is he taking the AHL route? Although standings wise the Sting are less than 50/50 to so much as take the 8th spot in the Western Conference, there are some interesting prospects on the horizon. Sarnia could logically see anywhere from 2-5 players drafted in the 2010 NHL Entry draft. They already have 3 players to watch for the 2011 draft, as well as a potential 1st rounder in the 2012 NHL draft, that should all be in their line-up this season. This will be a trying season for Sting fans, but the future looks very, very bright.
Ted Brithen - was one of the best players in the Swedish junior ranks. Turning 19 it's no secret Brithen would like to take a shot at the NHL, why else would a good 19 year old swede want to play in the OHL? Brithen has shown explosive speed and offensive skillset so far in camp, and is a question mark but after all the 19 year old players drafted this year, it should be interesting to see how Brithen's skillset translates to a top 6 forward spot on an OHL club.
Kale Kerbashian - has shown flashes of NHL draft worthy skills, unfortunately his size combined with his inconsistencies have prevented him from getting drafted thus far. Needless to say 2009-2010 the year before Kerbaishan becomes an overager is a critical year if he wants to pursue a professional career, and Sarnia's lack of offensive talent this year may be exactly what Kerbashian needs to get every opportunity to show what he's capable of.
Michael Neal (DAL) - Neal's potential OHL status is still up in the air. He will be an OA, which Sarnia has several of, and at the end of the year he didn't look like he'll be sticking around. Working during the summer with his older brother NHLer James Neal, has apparently proven invaluable. Shockingly Neal has reportedly been one of Dallas' top prospects in the Traverse City tournament. This could mean a potential spot on the Iowa Stars in the AHL, or if he returns to the OHL this massive improvement from just 5 months ago could secure him a spot on the Sting.
Miroslav Preisinger - Preisinger showed flashes of NHL potential during his rookie year in the OHL, but not enough to get drafted. That didn't stop Preisinger from reinventing himself during the later part of the season. Once timid, afraid of contact and playing without intensity, Preisinger has shown amazing passing skills, as well as some ability to finish. Also he seems to be a gifted hitter, something sting fans would have never expected watching his first few games. Evidence of this is when he layed out gritty forward Michael Latta with a clean open ice hit, that left him down for several minutes. If he can take his added ice time and show off his offensive skills while still playing with an edge, NHL teams might be willing to line up to draft this Slovak.
Ben O'Quinn - No one player improved during the 2008-2009 season than Ben O'Quinn. Mostly a marginal player with PK time to start the year, O'Quinn took advantage of some injuries, suspensions and World U-17 tournament as an opportunity to show his talents back in the OHL. O'Quinn finished the year paired with Arniel most of the time and either Justin DiBenedetto or Matt Martin. It should be interesting to see if O'Quinn can show off his skills again without quite as talented linemates. If so, and combined with his great defensive awareness O'Quinn could see himself drafted next summer.
Brett Ritchie - He won't be eligible untill 2011 but Ritchie already has power forward size at 6'3" - 190. Ritchie will be interesting to watch, and should show off some great talent. He has goal scoring prowess and is willing to play very physical. In fact he could be a step up from a similar player Sarnia took in last year's 1st round, Greg Sutch.
Brandon Francisco - A sure fire first rounder, Francisco isn't eligible to be drafted untill 2012 but he's certainly got to be highly regarded for that draft. Francisco shows off amazing speed and arguably has the best hands of anyone drafted in this year's OHL draft. Francisco was a goal scoring machine and it should be very interesting to see how Francisco can contribute as a major part of a rebuilding team in Sarnia.
Joseph (J.C.) Campagna - Not a name that jumps out, but Campagna left Ohio to play for Sarnia this summer. So far in camp he's played amazing showing decent speed, good awareness in the offensive zone, and on a small team this 6'1" 16 year old centerman brings some much needed size to the line-up. Campagna isn't eligible untill 2011 but he's certainly a player to watch for this upcoming season.
Nathan Chiarlitti - Going into the 2010 draft Sarnia has two defencemen who are prett much locks to get drafted if not in the top 60. Chiarlitti is one of those two, and personally i think has the edge at this point on Rogalski. If you live in Sarnia and see the press conferneces, posters, pocket schedules you'll notice that with Stamkos, Martin, DiBenedetto, Arniel and Katic gone from this recent Sting era that Nathan Chiarlitti is now the face of this franchise. Although he only put up 1 point last year, Chiarlitti put up multiple points in the short U-17 tournament last winter. I should be noted that Chiarlitti was behind several veterans on the depth chart and was not a lock to make the Sting. Chairlitti made the team as a 3rd pairing defenceman due to showing poise and patience beyond his years, as well as being very coachable in terms of his role on the team. Chairlitti was primarily used to play a safe defensive game. Now as a top 4 defenceman on this team, Chiarlitti is expected to produce much more offensively, and still be a rock on the defensive end. Chiarlitti doesn't posess the speed that Rogalski does, but he has outstanding positioning at all times on the ice and willingness to do what it takes to win.
Joe Rogalski - Rogalski has been considered for a while to be one of the top 5 defenceman to be drafted out of the OHL. That may become top 6 depending on how you look at it with the addition of Cam Fowler to the O, but Rogalski has ideal size (6'3") and has amazing speed, sometimes looking Katic-esque on the rush (litearlly, becasue their numbers were similar at 71 and 74 sometimes you couldn't tell). This speed, and size will be Rogalski's ticket to the NHL as he is a lock to get drafted. The only knock on Rogalski is that even with all these skills he's played 2 seasons and hasn't stood out on a consistent basis. That may all change this year, Rogalski is expected to be the #2 defenceman teaming up with physical and solid defensive overager Jordan Hill on the top defensive pairing, which will really allow Rogalski to show off his talents.
Adam Courchaine (BOS) - Courchaine is expected to make the AHL Providence Bruins, however if he returns he will be the starting goaltender for the Sting this season. If he returns the Boston prospect will have alot to prove as an overager with this team.
Shayne Campbell - Campbell was a late pick in the 2008 OHL Priority selection, but suprised many by making the team. Campbell will rely on his lightning quick reflexes, and his ideal size. Some feel Campbell doesn't have what it takes to be a full time starter in the OHL but Campbell has shown the potential last year at times to not only to be a starter, but to be a guy who could steal games on a consistent basis. Personally he reminds me alot of Atlanta goaltending prospect Chris Carrozzi in style and skillset. Campbell is not eligible untill 2011 so he has plenty of time to show what he's capable of.