With the anticipated return of Cam Hillis to the Guelph Storm lineup, the speculation about how good this team can be offensively will start to turn into reality.
Alexey Toropchenko might play Friday in Ottawa, MacKenzie Entwistle is out, but it’s likely only until next weekend.
That would leave only Pavel Gogolev still out on the offensive side, and he should be back sometime in March with enough time to get some games in prior to the playoffs.
Think about a lineup with all that offence.
Putting on my George Burnett cap for a moment, that could mean lines of Suzuki/Entwistle/Ratcliffe; Gogolev/Hawel/Toropchenko; Ralph/Hillis/Schnarr; Roberts/Commisso/Stevenson.
That assumes Suzuki stays on the wing and the Hawel line sticks together after looking so good as a unit before Gogolev went down.
That’s a lot of firepower and a fourth line that could be a pretty responsible checking unit.
An injury or mini-slump and you can slide Commisso or Stevenson up a line. Looked what happened when Commisso got the call to the first line against Saginaw.
Depth is everything for a winning team and this team has never been fully healthy since coming together at the trade deadline.
The playoffs are a marathon, not a sprint, and players will get hurt, top lines will get shut down and individual will go cold.
Having others who are willing and able to step up at different times becomes so important.
So is a second power play unit, which was one of the Storm’s issues earlier in the season. Not so much now.
The 2013-2014 team had a pretty deadly top six forwards, but after that there was a pretty big drop off in offensive production. This year’s team is definitely deeper.
True, no everyone is going to be clicking all the time, but that’s the point, the deeper you are the less dependent you are on that.
A Nick Suzuki mini slump isn’t so bad if Cam Hillis is in your lineup. A Nate Schnarr twisted ankle isn’t so worrisome if Pavel Gogolev is scoring every other game.
Skill. Depth. Experience.
Now if they can all just get healthy ….