It will, quite frankly, be a pretty dreary three weeks at the Sleeman Centre.
When the biggest question coming out of the Guelph Storm’s training camp is “who will be the 13th forward?” you know things are going to be pretty low key.
The Storm returns 17 players off last year’s roster and have already added an 18th lock in overage defenceman Jack Hanley.
Throw in the signing of the top three draft picks that George Burnett has already said he expects to make the team and that’s 21 players. He wants to keep 22.
Players on the team last year might not make it, trades could be made, but that’s unlikely at this point.
It’s a veteran team with not much wiggle room on the roster barring external moves, which will likely come at some point, but not right now.
True, one or two returnees could be battling for their spots, perhaps Keegan Stevenson and Nico Daws, and there is a chance second-round pick Zack Terry or third round pick Ty Collins could play elsewhere, but that doesn’t appear to be the plan.
If another rookie grabbed that last roster spot that could mean the team opens the season with four 16 year olds and six second-year players (I’m counting Daws and Stevenson in that group) on the roster.
That number might be fine to start the season, but if you plan on being a contender, that’s not a good mix for the end of the season.
The age/experience mix isn’t quite right for a contender (two 16 year olds and two 17 year olds on defence?), but if that’s obvious to me it’s more obvious to the people that run the team.
By comparison, the Storm’s 2013-14 squad had a defence that consisted of one OA, three 19 year olds, an 18 year old and one 17 year old.
They carried two 16 year olds that year - Garrett McFadden and Adam Craievich - but neither played much down the stretch and hardly at all in the playoffs.
The current roster you see Sept. 21 will not be the roster you see on Jan. 11.
There’s a third overage to add, experience forward depth to add and probably two defencemen to add.
The Storm has the opportunity to be a legitimate contender in the Western Conference this year. But they’re still about four players away from being that team.