Slammers Season Previewby Pat Booth | October 31, 2017, 2:31 PM ET
The Slammers went into last season looking to win. With a core in their prime and stellar goaltending they looked poised for another long playoff run. Additions of top end forward talents like Mats Zuccarello and Joe Thornton had the Slammers fans looking deep into the playoffs once again. Unfortunately as it turned out the Slammers were tripped up in Game 7 of Round 1.
Now the team was left watching and pondering their future looking at the 2017-2018 season. The team had great top end talent up front and a solid defensive top 4 but without goaltending or forward depth. They looked to UFA to find some help but were unable to secure any help at forward or in nets. They did manage to add Mark Stuart and Clayton Stoner which round out what is now a solid top 6 and should help out the goalies and give Slammers fans a bit of hope for the upcoming season.
Captain Erik Karlsson will lead the way on the back-end again expected to do it all at both ends of the ice. He is expected to compeat for the Bobby Orr trophy once again. Alongside Karlsson will be fellow Swede and Stud D-MAN Niklas Hjalmarsson who is much more representive of the Slammers defense first strategy. Jordie Benn and Andrew MacDonald round out a top 4 that is high on DF, if lacking elsewhere outside of Karlsson.
Looking to the season ahead the team expects a lot out of recently resigned Brad Marchand who signed a 4 year $9 million deal. Coming off a disappointing 22 goal season Marchand is top 5 rated scorer and will need to put up numbers like it for the Slammers to have any success. His name came up in the trade mill at the draft as it was rumoured he was unhappy with the direction of the team and while his name is still out there as a player who could be moved the Slammers haven’t received any real offers after UFA from teams that missed out.
Nicklas Backstrom also fell off last season with an uncharacteristic 44 point season, but looks to rebound with great ratings and will be needed to get back to point per game form for the Slammers to make the playoffs.
Beyond those two stars the Slammers top 6 rounds out with recently signed Franchise Player Mats Zuccarello, Patric Hornqvist, Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Loui Eriksson who are all competent top 6 players, but not on the level of the top teams in the Canadian Conference.
After that the Slammers talent drops off with 4 rookies in Brendan Leipsic, Colton Sissons, Shane Prince and Sven Andrighetto added to Calle Jarnkrok and Alex Chiasson. A lot will be asked of these young players to try and make this season a success.
The Slammers ownership is looking at this season as a re-tooling year and depending on if any deals can be made a possible full re-build season.