That’s an easy statement to make, even with Connor McDavid, who’s coming off a 99-point season, leading the way. The Otters are losing as much offense as any team in the league – Connor Brown (45 goals, 83 assists, 128 points), Dane Fox (64-43-107), Brendan Gaunce (31-41-72), Michael Curtis (28-28-56) and Adam Pelech (10-45-55).
They also could lose Andre Burakovsky (41-46-87), if he earns a roster spot with the NHL’s Washington Capitals or is assigned to the AHL’s Hershey Bears. The Otters have some promising young players – second-year C Dylan Strome as well as skilled incoming rookies like Shaun Bily and Alex DeBrincat. But aside from Strome, these young players likely aren’t ready to become frontline scorers.
So the Otters will need to manufacture goals more so than last season. They need offense from players that weren’t needed to produce as much in 2013-14.
* Jake Evans has that potential. He’s had it since being picked in the 2nd round of the 2011 OHL draft. Yet he hasn’t put it all together in his first three seasons, to the tune of 28 goals and 57 points in 180 games.
He set career highs with 12 goals and 23 points in 67 games a season ago. He needs much more production than that to help these Otters win.
* Kyle Pettit has become a key figure on defense, the penalty kill and faceoffs. He will be a key figure in those aspects of the game this season.
But offense was non-existent the first two seasons (8 goals, 16 points in 120 games), even after he focused more on his offensive game last offseason. He needs to at least double those numbers this year.
Nick Betz has been a grinder on the third and fourth lines in his three-year career. But every once in awhile, he shows glimpses of offensive skill. If he becomes more of a prototypical power forward. He doesn’t have to be Michael Blunden, who improved from 10 goals and 17 points as a rookie in 2002-03 to 46 goals and 84 points in his fourth and final season in 2005-06.
- Victor Fernandes
Top returning scorers
C Connor McDavid – 28 goals, 71 assists, 99 points, 7 PPG, 2 SHG (56 games)
C Dylan Strome – 10 goals, 29 assists, 39 points, 2 PPG (60 games)
D Travis Dermott – 3 goals, 25 assists, 28 points, 1 PPG (67 games)
C Jake Evans – 11 goals, 7 assists, 18 points (57 games)
RW Nick Betz – 5 goals, 13 assists, 18 points (66 games)
RW Joel Wigle – 6 goals, 7 assists, 13 points (41 games)
D Darren Raddysh – 3 goals, 10 assists, 13 point, 1 PPG (60 games)
C Kyle Pettit – 5 goals, 5 assists, 10 points, 1 SHG (53 games)
Note: Lists players expected to return
Up next: Pelech has moved on to the pros. So who will be the Otters’ No. 1 D? Find out Wednesday on the Shootout blog and Twitter at www.Twitter.com/GoErieHockey.
* Let’s talk Otters: Join Victor Fernandes for the training camp edition of Otters Talk on Monday from 7-8 p.m. by heading to the Shootout blog. Can’t join in at that time? Post your questions on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GoErieHockey or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and then check out a recap of the chat on Shootout and Twitter.