We've reached the end of our journey. Winnipeg is the final article for my "30 Teams in 30 Days" feature. Hope you've enjoyed the ride!
Scott Kosmachuk - Guelph Storm
What a year for Kosmachuk. He was just phenomenal for Guelph, in both the regular and post season. In a lot of ways, Kosmachuk's terrific season can be contributed to an increased confidence level and improved strength. Any time he had the puck, he was aggressive in trying to drive the net, which is nothing new to him. But this year, he had the confidence to slow the game down at times, finding passing lanes and becoming a much more well rounded offensive player. His speed and first few steps also improved further, to the point where he had to be considered one of the quickest players in the OHL. His skating certainly improved over his OHL career and is now an asset. His shot, as I mentioned last year, is also a big time asset and he has definite goal scoring potential at the next level because he can score in such a variety of ways. Definitely not a one trick pony. His OHL career is now done and he'll turn pro next year. In the AHL, I see him continuing his success. I think off the bat, his game will be simplified to being more of a dump and chase, crash the crease style goal scorer, but as he gains confidence (just as he did in the OHL), it should evolve into something bigger and better. I see him scoring 20 in the AHL next year though.
Jimmy Lodge - Saginaw Spirit
Not a good year for Lodge. The Spirit did struggle as a team offensively this year (consistency wise anyway), and they had some unfortunate other things to deal with. Definitely not an easy season to play for any of Saginaw's players. That said, Lodge did struggle to establish himself as a primary offensive weapon. He's definitely got skill, but still struggles with the more higher traffic areas on the ice. He needs to continue to add strength to find consistent success in the corners and in front of the net. And on drives across the blue line, he needs to be more assertive in getting the puck to the net to create consistent scoring chances. He's kept to the outside far too often. He also looked to lack confidence in his shot this year. He's got great goal scoring potential because he has a good shot (as he showed in his draft year), but wasn't getting himself in scoring position as consistently and, at times, seemed to develop more of a pass first mentality. Not uncommon for players to suffer growing pains in the year after being drafted, so there's absolutely no reason to write off a talented young man. Next year is a HUGE one for him though. He'll need to be the offensive leader for Saginaw, who'll be going through a bit of a rebuild. But, if some of their younger players step up, who knows what could happen. I think considering the circumstances, if he can get back to being over the point per game mark, that'd be great.