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2015 Training Camp Round-up – Oct 5th

The final preseason game has been played and now teams have until Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. ET to reduce their rosters to at most 23 men.

Although preseason statistics lack a lot of context given how much variety there is in the quality of competition from one game to the next, we can at least use them to identify some players that stood out.  We just have to do so with the understanding that these numbers can't be taken too seriously.

Columbus' Ryan Johansen, Nick Foligno, and Brandon Saad easily made the biggest mark as they finished first, second, and tied for third respectively in the preseason scoring race.  Johansen recorded 12 points and Foligno finished with nine in four games each while Saad was limited to three contests, but still finished with four goals and four assists.  We've already touched on the success that line has been having in a previous column, but suffice it to say it will be interesting if they can translate that preseason success into an early campaign hot streak.

NHL: OCT 28 Coyotes at LightningJonathan Drouin was another major force in the exhibition contests with four goals and four assists in six games.  He's a 20-year-old who has a lot of offensive upside, but had just 34 points in his rookie season, in part because his role with Tampa Bay was limited.  He might find himself getting regular minutes with Steven Stamkos this season though and beyond that, just having a year's worth of NHL experience under his belt should help him to take another step forward.

Moving on to the two players that people are likely most interested about as far as preseason statistics go, Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel didn't set the world on fire with in the exhibition games, although they certainly did far more than just hold their own.  In their first taste of NHL action - or at least close to it - McDavid had five assists in five games while Eichel had two goals and six points in four contests.  As just an odd side note, both of Eichel's goals were shorthanded, meaning that neither of them found the back of the net in five-on-five play.  Read into that as you will, but I personally think that more than enough has been said about both of them already.  I'm just happy that this week I'll get to see them in games that count.

They're far from the only interesting rookies though.  An upper-body injury meant that Artemi Panarin, 23, couldn't get into a preseason game until Chicago's finale on Saturday, but he made a great first impression.

“For not being on the ice he looks really relaxed. He’s great with the puck, has nice moves and I think we’ll see a lot of this,” Marian Hossa told <a href=" CSN Chicago

Panarin played on a line with Patrick Kane and Artem Anisimov and registered two assists.  Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville liked that unit and it wouldn't be surprising to see it used in the season opener.  That's a great opportunity for Panarin, who recorded 62 points in 54 KHL contests last season, which was more than his teammate and former NHL star Ilya Kovalchuk.

One rookie that didn't do particularly well statistically was Dylan Strome, who had just one point in five games and had a minus-two rating.  That needs some context though as the Arizona Coyotes only managed four goals in total over six exhibition games, so he was surrounded by a lot of struggling players.

Although he was cut from the Coyotes' training camp roster over the weekend, Arizona emphasized that it wasn't because they were unhappy with his performance.

"Dylan had a terrific training camp," Coyotes GM Don Maloney said, per the team's website.  "However, he is still a very young man who will be able to mature away from the NHL spotlight.  He has all the ingredients we like in a player – intelligent, competitive and skilled.  He simply needs more time to work on his strength and quickness.  He will be an important player for us in the future."

He'll go back to OHL Erie where he'll have a chance to be the team's clear leader now that McDavid is with Edmonton.  Meanwhile two other highly regarded rookies in Max Domi and Anthony Duclair did make the cut in Arizona.  They are projected to be playing on a line together with Martin Hanzal and while the Coyotes as a whole will likely have an abysmal offense this season, that line might actually be a solid contributor.

Moving away from forwards, Jonas Gustavsson became one of the few veterans that attended camp on a PTO to secure a one-way contract as Boston has agreed to pay him $700,000 for the 2015-16 campaign.  On Monday they put Jeremy Smith on waivers, essentially confirming that Gustavsson will be the team's backup goaltender.

The Bruins are going with the safety of a player that already has nearly 150 games worth of NHL experience over Smith, who had a commanding 2.05 GAA and .933 save percentage in 39 AHL contests last season, but has never played in the NHL.

Gustavsson also beat out Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban for the job, although it was always a good bet that Boston would choose to allow them to hone their game in the minors rather than let them spend most of the season warming the bench.