South Carolina Stingrays coach Cail MacLean will open training camp this morning at the Carolina Ice Palace with a somewhat limited roster.
With tryouts in the American Hockey League still going on, the Stingrays will be without as many as a half-dozen players for the opening of training camp. MacLean expects 14 or 15 players on the ice this morning.
"It's going to be a pretty thin lineup for the first practice," said MacLean, who led the Stingrays to a 41-19-12 mark in his first season as head coach. "It's kind of the nature of the business at this point in the season. Guys are still battling for jobs at the next level. This is going to be one of those days when we'll concentrate on conditioning instead of working on a bunch of team drills and systems. I'm excited about getting the season started."
MacLean was able to lure three significant free agents over the summer in Tommy Goebel, Maxime Lacroix and Pierre-Luc O'Brien. Lacroix and O'Brien were members of the Stingrays' 2009 Kelly Cup championship team. Lacroix played for the Cincinnati Cyclones a year ago, while O'Brien played in Germany.
"Those three are proven players in this league," MacLean said. "They can play in a lot of different situations."
One player MacLean might be without is Anton Gustafsson. Gustafsson, the Washington Capitals' first-round draft pick in 2008, was assigned to the Stingrays earlier in the week. However, Gustafsson has not reported to camp as of late Tuesday night. Gustafsson, 20, was the 21st overall pick in 2008 and played professionally last season in Sweden.
"We're not sure what's going on with Anton," MacLean said. "The Capitals assigned him to us, but he hasn't shown up yet."
Defenseman Derek Keller, who signed with the Stingrays during the summer, will not be in camp either. Keller underwent surgery for an undisclosed injury and could join the team later in the season. He has been released from his contract.
Rob Ricci, who is also under contract with the Stingrays, remains in camp with the AHL's Portland Pirates. The AHL regular season is set to begin on Friday.
"I think we'll get four, five and maybe six guys by the end of the week," MacLean said.
MacLean said he could also add players as AHL teams make their final cuts.
"I'm always looking to make the team better," MacLean said.
Nikita Kashirsky, Jordan Pietrus and defenseman Dylan Yeo were assigned to the Stingrays on Tuesday night. Only Kashirsky is expected to be on the ice today. Pietrus and Yeo are scheduled to join the team on Thursday.
Stingrays training camp roster
Forwards: Dan Eves, David de Kastrozza, Tommy Goebel, Pierre-Luc O'Brien, Maxime Lacroix, Trent Campbell, Matt Scherer, Nikita Kashirsky, Jordan Pietrus and Jake Hauswirth.
Defensemen: Dylan Yeo, Grant Farrell, Jeff Caister, Nate Kiser, Zach Jones and Dustin Stevenson.
Goalies: Jared DeMichiel, Beau Erickson.