welcome to sticks and pucks where I do away with proper grammar and more or less recount my tweets.
Hockey season is about to land. Next Saturday, your hometown hero Norfolk Admirals will take to Scope ice for their first pre-season game against Western partners-in-crime, the Charlotte Checkers. We’ve still got a long road ahead before that. If we want to see some hockey, we should have some players.
Anaheim’s first cut day happened on Thursday, and nothing was too surprising. Norfolk received Max Friberg, Kevin Gagne, Antoine Laganiere, Andrew O’Brien, Charlie Sarault, Zack Stortini, Stefan Warg, Steven Whitney, Maxime Sauve, and Teigan Zahn among “did that guy play for us…he did, right..he didn’t” moves. Most of those players are rookies except for Stortini and Sauve. John Mitchell and Chris Wagner are back in the “regular contributor” category. I am not surprised by most of these, though Zahn and Sauve were added on PTOs this month.
Who’s still in Anaheim? Goalies. Freddie, Bobkov, and John Gibson continue to battle it out in camp, as there’s a big decision to make. Who goes to the Utah Grizzlies and who gets to be the back-up in Norfolk between Gibson and Bobkov? Both are young and need development, though Gibson has a higher ceiling.
Forwards: John Kurtz, Emerson Etem, Patrick Maroon, and Devante-Smith Pelly remain with the Ducks. DSP and Maroon seemed to have some good chemistry in pre-season games against the Kings and Avs, connecting for a goal in Colorado. Still, there’s not a lot of room with the Ducks and DSP is still on his ELC. Speaking of ELCs, John Kurtz is probably getting an extended look from the guys in Anaheim after signing his first NHL contract. He’ll be back. Emerson is just in a weird spot. He was great for the Ducks last year, but he’s on his ELC and there are, of course, space problems in the big league roster. Limbo for Etem.
Defense: Anaheim’s defense keeps falling. Francois Beauchemin is still recovering from ACL surgery and Sheldon Souray is still under thanks to a torn ligament in the wrist. Things can’t get worse oh sh.. Luca Sbisa is out a couple weeks. Sbisa should be back for the 2nd week of the season, but the Ducks need a fill-in. Among their choices are AHL stalwart Nolan Yonkman (who scored a goal against Phoenix in pre-season after scoring zero last year), Hampus Lindholm, Kyle Cumiskey, and Mat Clark. Hampus didn’t get a true full season last year due to a couple of concussions. If this weren’t a dire situation, I’d say yes, Hampus to Norfolk. He has a chance to excel here, and may crack the opening night line-up in Denver.
Speaking of Yonkman….
Who’s the Captain?
Nolan Yonkman was the captain last year for the San Antonio Rampage. Good for him, I say. We’re currently captain-less here in Norfolk. Here are my candidates:
Pat Maroon- If he’s here. No-brainer, wore an A last year and was the team’s most consistent scorer. Would also throw down if necessary.
John Kurtz- Not the most obvious choice, I know. Kurtz wore an A at times last season, just signed his first ELC after playing in the minors for Anaheim for a few years, throws down, kills penalties, does whatever. Great off-the-ice guy.
Mat Clark-Defenseman that missed only one game last year, solid d-game that lets the hits do the talking.
John Mitchell- By virtue of just hanging around and being there, you know? Scores goals sometimes.
What say you? Get into it on twitter @BeneathScope.
ESPN/Hockey Prospectus guru Corey Pronman releases his top Anaheim prospects today. Who are they? Prospects must be 1)under 26 2) have less than 50 career NHL games or less than 25 games the prior season.
I think these players will make it because I am a great guesser.
John Gibson G
Freddie Andersen G
Rickard Rakell C
Kevin Roy F
Shea Theodore D
Hampus Lindholm D
Sami Vatanen D
Max Friberg F
Stefan Noesson F
Nick Sorensen F
Nick Kerdiles F
William Karlsson F
Antonine Laganiere F
Joseph Cramarossa F
Kenton Helgesen D
Those are mostly guesses. Probably bad ones!
Camp is here for rooks and prospects et cetera which means hockey is closer. Some of you may want to keep tabs on players with twitter, so I’ve made a list. The list is a PROJECTED list right now, though it can be updated at any time.
I am writing a post on this blog for the first time in a long time so that’s cool. Let’s see what happened while I’ve been tweeting mostly
- Josh Brittain went to the Bears
- PL3 went to WBS
- The Utah Grizzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz are your new ECHL affiliate
- Sheldon Souray got an injury which means Sami Vatanen may see more playing time with the Ducks
The big news, of course, is the AHL schedule. Finally released after the NBA schedule, the AHL’s slate of games is real interesting if your team is not Norfolk. On the plus side, the Ads get to play every team in the Eastern Conference except St John’s at least twice at home. This includes teams like Manchester and Portland.
Division play is of the utmost importance, as the Ads play each of their Eastern Division opponents 8 times. The only opponent they play as often is Charlotte. Unfortunately, it’s a really boring schedule with no other Western Conference teams. I made you a schedule, red is home, gold is away: #Ads89 schedule.
Finally, I’m trying to get #Ads89 started. It’s a take off of the Columbus Crew’s #crew96, and I’m not ashamed.
Welcome to Rebound Control, a look at stories BTS has missed from the week that was.
- With teams now in Iowa and Utica, the AHL had its yearly realignment. Good news! Norfolk stays in the East and maintains its biggest rivalries. Jason has more over at Chips from Center Ice.
- Utica has hired former Duck Travis Green as their head coach.
- The Fort Wayne Komets will not reprise their role as Norfolk’s ECHL affiliate.
- Former Cincinnati Cyclones head coach Jarrod Skalde will take Mike Haviland’s place as an assistant on the bench next year. He is the reigning John Brophy (of course!) ECHL coach of the year, and played some games for the Ducks.
- UFA D-man Jordan Hendry has signed with the Straubing Tigers of the DEL. That makes two Ads in Germany.
- John Mitchell, Matt Kennedy, and Devo (against former Ad J-P Cote) made the end of the year video for best AHL hits.
- John Gibson, Hampus Lindholm, Rickard Rakell, and Stefan Noesen have some interviews up on the Ducks YouTube channel, which needs some new music.
In yesterday’s post, I made a lot of grammatical errors. I will probably do that again. Another thing I did was make some pretty giant assumptions about what would happen with Anaheim’s forward situation. I needed to do that in order to make a reasonable projection about the Ducks and Admirals in the fall. Free agency is still going on and activity will happen between now and the season (as well as when the puck drops). Let’s talk about what I’m going to call “Big Guesses”.
Big Guess #1: Teemu Selanne returns.
The biggest and most important prediction is that Anaheim’s face of the franchise will return for next season. While he is 43, Selanne doesn’t appear to be done with the game. He hasn’t made any hard decisions yet and gets the leisure to say if and when he’s back. #TeemuWatch will continue.
Big Guess #2: Selanne’s return creates a jam at the wing spots, especially for Pat Maroon (and Brad Staubitz)
If Selanne returns, this creates a bunch of bodies at the wing spots wanting to play. The two most likely to get shafted by this are Pat Maroon and Brad Staubitz. Maroon has been a proven power forward in the AHL, a guy who plays physically, can score, and will scrap if he’s asked. Staubitz is supposed to be the same guy, except he costs more and, well, Ducks fans aren’t the happiest with him. With Matt Beleskey signing a two-year extension stay with Anaheim, there really isn’t a need for three of those guys every night. Thus, there’s a scenario where both Staubitz and Maroon are healthy scratched 4 out of 5 nights. Given how much money Anaheim invested in Maroon, they may find him more valuable playing 1st line minutes in Norfolk.
Big Guess #3: Peter Holland wins the 4C spot.
One of the biggest wants from any team, outside of say Pittsburgh, is a reliable #2 center. It is rare to find one, like a hard-shooting right-handed D-man. Or something. Much has been made about Anaheim and a number of other teams searching to find a 2C, and possibly inquiring about the recently bought-out Mikhail “Grabo” Grabovski. Though he could land in Anaheim, I think he will eventually end up with the Caps. With Grabo on the Caps, the Ducks will look to Nick “Bones” Bonino as their 2C. Before he got injured, Bones was an impressive player with some speed. I think Bruce Boudreau would like to see him fully healthy and at that spot. Veteran Saku Koivu re-signed for a year, giving the Ducks a reasonable expectation for their 3C. Finally, there is the 4C spot. Anaheim’s 4C spot switched a lot of hands, before it ended up in the hand of trade acquisition David Steckel. He was a low-cost buy, brought in from Toronto for failed project Ryan Lasch and a draft pick. He wasn’t there to score, though. Anaheim now has Peter Holland, who has a bit of NHL experience and was drafted in the first round 4 years ago. By putting him on the fourth line, the Ducks might experience an uptick in scoring from that position.
Big Guess #3: Devante Smith-Pelly will be in Norfolk, and so will Rickard Rakell.
With a bunch of depth at the NHL level and a relatively young age, Devante Smith-Pelly should be headed back to Norfolk. DSP broke into the NHL at the age of 19–usually when sure-fire superstars hit. He found himself stuck in Norfolk most of the year, trying to get better as an all-around player. Thanks to just turning 21, DSP still has a lot of room to develop, and can continue to do so at the AHL level. He’ll be the top returning scorer, especially if Peter Holland and Pat Maroon make the Ducks.
Since I have Peter Holland making the Ducks, that has 2011 first-round pick Rickard Rakell coming to Norfolk. Rakell will probably have a chance at the 4C spot though I think Peter Holland wins out due to his NHL experience and continued development in the AHL.
I feel like I’ve properly explained the Big Guesses.
Small Guess #1: The RFAs get signed.
Anaheim has a small matter right now of signing their remaining RFAs. The most pressing need is former Ad Kyle Palmieri, who projects as a top-6 forward, playing on Ryan Getzlaf’s wing. With Matt Beleskey signed, there is a base for how much Plams is worth (more than Beleskey). Next up are D-men Mat Clark and Alex Grant, both of whom are AHLers. Expect them to sign some 2-way deals eventually. I think a lot of Anaheim stuff has been quiet this week thanks to the focus of prospect camp.
Sorry for not getting to the Assessments posts when I said I would. I am a terrible person for that, I say to myself. I figure those can wait for right now, as the offseason is long and boring. With the Free Agent Funtime Bonanza! happening this week, it’s a good time to look at who is staying and who is going in Norfolk and Anaheim.
Since this blog is dedicated to the Norfolk Admirals, it’s more focused on who will be playing in Scope come October. To figure that out, however, we must figure out who is definitely guaranteed a place in Anaheim. I’ll be using my two favorite websites, CapGeek.com and EliteProspects. Both will be instrumental in figuring out the depth chart. Let’s use the old adage and go from the Net Out.
Anaheim feels good with their goal situation, from the top down. Hiller remains entrenched as the starter, with pleasant surprise Viktor Fasth in a 1-B role after earning a 2-year extension with the Ducks. Frederik Andersen, Igor Bobkov, and John Gibson will be vying for time in Norfolk this year, save for emergency call-ups. Okay, Bobber and Gibson will be trying to back-up Freddie. Hiller is making $4.5 million this year and is very likely to be let go next year–that’s next year.
Admirals losses from 2012-13: None, really
Francois Beauchemin-Sheldon Souray
Luca Sbisa-Cam Fowler
Ben Lovejoy-Sami Vatanen
Ads fans will get their first sigh of disappointment when they see Sami Vatanen projected in my top 6 for the Ducks. With fellow Finn Toni Lydman being let go, a spot opened up for a new defenseman. Vatanen can fill that void while adding a dose of Power Play firepower with his shot. Bryan Allen, who signed with the Ducks last summer, did not play himself into a job and will probably be a 7th D-man. It would not surprise me, though, to see Allen in the opening night line-up if Francois Beauchemin is still recovering from ACL surgery.
EliteProspects also has Kyle Cumiskey listed a defenseman for the Ducks. Cumiskey spent last year playing for MODO in Sweden and the year before that with the Crunch. He’s not listed anywhere on CapGeek, yet. I think he’s headed back to play for the Admirals.
Admirals Losses: Sami Vatanen. The Finnish Firepower finally brings his game to the NHL on a full-time basis.
Kyle Palmieri – Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry
Jakob Silfverberg-Nick Bonino-Teemu Selanne
Daniel Winnik-Saku Koivu-Emerson Etem
Matt Beleskey-Peter Holland-Andrew Cogliano
Extras: Staubitz, Maroon
Okay, I’m assuming a lot here. The two biggest assumptions being Teemu returning for what would likely be his last season and Peter Holland earning the 4C spot. Teemu signing creates a logjam at the wing spots, granted it’s a nice logjam. Pat Maroon, who signed a 2-year, 1-way with the Ducks goes to being at best an extra with the Ducks. If Teemu DOESN’T sign, i wouldn’t be surprised to see a Beleskey-Holland-Maroon line (move Etem and Cogs up a line from that chart). If you’re a Ducks fan, the most notable loss is Devante Smith-Pelly. After having a decent rookie season in 11-12, Devo found himself working on his game in Norfolk. Anaheim doesn’t have that many spots, and I can see Boudreau wanting DSP to continue to improve. Given the cap situation, I think he might be back full-time in Anaheim in 2014-15.
While those are the forwards I’m projecting for the Ducks, the team may not be done yet. Mikhail Grabovski is still an attractive option at center, though he might be out of the price range of the team. A guy I could see them bringing back is David Steckel, to man the 4th line, effectively sending Holland back to Norfolk.
Admirals Losses: Etem and Palmieri were as good as gone when the lockout ended. Pat Maroon may or may not go, the same with Peter Holland. A pretty sizeable chunk.
Igor Bobkov/John Gibson
Goalie will be the easiest thing for me to write about in the Admirals depth chart projection. After finishing the year with the highest SV% in the AHL and just being all around #Andersensational (credit to Pete Michaud)
, the Danish netminder is no doubt the clear #1 goalie for the Ads. The back-up situation is a bit more complicated. Igor Bobkov clearly has more experience in the AHL, yet his potential is not as great as Gibson’s. Bobber had his moments last year, and was pretty decent in the shootout. Unfortunately, he lacked a lot of the consistency you would get out of Andersen. He is probably fighting for his job. Gibson is remarkable, and might be the best American prospect right now, regardless of position. His last season was stellar, especially internationally. He was the best goaltender and MVP at the World Junior Championships and helped the US win World Championship Bronze after he took the starting job from Lightning goalie Ben Bishop. It will be an interesting battle to watch.
Hampus Lindholm-Mat Clark
Kevin Gagne-Nolan Yonkman
Andrew O’Brien-Alex Grant
ex: Cumiskey (?), Stefan Warg
Quick precaution: ignore the lines and pairings for the Forwards and Defense. I’m just doing that so it’s easier to manage who is and is not on the team. Since this is the AHL, the team was going to look different this year anyhow. Starting, I have Hampus Lindholm and Mat Clark. Both players proved to be reliable players with Clark being more of a stay-at-home guy and Lindholm adding a bit more offensive touch. Hampus, who was a top-10 draft pick in 2012, is still young and has time to develop in Norfolk. A plus (not plus/minus) for him would be staying healthy and avoiding another concussion after the two he sustained last year. Next up, I have Kevin Gagne and Stefan Warg. Gagne is pretty much a lock because he is done with junior hockey and is starting his Entry-Level Contract (ELC) after a brief try-out at the end of last season. Hopefully, Gagne can replicate (or at least come close to) Vatanen’s offense.
Next up, I have Stefan Warg, who Elite Prospects has on the Admirals. He spent last year with Vasteras of Sweden’s Allsvenskan, their second-tier league. Warg does not look like much of a scorer and hey I like this pairing I just made with Gagne! Warg is not a stranger to North American ice as he played his junior hockey with Seattle and Prince Albert in the WHL. This would be a change for him at least. Next is the “third pairing” I’ve made up. Andrew O’Brien is in a similar position as Gagne. O’Brien just finished his career in the Q and is about to start his ELC. He’ll be developing here. My final defenseman is Alex Grant. The former W-B/S Pen came over in the Harry Zolnierczyk trade during the offseason. He’s a career AHLer and will be with the Ads for a “veteran” presence.
You’ll notice I listed Kyle Cumiskey. The former Av (and Cruncher) is property of the Ducks, and they don’t have a lot of space in Anaheim. I could see him playing in Norfolk due to roster size and contract. Now to (the possible lack of) goal scorers!
Addendum: Remember everything I said about Warg? Probably a good thing but who knows if he’ll crack the lineup. Instead, let’s talk about recently signed (according to the Internet (thanks, Shawn!)) Nolan Yonkman! He’s old for an AHLer, doesn’t really score, and was captain in both Milwaukee and San Antonio. The Ads should have kept Nate Guenin, he kinda did all those things.
Max Friberg-Rickard Rakell-Devante Smith-Pelly
John Kurtz-Joseph Cramarossa-Stefan Noesen
John Mitchell-Steven Whitney-Chris Wagner
Zack Stortini-Charlie Sarault-Antoine Laganiere
Please remember to ignore the lines. They’re not a reflection of projected lines, just an easy visual to assess where the Admirals are at. Where there at is…nowhere good. You’ll see that I put DSP down in Norfolk, as I mentioned in the Anaheim forwards post. While most of that hinges on Teemu signing, Devo could possibly be back if the Finnish Flash decides to finally retire. Max Friberg is another ELC guy who saw some time at the end of last year with the Ads. Rickard Rakell is a former first round draft pick who spent most of last year with the Plymouth Whalers, with some spot appearances in Anaheim at the beginning of the NHL season. Rakell’s junior career is also over, and he will hopefully be a goal-scoring center in development. While I don’t see it happening, Rakell might beat out Peter Holland for the 4C spot in Anaheim.
The second line starts off with John Kurtz, and yes he’s a PKer. Again, just for visual cues. Kurtzy finally got to sign an ELC (of one-year!) with the Ducks, which means he MIGHT get a shot at the show. He’ll mostly be a mainstay in Norfolk and continue working on being that fan favorite (and possibly Captain). Joseph Cramarossa is once again, an ELC guy who just finished his junior career. Looking at his stats, he was a teammate with DSP in Mississauga, which is fun trivia I guess. While he may be able to add offense, Charlie Sarault may have him beat. On the right, I’ve got Stefan Noesen. If that name’s familiar, it’s because he was the prospect in the Bobby Ryan trade. Noesen played with Rakell in Plymouth, and perhaps we’ll see that line combo this fall.
John Mitchell is one of a few vets returning to the Admirals. While I wouldn’t call his game exciting, he can score on occasion and is defensively pretty solid. At center is Boston College product Steven Whitney, who had a brief ATO with the Ads at the end of last year. He scored 4 points in 8 games with Norfolk, which sample size. He is a bit undersized at 5’7″. On the right is Chris Wagner, who is another vet after one whole year of AHL play. Wagner can play either wing or center and is a great two-way player. He’ll be utilized in different ways and at least offers some stability to the team.
When I first started writing this post, I had ‘Veteran/PTO” as the Left Wing and guess what, I was right! Zack Stortini signed today (7/7), another addition to the Admirals roster. He played 77 games for the Oilers and scored a whole 13 points! The Oilers would then go on to select Taylor Hall with the #1 pick in the NHL Draft. We got ourselves a punchman! PL3 scored more points in less games but punchman!
Charlie Sarault takes up the final center spot, though I could see him moving up. He was the best overage in the OHL last year, mounting up points even after Alex Galchenyuk (he’s ok) moved on to the NHL. Sarault had a decent showing with the Ads in his ATO, getting 6 assists in 11 games and getting some PP time. He’ll get more opportunities coming up. On the right, I have Yale product Antoine Laganiere. He signed after Yale won the Frozen Four, and did not get to skate for either the Ducks or Admirals. He did, however, have 29 points in 37 games. Hopefully some offense!
Next year’s Norfolk Admirals team is not complete by a longshot. More camps will happen and PTOs and ATOs will be signed. I’d expect a few more guys to be in there. I really don’t understand the logic behind dumping Josh Brittain and say PL3 for a punchman. My projected roster is young but with a lot of definite potential. At least we’ll be good in net. I’m sure I missed something, so let me know @Heaf_ or @BeneathScope.