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2015 Free Agent Tracker (as of 9/1/15)

Signed for 2015-16:

Raman Hrabarenka

Reid Boucher

Graham Black

Ben Thomson

Ben Johnson

Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly

Mike Sislo

Brandon Burlon

Matt Lorito

Rod Pelley

Scott Wedgewood

Paul Thompson

Jim O’Brien (from HER 7/1)

Yann Danis (from HAR 7/3)

Marc-Andre Gragnani (from EUR 7/3)

Max Novak

Stefan Matteau

Seth Helgeson

Chris McKelvie

Entry Level Signings:

Joseph Blandisi

Ryan Kujawinski

Blake Pietila

Sergey Kalinin

Vojtech Mozik

Blake Coleman

John Quenneville

Pavel Zacha

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Darcy Zajac

Scott Timmins

Corbin McPherson

Joe Faust

David Wohlberg

Maxime Clermont

Moving On:

Scott Clemmensen (retired 6/29)

Joe Whitney (signed w/NY Islanders 7/1)

Tim Sestito (signed w/Dinamo Riga 7/15)

Cam Janssen (signed w/Nottingham Panthers 8/15)

Kelly Zajac (signed w/Lukko 8/30)

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2015-16 Schedule Revealed

This summer has been a lot of waiting.

We waited as the ECHL and NHL all released their schedules.

We waited as new divisions, playoff setups, and complaints about the shorter California 5 schedule were announced.

But today, finally, plans for the fall and winter can be made.

This afternoon the AHL finally released the full 2015-16 schedule.  A total of 1,120 games will be played between Friday, October 9th and Sunday, April 17th.  25 teams will play 76 games, while the infamous California 5 (San Jose, Stockton, San Diego, Bakersfield, and Ontario) will play 68.

Let’s take a look at the full Albany schedule, followed by a breakdown of opponents, numbers, etc.:

OCTOBER

10–at Binghamton

17–at Toronto

18–at Toronto

23–at Portland

24–PORTLAND

25–BINGHAMTON

30–BRIDGEPORT

31–UTICA

NOVEMBER

1–TORONTO

6–at Syracuse

7–at Hartford

13–at Providence

14–at Lehigh Valley

15–at Springfield

20–SPRINGFIELD

21–W/B-SCRANTON

25–BRIDGEPORT

27–BINGHAMTON

28–at Springfield

DECEMBER

2–ST. JOHN’S

5–ROCHESTER

6–SYRACUSE

11–SYRACUSE

12–at W/B-Scranton

15–at St. John’s

16–at St. John’s

19–at Rochester

26–PROVIDENCE

30–UTICA

31–at Utica

JANUARY

2–at Hartford

8–SYRACUSE

9–LEHIGH VALLEY

10–at Hartford

13–ROCHESTER

15–at Providence

16–at Utica

20–HARTFORD

22–ST. JOHN’S

23–ST. JOHN’S

27–HERSHEY

29–UTICA

30–at Bridgeport

FEBRUARY

5–at Providence

6–HARTFORD

9–PROVIDENCE

12–at Rochester

13–ROCHESTER

14–BRIDGEPORT

20–at Utica

21–at Bridgeport

24–ST. JOHN’S

26–at Springfield

28–at Bridgeport

MARCH

1–at Toronto

4–at St. John’s

5–at St. John’s

11–at Binghamton

12–UTICA

13–TORONTO

16–PROVIDENCE

19–at Utica

20–at Bridgeport

22–SPRINGFIELD

25–at Syracuse

26–at Hershey

29–HARTFORD

1–at Binghamton

2–SPRINGFIELD

3–BINGHAMTON

8–at Syracuse

9–at Binghamton

10–TORONTO

13–BINGHAMTON

15–at Rochester

16–BRIDGEPORT

(home games in CAPS)

The breakdown:

-For the first time since the 2011-12 season, all 38 home games will actually be played in the Capital District.  No Atlantic City or Newark.  With the city on a mission to keep hockey at the Times Union Center, this is a great start.

-By day: Sunday 13, Monday 0, Tuesday 5, Wednesday 10, Thursday 1, Friday 20, Saturday 27.

-By opponent: Wilkes-Barre, Lehigh Valley, Hershey, Portland 2; Rochester, Syracuse, Toronto, Providence, Springfield, Hartford 6; Binghamton, Utica, St. John’s, Bridgeport 8.  No Western Conference at all.

-The Devils begin the season with a 4 game road swing through Binghamton, Toronto, and Portland, before hosting the Pirates on October 24th.  They do play 3 out of their final 4 games at home in mid April.

-Home game times are the same as last season: weeknights at 7:00, Saturdays at 5:00 (except for 1/23, a 2 PM start due to the annual RPI/Union doubleheader), and Sundays at 3:00.

-Albany gets one school day game, an 11 AM start in Toronto on March 1st.

-Longest homestand is 5 games, which happens twice: October 24th-November 1st and January 20-29th.  Longest road trip is 6 games from February 26th-March 11th.

-Only 8 3 in 3 weekends this year.  I’m good with that.

Now all that is left to do is wait out the last few weeks before training camp and preseason, then the fun begins.

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News of the Week

A few notes to tide everyone over as we wait for the fall to get here:

-New Jersey announced earlier this week that rookies will report to training camp on September 10th for physicals, then they will travel to Buffalo from the 11th-13th for the Prospects Challenge with the Sabres and Bruins.  Veterans will report on September 17th for physicals. with the first practice the following day.

-On Wednesday, the NBA released their 2015-16 schedule.  And why should you care?  With three AHL teams (Milwaukee, Lake Erie, San Antonio) sharing their buildings with their NBA counterparts, the final hurdle to this season’s AHL schedule has been cleared.  But it’s still at least a couple of weeks away.

-Another veteran has gone overseas, as Cam Janssen has taken his talents to the Nottingham Panthers of the EIHL (based in England/Ireland).

-One thing I haven’t had the chance to write about here: the efforts of the city of Albany to ensure that the Devils stick around beyond this season.  And so far, everything that I’ve seen or read about is giving me a positive vibe about having hockey beyond 2016.  A few links to check out:

The arena’s namesake has a great incentive offer  for businesses who take advantage of season tickets.

A new adult hockey league that offers players season tickets and the full “pro experience.” I don’t recall any other AHL teams that have this kind of program in place.

A new tagline for the season and a partnership with Saratoga Casino and Raceway.  I’m wondering if there will be a promotional tie-in with the casino, much like Syracuse does with Turning Stone or Wilkes-Barre/Scranton does with Mohegan Sun.

 

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Preseason Planning

Back from a week’s vacation, including 3 days in Maryland and witnessing a no-hitter.  So of course during my travels actual news hits:

The first two preseason games have been scheduled, and both are on the road: On October 1st, Albany travels to Hershey for a 7 PM faceoff against the Bears, then head north on Interstate 81 to Wilkes-Barre on October 2nd for a 7 PM match against the Penguins.  I’m expecting at least one or two more games to be announced in the near future, including an obligatory matchup against the Phantoms.

Also announced this week: another addition to the coaching/developmental staff, with the hiring of Pertti Hasanen as a developmental/skills coach.  He joins the Devils organization after spending several years with Boston University as an assistant coach, then as director of hockey operations and player development.  He also has coaching experience with UMass-Lowell (as an assistant) and overseas in Finland, Norway and Italy as a head coach, along with running his own hockey school.  Most recently, he worked with prospects during New Jersey’s developmental camp last month.

 

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2015 Free Agent Tracker (as of 8/1/15)

One note to add: earlier this week, it was announced that there is no coaching change in Albany, as both head coach Rick Kowalsky (the only coach the A-Devils have ever known) and assistant Sergei Brylin (second season behind the bench) will return this season.

Signed for 2015-16:

Raman Hrabarenka

Reid Boucher

Graham Black

Ben Thomson

Ben Johnson

Reece Scarlett

Dan Kelly

Mike Sislo

Brandon Burlon

Matt Lorito

Rod Pelley

Scott Wedgewood

Paul Thompson

Jim O’Brien (from HER 7/1)

Yann Danis (from HAR 7/3)

Marc-Andre Gragnani (from EUR 7/3)

Max Novak

Stefan Matteau

Seth Helgeson

Entry Level Signings:

Joseph Blandisi

Ryan Kujawinski

Blake Pietila

Sergey Kalinin

Vojtech Mozik

Blake Coleman

John Quenneville

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Cam Janssen

Darcy Zajac

Scott Timmins

Corbin McPherson

Joe Faust

Chris McKelvie

David Wohlberg

Kelly Zajac

Maxime Clermont

Moving On:

Scott Clemmensen (retired 6/29)

Joe Whitney (signed w/NY Islanders 7/1)

Tim Sestito (signed w/Dinamo Riga 7/15)

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Free Agency Update #2: RFAs and Enerģija

A few loose ends were tied up this week during the annual Devils Development Camp, while one said goodbye to North America.

-On Friday Stefan Matteau was signed to a 2 year, 1 way deal, with a chance to finally stick in New Jersey.  The former first rounder split last season between Albany and New Jersey, appearing in 61 games with Albany and making 7 appearances in New Jersey.

-Saturday the last of the Albany RFAs was signed, as Seth Helgeson also signed for 2 more years, with an 2 way contract next season and a 1 way deal for 2016-17.  The 3rd year pro made his NHL debut in November, getting an assist in his first game, then stuck around with the parent Devils for 20 more games.  He appeared in 49 games with Albany, scoring twice and adding 10 assists.

-Add a third Devil to the Moving On category, as 5 year A-Devil Tim Sestito has taken his talents overseas, signing on with the KHL’s Dinamo Riga in Latvia (and where the translation in the title comes in).  There are only 4 players remaining in the organization that played in Albany during the inaugural 2010-11 season.

-Now for some highlights from this week’s Development Camp:

First thing everyone (especially myself) noticed?  More open on social media.  Compared to the past regime, this is a wonderful change.  There was even a social media class for the rookies as part of the camp program, along with a cooking/nutrition class, fitness testing, visiting two different Jersey hospitals, and a trip to Yankee Stadium.

Want the theme to Gilligan’s Island stuck in your head for a week?  Watch this:

Highlights from Saturday’s Red-White scrimmage, featuring a goal by Raman Hrabarenka:

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Camping, Rule Changes, Etc. Etc.

After having to read about several NHL teams’ rookie development camps this week…starting on Monday, it will finally be New Jersey’s turn.  A total of 42 players will be taking the ice from July 13th-18th, culminating in a Red-White scrimmage on Saturday:

GOALTENDERS (4): Anthony Brodeur, Mac Blackwood, Ken Appleby, Colton Phinney.

FORWARDS (26): Brandon Baddock, Graham Black, Joseph Blandisi, Reid Boucher, Connor Chatham, Blake Coleman, Patrick D’Amico, J.D. Dudek, Matt Gaudreau, Artur Gavrus, Alexandre Goulet, Sergey Kalinin, Tyler Kelleher, Alexander Kerfoot, Ryan Kujawinski, Matt Lorito, Darcy Murphy, Max Novak, Blake Pietila, John Quenneville, Brett Seney, Brandon Shea, Blake Speers, Ben Thomson, Miles Wood, Pavel Zacha.

DEFENSEMEN (12): Joe Faust, Casey Fitzgerald, Raman Hrabarenka, Joshua Jacobs, Vojtech Mozik, Ryan Rehill, Steven Santini, Reece Scarlett, Damon Severson, Jacob Sweeney, Colton White, Tyler Wood.

A few fun facts about this group:

-8 players appeared in at least one game for Albany in 2014-15.  It could have been 9 if Brandon Baddock had seen action.

-25 players are Devil draft picks, going as far back as 2010.

-Family ties: Martin Brodeur’s son Anthony (a 2013 draft selection who was not signed) leads the goaltending corps.  Matt Gaudreau is the younger brother of Johnny Gaudreau, who just finished a stellar rookie campaign in Calgary.  Tyler Wood is the older brother of 2013 draft selection Miles Wood.

Fire and Ice has more information on the undrafted invitees.

In league news, the AHL announced their annual rule changes and playoff format for 2015-16:

-All teams will still play 76 games.  Unless you’re Bakersfield, Stockton, San Jose, Ontario, or San Diego, who will only play 68 (WHY????  Dumb dumb dumb…sorry.  Getting off topic.) games.  With an uneven schedule, playoff standings will now be based on points percentage instead of the actual point total (Math. Yay.).  The top 4 teams in each division will qualify for a playoff spot…however, if the 5th place team in either the Atlantic or Central Division finishes with a higher percentage than the 4th place North or Pacific Division team, they can cross over and grab that spot.  The divisional set up remains for the first two rounds of the playoffs.

-Overtime will now be 3 on 3 for 5 minutes, just like in the NHL and the ECHL.  The shootout remains if a game is still tied after that.  And also staying around…DRY SCRAPE!

-New for 2015-16: the coach’s challenge.  If a coach still has a timeout remaining, they can use the challenge to initiate a video review, but only for rules that use replay.

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