14/15 Preseason Recap

After opening camp on Monday, the Devils had two chances to prepare for the season, both on the road in Connecticut and Pennsylvania.  With a cast of mostly last year’s regulars and a few new faces, it went well, as they finished 1-1.  And there may be more faces to come, making for some tough decisions before the season begins on the 11th.

Wednesday 10/1 at Hartford (Cromwell, CT): 3-1 L

The first test came on Wednesday night against division rival Hartford, a team Albany will be seeing 10 times during the regular season.  Maxime Clermont got the start in net, and all but 5 of last season’s regulars made the trip.  The game remained scoreless till late in the second period, when a Paul Thompson penalty shot put the visitors ahead 1-0.  But not even 20 seconds later, Andrew Yogan would tie things up.  After a chippy start to the third (4 fights broke out in the first 5 minutes of the period),  Michael St. Croix would break the tie for the hosts midway through for a 2-1 advantage.  Nick Crawford would add an empty netter late to seal the win.  Clermont played well despite the loss, stopping 19 of 21 shots.

Lines (from what I was able to tell):

David Wohlberg-Kelly Zajac-Myles Bell

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Paul Thompson

Mike Sislo-Ben Thomson-Graham Black

Darcy Zajac-Alexandre Carrier-Tom Hartnett

Defense:

Reece Scarlett/Renat Mamashev

Dan Kelly/Raman Hrabarenka

Brandon Burlon/Joe Faust

Saturday: Before the last preseason games for both Albany and the parent Devils, New Jersey announced that goaltender Keith Kinkaid, defenseman Seth Helgeson, and forwards Reid Boucher and Stefan Matteau were sent down.  Tuesday afternoon is the deadline for NHL rosters to be set, so there are more on their way.

10/4 at Lehigh Valley: 2-1 W

It was off to Allentown for the final tuneup, as the Devils paid a visit to their former North Country rivals the Phantoms.  Scott Wedgewood got the start in net, with a near similar lineup in front of him.  Raman Hrabarenka scored late in the first on a power play to give Albany a 1-0 lead.  Graham Black would add a power play goal of his own early in the third for a 2-0 advantage.  Kevin Goumas would break up Wedgewood’s shutout bid halfway through the period to cut the lead in half.  But the Devils would hang on the rest of the way to earn the win.  Wedgewood stopped 28 of 29 shots, while Brandon Burlon (after surviving a fight with Lehigh Valley’s Zack Stortini in the first) would pick up 2 assists.

Going by Phantoms radio, I wasn’t able to put together lines or defense pairings.  But here’s who did get in:

Forwards: Myles Bell, Graham Black, Alexandre Carrier, Tom Hartnett, Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Ben Thomson, Paul Thompson, Joe Whitney, David Wohlberg, Darcy Zajac

Defense: Brandon Burlon, Raman Hrabarenka, Joe Faust, Renat Mamashev, Corbin McPherson, Reece Scarlett

I have a brief album of photos from Wednesday’s game over on the Facebook page.  The regular photo gallery entries will return in two weeks.

This Week’s Schedule:

All that’s left is the final round of cuts from New Jersey, who gets sent to the ECHL (no official affiliate, so it’s wait and see as to where anyone will go), and the annual kick off party on Wednesday evening (where I get my season ticket package).  Then Saturday things start for real in Glens Falls.

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Second Round (and other News)

I had expected another round of cuts before Wednesday, but not this soon.

Four more players were reassigned to Albany just after New Jersey’s morning skate in preparation for tonight’s preseason home opener against the Flyers: goaltender Scott Wedgewood, defensemen Corbin McPherson and Renat Mamashev, and forward Joe Whitney. Add that to yesterday’s cuts and you’ll pretty much have a full team roster ready to start Albany camp (presumably) tomorrow.

One news item that I missed yesterday: back on September 16th the radio schedule for the season was announced…and much like the last four seasons it’s on local ESPN affiliate 104.5 WTMM, but with just half the schedule (because the Jets and every other sport are much higher on the totem pole here, as usual). The station is streamed through the RadioPup mobile app, but your best bet outside the Albany/Schenectady/Troy area is tuning in to the AHL Live feed.

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And the First Round…

Just as I had predicted, after Friday night’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Islanders in Brooklyn, today New Jersey made its second set of training camp cuts (more on the first group shortly), assigning the following 19 players to Albany:

Goaltenders: Maxime Clermont

Defensemen: Brandon Burlon, Joe Faust, Raman Hrabarenka, Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett

Forwards: Myles Bell, Graham Black, Ben Johnson, Chris McKelvie, Rod Pelley, Tim Sestito, Mike Sislo, Ben Thomson, Paul Thompson, Scott Timmins, David Wohlberg, Darcy Zajac, Kelly Zajac

All but Thomson (who actually was in Albany’s camp last season before returning to juniors) and Thompson spent time in Albany last season.

Burlon, Kelly, Sestito, Sislo, Timmins, Joe Whitney and Darcy Zajac were placed on waivers on Friday and officially cleared earlier in the day.

Earlier in the week, 6 players were returned to their junior teams: Anthony Brodeur (Gatineau/QMJHL), Ryan Rehill (Kamloops/WHL), Brandon Baddock (Edmonton/WHL), Connor Chatham (Plymouth/OHL), Ryan Kujawinski (Kingston/OHL), and John Quenneville (Brandon/WHL).

A few familiar names still up in New Jersey include Corbin McPherson, Seth Helgeson, Stefan Matteau, Reid Boucher, Cam Janssen, and both goaltenders from last season, Keith Kinkaid and Scott Wedgewood.

New Jersey still has three preseason games left, starting tomorrow night at home against Philly, before hosting the Islanders on Thursday and the Rangers on Saturday.  I’m expecting at least another round of cuts before Wednesday, when Albany starts their brief preseason schedule in Connecticut against the Wolfpack.

And by the way…I will be traveling to Connecticut on Wednesday, officially kicking off my season coverage.  A few changes on the horizon for Season 5:

-With quite a few back to backs against one team this year, I have decided to not do individual pregamers for the season.  What I will be doing is a weekly preview, with a release on the day of the first game of the week.  I will still do the recap at the end of the week, out on Sunday or Monday depending on the schedule.

-Photo galleries will continue…but I’ll have an extended gallery over on the blog Facebook page.  If you haven’t given it a like yet, what are you waiting for?  Just follow the link on the right hand side of the page.

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Time to go Camping!

The official beginning of the 2014-15 season has finally arrived, as Devils rookies reported to New Jersey this morning for the start of training camp.  The veterans will report later this week, with the first game at MSG against the Rangers just one week away.  Here is the full New Jersey camp list:

GOALTENDERS

1 Keith Kinkaid

31 Scott Wedgewood

35 Cory Schneider

40 Scott Clemmensen

55 Maxime Clermont

60 Anthony Brodeur

DEFENSEMEN

2 Marek Zidlicky

5 Adam Larsson

6 Andy Greene

7 Jon Merrill

10 Peter Harrold

22 Eric Gelinas

24 Bryce Salvador

39 Dan Kelly

41 Brandon Burlon

42 Corbin McPherson

43 Reece Scarlett

44 Raman Hrabarenka

45 Seth Helgeson

46 Ramat Mamashev (camp invite)

47 Tomas Kaberle (camp invite)

48 Damon Severson

59 Ryan Rehill

62 Joe Faust

72 Mike Komisarek (camp invite)

FORWARDS

8 Dainius Zubrus

9 Martin Havlat

11 Stephen Gionta

12 Damien Brunner

14 Adam Henrique

15 Tuomo Ruutu

16 Jacob Josefson

17 Michael Ryder

18 Steve Bernier

19 Travis Zajac

20 Ryan Carter (camp invite)

23 Mike Cammalleri

25 Cam Janssen

26 Patrik Elias

28 Scott Gomez (camp invite)

29 Ryane Clowe

32 Tim Sestito

33 Rod Pelley

34 Mike Sislo

36 Reid Boucher

37 Joe Whitney

38 Stefan Matteau

49 Ben Thomson

51 Scott Timmins

52 David Wohlberg

53 Graham Black

54 Brandon Baddock

56 John Quenneville

57 Chris McKelvie

58 Kelly Zajac

61 Darcy Zajac

63 Ryan Kujawinski

64 Myles Bell

65 Ben Johnson

66 Connor Chatham

67 Paul Thompson

68 Jaromir Jagr

74 Jordin Tootoo (camp invite)

76 Ruslan Fedotenko (camp invite)

A few observations:

-Eric Gelinas, the last of the restricted free agents, finally agreed to a 1 year contract, ending a potential holdout situation.

-Good to see both Chris McKelvie and Kelly Zajac back in the fold for another season.

-Among the camp invites (well, other than a who’s who of I can’t get a contract), there are two names that may potentially see time here:

Mamashev is a 31-year-old Russian defenseman who has only one year of North American experience (2000-01 in Moose Jaw).  He split last season with Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk and Traktor Chelyabinsk 0f the KHL.

Thompson split last season between Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Springfield, scoring 8 goals in 69 games.  He is a former college teammate of Mike Sislo (and former Devils Phil DeSimone and Bobby Butler) at New Hampshire.

Looking ahead to New Jersey’s preseason schedule…first game (as mentioned earlier) is next Monday night at the Garden, followed by back to back road matchups in Philly on September 25th and in Brooklyn against the Islanders on the 26th.  My guess is first cuts to Albany would come that weekend.

And the cuts to Albany will be greeted by a new look coaching staff.   While Rick Kowalsky and Sergei Brylin have returned, two have moved on. Tommy Albelin has been promoted to the bench in New Jersey, taking the spot of Scott Stevens, who left for personal reasons.  And Johan Hedberg (otherwise known as MOOOOSE) will take over goaltending coach duties.  Dave Caruso has decided to concentrate on his goaltending camp in Ohio for the season.  A replacement for Albelin has yet to be named.

UPDATE (1:30 PM): Per a tweet from Fire and Ice, New Jersey has chosen a somewhat familiar name to take Albelin’s spot as an assistant coach.  Former River Rat David Cunniff, son of late Albany (and New Jersey) coach John, will join Brylin and Kowalsky on the bench.  He spent the last12 years as an assistant with the Sharks AHL affiliate in Cleveland and Worcester.

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2014 Free Agent Tracker (as of 9/1/14)

Signed for 2014-15:

Tim Sestito

Jon Merrill

Stefan Matteau

Reid Boucher

Raman Hrabarenka

Graham Black

Scott Wedgewood

Reece Scarlett

Joe Whitney

Darcy Zajac

Ben Johnson

Mike Sislo

Cam Janssen

Adam Larsson

Scott Clemmensen (signed as FA 7/1)

Keith Kinkaid

Maxime Clermont

Corbin McPherson

Brandon Burlon

Scott Timmins

Rod Pelley

David Wohlberg

Dan Kelly

Restricted Free Agents (all given qualifying offers):

Eric Gelinas

Unrestricted Free Agents:

Kelly Zajac

Chris McKelvie

Harry Young

Riley Boychuk

Moving On:

Harri Pesonen (signed w/Lausanne (SUI) 5/20)

Alexander Urbom (signed w/Severstal (KHL) 6/6)

Mattias Tedenby (signed w/HV71 (SHL) 8/14)

Artem Demkov (signed w/HK Sochi (KHL) 7/10)

Mike Hoeffel (signed w/Springfield 7/25)

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Holiday Weekend Updates

After a relatively quiet August…it’s my second post this week!  Just a few notes to pass on before I can finally start enjoying my Labor Day weekend:

-After only returning to Albany on an AHL only contract in 2013-14, Dan Kelly was signed to a new 2 year, 2 way contract yesterday.  He set career highs in games played (71), points (17), and plus/minus (+13), while appearing in one playoff game.  He also was Albany’s selection as the AHL’s Man of the Year for his work in the community. The Lowell/Albany all time plus/minus leader at +36, he is one of just 3 Albany regulars (Tim Sestito and Darcy Zajac the others) remaining from the first Devils season of 2010-11.

-Per Fire and Ice, captain Rod Pelley will be returning on a 2 way deal (no terms given), while David Wohlberg, who was a restricted free agent, receives a one year AHL deal.  In his second tour of duty with the organization, Pelley appeared in 74 games and scored 20 points (13 G, 7 A), and appeared in all four playoff games.  Wohlberg had a strong second full season, appearing in 62 games and scoring 12 points (5 G, 7A), played in one playoff game, and was chosen as Most Improved by the coaching staff at the annual Booster Club awards banquet.

The final Free Agent Tracker of the offseason will be out Monday at around noontime.

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2014-15 Schedule Revealed

Finally, finally, finally (and did I mention finally?) the day has arrived.

After waiting for the NBA to get their schedule finalized (since a few Western Conference teams share the building), the AHL released the full 2014-15 schedule this morning.  Here is the full Albany schedule, followed by a breakdown:

(all home games in CAPS)

OCTOBER

11-at Adirondack

17-at Bridgeport

18-BRIDGEPORT

21-WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON

24-at Hartford

25-HARTFORD

NOVEMBER

1-BRIDGEPORT

2-PORTLAND

5-at Hartford

8-at Bridgeport

9-at Bridgeport

12-SYRACUSE

14-at Portland

15-at Portland

21-WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON

22-at Binghamton

23-BRIDGEPORT

26-HARTFORD

28-LEHIGH VALLEY*

29-UTICA

DECEMBER

2-SPRINGFIELD

5-at Providence

6-PORTLAND

7-ADIRONDACK

11-at Hartford

14-LEHIGH VALLEY*

19-at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

20-at Syracuse

26-at Syracuse

27-SPRINGFIELD

30-PROVIDENCE

JANUARY

2-SYRACUSE

3-at Bridgeport

4-at Bridgeport

9-HERSHEY

10-BRIDGEPORT

11-at Springfield

14-SPRINGFIELD

16-at Lehigh Valley

17-at Hershey

21-BRIDGEPORT+

23-at Worcester

24-WORCESTER

29-at Lehigh Valley

30-ST. JOHN’S

31-ST. JOHN’S

FEBRUARY

4-at Manchester

6-at Springfield

13-HERSHEY

14-at Hartford

15-HARTFORD

20-at Syracuse

21-at Utica

22-at Springfield

27-at Syracuse

28-at Hershey

MARCH

1-BINGHAMTON

6-at St. John’s

7-at St. John’s

13-WORCESTER

14-SYRACUSE

15-SPRINGFIELD

18-NORFOLK

21-NORFOLK

22-HARTFORD

27-at Norfolk

28-at Norfolk

APRIL

1-MANCHESTER

3-at Springfield

4-BINGHAMTON

10-at Binghamton

11-at Hartford

12-at Worcester

15-SYRACUSE

17-at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

18-HARTFORD

*at Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City

+at Prudential Center, Newark

Looking at the numbers:

First, the opponents…

36 intra-division games, with Bridgeport and Hartford 10 times apiece, and Springfield and Syracuse 8 times.

20 games against the East Division (Binghamton, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre), evenly split with 4 games each.

16 games against the Atlantic: 4 each with Worcester and St. John’s (back on the schedule for the first time in 2 seasons), and 2 each with Manchester and Providence.

Only 4 games in the Western Conference: 2 with Adirondack, 2 with Utica.  No Rochester yet again.  It’s actually going to be nice not having to see Adirondack 20 times this year (okay, it just seems that way but still).

3 neutral site home games, with 2 back in Atlantic City on November 28th and December 14th…and both against Lehigh Valley.  Great idea Lou, you just gave up two home crowds to Philly with that one!  And again, no one was told about this happening.

However, there is a game at the Rock on January 21st against Bridgeport.  About time the AHL Devils returned to the NHL home!

Only 9 3 in 3 weekends this year, but a majority of them are in the second half of the season.

Longest homestand comes in March, a 6 game stretch from the 13th-22nd.  The longest road trip comes just before that, a 5 game trip from February 20th-28th.  St. John’s and Norfolk two game swings are both in March as well.

Breakdown by day: Sunday 13, Monday 0, Tuesday 3, Wednesday 8, Thursday 2, Friday 23, Saturday 26.  Very weekend heavy schedule as usual.  And a couple of Tuesday home games, which I find rather weird.

Once again this season, all Saturday home games with the exception of January 24th (a 2 PM start to accommodate the annual RPI-Union matchup) will start at 5 PM. Look at it this way…if New Jersey plays the same night, you can get dinner and still catch at least half the game afterwards!  Sundays are at 3 PM, while all other start times are at 7.

The All Star Classic is scheduled for January 25th and 26th.  More information, including format and location, to come.

One more scheduling note to pass along, as a second preseason game was announced last week: the team will travel to Champions Skating Center in Cromwell, Connecticut, on October 1st to take on the Wolfpack.

 

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