Tag Archives: news and notes

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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There’s Actual News!

We interrupt a lovely summer day with…actual updates!  To get caught up:

-Two more restricted free agents have re-signed with New Jersey:

In a move that some found, well, interesting, Brandon Burlon was signed a 2 year, 2 way contract.  The defenseman has yet to play more than 57 games since turning pro in 2011, mostly because of the logjam of prospects in the organization (Gelinas, Merrill, Larsson to name a few).  He did manage to set a career high in goals this past season with 5 in 54 games, while mostly being used in even strength and power play situations.  Unless Dan Kelly re-signs, he will be the most experienced A-Devil defenseman to return this season in terms of years played.

Also returning is forward Scott Timmins, signing a 1 year, 2 way contract.  Acquired in late September from Florida for Krys Barch, Timmins was a pleasant offensive surprise from the start.  In his fourth pro season, he set a career high in points with 39 (13 goals and 26 assists) in 70 games (he did miss time due to a knee injury in November/December).

The updated free agent tracker will be out on Friday at noon.

-And the first preseason game has been announced, via Lehigh Valley, who announced their full preseason schedule earlier today.  The Devils will travel southwest to the new PPL Center on Saturday, October 4th for a 7 PM faceoff.  Hopefully the first of many game announcements to come (one local game other than in Adirondack would be nice, but I’m not holding my breath).

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New Divisions, New Rules

The AHL just wrapped up its annual meetings in South Carolina this week…and with it, came a few big changes for the 2014-15 season:

-Yesterday, the divisional alignment for the season was announced, and with Lehigh Valley joining the lineup and Abbotsford moving east to Glens Falls, it’s an interesting setup:

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Atlantic: Manchester, Portland, Providence, St. John’s, Worcester (no change)

East: Binghamton, Hershey, Lehigh Valley, Norfolk, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton

Northeast: Albany, Bridgeport, Hartford, Springfield, Syracuse

WESTERN CONFERENCE

North: Adirondack, Hamilton, Rochester, Toronto, Utica

Midwest: Chicago, Grand Rapids, Lake Erie, Milwaukee, Rockford

West: Charlotte, Iowa, Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Texas

The Phantoms move from Adirondack in the Northeast to the East Division, Syracuse moves from the East to the Northeast Division.  Abbotsford leaves the West with Adirondack going to the North.  Lake Erie moves from North to Midwest, and Iowa moves from Midwest to West.  Got all that?

Now, with Albany and Adirondack in different conferences, I’m hoping this means there’s a slight reduction in the season series.  Yeah, who am I kidding, I’ll still see them 20 times…

The playoff format remains the same from last season: Division winners will comprise the top 3 seeds, while the top 5 non division winners earn a spot.

Also from the meetings came some rule changes:

-Overtime periods are extended from 5 minutes to 7 minutes, starting as a 4 on 4 for the first three minutes, then going to 3 on 3 for the rest of the session.  If it gets to a shootout, it’s 3 rounds instead of 5 (like in the NHL).  Teams will change sides before the period begins, and also a full dry scrape of the ice surface will precede the start.

-If a player assesses two major penalties for fighting or three non-fighting majors in a game, they will receive a game misconduct.

-If a player loses his helmet during play and does not leave the ice immediately or put the helmet back on properly, they will receive a minor penalty.

And finally, mark your calendars: This year’s home opener will be on Saturday, October 18th.  With the season beginning on October 11th, it appears Albany will begin the season on the road for the second straight year.

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Free Agency Week 1: Set in the Net

A very interesting first six days of free agency has passed, and there were a few signings that will affect Albany’s roster, including a return by a former River Rat goalie:

-On the first day of free agency on Tuesday, along with Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat, New Jersey signed a familiar face to Albany fans and in turn officially ended the Martin Brodeur era in the process: goaltender Scott Clemmensen, who received a 1 year 2-way contract in his third tour of duty with the Devils organization.  He spent the last five seasons with Florida, winning a total of 40 games primarily in a backup role, and 5 wins in 12 appearances in San Antonio over 2 seasons.  His last appearance in a Devils uniform was back in the 2008-09 season, where he took over the starting job while Brodeur was out due to injury and won 25 games.  He will either backup Cory Schneider in New Jersey or return to Albany for the first time since the end of the Devil/River Rat partnership during the 2005-06 season.

-On Thursday, per CapGeek, three more signings to shore up the defense and the goaltending for next season.

First, a well deserved 1 year 2 way contract for Corbin McPherson.  He had his best season in Albany since arriving late in the 2011-12 season, posting 10 assists and a team leading +16 rating.

And the goaltending situation for next year is all settled, as both Keith Kinkaid and Maxime Clermont signed 1 year deals, both 2 ways.  After a breakout season that saw him win 24 games, Kinkaid is expected to take over the backup role in New Jersey, but will be contending with Clemmensen for the role.

Clermont split last season between Elmira and Orlando, winning 11 games in 27 appearances.  He will most likely stick with an ECHL team and be the first on call if Kinkaid/Clemmensen or Scott Wedgewood go down to injury or callup.

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2014 Entry Draft Wrap

Over Friday evening and Saturday morning/afternoon came the 2014 NHL Entry Draft in Philadelphia (and fans booing anything not Flyer-related…what do you expect in Philly?).  New Jersey had a total of 6 draft selections: 1st round, 30th; 2nd round, 41st; 3rd round, 71st; 5th round, 131st; and 6th round, 152nd and 161st.  Time to meet the newest players in the Devils organization:

1st Round, #30 overall: John Quenneville, C, Brandon (WHL)

The second cousin of Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, the 18-year-old just completed his second full season with the Wheat Kings, scoring 58 points in 61 games (25 G, 33 A) and a +3 rating, and  a team leading 13 points in 9 playoff games.  He also represented Canada in last year’s World Junior Championships, with one goal and one assist in 7 games.

2nd Round, #41 overall: Josh Jacobs, D, Indiana (USHL)

And here comes more defense!  Jacobs just completed his second season with the Ice, finishing with 23 points in 56 games (5 G, 18 A) and a +36 rating.  He is committed to Michigan State starting in 2015-16, but there is a chance he could end up in the OHL with Sarnia.

3rd Round, #71 overall: Connor Chatham, RW, Plymouth (OHL)

The 18-year-old Illinois native just completed his first season with the Whalers, scoring 31 points in 54 games (13 G, 18 A).  He has the size (checking in at 6’3″ and 225 pounds), and is seen as a potential energy type forward.

5th Round, #131 overall: Ryan Rehill, D, Kamloops (WHL)

The classic stay-at-home defenseman type, from what I have read.  Rehill, checking in at 6’3″ and 213 pounds, just finished his second season with the Blazers, with 20 points (4 G, 16 A) and 182 penalty minutes in 72 games.

6th Round, #152 overall: Joey Dudek, C, Kimball Union (NH)

Using the pick acquired from Florida in the Krys Barch/Scott Timmins deal, New Jersey chose Dudek, a prep school forward.  He scored 44 points (9 G, 35 A) in 25 games, and is committed to Boston College starting in the 2015-16 season.

6th Round, #161 overall: Brandon Baddock, LW, Edmonton (WHL)

The final draft selection comes in the form of Baddock, a big forward (6’4″, 206) who just finished his second season with the Oil Kings.  In 56 games he posted 17 points (6 G, 11 A) and amassed 128 penalty minutes, with an additional goal in 13 playoff games.

(Note: Clicking on each name will take you to the In Lou We Trust scouting report.)

Now for some free agency updates:

-Earlier today the Citizens Voice (out of Wilkes-Barre) posted the annual AHL free agency list, including its top 100 available players.  You’ll have to scroll all the way down to #83 for the highest ranked Albany player, Rod Pelley, while Kelly Zajac checks in at #88.

The annual tracker is ready to go for noon on Tuesday, which will include any last minute updates concerning Monday’s RFA qualifying offer deadline.

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News of the Week

Yeah, it’s about time I updated this thing…

-The 2013-14 hockey season officially ended on Wednesday evening in St. John’s, as the Texas Stars took the Calder Cup title by finishing off the IceCaps in overtime, winning the series 4 games to 1.  There was one River Rat connection to the new champs, and it’s actually off ice: broadcaster Owen Newkirk, who was in the booth for the River Rats (during the Carolina days) for 2 seasons.

Meanwhile, in Devils land:

-Two unrestricted free agents returned to the fold, as Mike Sislo signed a 2 year, 2 way deal on Wednesday.  A well deserved contract for the 3rd year pro, who made his NHL debut back in January and lead Albany in goals this past season.

Then early Friday morning it was announced that Cam Janssen had signed a new 1 year, 2 way contract, which made everyone on my Devils Twitter feed curse under their breath.

And a third Devil has left for Europe, as Mattias Tedenby has joined Lev Praha of the KHL.  Not surprised by that move at all, unfortunately.

-Earlier today New Jersey announced their 6 game exhibition schedule…and sadly no games in Albany again this season.  Their only home game on neutral ice comes September 26th against the Islanders at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.

-The annual rookie camp will take place July 13-18.  More info on that to come.

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Getting Defensive

A very interesting week for Albany, in their latest 3 in 3 weekend.  What started out as possibly a long weekend finished off with two dominating performances, and warranting some attention from the league.  More importantly, the 4 out of 6 points earned kept the Devils in playoff contention, lowering the magic number to finally break into the postseason further.  And a few new names making their way onto the team leaders list!

3/14 at Springfield: 6-4 L

The end of the 5 game New England road swing came Friday night in Springfield, with a matchup against the first place Falcons.  Jean-Francois Jacques put the hosts on the board midway through the first.  Then some franchise history less than four minutes later…on a power play, Joe Whitney scored his 21st to tie the game at 1, and give him the franchise record for career points with 141, passing Stephen Gionta.  He added point #142 with an assist on Harri Pesonen’s 10th goal less than two minutes later for a 2-1 Devil lead.  Former Devil Matt Taormina would re-tie the game on an early second period power play.  Mattias Tedenby and Tim Sestito would then score less than five minutes apart to give Albany a 4-2 lead heading into the third period.  That’s when the wheels completely came off and the train derailed off the tracks.  Patrick McNeill scored on a power play 4:28 in to cut the deficit to 4-3.  Trent Vogelhuber would tie things four minutes later.  Then while on a 4 on 3 opportunity (Sestito off for roughing and then Raman Hrabarenka took a costly hooking call while trying to stop a breakaway), Jacques would score his second of the night to put the Falcons up 5-4.  Ryan Craig would add an insurance goal late for a two goal lead.  Keith Kinkaid took the loss, stopping 22 of 28 shots.  Six Devils would add assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo-Tim Sestito

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-David Wohlberg

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-Mike Hoeffel

Extras: Stefan Matteau, Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac

Defense Pairings:

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Brandon Burlon

Extras: Dan Kelly, Reece Scarlett

3/15 vs. Hartford: 2-0 W

Finally back on real home ice for the first time since February 23rd, the Devils played host to the Wolfpack.  After an uneventful first period that saw a combined 8 shots (4 on each side), the Devils locked it in for the second.  Harri Pesonen scored his 11th of the season to give the hosts a 1-0 lead.  As for the Wolfpack?  They only managed 3 shots on goal…that they didn’t get until 1:30 was left in the period.  Rod Pelley would add an insurance goal (one that was almost disallowed after the net was pushed off around the time the puck went in) with just over 6 minutes to go in regulation.  And Hartford finally remembered how to shoot the puck, throwing 16 shots at Scott Wedgewood in the period, but nothing would get by.  Wedgewood finished with 23 saves for his second shutout of the season and a #1 star.  Three Devils added assists.

Lines:

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Joe Whitney-Scott Timmins-Reid Boucher

Kelly Zajac-Mattias Tedenby-Stefan Matteau

Chris McKelvie-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Cam Janssen, Darcy Zajac, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Adam Larsson/Dan Kelly

Alexander Urbom/Brandon Burlon

Extras: Raman Hrabarenka, Reece Scarlett

3/16 vs. Syracuse: 3-0 W

The weekend concluded with a visit from the struggling Crunch, a team Albany had not seen since way back on November 16th.  Much like the day before, it was quite an uneventful first period…until Raman Hrabarenka scored on a power play late in the period for a 1-0 advantage.  After a scoreless second that saw Albany outshoot the visitors 15-4, the Devils locked it down in the third.  Mike Sislo would score an insurance marker, his 20th of the season, with 5 minutes left in regulation, then added an empty netter with 22 seconds to go.  Scott Wedgewood barely broke a sweat in posting his second straight shutout, only facing 13 Syracuse shots.  Kelly Zajac added two assists.

Lines:

Joe Whitney-Reid Boucher-Scott Timmins

Kelly Zajac-Stefan Matteau-Mattias Tedenby

Tim Sestito-Harri Pesonen-Mike Sislo

Darcy Zajac-Rod Pelley-David Wohlberg

Extras: Chris McKelvie, Cam Janssen, Mike Hoeffel

Defense Pairings:

Seth Helgeson/Corbin McPherson

Dan Kelly/Adam Larsson

Raman Hrabarenka/Alexander Urbom

Extras: Reece Scarlett, Brandon Burlon

Conference Standings:

Still a tight race in the bottom half of the Eastern Conference:

5. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton–76

6. Providence–75

7. ALBANY–74

8. Norfolk–74

9. Hershey–70

The Devils get the nod over Norfolk due to 3 more regulation wins.  The magic number to clinch a playoff berth stands at 25.  They are at a pace to finish at 90 points, which would put them no higher than sixth place.

Obligatory Fight of the Week:

While waiting for my actual choice to hit YouTube…here’s a quick one from Tim Sestito from Friday evening:

My Player of the Week:

Back to back shutouts (the first Devil goaltender to do it in franchise history and the first in Albany since 2009), a scoreless streak at 126:05 and counting…yeah, Scott Wedgewood was a pretty obvious choice this week.

And the AHL agreed, as earlier today he was named the CCM AHL Player of the Week.

Team Leaders:

Goals: Joe Whitney/Mike Sislo (21)

Assists: Kelly Zajac (27)

Points: Joe Whitney (47)

+/-: Corbin McPherson (+15)

Penalty Minutes: Seth Helgeson (89)

Wins: Keith Kinkaid (21)

GAA: Keith Kinkaid (2.37)

Save Percentage: Keith Kinkaid (.910)

Elmira/Orlando Update:

Not a good week for the Jackals, as they dropped all three games to Reading (twice) and Cincinnati.  Riley Boychuk and Artem Demkov missed all three due to injuries.  Harry Young amassed 7 penalty minutes against Reading in Wednesday’s loss.  Going into this week they stand at 22-30-3-5 on the season, good for 12th in the Eastern Conference.

And finally, a Maxime Clermont sighting!  He made a relief appearance for Orlando on Friday evening in Evansville during a 7-1 loss.  He played the second and third periods, stopping 15 of 19 shots.  He backed up in Saturday’s win over the IceMen.  Overall he stands at 6-9-0-1 with a 3.46 GAA.  The Solar Bears start the week 36-19-2-2, 4th in the Eastern Conference.

Injury Update:

Finally, Darcy Zajac returned to the lineup on Sunday after sitting out since October 19th.  Reece Scarlett (soreness?) sat out the weekend after taking a hit last Friday night in Portland.  Cam Janssen (unknown) hasn’t been seen since February 8th.

This Week’s Schedule:

Three games, but not back to back to back for a change, and two games with some serious playoff implications.  Wednesday the homestand ends with a visit from Binghamton.  Saturday night the Devils travel west for a rematch with Syracuse.  Then one last trip to Atlantic City on Sunday afternoon to take on Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

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