Up North with the Thunder 8/8

Today was quite a busy day for Adirondack.

Two big announcements came out this morning during a press conference in Glens Falls:

-First, there’s a new affiliation.  Well, make that two new affiliations.

The main affiliate for at least the 2017-18 season will be New Jersey/Binghamton, which marks the first time since 2010-11 that the Devils have a full time ECHL partner (Trenton).  New Jersey is no stranger to using Adirondack as a partner–in between AHL stints up north, the then River Rats used the UHL’s IceHawks (later known as the Frostbite) as a feeder team in the early 2000s, with Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond the most notable of those players (his first professional season was in 2005-06, the final year the Frostbite called Glens Falls home).

Tampa Bay/Syracuse will take over New Jersey’s unofficial partnership/handshake role.  The Lightning/Crunch were in search of a new team after last year’s ECHL affiliate, Kalamazoo, signed an agreement with Vancouver/Utica in July.  They had some success last season with one member of last year’s Thunder, as defenseman Mathieu Brodeur turned a PTO stint in early December with Syracuse into an AHL contract, helping the Crunch reach the Calder Cup Finals last June.

-Secondly, Brad Tapper will take over as Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, just six days after former coach Cail McLean left the Thunder for an assistant coaching role in Stockton.

Tapper is a former RPI product who spent parts of three seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers before finishing his playing career in Germany. This is his first head coaching job, as he has spent the last six seasons as an assistant in both the ECHL and AHL, including a Kelly Cup championship with the Florida Everblades in 2012.  He spent two years as an assistant coach in Chicago with the Wolves before spending last season with the Amerks.

Up North with the Thunder 8/2

It’s been a rather busy two days in Glens Falls…

Let there be ice.  I think the Thunder were the first pro team to install their ice for the upcoming season.

-Just before the ice was revealed yesterday afternoon, a fifth Thunder player joined the ranks, and it’s another returnee–forward Austin Orszulak, who joined Adirondack in early March after finishing his collegiate career at American International College in Massachusetts.  He appeared in 14 games with the Thunder, scoring three times and picking up four assists.  He also appeared in two games during the Kelly Cup playoffs.

-Earlier today, the Post-Star reported that head coach Cail McLean will not return to the Thunder for a third season behind the bench.  He amassed a 79-48-9-8 record since the Thunder joined the ECHL prior to the 2015-16 season, and lead Adirondack to playoff berths in both seasons, something a Glens Falls-based team was unable to do since the UHL’s Frostbite in the 2005-06 season.

UPDATE: Per a press release by the Thunder, McLean will be joining Stockton as an assistant coach.

 

Free Agency Progress Report 8/1

Finally, my first opportunity to put together an actual AHL post!

Just when I thought I wasn’t going to do a Free Agent Tracker this summer…well here we are on August 1st.  So how have the four New York teams fared since free agency began exactly one month ago?  Here’s where everyone stands:

New Jersey/Binghamton

New Arrivals: Bracken Kearns, Brian Strait

Departures: Yohann Auvitu (Edmonton); Seth Helgeson (NY Islanders); Andrew MacWilliam (Rochester); Vojtech Mozik (Europe); Karl Stollery (Europe); Luke Gazdic (Calgary); Petr Straka (Europe); Max Novak (Toronto); Ben Sexton (Ottawa); Carter Camper (Cleveland)

Staying Put: Brian Gibbons, Viktor Loov, Scott Wedgewood (RFA), Joe Blandisi (RFA), Blake Pietila (RFA), Blake Coleman (RFA), Kevin Rooney (RFA), Ben Thomson (RFA)

Still Available: Rod Pelley, Jan Mandat, Shane Harper

Other News: On Saturday, the logo was officially revealed and…you be the judge.  Let’s just say I’m a bigger fan of the sleeve patches and leave it at that.  Otherwise, it’s been a fairly quiet offseason, outside of Nicomania hitting the Garden State.

Buffalo/Rochester:

Arrivals: Adam Wilcox, Andrew MacWilliam, Stevie Moses, Barry Goers, Adam Krause, Kyle Criscuolo, Kevin Porter

Departures: Mat Bodie (Tampa Bay); Cole Schneider (NY Rangers); Patrick Mullen (Europe); John Muse (Lehigh Valley); Jean Dupuy (Toronto); Erik Burgdoerfer (Ottawa); Derek Grant (Anaheim); Justin Kea (ECHL Florida); Paul Geiger (Hershey)

Staying Put: Daniel Muzito-Bagenda, Evan Rodrigues (RFA)

Still Available: Tim Kennedy, Matthew Lane, Justin Vaive, Brady Austin, Mac Bennett, Tyson Strachan

Other News: It’s been a summer of change in western New York, as a new regime takes over in Buffalo–new GM (Randy Sexton), new coaching staff (Chris Taylor and Gord Dineen take over behind the bench), and quite a few veteran signings by the Amerks/Sabres with the aim of helping Rochester get back to being competitive again.

Tampa Bay/Syracuse:

Arrivals: Michael Leighton, Mat Bodie, Jamie McBain, Carter Verhaeghe, Alex Gallant, Reid McNeill

Departures: Tanner Richard (Europe); Mike McKenna (Dallas); Bryon Froese (Montreal); Kristers Gudlevskis (NY Islanders); Matt Taormina (Montreal); Henri Ikonen (Europe); Joel Vermin (Europe)

Staying Put: Michael Bournival, Jake Dotchin, Matthew Peca, Slater Koekkoek, Cory Conacher, Yanni Gourde, Gabriel Dumont, Kevin Lynch, Nic Riopel

Still Available: Stefan Fournier, Mike Halmo, Pierre-Luc Leblond, Mathieu Brodeur, Dylan Blujus, Adam Comrie, Jonathan Racine

Other News: Just a summer of reloading for the defending Eastern Conference champs, as the Lightning have done a great job of not only re-signing key members of last year’s Crunch team, but bringing in a netminder of Michael Leighton’s caliber.

Vancouver/Utica:

Arrivals: Jaime Sifers

Departures: Mike Zalewski (Europe); Chad Billins (Europe); Alexandre Grenier (Florida); David Shields (Europe); Curtis Valk (Florida); Derek Hulak (Lehigh Valley)

Staying Put: Darren Archibald, Joseph LaBate, Evan McEneny

Still Available: Colby Robak, Cody Kunyk, Pascal Pelletier, Borna Rendulic, John Negrin, Michael Garteig

Other News: It’s the fifth season of the AHL return to Utica, and other than the renovation of the Aud, it’s been a rather quiet summer for the Comets to this point player-wise.  Behind the bench, former Crunch coaches Trent Cull and Gary Agnew take over for the promoted Travis Green and Nolan Baumgartner (now with Vancouver), and Ryan Johnson was brought in as the new general manager.