Archive for San Antonio Rampage

State of the San Antonio Rampage roster

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At some point in the near future the Colorado Avalanche will turn the page to the next year and begin filling out their roster for the 2016-17 season. While there are roster questions at all levels of the organization, this discussion will focus on the minor league system and the AHL affiliate San Antonio Rampage in particular. Anyone who played more than one game for the Rampage in 2015-16 and who is not currently under contract for the next season will be considered.

The lucky seven players presently under contract and expected to see significant time in San Antonio are defensemen Cody Corbett, Mat Clark and Mason Geertsen in addition to forwards Sam Henley, Troy Bourke and newly signed Julien Nantel plus goaltender Spencer Martin. Recently inked forward JT Compher isn’t expected to see significant time, if at all. The rest of the candidates are:

The Forwards

Most of these names have been around forever but it feels like the Avalanche are ready to move on from the vast majority of them. It’s tough to see the organization continuing on with Joey Hishon for a sixth year even if he is another first round pick that hasn’t made the jump to the next level, however will remain a big question mark until the avalanche decide to cut ties. Andrew Agozzino was a steady producer for the four years he was with the organization but as a UFA it is expected that he would look to find a better opportunity and chance at the NHL elsewhere. Ben Street an AHL level superstar and would be nice to see what he could do over a full season. Earlier on the prevailing thought was the organization would just move on from him after his two injury riddled seasons, both following call-ups, but in the few late season games he was able to participate in showed just what an impact he makes both on and off the ice. It is very difficult to find these true leaders and the Avalanche would be best served to figure a way for him to return.

Patrick Bordeleau wasn’t able to provide much in his return to the AHL so there is no reason to desire him to return for another campaign. Taylor Beck might be the toughest to evaluate among the forwards. Brought in at the trade deadline, it was clear he was targeted by the organization to test drive and see if he could fill one of their slots as a coveted winger with size. Then a mysterious injury shortly after his arrival and a bit of an uneven outing in his last few games coupled with an expiring one-way contract with a hefty qualifying offer and arbitration rights1 and it is not so easy to pencil him in. They should consider other options but the team needs bodies and Beck does fill a need and has a decent amount of NHL experience to his credit.

The Europeans

Perhaps the most difficult group to predict as they were brought in by Sakic and all saw some NHL time. Each are strong candidates to get qualified but also hold the cards on their return as they could easily find more attractive alternatives in Europe. Andreas Martinsen probably is seen as graduated to the NHL at this time and therefore not a significant option but it’s possible he could end up back in San Antonio if ample number of upgrades happen in Colorado. Martinsen seems to have made a good enough impression and will be brought back another year.

Dennis Everberg was one who seemed to have stuck in Colorado, though spent the bulk of his time down in San Antonio in his second year. Everberg has at least been consistent enough at the AHL level to get qualified and return should he choose to but a NHL roster spot won’t be guaranteed. Borna Rendulic might have the most tantalizing skill set of the three but lacked consistency and finishing ability and is more likely to find a situation to his liking in Europe, one way or another it is not expected that he returns even if the Avalanche qualify him to hold his rights.

The Defense

Such is always a work in progress for the Avalanche, the defensive core in San Antonio is no different. Several decisions need to be made on the direction of the blue line for next season. Though the change in head coaching might alter their approach and philosophy, it’s been observed that typically there is a 3:3 ratio of developmental slots to veterans on the blue line in the AHL system. There’s no doubt the Rampage appreciated the guidance and mentorship of Nate Guenin in his final months but it is probably best and likely that they will move on, however fill his slot with someone very similar. Similarly, Zach Redmond saw more time in the NHL than AHL but also shouldn’t be an option at either level moving forward.

Max Noreau fresh off of a two-year one-way contract already signed with Bern in the Swiss league and will definitely not return. It’s hard to believe the Avalanche saw much in Brandon Gormley’s time in San Antonio to lead them to believe they should continue on the development path with him. It’s a shame because there was some promise at the NHL level but he is further than ever from returning to such level. Duncan Siemens is the big mystery and could come down to if the organization believes in his fourth year that Siemens can begin to provide some veteran type presence at the AHL level. Siemens makes the defense better in San Antonio and there still is some untapped potential but is no longer on the fast track and the organization possibly might not see NHL upside in him anymore. If that is the case, they could potentially cut bait with Siemens or look for a trade this summer.

The Goalies

For what is an organizational strength there are a lot of questions on who returns and in what role for the following season. It seemed for a while that the organization was higher on Roman Will than the fans ever believed and would bring him back for at least one more year as they get their goaltending depth sorted out. However, as Will saw little time down the stretch, and didn’t give San Antonio much reason to, it is now more likely that he will be replaced, possibly with a more veteran AHL goaltender if Reto Berra does not return to San Antonio. The mystery of Sami Aittokallio and why the Avalanche needed to sign him to a NHL contract while he was still in Finland for the 2015-16 season still hasn’t been solved. The possibility always exists that Aittokallio could return to North America if he is given the undisputed starting position in the AHL. Aittokallio has found success again in Finland and it is hard to believe this will present as compelling option for him. It is likely there will be one new name added to the depth chart in goal.

Mostly ECHL

While a stint in Fort Wayne generally was good for development, spending significant time in the ECHL was not a good sign for the future plans of a player. It is not expected any of those players in this category to return, which include forwards Garrett Meurs and Trevor Cheek plus defenseman Gabriel Beaupre. Of the three Cheek probably has the best shot to return as he could be used as a bottom line center at the AHL level but the Avalanche would be better served trying the contract slot out on a fresh face and possible NHL upside.

The Prospects

Not technically eligible to “return” under an expiring contract, still these two did see action in San Antonio at the end of the season and are options moving forward. Most notably is 2015 6th round pick defenseman Sergei Boikov, who had a five game stint with the Rampage following his season in the QMJHL. Boikov looked poised and ready for AHL action with some possible upside for the Avalanche. They should waste no time getting him signed to an ELC before he explores other options for next season, possibly in Russia. Forward Jackson Houck was a surprise ATO as he was not on the Avalanche radar at all previously. He too enjoyed a three game stint at the end of the season and looked like he could play at the AHL level as well. Houck would fill more of a bottom six role as a depth option and is more likely a candidate for an AHL contract.

AHL Contracts

But wait, there’s more! The NHL given 50 contract slots are not enough to fill out an entire AHL squad so the rest of the team must be fulfilled with AHL only contracts. These are typically only one year deals and obviously don’t include any NHL component for compensation, ability to recall or rights retention. If the organization discovers they like a player on an AHL deal they’d be wise to consider bumping up to a NHL deal. The best candidate for such upgrade is Reid Petryk who has seen significant time on top lines and was one of the top six scorers in San Antonio. At the age of 23 and new age Avalanche approved size of over six feet tall, there is potential of possible NHL usefulness in the near future plus it would be unfortunate to lose him to another organization considering his development thus far.

Alex Belzile busted his rear every night and should earn another AHL contract but begin in San Antonio next season. The same for Garry Nunn who was actually borrowed from the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators on a try-out agreement and not under any AHL contract at all. He made enough of a difference with his seven goals and 14 points in 16 games to earn the AHL contract. Garrett Thompson also provided 13 points on a try-out recall from the ECHL affiliate in Fort Wayne and would be another option to bolster depth in San Antonio.

Defensemen Justin Hamonic and Will Weber were decent ECHL call-ups and adequate reserve options. Nick Drazenovic filled a hole at center out of desperation and would be fine in a bottom six role should he return but the organization shouldn’t count on him as part of the center core in San Antonio. The Avalanche should move on from old friend Dan Maggio, who was increasingly a liability every time he touched the ice and also say goodbye to the large Swede Michael Schumacher who hasn’t shown much other than the very occasional goal in his last few years with the organization. Belzile and Nunn would prove to be much better depth options moving forward.

 

Prediction Time (not a wish list). Returning:

Beck

Martinsen

Everberg

Street

Siemens (or trade)

Boikov

Petryk (AHL)

Belzile (AHL)

Nunn (AHL)

Thompson (AHL)

Hamonic (AHL)

Weber (AHL)

The rest of the roster filled out with a few AHL veterans new to the organization, a new find or two from Europe and a CHL overager/NCAA free agent to replace some of the missing prospect base and a goalie.

1 Players who hold arbitration rights (according to CapFriendly) include: Taylor Beck, Dennis Everberg, Brandon Gormley, Joey Hishon, Andreas Martinsen, Borna Rendulic and Roman Will.

San Antonio Rampage Fall Update

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The top minor league affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche is experiencing quite a bit of change in the new season. Not only a move to San Antonio to compete as the Rampage but also in the fast start the team has enjoyed to the tune of a 11-3-6 record, which is places them second place in the Pacific Division and third in the Western Conference.

There is an uptick interest this season in particular with the arrival of several top prospects and an infusion of young talent to the roster playing in big roles. With that in mind, here is a look at how the season is going for several of those Avalanche prospects. The goal is to cover a different mix of players in each update so if anyone is of particular interest that was not covered please leave a comment here or direct to @tigervixxxen on twitter.

Calvin Pickard

Calvin Pickard | Christina Shapiro

Calvin Pickard | Christina Shapiro

The absolute backbone of the Rampage is their number one net minder Calvin Pickard. With a record of 8-1-4 with a .972 SV% and 2.43 GAA, Pickard has been instrumental in giving the team a chance to win every single night. At this point most know what the organization has in Pickard and what he can bring to the team but what has impressed the most with his game this season is the consistency he has found from night to night. The team in front of him is better and the heroic moments don’t happen as often but Pickard consistently shows that he thrives on a lot of work. The low point in his game has only been when he hasn’t seen a lot of work and hasn’t established his rhythm after a layoff. Pickard should continue to the vast majority of starts in San Antonio unless the Avalanche need him at some point.

Spencer Martin

Quite a whirlwind Spencer Martin has already experienced in his burgeoning career in pro hockey which saw him begin the season in the ECHL with the Ft Wayne Komets where he was getting the majority of starts. Martin saw some promising if a bit uneven results including a shutout in his first career professional start. Then if that wasn’t enough, Martin was called up to San Antonio to fill the void left by Calvin Pickard’s own call up and saw four straight starts leading to a record of 2-1-1 with a .921 SV% and 2.76 GAA. The pinnacle for Martin in his time with the Rampage was a 46 save performance in a victory against the Texas Stars. Once he was eventually sent back down, Martin again experienced a heavy workload back in Ft Wayne and has found mixed results with an overall 4-3-0 record with a .895 SV% and 2.57 GAA. The poise and promise he showed while in San Antonio has many excited for his future with the Avalanche organization. Martin is going to see a lot of action with Fort Wayne and likely if he is needed back in San Antonio as well.

Mikko Rantanen

Quite possibly the Avalanche’s best prospect and player currently in San Antonio, Mikko Rantanen’s talent has been evident in the 13 games he has played in a Rampage sweater. Sporting over a point per game average with 17 points in those games Rantanen has been a difference maker especially offensively. Despite a couple minor injuries taking him out of the lineup Rantanen was hot for the month of November as his 14 points for the month was good for third in the AHL. A lot of what he does is not always evident on the score sheet but Rantanen is good for a drawing a penalty, working hard in the corners, stealing pucks from the opposition or creating space for his line mates. Rantanen utilizes his keen vision and creativity to get the puck in the hands of the other forwards and his hard work generally places him in favorable positions for goal scoring. Rantanen has been playing left and right wing on the top line in his time with San Antonio and is given a large amount of minutes in all situations. He typically plays right wing if Andrew Agozzino is in the lineup but has also been paired on the left side with Dennis Everberg. Rantanen should continue to work on his defensive game and handling the physicality of North American pro hockey but his very bright is evident with this impressive debut.

Joey Hishon

Ever a bit of an enigma, the curious case of Joey Hishon continues. Its been a bit of an uneven season for Hishon as he continues to find consistency with impact on the game. A good start with a multi-point game in the season opener was then followed with a stretch of seven pointless games. Hishon has moved around on a few different lines as head coach Dean Chynoweth tries to find a spark to get him going. Lately Hishon has had some success with Mikko Rantanen and has tallied 13 points on the season. Hishon is at his best when he is shooting the puck a lot and the hope is he can continue to do that as he is currently second on the team in shots with 48, only Max Noreau has more with 50. Staying out of the penalty box and continuing to work on his defensive game will also be something that helps him get noticed by the Avalanche for a possible call up.

Borna Rendulic

In his second year as a pro in North America, things are starting to come together for Borna Rendulic. Ten points in 17 games already eclipses his mark of eight points in the previous season plus he is currently on a four game point streak. Rendulic is starting to play more aggressive toward the net and more assertive in getting his shot off in high danger areas. He’s involving himself in the play much more rather than waiting for it come to him. He’s also continuing to show that he enjoys the physical side of the game. With his skill level the hope is that Rendulic’s offense continues to blossom and he can find the score sheet even more. Remaining a line with Colin Smith should do the trick as well. Rendulic should be primed for a call up to the Avalanche sooner than later as they must be pleased with his offensive progress.

Colin Smith

If it were not for some other big name prospect story lines, Colin Smith should be getting a lot more attention as he is tied with Mikko Rantanen for the team lead in points with 17. In his third year as a pro Smith has really found his groove in San Antonio. He has already tallied seven goals which is over halfway to his career high mark of 12. Smith has been more consistent with his offense this season and is currently riding a six game point streak. He is shooting more and not deferring as much to his play making skills and hopefully he can continue to grow in that area. Smith has been playing as the second line center for most of the season and plays in all situations. Consistency will be the key for Smith as he should be on the short list for a call up to the Avalanche in the near future.

Chris Bigras

One of the Avalanche’s top defense prospect Chris Bigras has shown a leap in his game in his first professional season. Excellent positioning, skating and hockey IQ were expected of him but what is possibly the most impressive is the quick pace he plays with and how that translates to puck movement especially on the power play. Bigras has 9 points in 20 games and is showing an aptitude for bringing his somewhat surprising offensive game from juniors to the next level. A heavy dose of minutes has been on tap for Bigras as he plays in all situations and gets top four ice time. His partner has almost exclusively been Mat Clark which allows Bigras to be the more aggressive and creative part of the pairing. Bigras can continue to work on the physicality of the game and to prepare for when he gets a shot at the NHL level.

Mason Geertsen

Chris Relke/Vancouver Giants

Chris Relke/Vancouver Giants

Caught in a numbers game especially with Nikita Zadorov added to the mix at defense, Geertsen has bounced around quite a bit early in his career with the Rampage. He’s seen time in the press box, at forward and also recently paired with Nikita Zadorov. The coaching staff commented that they feel they have time to develop him so that’s the reason why Geertsen is the odd man out at times. During the 14 games Geertsen has dressed he has been a solid defensive presence mainly on the third pairing but has chipped in nicely on the power play with his big shot from the point. Geertsen has also found himself in three fights in the young season, generally on the winning side and seems to love to assert himself physically in any situation. Consistency when he gets his opportunities will be the key for Geertsen going forward and not losing that aggressive but timely edge that has given him notice as a prospect in the Avalanche system.

Duncan Siemens

An unending topic seems to be what to make of Duncan Siemens and where his place fits in the Avalanche organization. For his time in San Antonio Siemens has shown growth and increased experience level in his defensive game and is trusted to be the shutdown pair with Maxim Noreau much of the time. However due to this he sometimes doesn’t see as much ice time as Chris Bigras and Nikita Zadorov do. There is a nice mature quality to Siemens’ game that does beg the question of how it translates to the NHL level. Where the development doesn’t seem as strong is on the puck skills side of the equation. Siemens has been making and conscious effort to shoot more and get his shot on goal but needs to keep his handling of the puck simple and quick short passes. Siemens has also upped his physical game as he has become more assertive and quick to come to the aid of a teammate, this is evidenced by the four fights he has already engaged in this season.

Nikita Zadorov

The adventure that is Nikita Zadorov has been on full display in San Antonio, both the good and the bad. His game is very similar to what was seen in Colorado, some great puck moving ability and using his large body to defend and deliver crushing hits but also some lapses in defensive zone coverage, turnovers and high risk play on occasion. What he is getting the chance to do in San Antonio is to see a ton of ice time in all situations with the long leash that allows him to try many different things and have involvement in all aspects of the game, especially offensively. Zadorov plays on the top power play unit, he loves using his big shot from the point and rushing the puck when he gets the chance. This all has resulted in a tally of four goals and four assists in 11 games. What’s next for Zadorov should be to work on all parts of his game and find some growth and consistency but also the continued encouragement to use his immense talents in all situations to impact all areas of the game.

 

 

 

 

Lake Erie Monsters End October on a Winning Note

While the Monsters started the season off with a win on the road against Grand Rapids, a mix of goalie call ups to the big club and a case of “finding their footing” led to a bit of a mid month slide.

Goalie Roman Will made his AHL debut on October 17th against the Chicago Wolves. Being outshout 31-18 and going 0 for 3 on the power play was too big a hill for the Monsters to climb, they fell 0-4.

Coach Chynoweth without much choice went with Will the second night in a row and things just did’t go any better for the rookie goaltender. Three power play goals for Chicago, a shorthanded marker and Three even strength goals again were too much for the Monsters.

Lake Eire must like something about playing in Grand Rapids because they stop the bleeding with a 5-4 win on the road October 24th. Aittokallio back from his short stint backing up Calvin Pickard with Colorado stopped 25 of 29 on his way to the win.

The Monsters drop the next two in a row. They did manage to snag a point from Milwaukee by taking the game to a shoot out but ultimately losing. Things didn’t improve in Rockford, good guys losing 5-2.

Monday morning brought a bit of a surprise to most as Sami Aittokallio was sent down to the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL.

“Right now, we’re going to probably ride Pickard, so Roman will continue to work hard and be ready for the opportunity,” coach Dean Chynoweth said. “I like the way (Pickard) competes, his demeanor in the room. He’s a leader in the room, even though he’s a goaltender. He’s worked hard on his game over the last year, and now he’s being rewarded for it. I’m hoping we can have a solidified, No. 1 guy.”

-http://www.cleveland.com/monsters/index.ssf/2014/10/calvin_pickard_returns_from_co.html

Anointing Calvin Pickard with the number one title seemed to do the trick. The Monsters welcomed defending Calder Cup champs Texas Stars into Cleveland this past weekend. The Monsters struck early and often during the first game of the weekend pair. The Monsters chased Texas goalie Jussi Rynnas after hanging 4 goals on him in two periods. Texas struck twice in the third but could not mount a come back in the time remaining. Monsters prevail 5-2 over Texas.

Texas was looking to even the score after Friday night’s loss but just didn’t seem to have a handle on things in the early going of Saturday night’s game. Joey Hishon netted his first of the season at 2:02 of the first followed by Colin Smith with his first of the year at 4:34. Texas called a quick time out to settle the troops. Despite a steady stream of Monsters players to the penalty box over the course of the first period Texas could not cash in on any of the power plays. The Stars finally get one past Pickard at 19:10. A very disjointed period 2 ends with the Monsters and Stars trading goals heading into what should have been the final frame. Texas was able to cash in on their last power play of the night on a shot from Brett Ritchie with less than a minute to play in regulation. The Monsters looked to be on their heels for most of the OT period. At the 3:47 mark though Michael Schumacher found himself in front of the Stars net and fired off a beauty of a backhand to win the game for the Monsters, returning them to .500 on the season.

I’m also looking to start up a Monsters mail bag of sorts so if anyone has any questions regarding the team feel free to email me at Mister.black@gmail.com or reach me on twitter @metalTodd . Would love to hear from you readers!

Monsters start the season on a winning note.

Calvin Pickard during practice

Lake Erie Monsters goaltender Calvin Pickard started his 3rd pro season off on the right foot last night in Grand Rapids by stopping all 37 shots he faced. The Monsters scoring started with Defenseman Karl Stollery who had two first period tallies. Kenny Ryan followed in the second frame with his first goal as a Lake Erie Monster, this would be the only goal as well in the second period. Another first year Monster, Maxim Noreau (D), put the nail in the Griffins coffin by potting an empty netter at 17:41 of the third period.

Tonight is the Monsters portion of the opening weekend home and home with the Griffins and the second of ten meetings between the teams this season. The game can be seen on AHLLive or in the Cleveland market it will be broadcast on ESPN 850 WKNR.



Goaltender Roman Will

Goaltender Sami Aittokallio

Stefan Elliott: Where Does He Go From Here

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

Bridget Samuels | Flickr

The conundrum that is Stefan Elliott continues on in what is a very sad path for the talented young defenseman. After being put on waivers before reassignment, Stefan Elliott cleared waivers and will now join the Lake Erie Monsters for their training camp. After having signed a one-year contract this summer that essentially carried the message “Gotta prove it this year,” Elliott put up another lackluster training camp and preseason. So, the question with Elliott becomes, what next?

Play it Out

Let the season begin and get going. We all know that injuries happen throughout the course of the season and the Avalanche may need to have a defenseman jump up into the lineup. Perhaps Elliott will find his groove in the season and will be called up when another player on the big team starts to falter. There are any number of possibilities for Elliott, and he still may be given another chance to prove he belongs in the NHL. Don’t forget, before going on his amazing tear to end the season, Tyson Barrie was sent back down to Lake Erie in the middle of last season!

Prepare to Cut the Cord

Stefan Elliott has had a number of opportunities to show that he belongs at the NHL level. In his first opportunity, it really did look like he was going to fit right in.

Things, however, have not worked out since then. He’s been called up and sent down, and called up and sent down, and called up again and sent down. It’s very possible that this past training camp, where he once again was disappointing, is essentially the end for Elliott in the Colorado Avalanche system. The year will play out, he won’t be re-signed and he will be allowed to find greener pastures since some of the younger prospects like Chris Bigras and Mason Geertsen will be able to play full-time in the AHL starting next season. Barring something miraculous, it may be best to just let him go to a different situation to try and rebuild his confidence.

Try to Move Him

Since he just cleared waivers, it’s unlikely that this would happen any time soon; however, any number of scenarios could arise that could make this a possibility again. Injuries, players not playing up to potential, Elliott finally making some strides but not enough to get to the Avs and another team calls on him. There’s plenty of ways that a trade could happen, so don’t assume that just because he cleared waivers no team anywhere has the slightest bit of interest in him.

It is unlikely, at this point, that the Avalanche would try to move just him for anything. Even if he takes positive steps forward, a trade involving Elliott would be most likely to have him as a throw-in part of a deal. One of those low-risk high-potential reward trades some teams will make on potential to make a bigger deal go through. Sadly, his return is not likely to be too high. Almost makes you wish the Avs had gone through with sending him to Florida in their potential deal to get Kulikov. Oh well.

There are many potential paths for Stefan Elliott but one thing is clear; if he wants to have any type of future in the Colorado Avalanche system, he needs to figure things out quickly.

2014-2015 Lake Erie Monsters Preview

It’s September and it’s time to start thinking hockey again. While the Avalanche rookie and full team camps right around the corner, it won’t be long till cuts are made and flights are booked from Colorado to Cleveland. As it sits now, the Monsters will yet again be a very young team, with an average age of just under 23 years old.

 

The forward corps will be full of familiar names with Colin Smith, Michael Sgarbossa, Andrew Agozzino, Garrett Meurs, Mitchell Heard and Trevor Cheek all returning. Troy Bourke and Michael Schumacher who both made a splash during the second half of the 2013-2014 season will be back as well. I think many are looking forward to see how the off season has treated Schumacher after his first full professional season. After spending time with the Denver Cutthroats, Schumacher took off when we was called up by the Monsters. If he can keep working on his skating and learn to use his size to his advantage, he will cement himself securely within the lineup. The Monsters also recently signed Nate Condon as well. Condon is a left shooting center from the University of Minnesota and was an Avalanche draft pick in 2008 entry draft. There has been another player signed of late that could be on the Monsters opening night roster and that is Tomas Vincour. Vincour signed a two way contract with the Avalanche, hoping to make the big club. As we all know this could be a tough task and it is most likely he will playing in Cleveland. He played in the KHL last year with Ak Bars Kazan. With a solid mix of AHL veterans there is hope the Monsters will be able to grab success this season, which they have not seen in some time.

 

The Monsters defence will have a similar make up in a sense as the forwards. There will be a mix of recent veterans and some new faces either in experience or time with the club. Returning this season will be Daniel Maggio, Gabriel Beaupre, Duncan Siemens, Stefan Elliott, Karl Stollery and Markus Lauridsen. Duncan Siemens should have a bounce back year now that he’s recovered from his injury. We saw signs of this towards the end of last season, his speed picked up and eagerness to take the body returned when his comfort level returned. Markus Lauridsen will be looking to improve his game as well and can hopefully play a full season for the club. The blue line did see two additions this summer, Maxim Noreau and Bruno Gervais. Noreau had been playing for Ambri-Piotta in the swiss league for the past three seasons.  He found himself nearly a point per game player in those three seasons and there is definite hope he can transition back to the North American game with his skillset.  Gervais, a veteran of 418 NHL games and 193 AHL games, will add experience that can hopefully be passed along to the younger D men and other teammates in the lockerroom.

 

Finally we look at the goaltenders that are going to suit up here in Cleveland. AHL veterans Calvin Picard and Sami Aittokallio will be returning barring Reto Berra failing to take the back up position with Avalanche during training camp. Past these two, there is a little bit of gray area with who else could possibly show up during the Monsters training camp. Roman Will was signed to an entry level contract in late May of this year and may be here in Cleveland battling for a roster spot, but it would be very very difficult to unseat the aforementioned goalies. Will, 22 years old, had played in the Czech Republic last year. There is one more goaltender that will most likely be in camp here in Cleveland but will probably be bound for Fort Wayne to play with the Komets. François Tremblay was signed to an AHL contract by the Monsters on August 6th as reported by Mikaël Lalancette for TVA sports https://twitter.com/MLalancetteTVA/status/497157303825874945.

 

Barring any career defining performances during the Avalanche training camp, this should give you a good idea of most players who will start the AHL season here in Cleveland. As always if you have any questions about the team or have something you’d like to add, feel free to comment or hit me up on twitter ( @MetalTodd). Thanks for reading and while it isn’t October yet, it’s closer than its been.

Burgundy Brigade Welcomes Todd Mathias as Lake Erie Monsters Contributor

BBrigade

A few weeks back I asked the several of our fans on Twitter and Facebook whether there would be interest in expanding some coverage from just the Avalanche to including the Lake Erie Monsters. The response was overwhelmingly positive, so I am proud to announce that the Burgundy Brigade will now be including coverage of the Colorado Avalanche AHL affiliate, Lake Erie Monsters.

Stepping up to help us with this coverage is a long-time Brigade follower, and Lake Erie regular, Todd Mathias.

Todd is a Cleveland native, hockey fan, and hockey jersey fanatic! Mix in some baseball, cooking and eating (not going to use the F word) and music and that’s basically Todd!

Todd has been writing on and off about the Lake Erie Monsters and the AHL for over two years, including contributions on the site Get Higher.

You can find Todd on Twitter @MetalTodd, always willing to chat about hockey, Avs, Monsters, AHL, or whatever.

We’re excited to have Todd as a part of the Burgundy Brigade! So give Todd a follow and a shout out, @MetalTodd, as he joins with the Brigade to bring you more excellent content of the Colorado Avalanche and now, the Lake Erie Monsters!