August 27 2014 07:50PM
The inauguration of the Utica Comets that took place over the course of last season wasn't exactly the smoothest of rides. A squad that was generally undermanned to begin with was put behind the eight ball even further as the year went along due to the myriad of injuries the Canucks had to deal with, plucking their players here and there to fill holes as they saw fit.
The end result was a 35-32-7-4 campaign that had them miss the playoffs, but truth be told most of that can be attributed to the abysmal start to the year in which they lost their first 10 games. While the season was at least somewhat salvaged - with the Comets posting a .650 winning percentage in their final 40 games - thanks to the marked improvement by Joacim Eriksson as the year went along, the one glaring concern that remained throughout was the aforementioned lack of ability up front. Unsurprisingly, a rag-tag group led by Pascal Pelletier, Cal O'Reilly, Benn Ferriero and Brandon DeFazio finished 26th in goals per game.
Now, depending on how September winds up shaking out, the 2014-15 version of the Utica Comets could realistically include the likes of Hunter Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, Dane Fox, Ronalds Kenins, and a healthy Nicklas Jensen.
Their schedule for the upcoming season was released today, and if nothing else they promise to be a heck of a lot more entertaining to watch and follow throughout the next year.
August 27 2014 11:09AM
After the 19-year-old forward, who won't turn 20 until May, played third-line minutes and produced a meager amount of offense in his draft-eligible season, he took a gigantic step as a point producer in 2013-14. Cassels played a top-of-the-lineup role while replacing departed (and high-end) forwards like Columbus Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner and Phoenix Coyotes winger Lucas Lessio.
On a line with top-prospects Scott Laughton and Michael Dal Colle, Cassels saw his production spike significantly as he scored 24 goals and 73 points in 61 games. That's 30 more points than he managed in his draft season the year before, and 19 more points than he recorded in his first two campaigns in major junior combined.
For his commendable efforts Cassels earned himself an entry-level contract with the maximum signing bonus, an invite to Team USA's U20 summer development camp (though he ultimately didn't attend with some sort of undisclosed illness or injury), and most importantly, the #9 overall slot on our prospects list - up from #18 just one year ago.
August 27 2014 08:17AM
I knew something was up when we recorded a new podcast last night and there was no major NHL news to report. Usually when that happens something goes kablooey the second we upload it. Low and behold, apparently the NHL is close to expanding by four teams, including another one in Toronto, by 2017.
August 26 2014 10:31AM
There's no question that Jordan Subban has more tangible obstacles than your typical prospect standing between himself and a future in professional hockey. Beyond just the unfair comparisons that he draws in the wake of his older superstar of a brother, there isn't exactly ample precedence for a player of his physical stature in today's NHL.
Listed at 5'9'', 175 lbs, he doesn't just fall well short of the average for the types of athletes that comprised the position last season; his diminutive frame barely registers him on the relative spectrum. Out of the 303 defensemen that the NHL lists on its page, only 5 of them - Francis Bouillon, Jared Spurgeon, David Warsofsky, Torey Krug, and Mark Cundari - suited up in a game last season while being listed at 5'9'' or shorter.
While that'll surely make finishing off future alley oop passes from Henrik Sedin with any sort of authority a difficult task, it fortunately doesn't take away from the current reality that Jordan Subban remains verifiably effective as a hockey player.
August 25 2014 12:17PM
At this point in time, it's a dead heat between "Frequent Flyer" and "Casualty of the Numbers Game" in laying claim to being the most recurring themes of Alex Grenier's playing career to-date.
After he fell into the Gillis regime's open, waiting arms as a sizeable overager named Alex in the 3rd round back in '11, Grenier has bounced around from league-to-league, and city-to-city. Since his half-year European escapade was cut short due to a myriad of unfortunate circumstances - including a concussion he suffered, and an influx of established NHLers trying to find refuge during the lockout with Red Bull Salzburg - he has suited up for 3 different teams in his short professional career in North America.
In fact, he has yet to be able to call a place "home" for more than one year at a time at any point in his career. That'll surely change this coming season, as Grenier enters the '14-'15 campaign with lofty expectations following his breakout showing as a rookie in the AHL. Maybe he'll even get to shift the aforementioned working narrative to "Productive Hockey Player" if he's able to build on that personal success he enjoyed last season.