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All Aboard! The Utica Comets Have Made the Playoffs, Let’s Take a Look at the Players Who Got Them There.

The Utica Comets will be wrapping up their regular season on Sunday, April 15th against the Binghamton Devils, but that doesn’t mean that there will be no more hockey played in Utica this season. The Comets have qualified for the Calder Cup playoffs for the third time in their five years since the Canucks purchased the Peoria Rivermen and moved them to Utica.

The Comets have used a plethora of players this season to get them to where they are and I was interested in taking a look back to see just how many players have donned a Comets jersey this season to help them get back into the playoffs.

I figured that I would first take a look at what the Comets roster looked like on opening night.

Opening Night Roster

25 Darren Archibald (A) – Carter Bancks (C) – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A)

58 Michael Carcone – 11 Cam Darcy – 13 Griffen Molino

16 Joe LaBate – 23 Jayson Megna – 77 Nikolay Goldobin

24 Reid Boucher – 21 Michael Chaput – 17 Alex D’Aoust

6 Ashton Sautner – 5 Jalen Chatfield

4 Evan McEneny – 7 Jordan Subban

52 Philip Holm – 55 Guillaume Brisebois

30 Thatcher Demko

The above roster alignment is what the Comets rolled out on the opening night of the season back on Saturday, October 7th, 2017. The team had to navigate the five veteran rule at the time. In the AHL, each team can dress up to five players in a game that had played in more than 321 pro games at the time that the season had started. The Comets were flush with veterans as Carter Bancks, Michael Chaput, Jayson Megna, Darren Archibald, and Wacey Hamilton were taking up those five spots in game one of the season.

The scratches for the Comets first game consisted of veterans Patrick Wiercioch, and Jaime Sifers, as well as Anton Rodin, Zack MacEwen, Anton Cederholm, Yan-Pavel Laplante, and Danny Moynihan. Cole Cassels was still up with the parent Canucks recovering from a training camp injury.

That above roster also had the Comets first PTO player playing, as Cam Darcy made his season debut with Utica. This is what got my wheels turning for this post, it was game one of the season, and already the Comets had someone in the lineup who had joined the club on a PTO.

To this point in the season, the Comets have had 30 players come in on professional tryout deals. Four of those players have been signed to more than one PTO this season by the Comets as forwards David Dzyiurzinski, Vincent Arseneau, Tony Cameranesi, and Andrew Cherniwchan had each been with the Comets for longer than their initial 25 game tryout.

Four more players have earned AHL deals with the Comets after coming in on a PTO. Forwards Cam Darcy and Brendan Woods were the first two players to get a look on a PTO and both earned AHL deals with the club. On the back end, Dylan Blujus and Adam Comrie both came in on PTO deals and have since earned AHL deals for their efforts. Darcy, Blujus, and Comrie have all provided some decent secondary scoring for the Comets this season, while Woods has spent the bulk of the season on the shelf with various injuries. Comrie has also brought the added benefit of being able to play as either a defenseman or as a winger when needed. Darcy, Woods, Blujus, and Comrie have played a combined 140 games this season for the Comets, posting a total of 19 goals and 42 assists, good for 61 points.

If we break the Comets PTOs down by position, we can see that the team has signed 17 forwards, 10 defensemen, and three goaltenders to tryout deals this season. Not every player that signed a PTO has actually suited up for the Comets this season, however, as some were signed as insurance for three games in three days scenarios.

Comets PTO List

Forwards: Cam Darcy, Brendan Woods, Brian Ward, Brady Brassart, Tony Cameranesi, Joel Lowry, Vincent Arseneau, David Dziurzynski, Marco Roy, Andrew Cherniwchan, Justin Taylor, Zac Lynch, Matt Leitner, Dwyer Tschantz, Tanner MacMaster, Lukas Jasek, and Caleb Herbert.

Defensemen: Dylan, Blujus, Adam Comrie, Joe Faust, Cliff Watson, Frankie Simonelli, Mathieu Brodeur, Nolan Valleau, Justin Hamonic, Willie Corrin, and Aaron Irving.

Goaltenders: Mitch Gillam, Adam Dekkar, and Paul Barrafato.

If we add up all of the players to have played in at least one game this season for Utica, we end up with a total of 55. The team has used 18 defensemen so far this season…18! That is three complete six-man units. They have also used 34 forwards to this point, which is only two players shy of three full 12-man units. Of those 55 players, 47 have contributed at least one point for the team.

Outside of the four tryout players who went on to earn AHL deals with the Comets, the remaining PTOs have combined for 49 points. That may not seem like a great number of points to get out of 30 players, but every single one of those points helped the Comets earn a playoff berth this season. I don’t think that these contributions should be understated or swept under the rug. It truly has been a complete team buy in this season in Utica, no matter which players happened to make up the roster on any given night.

The coaching staff of Trent Cull, Gary Agnew, and Jason King have done excellent work extracting everything they can from the players at their disposal. Comets General Manager Ryan Johnson has also gone on record to sing the praises of Pat Conacher for all of the work that he has done to keep up on the ECHL and knowing which players were available to the Comets and which ones could best help the team at the time that they needed them. From top to bottom, everyone has been pulling on the same end of the rope in Utica this season.

To go along with all of the PTO players used this season by the Comets, forward Danny Moynihan, goaltender Michael Garteig, and defensemen Anton Cederholm and Mackenze Stewart were also summoned from Kalamazoo to spend time with the Comets at times this year. Cederholm and Stewart currently have two-way deals with the Canucks that are set to expire after this season, while Moynihan and Garteig are on one-year AHL deals with the Comets.

The team will also soon see the regular season Comets debuts of Tyler Motte and Jonathan Dahlen as both players will be in Utica before the season wraps up on Sunday. It will be interesting to see how Trent Cull and his staff utilize the players at their disposal now that the roster is as close to healthy as they have seen all season. Will Cull continue to give the kids those primetime minutes, or will he be tempted to load up the ice-time for the veterans that play? Time will tell, but one thing is for certain, he will have some interesting options going forward as illustrated below with a couple of possible scenarios for how the roll out the lines.

Healthy Roster, (Young Guns)

This roster will leave out the injured Evan McEneny, Brendan Woods, Yan-Pavel Laplante, and Joe LaBate as I have heard little about when any of these players could be healthy. I will include rookies Zack MacEwen and Guillaume Brisebois though, as both players were skating with the team this week, albeit with MacEwen wearing the red, non-contact jersey. I am leaving Reid Boucher off of these lists as he will not be available until the second round at best and he hasn’t yet been assigned to the team and need to clear waivers if/when the team does reassign him to the Comets.

MacMaster – Chaput – MacEwen

Dahlen – Motte – Goldobin

D’Aoust – Megna – Jasek

Carcone – Cassels – Lind

Wiercioch – Chatfield

Sautner – Blujus

Brisebois – Sifers

Demko

Five Veteran Roster

This next group will have the coaching staff taking advantage of as many veteran players as the league will allow.

Dahlen – Bancks – Goldobin

MacMaster – Chaput – Jasek

Motte – Hamilton – Cherniwchan

Carcone – Cassels – Lind

Wiercioch – Chatfield

Sautner – Blujus

Brisebois – Sifers

Demko

Cory’s Preferred Roster Alignment

This group lays out the roster with one of the alignments that I would like to get a look at.

Dahlen – Chaput – MacEwen

MacMaster – Megna – Goldobin

Carcone – Cassels – Jasek

Motte – Bancks – Lind

Brisebois – Sifers

Wiercioch – Chatfield

Sautner – Blujus

Demko

At the end of the day, the Comets have plenty of options at their disposal and it will be interesting to see how things play out. Below is a list of players who are currently on the Comets roster.

Forwards

Tanner MacMaster – Michael Chaput (vet rule) – Lukas Jasek

Michale Carcone – Cole Cassels – Alex D’Aoust

Tyler Motte – Jayson Megna (vet rule) – Nikolay Goldobin

Jonathan Dahlen – Carter Bancks (vet rule) – Kole Lind

Wacey Hamilton (vet rule) – Cam Darcy – Griffen Molino

Vincent Arseneau – Andrew Cherniwchan – Tony Cameranesi

Caleb Herbert

Injured: Zack MacEwen, Joe LaBate, Yan-Pavel Laplante, Brendan Woods, Reid Boucher (if/when the Canucks waive him)

Defensemen

Patrick Wiercioch (vet rule) – Jalen Chatfield

Guillaume Brisebois – Jaime Sifers (vet rule)

Ashton Sautner – Dylan Blujus

Adam Comrie (vet rule) – Frankie Simonelli

Nolan Valleau – Aaron Irving

                          Willie Corrin

Injured: Evan McEneny

Goaltenders

Thatcher Demko/Richard Bachman/Michael Garteig

The Comets are back in action today, Friday, April 13th, 2018 at 4:00 pm Pacific vs the Syracuse Crunch. As always, CanucksArmy will have your post-game report following the game.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • Cory Hergott

      Hamilton is one of the players who fall under the veteran rule, so I have him sitting and Bancks playing. For me, ideally, it would be one of them playing while the other sits and they can alternate depending on how the coach feels. Both are great role players, but I think the team creates more offence the way I have it listed. If Jayson Megna hadn’t come back from injuries, I might have both of Hamilton and Bancks in the lineup. I just feel like Cole Cassels brings a lot of what Hamilton does at this point and I’m okay with Cole taking on more of a leadership role as well if the coaches see fit.

    • Cory Hergott

      Oh, and yes, Hamilton wears an A with the Comets. Chaput, Wiercioch, Cassels, Sautner and Boucher have also worn the A this year…I “think” LaBate may have worn it once as well.

  • Ronning4ever

    It’s meant that I spend waaaaay to much time thinking about hockey, but I wanted to thank you for such an awesome collection of articles this year (so far!) on the AHL team. It’s made following a poor NHL team more bearable to be able to follow the progress of their young talent.

  • wojohowitz

    Reading Ed Willes this morning he mentions 62 players dressed this season and quotes Ryan Johnson as saying they have 33 or 34 players available probably depending on whether Juolevi reports.

    • Cory Hergott

      Ed is incorrect on the number of players who have played for the Comets this season. My guess is that he was going off of the number of transactions rather than the number of players who have actually suited up for games. Some of the PTO guys didn’t play while with the team, and some were just signed the other day and haven’t played yet. There have also been a few players who have been with the team on more than one PTO. It happens.

  • tyhee

    Thanks for this Cory.

    Could you let me know why it is that Motte (who isn’t a vet for development rule purposes) doesn’t make your preferred lineup? I consider him a better player than most of the forwards in that lineup.

  • tyhee

    Thanks for this Cory.

    Could you let me know why it is that Motte (who isn’t a vet for development rule purposes) doesn’t make your preferred lineup? Several of the young guns are better prospects but some of them haven’t played pro in North America (or only have a handful of games) and right now with his extra experience playing pro I’d consider him more ready to play and contribute than probably any forward on that roster other than Chaput and Goldobin. Even leaving good young prospects like Lind, Jasek, Gaudette and MacEwan on the roster there are lots of other guys I think less ready to contribute in the playoffs than Motte.

    In particular I have trouble imagining him sitting while every one of Carcone, Cassels, d’Aost and MacMaster are in the lineup.