Photo Credit: Cory Hergott

The Utica Comets Have Announced Their Opening Night Roster For The 2018/19 Season

The Utica Comets announced their opening night roster for the 2018/19 season this morning, ahead of their first game of the season on Friday against the defending Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies.

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The club will begin their season with 29 players on the roster, while Yan-Pavel Laplante and Thatcher Demko begin the season injured and unable to play. Demko is going through concussion protocol according to the team after getting dinged up while with the parent Canucks. Laplante missed most of last year with an injury and will not be ready to start the season.

The Comets have moved on from some of last season’s key players as Michael Chaput, Patrick Wiercioch, Nikolay Goldobin, (in Vancouver) and Cole Cassels are all gone from the Comets’ top-ten scorers list from last year. Losing those players means that the team will have to replace the 136 points that just walked out the door. The good news is that the team should have a younger, faster, more skilled group than what we saw last season.

You can mix and match the lineup any way that you like. I’m sure that Trent Cull and his staff will shuffle up the lines a bit until the players build some chemistry, but the following is the roster of players that the team will have to work with to start the season.

18 Forwards

  1. 54 Jonathan Dahlen – 10 Tanner Kero – 24 Reid Boucher (A)*
  2. 25 Darren Archibald (A)* – 17 Adam Gaudette – 15 Zack MacEwen
  3. 52 Petrus Palmu – 19 Tanner MacMaster – 9 Lukas Jasek
  4. 34 Carter Bancks (C) – 16 Brendan Gaunce – 58 Michael Carcone
  5. 22 Jonah Gadjovich – 36 Wacey Hamilton (A)* – 13 Kole Lind
  6. 18 Vincent Arseneau – 11 Cam Darcy – 21 Brendan Woods

Nine Defencemen

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  1. 48 Olli Juolevi – 5 Jalen Chatfield
  2. 6 Ashton Sautner – 55 Guillaume Brisebois
  3. 2 Evan McEneny – 26 Jaime Sifers (A)*
  4. 3 Jagger Dirk – 8 Dylan Blujus
  5.                          64 Jesse Graham

Two Goaltenders

  1. 32 Richard Bachman
  2. 31 Ivan Kulbakov

In the table above, I have Carter Bancks listed as the captain of the team as that was announced this week. I also have Darren Archibald, Wacey Hamilton, Reid Boucher, and Jaime Sifers rotating as alternate captains, though that is just my hunch as to how the “A” situation will play out.

Ben Birnell of the Utica Observer-Dispatch has reported that Wacey Hamilton is banged up and is not expected to play in either game this weekend. It is my personal opinion that Hamilton’s status might be the reason why Vincent Arseneau is sticking around in Utica rather than heading to the Kalamazoo Wings of the ECHL. Arseneau makes sense as a call up player, but with Darren Archibald, Jonah Gadjovich, Zack MacEwen and Brendan Woods already on the roster and able to bring a similar physical game, as well as being able to play a more well rounded game, I have a tough time seeing Arseneau beating out any of them for a regular shift.

Trent Cull and his staff will have options at the ready, depending on the style of game that they need to play. They have players with speed and skill as well as those who can bring a heavy game if needed. They even have a few who bring both elements at the same time. There may be some early growing pains as the younger players try to get their feet under them at the pro level, but this team should be exciting to watch.

Fans will need to show a little bit of patience if the younger players that they want to watch have to wait their turn to get into the lineup. Injuries and call ups will happen and those players who were sitting will need to step up and take advantage of their opportunity. Zack MacEwen, Guillaume Brisebois, and Jalen Chatfield all ended up benefitting from taking advantage of their opportunities that the saw early last season, and were rewarded by the coaching staff for their efforts with more ice time and responsibility.

The Comets open their season at home on Friday, October 5th at 7:00 pm Eastern/4:00 pm Pacific against the Toronto Marlies. CanucksArmy will have your post-game report following the contest.

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  • Holly Wood

    Good looking mix of skilled youth and vets. Cory can you please post the lineup limitations of veterans permitted in the game lineup. I recall that teams were restricted to the amount of vets dressed per game, and were encouraged to ice a young lineup

  • argoleas

    Above all, it is crucial that rookies like Juolevi, Gaudette, and Dahlen get to play all games (when healthy). I have a little more slack for other rookies getting some seat time.

    The reason for those 3 specifically is because they are the ones I expect to make the jump before this season is over.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Agreed. Those 3 in particular should be ready for call-ups and to challenge for NHL jobs by the trade deadline. I hope people don’t get discouraged about Gadjovich and Lind being so far down the depth chart. This looks appropriate to me and is much more an indication of how big a leap it is from junior to pro hockey than a criticism of those players as prospects. They will have lots of training time. Gadjovich needs to get faster and Lind needs to get stronger. As long as they get rotated in with some regularity this will be a great development year for them.

    • tyhee

      Good question-I I remember being really surprised a few years ago to discover there are no team roster limits and no salary cap in the AHL.

      There is of course a limit (18 skaters and 2 goalies) on the playing roster for any one game and there is a rule limiting the number of experienced skaters playing in any one game.but no there is no limit on players on the roster itself and no limit on goaltenders, experienced or not.

      Since there are no limits on the team roster there is no need for an injured reserve list in the AHL.

      Presumably the AHL relies on teams finding it impractical to keep so many players around that they get stale from lack of playing time.

    • TD

      I’m no expert, but they are allowed s huge roster so not sure about limits. It is a development league so there are 3 tiers of players that are defined on the number of games played with limits on the number in the top 2 tiers. The complaint in the NHL is the lack of practice time to develop players, which got worse after the last CBA. The AHL does not have those limits and I understand that sometimes players that need development will be not be dressed so they can practice more. There were a couple great articles about this last year on the site.

    • Cory Hergott

      What is the AHL’s development rule?

      In the AHL, player development is a top priority. The American Hockey League and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association have the following development rule in place:
      Of the 18 skaters (not counting two goaltenders) that teams may dress for a game, at least 13 must be qualified as “development players.” Of those 13, 12 must have played in 260 or fewer professional games (including AHL, NHL and European elite leagues), and one must have played in 320 or fewer professional games. All calculations for development status are based on regular-season totals as of the start of the season.
      This is taken from the FAQ section of the AHL’s website. Hope it clears things up. There is no limit of players allowed on the roster that I know of, however, there are limitations as far as how many veterans can play in a given game. At the moment, I believe that the Comets are fine in that regard as Archibald, Hamilton, Bancks, Sifers and Boucher hit the veteran mark, while Brendan Gaunce qualifies as

    • Killer Marmot

      Boucher is proof that a player with excellent offense but mediocre skating and defense can flourish in the AHL, but will have trouble getting to the NHL.

      • Cory Hergott

        Boucher’s work on the defensive side is better than most give him credit for. He draws a lot of penalties as well. There isn’t much room for him in Vancouver at the moment, but I do like a lot of what he brings.