Photo Credit: Cory Hergott

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Mailbag: Veterans, Hot Dogs, and Sleepers

CanucksArmy Utica Comets Mailbag

We are back with this week’s CanucksArmy Utica Comets Mailbag…let’s get after it.

I was in the middle of writing an article about what the Comets lines could shake out like when this question came in, so I will include it below. But the gist of it is… the coaching staff has once again been put in a position where they will have some tough decisions to make regarding their roster.

Teams can only play up to five players with AHL veteran status in a game, plus one with veteran exempt status. Alternatively, they could run with four vets and two vet exempts, etc. The Comets currently have Reid Boucher, Alex Biega, Sven Baertschi, Tyler Graovac, Carter Camper, (AHL deal) Wacey Hamilton, (AHL deal) and Carter Bancks, (AHL deal) who carry vet status, while wingers Nikolay Goldobin and Justin Bailey are tagged with vet exempt status.

Three players from the above group will have to sit for each game. It’s easy to just say “sit the three guys on AHL deals” and roll out the roster, however, Camper is the team’s best pivot, while Hamilton is one of the only other guys on the roster who plays the middle on a regular basis.

Sven and Goldy are currently sorting through “immigration issues” and might be a week or so before they land in Utica, so it’s possible that a trade/injury will occur before one or both end up there. Biega apparently had no such issues.

The link below will show you a couple of lineup options.

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I will point to the article above to answer this question as well. An AHL vet is someone who has played in over 320 games at the AHL/NHL/high-end European league levels. A player with over 260 games at those same levels carries vet exempt status.

Teams can dress up to five vets and one vet exempt in a game, or mix and match their vets/vet exempts within that parameter. The Comets currently have two players with vet exempt status and seven with vet status who have been assigned to the team.

This will be an interesting battle! I haven’t heard back yet from Lukas Favale, but Joe Roberts reached out to let me know that he plans on taking down five hot dogs in 90 seconds…if you’ve seen Joe lately, you will know that he has been growing what looks like a Colton Saucerman starter kit on his face, so let’s hope those dogs are not covered in condiments…#BeardProblems

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This is kind of a tough question to answer. I’ve mentioned Lukas Jasek a few times this offseason as a player who I could see having somewhat of a breakout season this year, so I’m not sure if he counts as a deep sleeper in my world.

Players like Zack MacEwen, Kole Lind, and Jonah Gadjovich can’t really be called sleepers, can they? MacEwen has already put his name on the tip of most tongues who talk about potential call-ups, while Lind and Gadjovich were both high picks in the draft.

Olli Juolevi was a first-round pick, so he probably doesn’t qualify either. Newcomers Francis Perron and Justin Bailey have both shown well at the AHL level in that past, so I kind of have to disqualify them as well.

For me, that leaves a player like Jalen Chatfield as a bit of a dark horse to have a big year. Now, don’t confuse what I’m saying here. I’m not suggesting that Jalen will start piling up the points this year, but I do think that he might be able to take the next step that I expected him to take last year before his season was shortened by a broken foot.

Canucks and Comets management both suggested that Chatfield was due for a look at the NHL level before his injury last year, so I suspect that he could still be on that radar. With Brogan Rafferty joining the team on the right side and already having a couple of NHL games under his belt, the path might not be as clear as it once was for Jalen, but the player has an incredible work ethic and brings some qualities that NHL coaches tend to like.

Until next week…