One of the Binghamton Devils’ goals this season was to reach the playoffs for the first time. Such optimism could be felt before it began, as the team looked pretty solid on paper. Only to find out, it has been mostly a struggle after three quarters expired with hopes set for next season on the horizon.
Earlier this week, I made some mental notes concerning some player performances that I’d liked to share, along with the recent signing of netminder Evan Cormier. Plus, another update from guest writer Tracey Lake featuring the Devils’ ECHL affiliate, the Adirondack Thunder in Glens Falls, NY.
Notable Players Mentioned
This past Monday, Binghamton Devils 3rd Quarter Grades & Evaluations was active. Looking over the overall grades combined with The Panel’s evaluations, some subject manners need to be addressed concerning players and what it meant after 57 games completed of a 76 schedule in the AHL.
- Nick Lappin turned up the heat with his recent point streak in the last two games before his call-up. The line reads 4 goals and an assist during that span. Before that, Lappin became invisible on the scoresheet as well as in the offensive zone. After scoring 31 in 65 games last season, anything short of that is a step backward as he had 12 in 43 contests before those last two outings. He will be a UFA after his current contract expires.
- Nikita Popugaev needs time in Adirondack before he is to be considered a regular at the AHL level. His adjustments will better serve him as this pace of action is past his abilities. Is here on a PTO.
- Blake Pietila has really taken off this season with his offensive prowess around the net but needs to continue on his defensive game. Had been involved with a trade rumor or two that never panned out. He will be a UFA after this season.
- Another Blake comes to mind and that is Speers. What a disappointment full of shock as the forward has struggled mightily this season in Binghamton. After missing a handful of games last year, this was supposed to be his year, but just the opposite, which is more than unfortunate. Still only 22 years old, but is out on the sidelines as witnessed with a cast on his arm. His contract runs out with one more year remaining.
- Same can be said about Nathan Bastian as this season has been a break-out season for the 21 year-old, 2nd-year pro. His call-up is fully warranted and I expect him to be in a battle for a spot at some point in New Jersey next season. However, he’ll probably begin the fall of 2019 in Binghamton for some final tuning. Bastian is signed through the 2020-’21 season.
- John Quenneville is still a force to reckon with at 22 years-old. It remains a mystery as to why his game hasn’t transpired to the NHL as he seems content at the AHL level with no real desire to make it to the next. This prospect has talent, just not so sure he’s willing to make that happen or where he is at for the 3rd year pro. He is in his last year of a 3 year ELC.
- Michael McLeod is a puzzle you just can’t solve. At one point he appears to be an ALL-Star center while at the same time occasionally falters. This past Quarter McLeod struggled mightily with the puck after he appeared to be quite savvy earlier on. Not so sure where this leads in his up and down year as he’s been given plenty of opportunities to succeed while centering the top line in the middle of Eric Tangradi and Bastian. He is signed through 2020-’21.
- Colton White continues to turn the corner and which began last year playing in Adirondack. (This is where Popugaev comes to mind.) But it’ll take some time before the 21 year-old is considered for a call-up. White is signed through next season.
- Veteran defenseman John Ramage continues to have a steady season for the BDevils and a reliable player defending his zone as he played in all 19 games in the 3rd Quarter, one of five to do it. The other four being White, Ryan Schmelzer, Brandon Baddock and Bastian. Let’s hope the Devils re-sign Ramage during the off-season.
- There was a recent discussion amongst the Panel members as to which player was fastest, Marian Studenic or Brandon Gignac? Both players possess serious wheels as one is a rookie while the other is coming off a serious ACL injury. Which player would you pick as the winner?
With the sudden flux of call-ups for NJ now that JQ, Lappin, Pietila, Yak, Bastian, McLeod and Blackwood are all currently up in NJ, the turnover will be felt greatly in Binghamton, as well as for Adirondack.
G Evan Cormier Signed
On Sunday, it was reported that Devils’ netminder Evan Cormier was signed to a new three-year, two-way contract by New Jersey. The deal will keep him in Binghamton right now with Cam Johnson as Mackenzie Blackwood has moved to New Jersey full-time after Keith Kinkaid was traded.
Cormier was rather successful in his short stint in Binghamton as he gathered a record of 4-1-0-1, 2.02 GAA, 0.934 SV% including winning four straight that kept the BDevils in a playoff push not so long ago. He then departed for Adirondack while Cory Schneider embarked on his conditioning stint in Binghamton. At the conclusion, Schneider was back up with New Jersey and Mackenzie Blackwood was returned from New Jersey.
However, during his short stay for the BDevils, Cormier was lights out and his new contract reflecting his performance. Check out his 3rd Quarter Grades during this recent report.
Adirondack Thunder’s Latest News by Tracey
While New Jersey and Binghamton are fading from the postseason picture, the Adirondack Thunder are making a playoff push as the calendar turns to March.
After a 4-2 win over Reading on Sunday afternoon, the Thunder have improved their record to 30-18-5-2, good for 67 points and second place in the ECHL’s North Division. With 17 games left in the regular season, Adirondack sits nine points behind first place Newfoundland, and lead third place Manchester, who they will face twice this weekend, by six.
Since the last Bingo Bites update, the Thunder have gone 5-2-2-0, including taking two out of three in Florida against the Everblades, the team who eliminated Adirondack in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, and going 1-1-1 in a Midwestern weekend swing.
You can’t stop rookie forward John Edwardh, you can only hope to contain him.
With a second period goal on Sunday afternoon in Reading, Edwardh extended his personal point streak to 15 games, tied for the second longest in the ECHL this season. During the streak, the first-year pro has 10 goals and 13 assists, moving him to second on the team in scoring with 51 points, one behind team captain James Henry. He has cracked the league’s top 10 in scoring, is tied for second among ECHL rookies in points, and he is third among rookies in goals scored.
Since returning from his three-game stint with Binghamton just before Christmas, Edwardh has been on the scoresheet for the Thunder in 23 of 27 games played.
- Mike Szmatula (camp invite): Szmatula ranks third on the Thunder in scoring, with 24 goals and 15 assists in 48 games. His 24 goals rank second among ECHL rookies. Szmatula is currently on his second AHL PTO of the season, signing with Utica on Friday.
- Brian Ward (AHL contract): Ward has 14 goals and 12 assists in 37 games and leads all Thunder skaters with 84 penalty minutes.
- Jake Linhart (camp invite): Linhart has 4 goals and 17 assists in 46 games. He earned his second AHL PTO of the season on Wednesday, signing with Utica.
- Conor Riley (PTO): Riley has 16 goals and 13 assists in 47 games. He has been back on fill-in defenseman duty with injuries and recalls continuing to hit the Thunder blueline hard.
- Colby Sissons (ELC): Sissons is scoreless in three appearances since joining the Thunder on Friday.
- Alex Sakellaroupoulos (PTO): Sakellaroupoulos has appeared in 31 games, going 19-5-3 with a 2.38 GAA, .919 save percentage, and three shutouts. He ranks sixth among ECHL goaltenders in GAA.
- Evan Cormier (ELC): Before signing a 3-year entry level contract and returning to Binghamton on Monday, Cormier was beginning to show signs of improvement. He picked up his first Adirondack win on February 8th in Florida. After an overtime loss on Friday night at home against Maine, Cormier finishes his Thunder stint with a 1-4-1 record in six starts, with a 3.87 GAA and .875 save percentage.
Non-Devil You Should Know
Let’s introduce you to the newest member of the Binghamton blueline, Desmond Bergin, who was signed to a PTO on Friday while Sissons was reassigned to Adirondack.
Bergin is in his third professional season after completing a four-year collegiate career at Harvard. The 26-year-old Natick, MA native spent his first pro season with the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits, appearing in 60 games with 7 goals and 19 assists. He joined Adirondack prior to the 2017-18 season and proceeded to lead all Thunder defensemen in scoring with 43 points (15 goals, 28 assists) in 65 games. He also tied for 8th among all ECHL defensemen in points and was tied for third in goals by a defenseman. He also made his AHL debut, appearing in two games for Hartford on a PTO.
This season, Bergin has continued to produce for Adirondack, as he has 7 goals and 13 assists in 32 appearances. He also continues to stay on the AHL’s radar as a fill in defenseman, appearing in six games for Providence and two games for Milwaukee, prior to joining the Devils.