With the season rapidly winding down two players of interest worth noting in forward Ryan Schmelzer in his first full season in the pros and how he’s progressed along with defenseman Colton White in his second season.
Also, once again Tracey Lake provides coverage for Adirondack with a possible playoff berth on the line for the Thunder.
#10 Ryan Schmelzer
The 25-year-old native of East Amherst, New York has been a surprise addition in his first professional season. Signed during the off-season to an AHL contract, Schmelzer has produced 13 goals along with 9 assists in 60 games so far for Binghamton with 6 games remaining.
Listed at 6’ 2”, 183 lbs., Schmelzer has been a main-stain at center but also has played the wing as a top 6 forward in the BDevils’ line-up with the likes of Eric Tangradi, John Quenneville, Blake Pietila to name a few.
After a four year run (2014-’18) with Canisius College of AHA (a part of NCAA Division I) for the Golden Griffins, Schmelzer tallied 40 goals, 66 assists in 143 games with a +46.
Some of his accolades during his run at Canisius;
- AHA’s Best Defensive Forward (2016-’17)
- Second All-Conference Team (2016-’17)
- Regular Season Championship (2016-’17)
- Third All-Conference Team (2017-’18)
- Team’s Captain (2017-’18)
His traits include his crafty play with the puck and a hustler yet is willing to get his hands dirty in the corners while throwing the body around at the opposition. Has emerged, with all the traffic that has transpired within the Devils’ Organization this season, as one of the top players to rely on when it comes to consistency around the net, including his fore-checking abilities.
Heard lots of people say it was the best game they saw this year on the way out the door. Very exciting game. I tell you Schmelzer plays REALLY huge under pressure!!! #BingDevils— Patrick Manley (@kreegan99) March 31, 2019
The faster and more intense the game gets - he just starts to shine… it’s really impressive. Makes him the most valuable player on the team in my opinion...— Patrick Manley (@kreegan99) March 31, 2019
Because he is on an AHL deal, perhaps Schmelzer has not been noticed as much outside the realm of what is known as One Stuart Street in the heart of the City as a valuable piece for the BDevils. But a random tweet from a diehard Binghamton fan is quite telling when summing up Schmelzer’s first full season in the pros and I find it hard to disagree with those thoughts.
Binghamton Devils 3rd Quarter Grades & Evaluations - Schmelzer’s grades after 57 games;
80.3 / B-, 82.5 / B-, 77.1 / C+
Overall Assessment: It’s only going to get better but another year will do him good before he earns that cup of coffee for the big club. There’s potential, and he understands the system well as a bonus for those that doubt his talent.
The Verdict: NJ needs to tender Schmelzer a contract during the off-season with a new one-year, two-way deal, or at least another AHL deal but that might not happen with the exposure he’s had in the AHL.
#6 Colton White
The 6’ 1”, 193 lbs. defenseman was a 4th round draft pick by New Jersey Devils (#97 overall) in 2015. In 65 games for the Binghamton Devils, he has 6 goals and 19 assists and a top pairing with John Ramage/Ryan Murphy on most nights.
The 21-year-old defenseman out of London, ONT has been a steady, yet consistent puck mover with average man-on-man coverage. Although most recently, White had a turnover from behind his own cage on a terrible breakout attempt that led to a goal leaving his goaltender out hung to dry, so there is some remaining work he’ll need to do looking at the checklist for next season in Binghamton.
After four seasons playing for the Soo Greyhounds (2013-’17) of the OHL, White recorded 21 goals, 72 assists and a +66 rating in Sault Ste. Marie, ONT.
Some notables with his time for the Greyhounds/Adirondack/New Jersey;
- Were teammates with current BDevils’ forward Blake Speers at Sault Ste. Marie for all four seasons
- Anchored the blueline for the Greyhounds and earned Division Titles in 2013-’15, 2016-’17
- Served as an Alternate Captain for Soo
- White played the last 11 games for Adirondack last season with 2 goals and 2 assists and helped the Thunder in the post-season with 3 goals, 8 assists in 17 games
- White received his first NHL recall on Mar 13, 2019, and played three games for the Devils recording no points with a combined 14:14 of TOI
- Lacks experience
Has shown signs of growth but is another season or two from the bigs. It’s expected for defenseman in the minors that time is forgiven when it comes to developing a defenseman ready for the next leap of faith, the NHL. The one positive I have witnessed is the Devils’ Organization in not rushing prospects, which is a good thing when it comes to the developmental phrase like White is facing.
Binghamton Devils 3rd Quarter Grades & Evaluations - White’s grades after 57 games;
82.1 / B-, 75 / C, 79.5 / C+
Overall Assessment: Needs more time before he is labeled as NHL material but the potential exists with time only telling, as well as patience with another season left in an ECL contract that runs through 2019-’20.
The Verdict: White has one year left on his ELC and had his cup of coffee in the bigs, so that is something to look forward to but another full season in Binghamton is recommended.
Adirondack Thunder’s Latest News by Tracey
At least one team in the Devils’ organization will get a chance to play some meaningful postseason hockey.
With a 7-4 win in Maine on Sunday afternoon, the Adirondack Thunder have clinched a spot in the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. Last spring, the Thunder made it to the Eastern Conference Finals before bowing out to the Florida Everblades in five games.
Going into the final weekend of the regular season, Adirondack checks in with a record of 37-24-5-3 and 82 points, good for second place in the ECHL’s North Division. They lead third place Manchester and fourth place Brampton by six points, and fifth place Maine by nine points. A loss by the Monarchs to Worcester on Wednesday will, in all probability, lock in second place and home ice for at least the first round of the playoffs.
As for reinforcements from Binghamton? Well, unlike the NHL and AHL, where a team could slot in just about anyone into the lineup, the ECHL has a 5-game minimum rule for a player to be eligible for postseason play. If you recall from last season, the Thunder took advantage of this rule for Mackenzie Blackwood so he could join the team for the playoff run. He had appeared in four games going into the final day of the regular season, so the team gave him the start in the season finale in Brampton. Once the first whistle of the game was blown, he was out of the game to be rested.
This season, there is a very good chance both goaltenders that spent some time with the Thunder this season—Cam Johnson and Evan Cormier—could come down once Binghamton’s season ends. Johnson has appeared in 10 games for the Thunder, sporting a 4-5-0 mark with a 2.54 GAA and .915 save percentage. Cormier has 6 appearances, with a 1-4-1 record, 3.87 GAA, and .875 save percentage. With that scenario, rookie Alex Sakellaropoulos, who is currently on a PTO with Springfield, could be sitting on the sidelines as the third goaltender, despite a 19-5-3 mark with a 2.38 GAA and .919 save percentage.
The only skater currently in Binghamton that could see time in the playoffs is defenseman Colby Sissons, who has 9 ECHL games under his belt. Recent signee Ryan Walker, who made his Thunder debut on Saturday night after coming down from Binghamton, could hit the 5-game mark if he appears in the final 3 games this coming weekend, and therefore be eligible.
- John Edwardh (AHL Contract): Edwardh picked up right where he left off upon returning from Binghamton on March 20th. The rookie forward has appeared in 51 games, scoring 25 goals and adding 30 assists, and his 55 points rank sixth among ECHL rookies. Edwardh’s personal 15-game point streak ended in his first game back on March 23rd in Brampton, but he has put up at least one point in his last four games.
- Brian Ward (AHL Contract): In 45 games, Ward has 18 goals and 18 assists, and leads Adirondack with 100 penalty minutes. Ward has been on a tear since returning from Binghamton on March 15th, picking up 4 goals and 6 assists in 8 games.
- Mike Szmatula (Camp Invite): Szmatula has 27 goals and 20 assists in 47 games.
- Conor Riley (PTO): In 53 games, Riley has 21 goals and 14 assists. He has been out of the lineup since March 16th, when he was injured in a first period slashing incident with Newfoundland goaltender Michael Garteig, who was not penalized or disciplined by the league. Riley had the last laugh, though—he managed to return to the game and score his first professional hat trick against the Growlers.
- Ryan Walker (ATO): Since joining Adirondack on Saturday, Walker is scoreless in two games.
- Jake Linhart (Camp Invite): Linhart has 7 goals and 22 assists in 60 games.
- Desmond Bergin (PTO): In 34 games, Bergin has 7 goals and 15 assists. He had two assists in his second game back from Binghamton on Saturday in a 4-2 Thunder win over Maine.