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A Look Behind Member’s of The Panel

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The Panel is made up of volunteers that offer opinions regarding players of the Binghamton Devils in Quarterly Grades reports throughout the season

Photo Credit: JustSports Photography / Binghamton Devils

Part of the goal of mine as a blogger is to inform fans regarding players that are in Binghamton and the possibilities of them performing for the big club at any given moment. The other part is knowledge, as a big component when it comes down to the prospects and how well their development is proceeding (good or bad), or the vets and how they lead the club.

Along the way, I decided to branch out with others within the hockey community that shares my passion.

This will be my sixth year of covering Binghamton hockey and third time around for The Panel in Quarterly Reports providing analysis with elevations/grades for every player. If you’re just tuning in for the first time, here is the results from the Final Quarter of last season in mid-April.

A few, like myself, have followed hockey since the early days when the sport took over the City. Whether it’s the Dusters (1973-’80), Whalers (1980-’90), Rangers (1990-’97), IceMen (1997-’02), Senators (2002-’17) or now the Devils, hockey has been a way of life for many in the Southern Tier including some of us within, The Panel.

The group is currently set with eight members that will follow the Binghamton Devils throughout the season. They range from a School Teacher to a Sports Journalist as I would like to share their bio’s looking ahead towards the 2019-’20 campaign in Binghamton.


  • Name: Jeff Ulmer (STH)
  • Twitter/Facebook: @Ski931
  • Age: 54
  • Occupation: Independent Route Sales
  • A hobby you’d like to share: Blogger for SBNation
  • A fan of the game since: 1976
  • Favorite hockey moment(s): BSens’ Cup run in 2011; Anything related to Broome Dusters activities from the ‘70s; The return to the AHL in 2002.
  • Favorite player(s) past or present: In no particular order Wayne Gretzky, Rod Bloomfield, Randy MacGregor, Brian McGrattan, Jason Spezza, The Ferraro twins, Ray Emery, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone, Robin Lehner to name a few.
  • What is your thought process when dealing out a player’s grade? To have an experienced insight on which players have it and who doesn’t with no gray areas defined. Either you make it to the next level, or you won’t. Plain and simple in each passing 19 games per quarter as a constant live evaluation.
  • Which player(s) will be high on the list for you this season for the NJ Devils? Top pick obviously for me is in Newark, non-withstanding, would be 22 year-old goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood. The kid has potential, but this season will be his first full one for NJ, and how well will he perform is on everyone's thoughts, including mine.
  • What are your expectations for the Binghamton Devils during 2019-’20? Every year the process starts with high expectations and what it could be like at the top of the heap in the end. But my concern is in-between the pipes with the youth movement seemingly in overdrive within the organization. I hope this season turns out for the better with the playoffs ultimately as the goal, then who knows from there.

  • Name: Emily Rose (STH)
  • Twitter: @EmilyRose474
  • Age: 26
  • Occupation: Teacher
  • A hobby you’d like to share: Besides spending weekends at the rink? I love spending time at the St. Lawrence River.
  • A fan of the game since: 2001.
  • Favorite hockey moment(s): The Calder Cup 2011 playoff run and win. And any time a blue line shot sends the puck into the back of the net.
  • Favorite player(s) past or present: Because I became a fan so young, many of my favorites are because of the way they interacted with my brother and me off the ice. These players are a big part of why I love the game so much: Justin Plamondon, Antoine Vermette, Ray Emery, Serge Payer, and Filip Novak. Currently? I love to watch the goalies and any player I’ve seen suit up for Binghamton as they make it to the NHL.
  • What is your thought process when dealing out a player’s grade? I try to really think about it holistically. It’s easy to let one good or, more often than not, bad play towards the end of the quarter dictate the way you view the player. I want to be sure I capture the quarter as a whole in a fair, realistic way. That being said, if a player has shown growth, I’m far more likely to give them a higher score than to think about blunders or mistakes from earlier on. It’s pretty similar to the way I grade my students in my own classroom.
  • Which player(s) will be high on the list for you this season for the NJ Devils? I always wait to see what our team looks like before thinking about first call-ups to the big club. Summer is the perfect opportunity for guys to come back stronger, faster, and more ready to take on an NHL game. Players who were low on my radar have come back a year later and totally surprised me in the way that they play. I say all of this because I need some time to see who sticks out as a future NJ Devil star. For those who are already with the Devils? It has to be Jack Hughes. You hate to put so much weight into a first year player, fresh out of the draft... but I don’t think he is going to disappoint anyone.
  • What are your expectations for the Binghamton Devils during 2019-’20? I’m really, really just hoping for good hockey this year. I feel like the last two seasons have taken a toll on me as a fan. It’s hard to watch teams lose. You don’t want to watch your team lose. I’m trying to keep my expectations fair but I certainly hope to see growth. Veterans will need to stand up and play a leading role with the young guys. Rookies, and even some of the returnees, need to listen, learn, and, in some cases, adapt their game in order to fit the AHL style. Offense needs to find a balance between passing and shooting in order to score. Defense needs to step up to clear quick rebounds after the goalie makes his initial stop. Simple enough, right? I don’t expect to immediately jump to the top of the list of contenders. But it sure would be nice.

  • Name: Mike Van Kleeck (STH)
  • Twitter: @enker1700
  • Age: 37
  • Occupation: Accountant
  • A hobby you’d like to share: baseball and softball during the summer
  • A fan of the game since: 2008
  • Favorite hockey moment(s): 2011 Calder Cup championship.
  • Favorite player(s) past or present: Mike Brodeur and Corey Locke
  • What is your thought process when dealing out a player’s grade? Have they shown growth/development? Do they “do their job” well? What is their “ceiling” (NHL? Lifetime AHLer?) Is the effort/will to grow apparent?
  • Which player(s) will be high on the list for you this season for the NJ Devils? Josh Jacobs, Colton White, Michael McLeod, Brett Seney, Joey Anderson, and Marian Studenic.
  • What are your expectations for the Binghamton Devils during 2019-’20? Consistent offensive output, improvement on the defensive side of things, development in net from the 2 kids.

  • Name: Chris Wassel
  • Twitter/Facebook: @ChrisWasselDFS, theprogram1
  • Age: 44
  • Occupation: Sports Journalist
  • A hobby you’d like to share: Fishing
  • A fan of the game since: I could count. Okay. 1982.
  • Favorite hockey moment(s): 1995 Stanley Cup, Henrique Its Over.
  • Favorite player(s) past or present: Scott Stevens (end list)
  • What is your thought process when dealing out a player’s grade? One has to look at the realistic expectations of the player, what they have previously done, and what they have accomplished during the quarter in question.
  • Which player(s) will be high on the list for you this season for the NJ Devils? Jack Hughes and particularly Jesper Boqvist. Boqvist is going to drive the opposition nuts if he makes this team.
  • What are your expectations for the Binghamton Devils during 2019-’20? Honestly, I am not sure what to expect with this team. The goaltending is young and will be prone to mistakes but there is a sense of optimism overall. They could battle for a playoff spot.

  • Name: Duncan Field
  • Twitter: @DuncanMRF
  • Age: 26
  • Occupation: Marketing & Communications for a national charity
  • A hobby you’d like to share: I co-host and produce the Devils in the Details Podcast
  • A fan of the game since: 2009/10 season
  • Favorite hockey moment(s): I made the trip down to the Rock to see Martin Brodeur’s banner raising ceremony - Living in Canada, it’s hard to make home games that often
  • Favorite player(s) past or present: Patrik Elias, Nico Hischier
  • What is your thought process when dealing out a player’s grade? I want to know what the player’s potential impact is, what role he was given. A player’s grade is partly dependent on how well a player compares to both of those factors, as well as point production, two-way play, and other elements to his game.
  • Which player(s) will be high on the list for you this season for the NJ Devils? Jesper Boqvist, Nico Hischier, and Ty Smith
  • What are your expectations for the Binghamton Devils during 2019-’20? Much of the 2019/20 season will depend on how the new youth movement acclimates to the pro level, and how quickly Binghamton’s young goalie core settles in. I want to see the team push for the playoffs and survive injury call ups throughout the season, but long term success will depend on goaltending.

  • Name: Crazy Joe (STH)
  • Twitter: @crazybazookajoe
  • Age: 28
  • Occupation: Barista at Starbucks
  • A hobby you’d like to share: I practice voice-acting and sound design in my spare time.
  • A fan of the game since: 2003
  • Favorite hockey moment(s): 2011 Calder Cup playoffs, Denis Hamel’s 50th goal in ‘05-’06, Matt Carkner one-punching Kevin Harvey after a whistle, Robin Lehner’s fight against Riku Helenius, Chris Holt’s goalie goal.
  • Favorite player(s) past or present: Peter Regin, Denis Hamel, Rob Klinkhammer, Jeremy Yablonski, Mike McKenna, Ryan Vesce, Greg Mauldin, Ryan Keller
  • What is your thought process when dealing out a player’s grade? Skill at the AHL level doesn’t translate to the NHL right away. So how well does a player assume their position? What attitude do they display on ice? How do their habits affect their teammates at any moment? And most importantly, are they taking the AHL time as an opportunity to play instead of a barrier to the majors. It has soured many players when others are grateful just to be playing pro.
  • Which player(s) will be high on the list for you this season for the NJ Devils? Josh Jacobs, Nathan Bastian and Brandon Gignac. Jacobs and Bastian have nothing left to learn in the AHL. Bastian is a reliable power-forward with good hands and leadership qualities. Jacobs is a well-rounded defenseman who can score, pass, and has decent +/- which means he keeps himself out of trouble on special teams. Every team needs a D-man like that. As for Gignac, in following him for grades for the last few seasons, I expect him to round out his game in hopes of getting a peek up top. A small, yet fast and proficient playmaker lies in him. I need to see that he can overcome past injuries and find a way to out-muscle the defense despite his size. If he can, he’d be an excellent playmaker who’d be a great compliment to any high-scoring wingers/centermen.
  • What are your expectations for the Binghamton Devils during 2019-’20? It’s simple. I echo many fans on this sentiment, too. “Stay out of the basement.” I’m not looking for Division Champs or anything, but I want the team to grow and show some leadership on and off the ice. Consistent play, defensive awareness, and being able to hold onto leads. 4th place can make playoffs every season. A team that consistently wins often enough to not be in the basement is fine by me. With big-time AHL veterans Chris Conner, Julian Melchiori, and Ben Street, this rookie-packed team has every reason to put two and two together in record time. Coach Mark Dennehy has my vote of confidence for all of this to be possible with the hand he has been dealt. Let’s have a reputable season at The Floyd again.

  • Name: Derek Swislosky (STH)
  • Twitter/Facebook: N/A
  • Age: 40
  • Occupation: Assistant Manager at Speedway
  • A hobby you’d like to share: Hockey
  • A fan of the game since: 1983
  • Favorite hockey moment(s): 2011 Calder cup
  • Favorite player(s) past or present: Wayne Gretzky
  • What is your thought process when dealing out a player’s grade? Skills and athletic
  • Which player(s) will be high on the list for you this season for the NJ Devils? Jack Hughes
  • What are your expectations for the Binghamton Devils during 2019-’20? Playoff team we have a good mixture of vets and rookie’s.

  • Name: Dave Rogan (STH)
  • Twitter/Facebook: @RogieVachon30
  • Age: 55
  • Occupation: Director of Purchasing, Johnson Outdoors Inc.
  • A hobby you’d like to share: Craft Beer Enthusiast
  • A fan of the game since: 1973
  • Favorite hockey moment(s): Tie (No shootout!) between Binghamton winning 2011 Calder Cup & NYR winning 1994 Stanley Cup (was in attendance).
  • Favorite player(s) past or present: Dave Staffen (hockeydb him), Rogie Vachon, Wayne Gretzky, Robin Lehner
  • What is your thought process when dealing out a player’s grade? Obviously production. Does the player effectively use his skill set? Is the individual effort there every night?
  • Which player(s) will be high on the list for you this season for the NJ Devils? Jeremy Groleau. Small sample size in ‘19, but like what I saw. Left defense a need IMO for NJD.
  • What are your expectations for the Binghamton Devils during 2019-’20? Just not finishing in last place again. Team too inexperienced to be considered a playoff team. Seen over 1500 games at this level, going with two rookie netminders is a recipe for disaster.

So there it is as a small group of BDevils’ fans in following players while spending their time in Binghamton. We hope you the readers get as much information out of these reports coming up as much as we enjoy collaborating to them. The first report will be held mid-December as members now scramble on their selections before training camp begins in a few weeks.

Thanks for reading!