The Binghamton Devils have found a way back into a playoff picture after winning their third straight and fourth out of the last five with the latest on Monday afternoon defeating the Marlies in Toronto.
There’s a good vibe that is happening right before our eyes in Binghamton and everyone should be sensitive on what moves, or non-moves could be made for the Organization in moving forward. The main focus is of course for the parent club, but let’s also be aware developing a winning culture shouldn’t be overlooked for some of these prospects that are so close to making the playoffs in the AHL.
NJDevils’ interim GM Tom Fitzgerald had this to say this past Sunday;
Tom Fitzgerald: ""My plan, if I'm to continue at this position, is to grow around [Hughes] and [Hischier] in that age frame and have a group of kids around that same type of age group, grow together."— Mike Morreale (@mikemorrealeNHL) February 16, 2020
So that suggests to me that Colton White, Nick Merkley and Joey Anderson will stick in NJ after their recent call-ups. I don’t have a problem with that although I would prefer them here. Also remember, Fitzgerald has been no stranger to Binghamton, including attending several road games while serving as GM over the last two seasons. That’s a big plus for the BDevils in rebuilding the franchise that begins in the prospect pool of the AHL.
I’ve said it before on a recent interview and I will say it again here, NJ has shown patience when it comes to prospects and hasn’t rushed too many with the latest example in the three mentioned above. Let’s not deviate from the plan of possible success at the minor league level.
Here is a list of candidates that come to mind with initial thoughts that pop-up for potential call-ups on the brink of the approaching, last quarter of the season in no particular order.
Brett Seney - I think he should and will be called up before the season’s end, at least on merit alone as he has been the BDevils’ MVP by far. I’m just afraid he will not stick due to his size. He is gifted with the puck and a beast in serving as an antagonist but is easily manhandled on certain occasions when ultimately push comes to literally shove involving Brett.
Mikhail Maltsev - Big, power forward with gifted hands but a little green, needs another season in the A as he has been up and down the line-up. Recently featured on the fourth line wing with Nate Schnarr and Fabian Zetterlund. Let’s be patient with this one.
Fabian Zetterlund - Seems his role has been protected throughout the season as he plays a couple of games then is listed as a healthy scratch. So no. He needs more time before we can begin to think about time in NJ.
Egor Sharangovich - Perhaps. He’s been showing signs of improvement during this recent surge but isn’t close to anything other than a game or two, maybe. Another year and we’ll check back on his progress.
Michael McLeod - Maybe. But time has run out and will most likely be his last go-around for the Devils if he is indeed called up. Just cannot put an overall game together on both ends of the ice. Great at faceoffs, improved physicalness, fore-checking not a problem but cannot seem to finish offensively with a low hockey IQ surrounding the o-zone.
Marian Studenic - Not likely. Been on the IR missing a bunch of games and recently returned showing flashes of his talents as well as his enthusiasm. Just needs more ice time. Same as Egor, another season and let’s re-group for Marian.
Jesper Boqvist - Sure, a no brainier as his recent move up to the top line has paid off offensively which has helped fuel his confidence level as he has settled into his new role. But, try to keep him in Binghamton as long as possible and then watch him blossom next season for NJ. Let’s not waste this opportunity for Jesper, as well for the Devils.
Brandon Gignac - Not seeing it. In and out of the line-up and has lost a step. I do not see him as an everyday player in the NHL, although I am rooting for him. Not sure if he is in the plans moving forward.
Josh Jacobs - Should get another look, but this time an extended period, longer than the previous. I believe he has potential up top, just needs some games to prove otherwise.
Gilles Senn - No. Another half-season in Binghamton before giving him some additional looks up top. We rushed Blackwood and it looks like it’s going to pan out, but let’s not risk it with another gamble in goal. Patience.
Nathan Bastian - On the fence with this one. I initially left him off the list but for what it’s worth, I just added him. Leaning more like no even though he has nothing left to prove in the A.
Tracey’s Updates From Adirondack
If the Adirondack Thunder have any chance of making it to the postseason, they have a hard journey ahead of them.
As of this morning, the team sits outside of the playoff picture, with a record of 19-22-8-5 and 51 points, good for fifth place in the ECHL’s North Division. The team sits 10 points behind fourth place Maine, but with two games in hand.
Another recent slide has not helped the Thunder’s standings position. After a four-game winning streak in late January, the team went winless in their next six (0-4-2-0) before a 5-0 road win over Jacksonville on Saturday.
Roster-wise, the lineup has been consistent in recent weeks. The three-goalie situation has again been corrected, with third goaltender Sean Romeo dealt to Norfolk. Evan Cormier and Eamon McAdam have been evenly splitting time in net. As for the skaters, only one regular—defenseman Colby Sissons—received a call up to Binghamton. Additionally, veteran Michael Sdao has finally returned to the lineup for the first time since late October.
However, time is beginning to run out for the Thunder.
What’s Left in the Regular Season?
After a 5-4 overtime loss in Atlanta on Tuesday night, there are just 18 games left on Adirondack’s regular season schedule. Seventeen of those games are against North Division opponents, with the other contest a trip to Wheeling on March 25th. The divisional breakdown:
- 4 games against Newfoundland, 1 home/3 away: The Growlers have a stronghold on first place, with a 10-point lead over second place Reading. Newfoundland just set an ECHL record with a 19-game winning streak at The Rock, and currently lead the league in scoring with 4.10 goals per game. For the season, the Thunder are 0-5-2-0 against the Growlers, including back-to-back overtime losses in early January in St. John’s.
- 4 games against Reading, 3 home/1 away: The Royals are currently riding a 6-game winning streak, and lead Brampton and Maine by just two points for second place in the North. Adirondack is 1-3 against Reading this season, the lone win coming at home on December 28th.
- 3 games against Brampton, 2 home/1 away: The Beast, currently tied with Maine in points but sit in third, have quite the remaining schedule: 6 matchups remain against Newfoundland, but the team will play their last five on home ice, and they have a 3-game series in Norfolk in early March against the Admirals, who have the worst record in the ECHL. After a slow start against the Beast to begin the season, the Thunder have won their last two against the Beast, compiling a 5-4-0-1 mark.
- 3 games against Maine, 3 home/0 away: The most common opponent for Adirondack this season—exactly 25 percent of the schedule is against the Mariners—Maine passed the Thunder for the fourth and final playoff spot after taking the last four games between the two teams. Overall, the Thunder are 4-6-3-2 against the Mariners, the last win coming in Portland on January 11th.
- 3 games against Worcester, 1 home/2 away: The Railers are playing out the string after dropping 9 out of their last 10, including a current 0-7-1 streak. The Thunder are 6-3-1-1 against Worcester for the season.
- After a 5-game homestand to close out February, Adirondack will play 7 out of 10 games in the month of March on the road, including a 3-game series against Newfoundland to start the month. The regular season ends in Worcester on April 4th.
Charlie Curti (TC invite): Curti leads all active Thunder defensemen in scoring with 11 goals and 14 assists in 48 games. He has two goals in his last five appearances.
James Henry (TC invite): Henry has 8 goals and 24 assists in 44 games. He has missed the last four games due to injury.
Ludvig Larsson (AHL): Larsson has 3 goals and 4 assists in 12 games. He has four points in his last five games.
Ara Nazarian (AHL): Nazarian has taken over the Thunder rookie scoring lead, with 10 goals and 18 assists in 45 games. He played his best game as a pro on Saturday, with a goal and 3 assists against Jacksonville, and has 6 points overall in his last three games.
Nikita Popugaev (AHL): Popugaev has 9 goals and 16 assists in 42 games. He missed about a week in late January with a hand injury.
Matt Salhany (TC invite): Salhany ranks second on the team in scoring, with 18 goals and 20 assists in 53 games. He has two goals and two assists in his last five games, including a two-point outing against Jacksonville on Saturday.
Michael Sdao (TC invite): Sdao has one assist in 11 games, earning his first point of the season against Atlanta on Tuesday.
Kelly Summers (TC/PTO): Summers has 7 goals and 13 assists in 40 games. He had a four-game point streak (4 assists) snapped in Saturday’s win in Jacksonville.
Ryan Walker (TC invite): Walker has 8 goals and 9 assists in 42 games. He posted his first two-goal game as a pro on Saturday in Jacksonville.
Evan Cormier (ELC): Cormier is 3-3-5 in 13 appearances with a 3.22 GAA and .890 save percentage. His last win for the Thunder was on December 30th in Brampton, and he is 0-1-2 in four February starts.
Eamon McAdam (AHL): McAdam is 12-15-2-2 with a 3.24 GAA and .893 save percentage in 32 appearances. He picked up his second shutout of the season in Jacksonville on Saturday, his first victory in four starts.
Thanks for reading!