As we get ready for the the 2014-15 season, it may be time to get yourself reacquainted with your team’s minor league affiliates and what could be in store for your team should they need a call-up or two. I’ll go through them team by team in hopes that this enlightens some people to their affiliate teams. Today, the Colorado Avalanche are up with their far-away affiliates in Cleveland, Ohio and Fort Wayne, Indiana.
LAKE ERIE MONSTERS
Affiliate Since: 2007-08
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 1,333 miles
Last Season: 32-33-1-10, 4th in North Division, 12th in Western Conference
While the youth movement is alive and well in Colorado, Lake Erie has suffered a bit due to lack of top prospects coming through the system. The Monsters went all season without a 20-goal scorer or 50-point getter on the year. On the bright side, the defense were big contributors to the offense that was present. Stefan Elliott and Matt Hunwick were two of the leaders on the offensive side, with Elliott posting 14 goals and Hunwick producing 31 points.
In net, Calvin Pickard and Sami Aittokallio were decent for the young team in front of them, both seeing split time in net. Pickard was top-15 in saves on the season and ended with a .906 save percentage. In the meantime, in his second season in North America finished with 16 wins in 36 games and posted a 2.65 GAA.
For the lack of offense, David van der Gulik was effective when he wasn’t up with Colorado, he put up 13 goals and 22 points in 33 games with the Monsters. For goal-scoring, Andrew Agozzino put up 17 goals and lead the team in points with 49 points. In his first full season after his concussion, Joey Hishon had 10 goals and 14 assists in his rookie year, which is a great step after losing almost two season with post-concussion syndrome.
Leading Scorers: Andrew Agozzino (17g, 32a), Mark Olver (15g, 34a), Colin Smith (8g, 26a)
Possibly Frequent Flyers: If Colorado would want toughness in the line-up, Mitchell Heard would be one of the candidates, but with the left side jammed up; the Avalanche may choose not to go that route. Due to the lack of depth on the right side, Garrett Meurs could see a lot of time between Lake Erie and Colorado to try out new things for the season.
Outlook: While there’s probably not much turnover due to the Avalanche having a lockdown on their roster, the Monsters will have to focus mostly on trying to get more offense into their game. With the acquisition of Ben Street in the offseason, that could give a boost to their scoring prowess. Agozzino could very well step his game up a little bit with Street there to help him along. With their move to the Midwest Division, which would mean more travel, that could very well effect the outcome for the Monsters, as well.
FORT WAYNE KOMETS
Affiliate Since: 2014-15
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 1,145 miles
Last Season: 36-24-7-5, 3rd in North Division, 8th in Eastern Conference
Far and away the best player on the Komets and the ECHL was the ECHL MVP Brandon Marino, who potted 30 goals and 88 points to lead the entire league. There was a big drop-off after that with Chris Auger— who did have 29 goals, but only 55 points on the season. Jordon Southorn was crucial on the power play with six power play goals with the Komets after coming over from Elmira in an early season trade. Southorn was the offensive force for the defense, though Jace Coyle and Simon Danis-Pepin both had over 20 assists on the season.
In net, Andrey Makarov took a majority of the reps on the season, but only posted 15 wins in 31 appearances on the season. The acquisition of Ben Meisner was a saving grace with 14 wins in 24 appearances with the Komets and helped them get to the post-season and being the goalie of record throughout the two rounds the Komets were in.
Leading Scorers: Brandon Marino (30g, 58a), Chris Auger (29g, 26a), Scott Fleming (16g, 33a)
Possibly Frequent Flyers: Defenseman James Martin, who has been seeing some AHL time in previous season, will probably be looked at again by the AHL to fill out a stay-at-home defenseman role. Mike Embach has a history with the Lake Erie organization, who could be call in him if he can get off to a quick start offensively.
Outlook: With Marino and Auger heading overseas, there’s going to be a big drop-off in goal scoring for the Komets. Late season acquisition Mike Embach will be looked at to be the defacto leader with minor league journeyman Paul Crowder coming into give some added experience. One big story line will be what will happen with Angelo Esposito, the former NHL 1st round pick trying to get his career back on track after numerous injuries. If he can stay healthy, Esposito should have the motivation to be a top scorer for the Komets.