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 affiliations are always bigger in Texas…well, for the Dallas Stars at least, as they are the first team with three affiliates– Cedar Park, Texas; Boise, Idaho; and Allen, Texas
Affiliate Since: 2010-11
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 183 miles
Last Season: 48-18-3-7, 1st in West Division, 1st in Western Conference
It was a banner year for the Stars this year, as they pretty much ran the table in the AHL with winning the Calder Cup, as well as the Western Conference and regular season title. Only Binghamton scored more goals, but they did have the leading points getting in the AHL, as Travis Morin had 88 points in 66 games, while also taking home the regular season and playoff MVP honors on the season.
Morin was one of six Stars skaters to pot 20 or more goals, being tied with Colton Sceviour for leading goals with 32, though Sceviour wasn’t on the Stars for their playoff run at all. Rookies Curtis McKenzie and Brett Ritchie were big surprises for the Stars, as they contributed plenty to the scoring, being two of the six with 20+ goals; as another rookie– Brendan Ranford— put up 16 points in the playoffs to be one of the secondary scorers for the Stars on their run.
The veteran presence of Maxime Fortunus and Derek Meech were a great compliment to the young defense corps Texas had. With that, Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth, and Jyrki Jokipakka were able to not feel too rushed or pressured to be perfect all the time.
In net, Christopher Nilstorp had a huge year, posting 27 wins in 45 appearances, even though it was not good enough to warrant any rewards for the Stars starter. Back-up Jack Campbell played very well behind Nilstorp when he was in Texas, going 12-2-2 in 16 games, while Josh Robinson went 6-6-0 in the third stringer role when called up from Idaho.
Leading Scorers: Travis Morin (32g, 56a), Curtis McKenzie (27g, 38a), Colton Sceviour (32g, 31a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: With a lot of talent up the middle, Sceviour could very well have a lot of travel miles to and from Dallas should an injury occur– which is bound to happen. McKenzie will be fighting for a spot coming out of camp, but could also be on a platoon system to and from Dallas.
Outlook: There should be very little change with Texas this season. The only major change is that Campbell will be the starting guy for the Stars, as Nilstorp went over to Europe. The returns of Fortunus, Meech, Morin, Ritchie, and Scott Glennie— the Stars are going to be in very good position to go for a repeat, showing how well Dallas has been able to stock up their prospect cabinet. It also takes a lot of pressure off new head coach Derek Laxdal with a solid core at his disposal.
Affiliate Since: 2005-06
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 1,601 miles
Last Season: 39-26-3-4, 3rd in Mountain Division, 4th in Western Conference
In contrast to the AHL side of things, the Steelheads didn’t have much scoring going all around, with only one 20+ goal scorer and no regular player over a point-per-game. However, the one 20+ goal scorer, Tommy Grant, did it in quite the way– with 11 of his 23 goals coming by way of the power play. Though, one of the great stat lines is the team’s 2nd leading scorer in Mitch Wahl, who had 17 goals, 56 points, and 160 PIMs on the season.
However, the players weren’t the most defensive minded in the ECHL, they were able to rely on Pat Nagle— who had 23 wins a .918 save percentage, while Josh Robinson was able to put up 13 wins when he wasn’t called up to Texas. While Patrick Cullity and Dalton Reum were able to hold their own on the blueline, it seemed the rest of their defensive teammates wanted to help pick up the slack on their own end, as many of the blueliners ended up as minuses on the season.
Leading Scorers: William Rapuzzi (16g, 42a), Mitch Wahl (17g, 39a), Tommy Grant (23g, 27a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: As he is being looked at by the Texas Stars, Jason Bast could be one of the Steelheads who makes a trip to and from the AHL. Cullity has some AHL experience in the past and should get some looks if some AHL teams have injury issues and if they need a solid defenseman in their line-up.
Outlook: With a revamped Western Conference, the travel could be an interesting scenario for the Steelheads going to and from Boise; but it’ll also create a lot more competition for them. Defense will be a big thing and it’ll be on the shoulders of Cullity, rookie Eammon McDermott, and newcomer Matt Case to revamp the style of play on the backline, while the likes of Bast and Brett Robinson will have to shoulder the load on offense to give them a little bit of goal support.
Affiliate Since: 2009-10
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 27 miles
Last Season: 39-22-5, 3rd in Central Hockey League
For a second straight season, the Americans were able to raise the Ray Miron President’s Cup for winning the championship of the CHL. They leads the league in goals and even with Alex Lavoie being moved to and from Oklahoma City in the AHL; Jonathan Lessard, Spencer Asuchak, and Jamie Schaafsma were there to pick up the slack on offense. It also didn’t hurt that the Americans had 70 goals with the extra man advantage.
Defensively, Tyler Ludwig had a breakout season, garnering Most Outstanding Defenseman award in the league, while also putting up 55 points including 20 goals on the year. Bryan Pitton was stellar in net when Mark Guggenberger went to the ECHL at the start of the season, registering top-5 numbers in wins and save percentage.
Leading Scorers: Alex Lavoie (25g, 51a), Jonathan Lessard (28g, 29a), Spencer Asuchak (21g, 35a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: Tyler Ludwig could get a solid look by the Texas Stars, while Schaafsma could get spot work here and there with an AHL team around. Rookie Jeremy Beaudry could also get some looks at the ECHL or AHL teams as a high-scoring blueliner.
Outlook: Two major losses are both to the ECHL, as Lavoie signed in Florida; while Lessard was suspended by the team for signing with Utah when still under contract with Allen. However, Schaafsma is going to be there to have an offensive presence, while the twins of Tyler and Trevor Ludwig will be the anchors on the blueline. Two newcomers in net– Ben Meisner and Willie Yanakeff— should bring a solid tandem for a run at a third-straight title.