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 Florida Panthers are on the list with their affiliates in San Antonio Texas and Cincinnati, Ohio.
SAN ANTONIO RAMPAGE
Affiliate Since: 2011-12
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 1,356 miles
Last Season: 30-37-3-6, 5th in West Division, 14th in Western Conference
Using 49 players is never a sign of success and it showed with the Rampage last season. With plenty of injury woes both in Florida and in their own line-up, the Rampage saw one of their worst season, only a win better from 2012-13 campaign they had.
One of the few bright spots on the season was rookie Vincent Trocheck, who put in 16 goals and 42 points in 55 games on the season. Bobby Butler was the only 20+ goal scorer on the Rampage, as he tried to get back into an everyday NHL line-up. Jed Ortmeyer, who is also trying to follow the same path of Butler and get back into a NHL line-up had 14 goals and 31 points in 64 games.
Two former NHLers didn’t help the defense of the Rampage, as both Ryan Whitney and Matt Gilroy offensively were decent, but on the defense side left a lot to be desired. Colby Robak was the most balanced of the Rampage defense, potting 21 points in 56 games, while being one of the only plus players on the blueline.
In net, Jacob Markstrom was able to keep the Rampage afloat at times, but once he was traded to Vancouver, Michael Houser took the position in net and had the same number of wins as Markstrom with 12. The only downfall was when call-ups Dov Grumet-Morris and Rob Madore were called up and couldn’t perform in the absence of Markstrom and Houser.
Leading Scorers: Bobby Butler (20g, 25a), Vincent Trocheck (16g, 26a), Greg Rallo (10g, 24a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: Though deep at defense, Colby Robak would be looked at to shuttle back and forth to and from Florida. Joey Crabb and Bobby Butler could also see some time in Florida with them being very weak on the right side of the offense.
Outlook: After two of the most unsuccessful years, the Rampage can really only go upward as the Panthers stockpile more and more talent in the AHL. Rookie Rocco Grimaldi coming into the fold for his first professional season will be a learning curve, but also provide some offense for the Rampage. With Markstrom gone, Michael Houser will have plenty of time to get more used to the everyday starter role.
CINCINNATI CYCLONES (Split with Nashville)
Affiliate Since: 2010-11
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 1,102 miles
Last Season: 41-23-4-4, 2nd in North Division, 5th in Eastern Conference
It was quite a season for the Cyclones, who made the Kelly Cup Finals, though losing to the Alaska Aces in the end. The Cyclones also led the league in goals, with Anthony Luciani and Jonathan Hazen leading the way, though scoring was all around the line-up with 10 players in double digits in goals. Taylor Aronson lead the way for the defense, as he chipped in 38 points in 65 games with the Cyclones. Aiding Aronson was Mike Dalhuisen, who came over for Stockton in a trade and added some grit and muscle to the Cyclones line-up.
However, the story could have been Rob Madore’s play in the playoffs, as he was the first player from a losing team to win the Playoff MVP award. Though he only had 17 wins in the regular season, Madore carried the Cyclones with 14 wins in 24 games during the playoffs with a .930 save percentage during the run.
Leading Scorers: Anthony Luciani (25g, 28a), Jonathan Hazen (22g, 29a), Paul Crowder (16g, 32a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: Byron Froese may see some time going between the AHL and the ECHL as he is on an ECHL-only contract right now. Madore will most likely be shuttled to and from San Antonio, while Michael Neal could see some AHL time if he can succeed in Cincinnati.
Outlook: Long time Cyclone defenseman Chris Reed will lead the way next year for the Cyclones, while captain David MacDonald will be return as well. They will be missing their three leading scorers from last year, but with the depth the Cyclones seem to always bring in, they should be easily able to fill the void left. Rob Madore could be brought down again, should the Panthers be too stocked up with goaltending in the AHL.