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 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings are up with their affiliates in Manchester, New Hampshire and Ontario, California.
Affiliate Since: 2001-02
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 3,050 miles
Last Season: 48-19-3-6, 1st in Atlantic Division, 1st in Eastern Conference
While the Monarchs were dominant in the regular season, they were unlike their parent club in Los Angeles; being taken out in the first round by the Norfolk Admirals in four games. The Monarchs weren’t the highest scoring team, but they prided themselves on the defensive side of things.
The defensive corps of Andrew Bodnarchuk, Vincent LoVerde, Derek Forbort, and Andrew Campbell helped the Monarchs to the third lowest goals-against number in the AHL. Even former NHLer Jeff Schultz chipped in while getting plenty of time to earn his spot back in the Kings’ line-up. With the addition of Brayden McNabb to the line-up added some offensive punch to the blueline.
Martin Jones laid the groundwork in goal for the Monarchs, but when he got summoned to Los Angeles full-time, J-F Berube was able to slide in and take over just fine, chalking up 28 wins in 48 games, while being in the top-10 in wins, GAA, and minutes in the AHL.
The big contributors to the offense were also ones who were called up by Los Angeles, as Tanner Pearson and Linden Vey were very instrumental in Manchester’s success. Leading scorer Jordan Weal was able to keep the scoring up with the call-ups happening, while Brian O’Neill lead the team in goals.
Leading Scorers: Jordan Weal (23g, 47a), Linden Vey (14g, 34a), Brian O’Neill (26g, 21a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: With the line-up set for the most part, it’ll be hard to have anyone move up and down, lest injury is an issue. Newcomer Adam Cracknell will be vying for the shuttle spot on the right side, while Nick Shore will be working up the middle for a spot. Any of the defense corps could be upon when an injury occurs on the blueline– McNabb, Forbort, and Schultz the most likely of candidates.
Outlook: With the addition of Cracknell and David van der Gulik, the offense should get a little spark into it and should help out Weal a good amount, as well. Defensively, there’s really no concern, unless Berube has a sophomore slump going into the next season, though Patrik Bartosak should be able to take over and play well, as he is another in the Kings pipeline of high prospects goaltending.
ONTARIO REIGN (Split with Winnipeg)
Affiliate Since: 2008-09
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 43.4 miles
Last Season: 44-20-3-4, 1st in Pacific Division, 2nd in Western Conference
Much like their AHL affiliate, the Reign were taken out in the first round after finishing 1st in their division and top of their conference. Even with the pick-ups of Rocco Carzo, Tyler Gron, and Jonathan Parker, the offense wasn’t enough for the Reign overall. Rookie Matt White lead the way in scoring, while Chris Crane was able to hop over and help out with White and Derek Couture on the power play.
Matt Register chipped in offensively, as well as being the anchor on the defense; while Olivier Dame-Malka provide muscle on the blueline and for the team overall. Two Winnipeg Jets prospect goalies were center stage for the Reign, with Michael Hutchinson dominating the league with a 22-4-2 record and held one of the top-three GAA in the ECHL well after his promotion to St. John’s. Jussi Olkinuora took over, but only had 14 wins in 27 games with the Reign after being sent down from the AHL.
Leading Scorers: Matt White (22g, 35a), Matt Register (14g, 30a), Mario Lamoureux (20g, 20a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: As of this writing, the Reign only have two players under contract, thus making predictions about this impossible. Maybe by the time the Winnipeg Jets come up, there will be more to talk about in this heading.
Outlook: The Reign, as of this writing, could be looking at help from their affiliates in Los Angeles and Winnipeg because they only have two players under contract for this season, Rocco Carzo and Dennis Brown. With a wholesale change and Hutchinson moving up to Winnipeg most likely, the Reign will have a whole new look and identity for the year.