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 Washington Capitals are up with their affiliates in Hershey, Pennsylvania and Charleston, South Carolina.
Affiliate Since: 2005-06
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 127 miles
Last Season: 39-27-5-5, 4th in East Division, 9th in Eastern Conference
Missing out by a mere two points last year, the Bears were not in the playoffs for the first time since the Capitals have been the primary affiliate. With some bumps in the road and losing at the wrong time, the Bears could have made up points here and there, but never could recover in the tough Eastern Conference.
It was goal scoring by committee, with seven players scoring more than 15 goals, despite Jeff Taffe being the only one to score 20 goals on the year. Taffe also led in power play goals with 10, while Brandon Segal, Casey Wellman, and Julien Brouillette all tied up with seven. Nicolas Deschamps was crucial on the penalty kill, potting two shorthanded goals and playing a solid defensive game from the left side.
While Brouillette was able to provide offense from the blue line, he had a solid time in his own end as well when he wasn’t in Washington. Both Cam Schilling and Tyson Strachan also helped protect the goaltending, combining for a +27 on the year. However, someone who wasn’t solid on both side was David Kolomatis, who provided much more offensive punch over his defensive side of the puck.
In net, David Leggio got the majority of the start, as Philipp Grubauer was in Washington for a time, as well. Leggio put up 23 wins for the Bears, while Grubauer had three shutouts, a .916 save percentage, but only a .500 win percent at 13-13-2. Leggio had a slightly higher GAA, but was 7th overall for most minutes in the AHL.
Leading Scorers: Jeff Taffe (21g, 26a), Brandon Segal (17g, 27a), Ryan Stoa (16g, 24a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: As I have done before, I checked with someone closer to the teams than I, which is why I enlisted Becca H. of Japers’ Rink for help. According to Becca, Tom Wilson will probably be one of the main guys on the shuttle to and from Hershey to DC, while Nate Schmidt will be the top candidate to be called up on defense. From my eye, Steve Olesky could also get some shuttle time for the season.
Outlook: With the Capitals looking to streamline the coaching aspects, the Bears who will go up and down will be more prepared. That should help with Troy Mann being in his first year as Bears’ head coach, thus a fresh sheet for him and the other first year coaches in the Caps organization. With Grubauer ready for prime-time he should be able to get plenty of starts and see plenty of shots. Stanislav Galiev should be one of the main contributors of the offense, with Joel Broda trying to get his NHL career back on track.
SOUTH CAROLINA STINGRAYS (Split with Boston)
Affiliate Since: 2014-15
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 523 miles
Last Season: 43-23-2-4, 1st in South Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference
The main thing for the Stingrays last season was shutting down the opposition. The Stingrays were tied for second when it came to least amount of goals given up last season (173). Veteran Jeff Jakaitis lead the way for the goalie platoon with 24 wins in 40 games with a 2.16 GAA and .924 Sv%, while journeyman Allen York was able to come in to gather eight wins in his 14 appearances with South Carolina. The anchor on the blue line was Luka Vidmar, who transitioned his game to more of a defensive role rather than a more offensive one, which saw his point production drop-off by 13 from the 2012-13 season. Also holding down the blue line was Dylan King, who came over mid-season from San Francisco folding mid-season.
Conversely, only two playoff teams (Utah and Las Vegas) scored less than the Stingrays in the regular season– which is alarming and the reason why the goaltending and defense was heavily relied on. Peter Boyd lead the team in points and kept his point-per-game pace since joining the Stingrays late in 2012-13 from Bakersfield, putting up 63 points in 63 games. Wayne Simpson netted 22 goals and 41 points in his first season, while Dale Mitchell added 22 points after also coming over to the Stingrays when San Francisco folded mid-season.
Leading Scorers: Peter Boyd (25g, 38a), Wayne Simpson (22g, 19a), Patrick Gaul (12g, 19a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: In a split affiliation, the Caps are going to be limited in the number of players they’re able to put into their fold in South Carolina. However, Joe Diamond is probably going to be the most frequent of flyers to and from Hershey, while Michal Cajkovsky will probably need more time with the Stingrays than anything else.
Outlook: The most interesting thing to be determined is how the Stingrays will do with a dual affiliation between Boston and Washington. The amount of players that will be allotted to them will be determined by the end of both NHL and AHL camps. Of course, the goal will to probably keep the goals against as low as 2013-14, while trying to produce more offense with a more consistent line-up. Anything to take the sting away from their brief playoff appearance, which saw them getting swept by the Wheeling Nailers.