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 is the last instalment with the Winnipeg Jets and their affiliates in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador and Ontario, California.
ST. JOHN’S ICECAPS
Affiliate Since: 2011-12
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 3,296 miles
Last Season: 46-23-2-5, 2nd in Atlantic Division, 4th in Eastern Conference
A season after missing the playoffs, the IceCaps made it all the way to the Calder Cup Finals; losing to the Texas Stars in five games, but got a lot of solid help from unlikely sources– especially later on in the season when the cavalry was called upon from the ECHL.
With five 20-goal scorers, the IceCaps really showed their scoring prowess at will. Their power play clicked well, too, with Andrew Gordon and Jerome Samson combining for 21 power play goals, with four others putting up more than five power play goals on the year. On the other side of the special teams, John Alberts led the AHL with six shorthanded markers on the year– doubling the next top shorthanded scorer. Captain Jason Jaffray was the premier set-up man for the IceCaps, putting up 41 assists and 59 points on the year.
Rookie Brendan Kichton had a heck of a season, providing some offense from the back-end with 38 assists on they year, while Will O’Neill had seven of his nine goals on the year come from the power play, while also leading all defensemen in playoff scoring with 16 points. Zach Redmond had a solid year, as well, chalking up 25 points in 40 games while also putting up 14 points in 21 playoff games.
While they used an assortment of goalies, the IceCaps relied heavily on Eddie Pasquale for the first half, putting up 17 wins in 31 games. However, after the second half of the season, Michael Hutchinson took over in a big way, also racking up 17 wins, but in 24 games and then taking all the games in the playoffs, totaling a 1.95 GAA and .938 save percentage in the 21 playoff games.
Leading Scorers: Jason Jaffray (18g, 41a), Andrew Gordon (23g, 34a), Jerome Samson (27g, 29a)
Possible Frequent Flyers: Defensively, Josh Morrissey will be looking to get some NHL time, while Julien Brouillette has some NHL time under his belt and could get a look first should they need a little more experience at the time. Adam Lowry will get a chance in Winnipeg, but could get shipped out with Nikolaj Ehlers possibly filling that role that Lowry leaves.
Outlook: It’d be hard to top the season last year, but with some turnaround; it could be a rough road ahead. Hutchinson has gone up for the short-term to be the back-up in Winnipeg, so there will be a battle in net between Peter Budaj and Juho Olkinoura; with Eric Comrie nipping at their heels. Josh Morrissey and Brenden Kichton are going to be integral portion of the defense, while the leadership of Jaffray and Alberts will be able to speed the transition of JC Lipon, Austen Brassard, and Carl Klingberg to better professional players.
ONTARIO REIGN (Split with Los Angeles)
Affiliate Since: 2013-14
Distance From Parent Team (Arena to Arena): 1,942 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: With the Jets probably using their spots in Ontario for goalies, you could see Eric Comrie, Juho Olkinoura, or Connor Hellebuyck fighting for time there. Also, Gasper Kopitar could get a lot of looks on name recongition alone, but will need to step his game up a little more in order to get more eyes on him.
Outlook: With the new ECHL, the Reign could very well have themselves a solid season; especially with a lot of familiar names back, though it took a while for them to get signed up. Derek Couture and Everett Sheen will be looked at for knowledge as they are the longest tenured players, while Judd Blackwater and Dylan Hood will be nice additions for variety in the Reign line-up.