It’s that time of year again when the AHL picks up the players coming out of Juniors & College, swelling their ranks just before playoffs; when those NHL teams headed to their own playoffs call up players to carry on their rosters “just in case;” when those NHL teams who didn’t make the cut return those players they did call up for them to “gain experience”
Basically, the AHL rosters have and are going to change, sometimes quite a bit, before the season ends. So we’re going to take a look at the changes happening the Pacific Division.
In first place are the San Jose Barracuda. With the Sharks also headed to the post-season, they won’t be getting players back for now. Instead, the Sharks have recalled Timo Meier (F), Daniel O’Regan (F) and Tim Heed (D). With those call-ups, the Barracuda lost their top two scorers. Replacements have come in the form of Tim Clifton (F), Clarke Saunders (G) and Nick DeSimone (D). Prospect Jeremy Roy is still in the QMJHL playoffs with his team holding a game lead. Should the Armada be eliminated, Roy might be assigned to the Barracuda. Without Roy, the Barracuda roll into the playoffs with seven defensemen and 13 forwards.
Next in line are the San Diego Gulls. Anaheim made a flurry of call-ups in preparation for their run. They pulled Ondej Kase (F), Clayton Stoner (D), Shea Theodore (D) and Jacob Megna (D) up in the past week alone. It is also pretty much assured that Brandon Montour and Nick Ritchie will not be returning. Replacements have come in the form of Austin Ortega (F), Mitch Hults (F) and James Melindy (D). Prospect Sam Steel’s (F) Regina Pats are still in the WHL playoffs, but down a game. Prospect Julius Nattinen’s (F) team was eliminated this week, but he hasn’t shown up in San Diego yet. Despite the Ducks grabbing some of their top players, the Gulls will still start the postseason with 19 forwards (20 if you count Zac Larraza) and seven defensemen.
The Ontario Reign are the only team whose NHL affiliate didn’t make the playoffs. Once the NHL’s regular season is over, they can expect to see Adrian Kempe (F), Jonny Brodzinski (F) and Paul LaDue (D) return. In addition to that, the Reign have added Philippe Maillet (F), Matt Roy and Matt Luff (F). Spencer Watson (F) and Jacob Moverare (D) are still in the OHL playoffs, just starting the second round. The Reign are projected to have 19 forwards (18 if you don’t count Setoguchi who hasn’t played since March 4th) and eight defensemen (not counting Zach Trotman or Rob Scuderi).
The Stockton Heat have roared back into a playoff spot with the Calgary Flames getting the Western Conference wild card spot. The Flames have only recalled Jon Gillies (G) for their run, however, leaving the Heat’s roster mostly intact. Tacking onto it are Adam Ollas Mattsson (D), Cam Bras (F), P.J. Musico (G) and Matthew Phillips (F). Nick Schneider is their only prospect still in the junior playoffs, just starting the second round. The Heat will take 18 forwards and nine defensemen to the playoffs if they qualify.
Two points behind the Heat are the Bakersfield Condors. Returning to the playoffs after a long break, the Edmonton Oilers have left the Condors roster alone. The last recall was Taylor Beck at the beginning of March, and he hasn’t been sent back. They have added Ryan Mantha (D), Joe Gambardella (F), and Ziyat Paigin (D). Jujher Khaira was returned on the 4th, but could head right back to Canada. In the prospect department, Ethan Bear’s Thunderbirds are starting the second round of the WHL playoffs along with Caleb Jones’ Winterhawks. Tyler Benson’s team didn’t make the playoffs, but a mid-season injury has kept him off the ice & he probably won’t be joining the Condors. Should they make it to the post season, they will have 19 forwards & eight defensemen.
That’s the outlook for the playoff hopefuls in the Pacific Division. Looks like the Reign could get the most benefit out of the changes taking place, and they’ll need it against their California rivals.