The Missouri Mavericks have run away with the division and are starting to check regular-season goals off their checklist, but do they have the players to win a Kelly Cup? Steve Martinson and the Allen Americans are always contenders and will have a say, but how loud will they be? And what about the ECHL wins leader Jason Christie and the Tulsa Oilers?
Overall Record: 45-7-3-2, 95 pts (Clinched playoff berth, 1st in Midwest Division, 1st in Western Conference)
Home Record: 26-3-0-1
Road Record: 19-4-3-1
Last 10 Games: 7-1-1-1
Greatest Need: It would be easy to say the Mavs don’t need anything, after all, they have only lost 12 of their 57 games this season. But, if there was a significant need right now, it would be for an offensive defenseman. A true puck mover on the back end would help the offensive significantly.
Prediction for the Deadline: Richard Matvichuk and Brent Thiessen have made moves when the need has risen this season. I think the Mavs have one or two more moves to make. They could also get some help from Bridgeport down the stretch as well.
Overall Record: 33-20-3-2, 71 pts (2nd in Midwest Division, 4th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 16-6-2-1
Road Record: 17-14-1-1
Last 10 Games: 5-3-1-1
Greatest Need: Defense. Allen Americans head coach Steve Martinson came into the season heavy on the back end, but through trades, players leaving and attrition, it has dwindled down especially in the 5 & 6 spots. The team will get help from San Jose for the playoffs, and it could be in the form of Rick Pinkston or another young defenseman in the Barracuda organization.
Prediction for the Deadline: With the surplus now at forward, Martinson may look to make a move. He is never shy to make a deal to help the team get better and I expect Allen to be active.
Overall Record: 28-24-3-2, 61 pts (3rd in Midwest Division, 8th in Western Conference
Home Record: 19-8-3-1
Road Record: 9-16-0-1
Last 10 Games: 3-7-0-0
Greatest Need: The downward spiral continues for the Tulsa Oilers, who now occupy the 8th playoff spot. The team has been hit hard by injuries and callups recently. One of the bigger disappointments in this division this year has been the play of Adam Pleskach, who was a point-per-game player for the Oilers last season. The Oilers need him to step up offensively.
Prediction for the Deadline: We have said the Oilers would look different in March from where they were in December and that has been the case. I would still expect to see Jason Christie make a deal or two to get some fresh bodies in the Oilers line up. They should be getting help from Manitoba soon, as they are not making the Calder Cup playoffs.
Overall Record: 14-33-6-6, 40 pts (4th in Midwest Division, Last in Western Conference)
Home Record: 7-14-3-4
Road Record: 7-19-3-2
Last 10 Games: 4-2-2-2
Greatest Need: The Wichita Thunder need a lot of things, but we are far past the point to make corrections. The team has some good pieces on the team; Dalton Reum and Martin Nemcik on defense, Kale Kerbashian and Kenton Miller up front. It maybe time at looking at moving some or all of those pieces.
Prediction for the Deadline: Wichita is in an odd spot. The coach, Kevin McClelland, is likely gone in six weeks. Do you sell off the pieces and give the new coach something in the cabinet to work with? Or do you keep the pieces you have and let them walk in the summer? My hunch is that McClelland and company remains silent.