The ECHL’s West Division has been extremely competitive so far this season. Three of the five teams (Utah, Idaho, Rapid City) have held the division lead at one point or another so far. The Utah Grizzlies have backslid to the fifth playoff spot at the start of play Sunday, while Rapid City continues to add pieces with the hopes of making a final push for a playoff berth.
Overall Record: 32-20-5-2, 71 pts (1st in West Division, 2nd in Western Conference)
Home Record: 14-9-2-2
Road Record: 17-11-3-0
Last 10 Games: 7-1-1-1
Greatest Need: The strength of the Steelheads this season has been goaltending and defense, which is a good recipe to have in the playoffs. But, the Steelheads will likely need some more offense as the playoffs near, especially since they are likely to get little help from their AHL affiliate, Texas, who is likely to make the Calder Cup playoffs.
Prediction for the Deadline: The motto “if it’s broke, don’t fix it,” certainly applies in this situation. I would expect Idaho to be quiet at the deadline, but don’t be surprised if they make a trade to add scoring.
Overall Record: 31-22-2-2, 66 pts (2nd in West Division, 5th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 18-8-1-2
Road Record: 12-14-1-0
Last 10 Games: 3-5-0-2
Greatest Need: The Utah Grizzlies are an interesting case study. They are almost squarely in the middle of the ECHL in allowing goals and scoring goals (2.81 against vs 3.04 for) per game, but they do not have a player on the active roster who is greater than a +10. In this writer’s opinion, the Grizzlies could use atleast one shut down defenseman on their back-end if they are to be contenders in the Western Conference.
Prediction for the Deadline: The Grizzlies have been busy in the run up to the deadline, acquiring forward Cody Ferriero, plus defensemen Mike Ratchuk and Tim Daly. They maybe content with what they have acquired so far, and will wait to see how San Diego does in the push to the AHL playoffs.
Overall Record: 30-23-2-0, 62 pts (3rd in West Division, 7th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 20-7-2-0
Road Record: 10-16-0-0
Last 10 Games: 7-3-0-0
Greatest Need: The Eagles play a very rugged style of game, with an uptempo style mixed in. The downside to their ruggedness is that they are the most penalized in the ECHL, with 1,131 PIMs at the start of play Saturday. The greatest need for this team is not available on the trade market, rather, they have to stop taking untimely penalties.
Prediction for the Deadline: I would not expect to see the Eagles be active at the deadline. The Eagles are on a roll right now and appear to be content with the roster as it’s currently constructed.
RAPID CITY RUSH:
Overall Record: 23-28-2-3, 51 pts (4th in West Division, 11th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 12-11-0-2
Road Record: 10-17-2-1
Last 10 Games: 4-5-0-1
Greatest Need: Offense continues to be the greatest need at this point is for the Rush, but the team is in a state of flux, especially after the move of Joe Ferras to the GM’s office and Mark DeSantis to head coach. Still, the offensive roster has been overhauled to a degree and moves have been made on the back end as well. But it appears those moves have yet to pay off, as the Rush have only scored 22 goals in their last 10 games and been shutout twice.
Prediction for the Deadline: As long as Joe Ferras has a phone line and contracts to move, I suspect he will try everything in his power to make the Rush better so they can make a push to the playoffs. At worst, they will have a look at an overhauled roster and can do a Missouri-like rebuild in anticipation for the 2016-17 season. I think Rapid City will be very active at the deadline.
Overall Record: 20-30-4-3, 47 pts (5th in West Division, 13th in Western Conference)
Home Record: 12-13-1-1
Road Record: 8-16-3-2
Last 10 Games: 3-5-2-0
Greatest Need: The Aces have some players with good trade value, such as Peter Sivak, William Wrenn and more. With the Aces likely out of the playoff race, it maybe time to ship out players with trade value and get players back in an effort to start building toward next October.
Prediction for the Deadline: This could go either way; either the Aces will be as quiet as a church mouse or they will start the rebuild. I think Alaska will look to finish this season strong with the corps they built.