We kick off our trade deadline previews with a look at the ECHL’s North Division. At the start of play on Sunday, the division is completely up for grabs with the top four teams in the division separated by five points, while the Wheeling Nailers continue to lurk in the weeds with 62 points.
Overall Record: 31-16-7-4, 73 pts (1st in North Division, 2nd in Eastern Conference)
Home Record: 20-6-3-1
Road Record: 11-10-4-3
Last 10 Games: 2-5-3-0
Greatest Need: Scoring depth – The Monarchs have gone chilly on the offensive side of late, scoring an average of 2.4 goals per game in their last five and more than three goals just once in the stretch. While the team has some of their rookie scoring components in the AHL, they still have players like Matt Leitner, Daniel Doremus, and Joe Diamond who have led them offensively all year but need some added scoring depth in the lineup.
Prediction for the Deadline: I think we could see Head Coach Rich Seeley make a move or two to replace some of the offense missing from the lineup or to shore up the back end.
Overall Record: 32-17-3-4, 71 pts (2nd in North Division, 3rd in Eastern Conference)
Home Record: 16-8-1-2
Road Record: 16-9-2-2
Last 10 Games: 6-2-1-1
Greatest Need: Shutdown defensemen – While the Beast have found the goalie to go with their high-powered offense, they still need some guys on the back end to take the load off netminder Zachary Fucale. Outside of Jordan Henry, the Beast defense are a collective -16. That will need to change if the Beast hope to make it out of round one of the playoffs this year.
Prediction for the Deadline: Sensing the team’s first Kelly Cup playoff berth is in their grasp, do not be shocked if Brampton are pretty big buyers at the deadline. Definitely a stark contrast to the thin ice they were on one year ago.
Overall Record: 33-21-1-3, 69 pts (3rd in North Division, 4th in Eastern Conference)
Home Record: 17-12-0-0
Road Record: 16-9-1-2
Last 10 Games: 5-5-0-0
Greatest Need: Power Play offense – Reading is currently 10th in the league for PP% (37-202, 18.3%) despite going 0/6 against Manchester. If the Royals are going to go deep into the playoffs they may want to address the man-advantage.
Prediction for the Deadline: I don’t think Reading makes any moves this deadline. Their power play needs help but any piece they need to give up for a PP specialist may mess with the overall chemistry with the team. In a tight race in the North Division, every point counts and their current team makeup, for the most part, has been working fine.
Overall Record: 29-18-6-4, 68 pts (4th in North Division, 6th in Eastern Conference)
Home Record: 14-6-3-3
Road Record: 15-14-3-1
Last 10 Games: 3-4-2-1
Greatest Need: Lineup consistency – The east Thunder have been battling a rash of injuries and call-ups after their good start to the season. Should they get healthy and get some guys back from Stockton, they could be a dangerous team in the playoffs.
Prediction for the Deadline: East Thunder acquired Brock Montgomery on February 1, and since then, he has 10 points in 12 games. If Cail MacLean can add one more piece like that while giving up very little, I think he will do it. Other than that, do not expect the Thunder to be huge players at the deadline.
Overall Record: 28-22-6-0, 62 pts (5th in North Division, 10th in Eastern Conference)
Home Record: 17-6-4-0
Road Record: 11-16-2-0
Last 10 Games: 3-6-1-0
Greatest Need: Penalty killers – The Nailers are last in the ECHL on the PK, having allowed 57 goals on 228 opponent power plays this season. Those are the kind of goals that keep teams from making the playoffs.
Prediction for the Deadline: Wheeling has been somewhat active in the trade market since the first of the year, making two deals since mid-January. Do not be shocked if Jeff Christian makes the biggest waves out of anyone in this division at the deadline to acquire some grit up front.
Overall Record: 12-38-7-1, 32 pts (Last in North Division, Last in Eastern Conference)
Home Record: 8-14-3-0
Road Record: 4-24-4-1
Last 10 Games: 3-5-1-1
Greatest Need: Defense – The group that took the ice Saturday night in Norfolk is a collective -231 this season. That’s all you need to know.
Prediction for the Deadline: Despite having a crappy season, the Jackals have quite a few tradable assets heading into the deadline. Sebastian Sylvestre, Kenton Miller, and Sam Povorozniuk all can add scoring depth to a lineup in need of such. Andy Iles is a lot better than his numbers with Elmira indicate and he showed his true value to a team last season, helping get the Cincinnati Cyclones to the Kelly Cup playoffs. I could see head coach Mike Duco and Jared Abbott making several moves as we approach Thursday’s deadline.
The Sin Bin’s Joe Zufelt contributed to this piece.
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