BRAMPTON, Ont. – Looking to build off their first-ever Kelly Cup Playoff berth, the Brampton Beast struggled mightily last season, largely due to having continuous roster tumult. The Beast received players from both the Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators AHL teams Laval and Belleville. This upheaval led to a team that was not cohesive through long stretches of the season. The good news for Beast fans is that year promises to be much different, as the Beast will have one primary affiliate this coming season, the Ottawa Senators.
Nuts and Bolts:
Final 2017-18 Record: 28-34-6-4 (66 pts)
2017-18 Division/Conference Finish: Last place in the North Division, 10th in Eastern Conference
Playoff Finish: Missed the Playoffs
Goals For Per Game: 2.92, 20th in ECHL
Goals Against Per Game: 3.40, 18th in ECHL
Power Play: 36-261 (13.8% efficiency), 25th in ECHL
Penalty Kill: 292-331 (86.1% kill rate,) 4th in ECHL
The most important news in the offseason was the Beast switching affiliations from the Montreal Canadiens to the Ottawa Senators. With the added stability of only having one team providing players on a regular basis and a solid returning core of veteran players, it appears that the Beast will be trending upwards and a return to the playoffs is once again within reach.
This will be the fourth season for head coach Colin Chaulk and is fair to say it’s a make or break season for him. Combined with the tinkering of it’s veteran core and an expected influx of talent from the Senators, this team is built to excel.
The key to the season may well be the goaltending situation. Heading into the season, the Beast’s goaltending situation is led by top Senators prospect, Filip Gustavsson. The 20-year-old netminder is making the transition to North American hockey after having his best season in Sweden, where he won a silver medal at last year’s World Junior Championships all-star team, named the tournament’s top goaltender and won a gold medal at the World Championships in May.
It is hard to narrow the list of players worth watching with the wealth of talent that the Beast has this coming season. But here are three that are worth the price of admission.
Kris Newbury: Newbury is a veteran of 76 NHL games and over 800 games in the AHL. Returning this season to play in his hometown after spending last season with the Fischtown Penguins, Newbury will certainly be a valuable asset for the Beast with his gritty play and will be a solid point producer as he has not lost his ability to drive the net. His leadership will also be welcomed by the Beast and the coaching staff.
David Pacan: Pacan has been a goal producer at every stop in his hockey career. He returns to the Beast this season after putting up 37 points (12G, 25A) in 52 games for HC Kosice in Slovakia last season. It’s fair to say, Pacan has a chance to top his franchise record of 41 goals set in the 2016-17 season.
Matt Petgrave: Recently resigned with the Beast and will be counted on to be the point producer from the backend. Last season, Petgrave put up 23 points (8G, 15A) in 44 games and was even on a poor defensive team. Additionally, Petgrave played in 15 games with three different American Hockey League teams.
Gone But Not Forgotten:
Willie Corrin: Corrin, along with Petgrave, was one of the best offensive defensemen that the Beast iced last season. Corrin has the ability to be a top-four defenseman on an AHL team and the search for his replacement may be a season-long affair.
Chris Driedger: With the goalie carousel in full motion last season, there was little stability last season until Ottawa sent Driedger down to the Beast. None of the other eight goaltenders seemed able to take the reigns and secure the number one spot. The addition of Gustavsson will certainly lessen the loss of Driedger.
Luc-Olivier Blain: The three-year veteran of the Beast was one of the most versatile forwards employed by the Beast last season. Most of his contributions did not come on the scoreboard, though he did contribute 24 points in 41 games and skated 12 games with the Laval Rocket. His greater contributions came from an ability to process the game at an accelerated rate and to be a teacher on and off the ice.
Sin Bin Swami Sez:
With the veteran presence on this team and the prospect of seeing the talent that will be sent to the Beast from the AHL’s Belleville Senators, the Beast will return to the Kelly Cup playoffs for the second time in team history. The North division will be a dogfight and a quick start by Brampton is paramount.
Last year, the Beast stumbled out of the gate losing their first half-dozen games and struggled with an ever-changing lineup. The end result is that they could not gain ground on the front-runners in the division. A North division title is not out of the question for this team and moving past the first round of the playoffs for the first time in team history is expected. The grind begins October 13th against the Manchester Monarchs.