TOLEDO, Ohio – The Toledo Walleye kick off their tenth year of play this Friday night on the road against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. After a disappointing run in the Kelly Cup Playoffs last year, the Walleye will have a lot to prove this season. Most importantly, it’s a hockey team whose window of opportunity is running out.
Nuts and Bolts:
2017-18 Record: 50-17-3-2 (106 pts)
Division/Conference Finish: 1st in Western Conference/1st in Central Division
Playoffs: Eliminated by the Fort Wayne Komets in Central Division Finals Goals Per Game (Rank): 3.36 (T8th)
Goals-Against Average (Rank): 2.36 (2nd)
Power Play: 18.6% (T-5th in ECHL)
Penalty Kill: 87.0% (2nd in ECHL)
Affiliation: Over the summer, the Toledo Walleye extended its affiliation signing a three-year deal with the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings. Certainly having the Red Wings has helped Toledo at the ECHL level.
Getting Physical and Bigger: The Walleye will put a focus on playing a heavier game this season. During the offseason, head coach Dan Watson added 5-foot-11 Bryan Moore from the Allen Americans, 6-foot-5 Brenden Kotyk from the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and 6-foot-7 Ben Storm from the Colorado Eagles. The heavier game should help Toledo come playoff time.
Goaltending: After Toledo struggled with the backup position last year, new goaltender Kaden Fulcher will have to be big for the Walleye this year.
T.J. Hensick: After appearing in 112 NHL games and spending 12 seasons with seven in the American Hockey League, Toledo added T.J. Hensick as it’s final veteran. The Howell, MI native has put up 568 points in 630 games in the AHL and will be a huge shot in the arm for the Toledo offense.
Matt Register: Another big signing from the offseason for the Walleye, the former Colorado Eagles defenseman has won three straight Kelly Cup championships (one with Allen, two with Colorado). Register consistently puts up 60-70 points per year and it’s fair to think that he’ll do that again this season in Toledo.
Gone But Not Forgotten:
Tyler Barnes: Signed with the Worcester Railers this summer
Kyle Bonis: Signed in Norway this summer
Mike Borkowski: Retired during the offseason
Sin Bin Swami Sez
Toledo has what it takes to win a Kelly Cup this season. The missing piece for the last couple seasons has been the physicality on the roster and that appears to be rectified. The Walleye should have no problem winning the Central Division and competing for another Brabham Cup championship, but the Western Conference remains a gauntlet.
What Say You?
How will the Toledo Walleye do this season?