*Analysis brought to you by Cameron Turner @SinBinStars unless otherwise noted
Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Division Record: 21-17-4-2
Leading Scorer: Tanner Fritz, (with the New York Islanders currently) 37 points (10 G, 27 A)
NHL/ECHL Affiliation: New York Islanders & Worcester Railers
Rostered players on AHL-only contracts: Casey Bailey, Ryan Bourque, Mike Cornell, Patrick Cullity, Scott Eansor, Ben Holmstrom, Josh Holmstrom, Kellen Jones, Jeff Kubiak, Travis St. Denis
Strength(s) of team: Penalty kill and goals against average.
State of team: The Sound Tigers sit in fifth, just on the outside looking in at the Atlantic playoff picture. Bridgeport has the fourth best penalty kill in the AHL at 85.7%. The Sound Tigers also rank fourth in goals against, giving up just 2.60 goals a game, but will need to put wins together without their key goaltender. Christopher Gibson was 11-4-1-1 with Bridgeport, posting four shutouts along with a 2.31 GAA and .909 SV% before being called up to the NHL Islanders. It may be tough to push their way into the top four without Gibson, but it remains to be seen whether the last place Islanders will keep him in the NHL or return him for a playoff push.
Division Record: 19-15-0-3
Leading Scorer: Andrew Miller, 51 points (15 G, 36 A)
NHL/ECHL Affiliation: Carolina Hurricanes & Florida Everblades
Rostered players on AHL-only contracts: Josiah Didier, Michael Ferrantino, Nick Schilkey, Zack Stortini
Strength(s) of team: Offensive firepower.
State of team: Charlotte has been an offensive force to be reckoned with this season, using its high octane skill to torch opponents on the scoreboard. They rank fourth in the AHL in both scoring at 3.29 goals a game, and power play efficiency at 19.5%. However, the Checkers have gone through a lot of bodies this season, and may decide to add some depth on defense. They are in a battle for fourth in the Atlantic with both Hartford, and Bridgeport, and will be looking for any opportunity to extend their current lead. With NHL Carolina still fighting for a playoff spot, they will need all hands on deck at the NHL level – however, if the Canes fall out of the race they may want young talent to gain big-game experience by sending them down. This could potentially include the return of Lucas Wallmark, who had 36 points (13 G, 23 A) in 34 games for Charlotte.
Hartford Wolf Pack
Division Record: 19-20-3-3
Leading Scorer: Scott Kosmachuk, 34 points (13 G, 21 A) and Cole Schneider, 34 points (11 G, 23 A)
NHL/ECHL Affiliation: New York Rangers & Greenville Swamp Rabbits
Rostered players on AHL-only contracts: Dan DeSalvo, Scott Kosmachuk, Hubert Labrie, Joey Leach, Shawn O’Donnell
Strength(s) of team: Winning after scoring the first goal and getting the extra point in shootouts. State of team: The Wolf Pack currently sit sixth in the Atlantic with an even .500 record, but have slipped there after winning just three times in their past ten games. This team excels at holding the lead when they get one, sporting a record of 23-4-1-3 when scoring the game’s first goal. Hartford has also been good at gaining the extra point from shootouts, going 7-3 in the skills competition. Unfortunately, the downward play may be a trend which continues for Hartford, as the NHL Rangers have also been slumping and were sellers at the NHL trade deadline. The Rangers may opt to send experienced players to Hartford for a potential playoff push, and if so, Hartford may end up working towards the fourth spot. As it stands, however, both the Rangers and Wolf Pack are on pace to be on the wrong side of the standings come playoff time. With a lot of ground to make up for the fourth spot, the Wolf Pack’s problems aren’t able to be solved through adding one or two bodies at the trade deadline, but rather with help at an organizational level.
Hershey Bears coutesy @SinBinBears
Division Record: 15-23-3-3
Leading Scorer: Chris Bourque, 47 points (13 G, 34 A)
Affiliation: Washington Capitals & South Carolina Stingrays
Rostered players on AHL-only contracts: F Mathias Bau, F Chris Bourque, F Dustin Gazley, F Jeremy Langlois, F Garrett Mitchell, Joe F Whitney, D Tommy Hughes
Strength(s) of team: Offense in the past nine games (3.88 Goals For Average) and when leading after 20 & 40 minutes.
State of the team: Winners of six of their last nine, Hershey has come on stronger than they’ve looked all season. The problem is it’s most likely too little, too late. They needed to go 9/9. Sitting in last place they need everything possible to go their way and to win basically every game. On the positive end, Hershey’s record with a first period lead is 14-1-1-2, which jumps to 17-1-0-2 with a lead after 40 minutes. Troy Mann has stated the team is likely to take a look at players down in ECHL South Carolina (such as Hampus Gustafsson and/or Dylan Margonari) before the season is over. Tim McGauley has already been recalled to replace Travis Boyd, who is up in the NHL. The defensive prospects currently with the Bears will continue to get all the ice time they can muster as the season transitions from playoff push to player evaluations for next year.
Lehigh Valley Phantoms
Division Record: 29-10-1-3
Leading Scorer: Phil Varone, 57 points (18 G, 39 A)
NHL/ECHL Affiliation: Philadelphia Flyers & Reading Royals
Rostered players on AHL-only contracts: Chris Conner, James de Haas, Alex Krushelnyski, Maxim Lamarche
Strength(s) of team: High-scoring offense and home record.
State of team: The Phantoms have been on an absolute roll, claiming an 8-1-0-1 record over their last ten games to give themselves an eight-point cushion atop the Atlantic. They lead the AHL with an average of 3.53 goals a game. Lehigh Valley is also extremely tough to beat at home, going a very impressive 19-5-3-2. Their parent club has also been hot as of late, with the Flyers 10-2-1 over their last 13 outings. With both Lehigh Valley and NHL Philadelphia playing exceptionally well right now, any sort of serious shake-up is doubtful. The Phantoms are in a great position to win the Atlantic and set themselves up for a potential playoff run.
Division Record: 24-15-2-2
Leading Scorer: Austin Czarnik, 50 points (15 G, 35 A)
NHL/ECHL Affiliation: Boston Bruins & Atlanta Gladiators
Rostered players on AHL-only contracts: Sena Acolaste, Connor Clifton, Colton Hargrove, Josh Hennessy, Ben Marshall, Adam Payerl, Chris Porter
Strength(s) of team: Play in their own end and when playing with a lead.
State of team: Providence has a team that is capable of winning a Calder Cup this year, and they won’t make a move unless their hand is forced. A strong defense has powered the Bruins to help them win games in 2017-18, ranking second in the AHL allowing only 2.39 goals a game. Once they have a lead, they are not letting go of it, either, going 15-1-1-1 when leading after one, and 20-2-2-0 when ahead after two periods. They are helped by the fact that NHL Boston is also in the middle of a great season and sitting in second in the NHL’s Atlantic Division. Barring an injury or suspension of some kind, Boston won’t want to mess with either squad’s chemistry. The Bruins appear ready to contend for in the postseason, don’t mess with it.
Springfield Thunderbirds courtesy @SinBinTBirds
Division Record: 23-23-3-1
Leading Scorer: Curtis Valk, 45 points (15 G, 30 A)
NHL/ECHL Affiliation: Florida Panthers
Players on AHL-Only Contracts: LW Bobby Farnham, D Maxime Fortunus, C Cameron Brown, RW Sam Kurker
Strength(s) of team: Goaltending and scoring depth.
State of the team: The Florida Panthers did not make any moves at the trade deadline to help either themselves or their AHL club, which currently sits seventh in the Atlantic Division. On the positive side, goaltending has been strong for the Thunderbirds this season with Sam Montembeault and Harri Sateri. The Thunderbirds have improved in goal scoring as Valk, Alex Grenier, and Dryden Hunt could join Anthony Greco (22 G) in the 20-plus goal club. The Thunderbirds got off to a shaky start this season and have had their fair share of growing pains, but this team has had grown with its chemistry and have had more of a veteran presence with Sateri, Bobby Farnham Alex Grenier and Curtis Valk all contributing both on and off the scoresheet. The Thunderbirds are 11 points out of a playoff spot, but are set to make a push with a veteran roster. As for potential improvements to be made through trade, the Thunderbirds could use a power-play specialist as it currently possesses the league’s 26th-ranked power play.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins courtesy @SinBinPenguins
Division Record: 21-11-3-1
Leading Scorer: Daniel Sprong, 44 points (21 G, 23 A)
Affiliation: Pittsburgh Penguins & Wheeling Nailers
Players on AHL-only contracts: RW Patrick McGrath, RW Tom Kostopoulos, C Gage Quinney, C Jarrett Burton, RW Ryan Haggerty, RW Christian Thomas, LW Joseph Cramarossa, D Kevin Spinozzi, D Kevin Schulze, G Etienne Marcoux, G Anthony Peters
Strength(s) of team: Roster depth and five on five play.
State of the team: The biggest move might be the one they don’t make. A team which has been decimated by call ups and injuries, Tom Kostopoulos and Tom Sestito have recently returned, while Ryan Haggerty and Lukas Bengtsson should return before the regular season ends. At full health, they might be the top team in the Eastern Conference. This team will not make any moves at the trade deadline and should instead focus on the prospects of returning its full roster.
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