The ECHL North Division has been one of the toughest all season long. Ahead of the deadline, five of the six teams in the division are above .500 and within striking distance of a playoff berth. Our ECHL North Writing team takes a look at what each team’s strengths and weaknesses are and gives you their predictions on what they will do at the deadline.
Home Record: 17-9-1-2
Road Record: 16-11-2-1
Last 10 Games: 7-1-1-1
Greatest Need: Between injuries and call-ups, the Thunder have been stretched thin in every position at one time or another this season. Oftentimes, they have relied on the more versatile skaters to play multiple positions. Adirondack’s forwards have produced, but with ⅔ of the top line likely to be recalled by Syracuse before playoffs, the Thunder could use at least one more quality goal-scoring forward.
Prediction for the Deadline: The Thunder have overcome injuries and AHL call-ups all season, relying heavily on SPHL call-ups at times. They’re a determined team with excellent chemistry. Coach Brad Tapper wants his team to succeed, but knows that is most likely to happen when all the pieces fit. A trade is unlikely unless Tapper can find someone who is a perfect fit for this team.
Home Record: 12-12-3-0
Road Record: 9-14-3-3
Last 10 Games: 2-6-2-0
Greatest Need: They need more offense, which they had last year. Their greatest need is consistent goaltending, which has been a challenge this year.
Prediction for the Deadline: Given they are out of the playoff picture, it is expected that the Beast won’t do anything at this time.
Home Record: 15-12-1-1
Road Record: 18-8-2-1
Last 10 Games: 5-4-0-1
Greatest Need: It’s hard to say what the issue is with the Monarchs right now, as they’ve been so streaky. Right now, they’re looking beat up on both ends of the ice, and they’ve had some crucial players called up to the AHL in the midst of their worst losing streak of the season. That being said, most of the pieces that have worked all season are still there. They just aren’t performing.
Prediction for the Deadline: It’s unclear if the problem with the Monarchs is one that can be solved with a trade. It will likely be up to the coaches and the team leaders to get the heart back into the Monarchs. It would be surprising if they made any kind of move, but if they did, it would likely be to pick up some defensive help. But it would be surprising.
Home Record: 19-9-0-0
Road Record: 12-12-5-0
Last 10 Games: 5-2-3-0
Greatest Need: One more defenseman. The Royals have seven defensemen on their active roster and that doesn’t include James de Haas who’s currently up in the AHL with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Adding one more defenseman could be big for the team so the back end won’t be tired by playing each night heading into the postseason.
Prediction for the Deadline: The Royals will be quiet at the deadline and hope that de Haas is sent down. With Reece Willcox close to a return from an injury it could lead to James making a return to the Royals. Acquiring Branden Komm last month from the Manchester Monarchs looks like it’ll be the last move the Royals made and with John Muse getting an NHL deal with the Philadelphia Flyers, Komm has been the Royals go to goalie since mid-February.
Road Record: 13-13-4-1
Last 10 Games: 3-4-2-1
Greatest Need: With the injuries in the organization, the need seems to lead into the crease. The Nailers have two goaltenders on ECHL contracts, Adam Morrison and Colin Stevens, who are both injured. Thanks to the Nashville organization, the team has Matt O’Connor manning the crease, with an EBUG backing him up. Defense is also thin due to injury and the Nailers have already made a few trades to address that as well as signing players to ATOs as the college and junior seasons come to their respective conclusions
Prediction for the Deadline: Not too many options in the crease that would be available and with the Penguins trading away all goaltending prospects its an unknown what direction head coach Jeff Christian would be able to go. With quite a few future consideration deals already needing completed it would not be a shock to see the Nailers stand pat and hope that the injury bug leaves the organization and the Friendly City soon. Another option as stated above is to see what the team could find in the college and junior ranks.
Home Record: 14-11-2-0
Road Record: 12-12-2-3
Last 10 Games: 6-3-0-1
Greatest Need: The Railers have the most anemic offense in the league. They’ve suffered through various injuries and call-ups to their offensive contributors all year, but they have had a hard time getting things going on the offensive end even when everyone is healthy. The team really needs one solid offensive contributor if they’re going to get back into the playoff hunt. They’re on life support right now; one big gun could be the jolt they need.
Prediction for the Deadline: The Railers have few options, but they would likely trade defense for offense, if they were to make a move. They likely wouldn’t move Patrick McNally, but maybe a Justin Hamonic or Ben Masella might get them a forward.