GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The ECHL’s North Division is turning out to be a mirror image of what it was last season: a competitive race to the finish regarding playoff seeding and placement. With only seven points separating third place Manchester and last place Worcester, a last-week decision on who makes the postseason is very much a possibility heading into April.
With all that in mind, The Sin Bin’s Carrie Roberts breaks down the needs and possible deals each team will make when the ECHL Trade Deadline comes around on Thursday, March 7 at 3pm ET!
Newfoundland Growlers Info: 36-16-4-0, 76 points
Home Record: 19-9-1-0 Road Record: 17-7-3-0 Last 10 Games: 6-2-2-0
Goal Differential: +48 Power Play Rank: 13th Penalty Kill Rank: 4th
Greatest Need: The “greatest need” for the Growlers would appear to be on the back end. With the forward corps locked down, John Snowden‘s club could use one more another defenseman on the back end to add more depth to the defensive group. With a lot of the roster being loaned from both the Toronto Marlies and Maple Leafs, the team doesn’t have a lot of ECHL contracts they can leverage for a trade.
Prediction for the Deadline: Aside from maybe a depth move, we don’t see Newfoundland being overly aggressive at the deadline. Newfoundland could try to pick up an extra defenseman to fill in the “tough guy” role for James Melindy as he serves a seven-game suspension. The team added some depth by acquiring Malcolm Gould in a future considerations trade on February 26.
Adirondack Thunder Info: 31-19-5-2, 69 points
Home Record: 16-6-4-0 Road Record: 15-13-1-2 Last 10 Games: 6-2-2-0
Goal Differential: +23 Power Play Rank: 2nd Penalty Kill Rank: 13th
Greatest Need: With several skaters expected to return from call-ups and injuries in the near future, the greatest need will be in net. Alex Sakellaropoulos is currently the only goaltender on the Thunder roster with prior pro experience.
Prediction for the Deadline: Adirondack signed three goaltenders out of college, and could use one of them as a backup to starter Sakellaropoulos. It is very possible their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Devils, will send a goaltender to Adirondack for the playoffs. The Thunder will likely get Brian Ward, John Edwardh, and Desmond Bergin back from AHL call-ups. In addition, a few skaters should be returning from injuries soon. The Thunder will need to clear up some roster space for the returnees. Don’t expect much action from Adirondack at the trade deadline.
Manchester Monarchs Info: 30-25-2-2, 64 points
Home Record: 17-10-2-1 Road Record: 13-15-0-1 Last 10 Games: 4-4-1-1
Goal Differential: -6 Power Play Rank: 19th Penalty Kill Rank: 18th
Greatest Need: Manchester is in a position to make the playoffs if they remain consistent through the closing stretch of the season. With Michael Doherty on a PTO with Providence and Craig Wyszomirski on a PTO with Ontario, their returns would benefit the team most.
Prediction for the Deadline: Monarchs will be looking to fill a possible void left by Spencer Watson, who was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks organization by Manchester’s NHL affiliate, the Los Angeles Kings. The team has already acquired Alex Rauter from Wheeling (completing a trade started in the preseason for Zac Lynch) and received Kevin Dufour from Indy in a three-player trade.
Maine Mariners: 31-25-1-1, 64 points
Home Record: 17-9-0-1 Road Record: 14-16-1-0 Last 10 Games: 8-1-1-0
Goal Differential: -15 Power Play Rank: 23rd Penalty Kill Rank: 22nd
Greatest Need: Maine’s roster has changed significantly since the beginning of the season, largely due to recalls but also due to some tweaking done throughout the season by head coach Riley Armstrong. That said, Armstrong’s ability to ‘go with the flow’ regarding roster adjustments don’t really signal a great need for change for the Mariners.
Prediction for the Deadline: Maine will be quiet at the deadline with hopes that they get some support from the Laval Rocket and Hartford Wolf Pack towards the conclusion of the regular season. Maine acquired Taylor Cammarata from the Wichita Thunder in exchange for Jason Salvaggio last week, which will likely be their big trade of the season.
Brampton Beast: 28-23-5-1, 62 points
Home Record: 11-12-4-0 Road Record: 17-11-1-1 Last 10 Games: 5-3-2-0
Goal Differential: +11 Power Play Rank: 7th Penalty Kill Rank: 5th
Greatest Need: Staying consistent in the win column to secure a playoff spot. After a six-game losing streak in December, Brampton has gone on to post a 14-7-3 record in 2019. The Beast needs to have the scoring support to continue said success, with six forwards netting ten goals or more and three of those having 20-plus goals as the trade deadline approaches. A depth forward for the second or third line could take a little load off of 50-point scorers David Pacan, David Vallorani, and Nathan Todd.
Prediction for the Deadline: Brampton seemed to alleviate the need for an additional forward by acquiring Daniel Leavens from Atlanta on February 28. With defenseman Reggie Traccitto traded to Indy on February 27, the Beast seem to be primed to stand pat on deadline day and lean on their affiliation with AHL Belleville for any additional players they may need for the postseason.
Reading Royals Info: 25-23-4-5, 59 points
Home Record: 10-14-2-2 Road Record: 15-9-2-3 Last 10 Games: 4-5-1-0
Goal Differential: -10 Power Play Rank: 14th Penalty Kill Rank: 19th
Greatest Need: More support in front of their netminders. Since mid-January (and in his last ten starts), goaltender Branden Komm has been 3-7-0 in net for the Royals. Fellow netminder Andrew D’Agostini, on loan from the SPHL, has been 3-2-1 during the same time frame. Reading needs to both shore up the defensive effort in front of their goalies to help win some games, and potentially look to get a quality netminder on the roster if Komm receives yet another call-up to AHL Lehigh Valley this season.
Prediction for the Deadline: The Royals may very well trade for a d-man at the deadline. As for their shaky goaltending situation, Reading can only hope for the return of Callum Booth from his loan to AHL Charlotte to shore up the need for consistency between the pipes in the ultra-competitive North Division playoff hunt. Signing a goalie from the college ranks would be a more viable option for Reading instead of gunning for one in a trade.
Worcester Railers Info: 24-22-5-4, 57 points
Home Record: 13-8-4-1 Road Record: 11-14-1-3 Last 10 Games: 4-3-2-1
Goal Differential: -25 Power Play Rank: 24th Penalty Kill Rank: 7th
Greatest Need: After struggling to light the lamp earlier in the season, the Worcester Railers have started to score recently, averaging 2.7 goals per game in their last 10 games. However, the Railers still continue to struggle on the power play, with a 14.1% conversion rate on the man-advantage. All that said, for the Railers to make the playoffs for the second straight season, they’ll need at least one more play-making forward.
Worcester has also been skating with five defensemen, as Bo Brauer has been filling in as the team’s sixth forward for multiple games this season. The Railers’ blue line has been dealt with setbacks with players getting injured, falling ill, or suspensions since the turn of the new year.
Prediction for the Deadline: So far in this deadline season, the Railers have been quiet, with the exception of fulfilling a pair of minor trades. We would expect Head Coach Jamie Russell to make a swing for the fences in getting a top-line player to his roster.
Also, with Connor Doherty and Alex Vanier out for the foreseeable future (along with Tommy Panico and Kyle McKenzie being sidelined for the remainder of the season), Coach Russell will more than likely sign players coming off of their college careers to fill the void on the blue line.
C.C. Hawkley, Matthew Harding, and Dylan Schofield from Woo Hockey assisted with this preview.