GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – After the Manchester Monarchs folded following the 2019 postseason, the ECHL North Division shrunk down to a competitive six-team setup. And, with five of those six teams still very much in playoff contention at the beginning of March, the trade deadline looks to be active for these squads trying to get the edge on their rivals.
The Sin Bin’s Carrie Roberts showcases her predictions for the North Division, diving into the moves that each team could make prior to the ECHL Trade Deadline on Thursday, March 5 at 3:00 pm ET!
Newfoundland Growlers Info: 37-17-0-1, 75 points
Home Record: 22-5-0-0 Road Record: 15-12-0-1 Last 10 Games: 4-6-0-0
Goal Differential: +47 Power Play Rank: 3rd (23.8%) Penalty Kill Rank: 23rd (79.2%)
Greatest Need: A special teams asset to shore up the penalty kill. With a team that has a wealth of riches from a robust Toronto Maple Leafs affiliation, it’s hard to nit-pick. But, with Reading closing in on Newfoundland’s division lead, one has to look at the finer details and adjust. Acquiring a PK specialist to help bring both special teams categories back in balance could help Newfoundland secure the division for the second straight year in a row.
Prediction for the Deadline: The Growlers will stand pat. In spite of the help Newfoundland needs on their penalty kill unit, they have only made two moves since the beginning of 2020, sending both Reid Jackman (Jan. 2) and Robert Powers (Feb. 18) to Atlanta for future considerations. If anything, the Growlers will settle up with the Gladiators to complete those trades.
Reading Royals Info: 33-16-5-1, 72 points
Home Record: 22-6-2-0 Road Record: 11-10-3-1 Last 10 Games: 7-2-0-1
Goal Differential: +33 Power Play Rank: 4th (20.6%) Penalty Kill Rank: 24th (77.3%)
Greatest Need: A power forward to compliment Brayden Low. The Royals are surging as of late, piecing together an eight-game winning streak and points in ten of their last twelve games played. Scoring isn’t an issue, with Reading posting three or more goals in each of their nine wins over the last twelve previously mentioned games. The Royals goaltending situation is even stable in spite of standout netminder Kirill Ustimenko bouncing back and forth to AHL Lehigh Valley. Some more muscle to protect Reading’s scoring output could help down the stretch.
Prediction for the Deadline: A single trade. The Royals have been active but quiet on trade deadline days the past few years, with two deals in 2017 and only one trade in 2018 & 2019. Reading could go out and get another ECHL-grade tough guy along the lines of a Cody Sol or Jack Nevins, or they could just trade for future considerations like they did last year. Either scenario is plausible for the Royals.
Maine Mariners Info: 32-23-2-1, 67 points
Home Record: 16-12-1-0 Road Record: 16-11-1-1 Last 10 Games: 6-4-0-0
Goal Differential: +1 Power Play Rank: 15th (17.1%) Penalty Kill Rank: 5th (84.0%)
Greatest Need: A two-way defenseman and possibly another scoring forward. The Mariners added a big boost of offensive help by acquiring playmaker Connor Bleackley from Idaho on January 14. Since the addition, Maine has gone 15-6-2 and remains in the thick of the North Division playoff race (currently in third place with 67 points). Their last loss, an 8-0 blowout at the hands of Reading on February 26, indicates that a veteran d-man could help the Mariners keep their cool in the face of adversity.
Prediction for the Deadline: In Maine’s first ECHL season last year, most of their transaction activity was before the deadline (seven trades or completions of trades). Unless the Mariners can get some assistance from AHL Hartford, look for Maine to pull the trigger on a trade for a seasoned defender to help the D-corps maintain composure before games run away from them.
Brampton Beast Info: 30-24-3-0, 63 points
Home Record: 16-10-2-0 Road Record: 14-14-1-0 Last 10 Games: 4-5-1-0
Goal Differential: +14 Power Play Rank: 6th (20.1%) Penalty Kill Rank: 6th (83.9%)
Greatest Need: A quality d-man. Led by veteran Jordan Henry, the Beast are a little short on blueliners with only six defensemen currently on the roster. With college and juniors seasons coming to a close soon, they may find some help there, but likely nothing reliable enough for a strong playoff push.
Prediction for the Deadline: With affiliate Belleville in first place in the AHL’s North Division, Brampton can’t expect much help from them during the final weeks of the regular season. The Beast will be in serious trouble if any of their defensemen become injured. With Brampton in a bit of a slump (losing four of their last five) and Adirondack fighting for that final playoff spot, the Beast have little choice but to trade for a quality defenseman to give them a fighting chance during the remainder of the regular season and into the playoffs.
Adirondack Thunder Info: 22-24-8-5, 57 points
Home Record: 11-14-2-4 Road Record: 11-10-6-1 Last 10 Games: 4-4-2-0
Goal Differential: -14 Power Play Rank: 12th (17.5%) Penalty Kill Rank: 11th (82.8%)
Greatest Need: An experienced defenseman. Of the seven defensemen currently on Adirondack’s roster, three are rookies and two are in their second pro season. The Devils assigned Colby Sissons to the Thunder on February 29 and could send more defensive help in the form of Kelly Summers, but both skaters are also in their sophomore season.
Prediction for the Deadline: The Thunder have already made a few blockbuster trades this year in an attempt to turn their lackluster season around, shipping out Gabriel Verpaelst and Alex Tonge while bringing in Alex Jaeckle and John Edwardh for an instant boost in offensive production. If Head Coach Alex Loh can find the right piece(s) to help the Thunder make a playoff push, he’s likely to do it.
Worcester Railers Info: 19-34-4-0, 42 points
Home Record: 10-16-1-0 Road Record: 9-18-3-0 Last 10 Games: 2-6-2-0
Goal Differential: -65 Power Play Rank: 26th (11.8%) Penalty Kill Rank: 15th (81.3%)
Greatest Need: A restart button. The 2019-20 season has been a rough one for the Railers, starting out with a 3-1-0 record but quickly falling into a rut they couldn’t pull out of. Not even a midseason coaching change could turn the tide for Worcester, who still continues to struggle. It’s difficult to pinpoint just one area the Railers are weak in this season, as they’ve struggled everywhere. Their offense is ranked 25th in point production with 150 goals scored; defensively, only two Railers on the current roster are on the plus side of the plus-minus rating; and of the four goalies to play for Worcester this season, Evan Buitenhuis has the best GAA at 3.36 and save percentage at 0.897.
Prediction for the Deadline: At this point, the Railers may as well start planning for next season. If any moves are made, it will be in the hopes of a rebuild for 2020-21.
Special thanks to Sarah Pietrowski for providing information on the Reading Royals portion of this article. Follow Carrie Roberts on Twitter for in-game coverage, as well as Adirondack Thunder news & notes throughout the season!
Don’t forget to catch The Sin Bin’s ECHL Trade Deadline Show from 7:30 to 9:30 pm ET on Thursday, March 5 via The Sin Bin app, Facebook Live, and YouTube for a breakdown of all the day’s deals.
Also, keep tabs on your team’s transactions with The Sin Bin’s Trade Tracker!