ALLEN, TX – Have had a lot of questions about what is happening with specific players in regards to returning to Allen for next season, so thought it might be helpful to give the tried and true “WAGs” (wild ass guesses) for everyone that was on the season ending roster.

For those of you who can’t wait for the start of hockey season and stay engaged all through the summer this is an exercise you may have been going through yourself. Some are easy to figure out but some are not, so here goes.

The season ending roster included 20 players. It did not include Jordan Rowley, Thomas Carr and Jake Hildebrand.  Why weren’t Rowley, Carr and Hildebrand added to the season ending roster? Many times when players are signed late in the season after they finish their collegiate eligibility (like these three) their agents negotiate into their contracts that they not be protected. This gives them maximum flexibility on where they can sign for their first full year of professional hockey. That is what happened and they have all signed elsewhere. Hildebrand in Rockford (AHL), Rowley in Sweden and Carr in France.

Eight from the season ending roster have already been announced as returning for next season so they are easy. Chad Costello, Gary Steffes, JP LaFontaine, Dyson Stevenson, Kyle Neuber, Chris Crane, Aaron Gens and Riley Gill.  To this you can add three other players (Kale Kerbashian, Tanner Eberle and Mike Gunn) who have played for Allen in the past but were not on the roster at the end of the season. Finally, the one new player to the team is Joel Chouinard which makes a total of 12 players announced thus far.

If you recall, the Americans only gave qualifying offers to five players even though they could have by ECHL rule given eight qualifying offers. Eric Roy, David Makowski, Greger Hanson, Ian Schultz, and Matt Register were given qualifying offers by the Americans so unless they sign in Europe or get an AHL deal, their only option would be a return to Allen.

Register is an exception to this rule as he is a veteran and can become a free agent if he doesn’t sign with Allen. Makowski (Hungary) and Schultz (Scotland) have already signed to play in Europe. Roy is the youngest of this group at 21 and has the greatest potential of making it to the next level for the upcoming season. He has most likely already signed an AHL deal and the hope for Allen fans is he has signed with San Jose. That way, if he doesn’t make the AHL roster out of training camp he would be assigned to Allen. Greger Hanson is living in Allen so my guess is he signed his qualifying offer and will be back with the Americans next season. That leaves Register and it would appear he will be moving on but that is not a certainty.

The other group of players that were not on the season ending roster are those players that were in Allen for the playoffs but were under AHL contracts.  That is why Rumpel, Crane, Pinkston, Arseneau, Federico, Asuchak, and Jevpalovs aren’t on the list. If these players don’t have AHL deals for next season they can sign ECHL contracts with any team. Jevpalovs is under contract with San Jose for next season but the rest of the guys are free agents. Arseneau (Wichita), Federico (South Carolina) and Crane (Allen) have already been signed and announced. There are rumors that Rumpel has signed with an Eastern Conference team. That leaves Asuchak and Pinkston as the only two unsigned players. You have to believe it is highly likely they return to the Americans for next season.

Veterans on a team are always a special case because there can only be four veterans (more than 260 professional games) on the roster. The Americans have already signed three (Costello, Steffes, Chouinard). Casey Pierro-Zabotel was a veteran last season but he has signed with Colorado. Matt Register and Tristan King were not veterans last season but will be this season. My guess is Tristan King is the more likely player to get that last veteran spot based on performance last season.

That is everyone from the playoff roster with the exception of Justin Courtnall. Justin was traded to Brampton to complete a future considerations deal so he will not be returning this season. Thus far Courtnall has not signed with Brampton.

Finally, you can’t do a WAG post without mentioning Jack Combs who is also a free agent in the ECHL at this point. He has signed to play in Europe (Germany) and has already reported. While you want to put this in the highly unlikely to happen category there is always a possibility he could return to Allen. It will take a special set of circumstances but as long as his best friend, Chad Costello, is with Allen you never want to count out a Christmas surprise.  Here is an interview Jack did a couple of days ago with his German team:

So there you have some food for thought on everyone from last season. If it all falls as predicted there will only be a few new faces on the team. Some of the new faces will be assigned by San Jose and some will be players Martinson has recruited but the bottom line is there will be a lot of familiar faces on the opening night roster.

OTHER COMMENTS:

– Check out this story about Gary Steffes and his journey through hockey. It is a great read: https://blogofbrotherhood.com/

– As the 2016-17 season approaches, coach Steve Martinson is on his way back to Allen from his summer home in Illinois. He will be putting the final touches on the roster before heading to San Jose next month to attend the Barracuda training camp. There will be somewhere between 4-6 players from San Jose assigned to Allen so attending the Barracuda training camp gives Martinson the opportunity to observe all of the players first hand.

– One of the players San Jose will assign to Allen is a goalie and that will depend on NHL & AHL training camps. Goalie play is always a wild card so you never know who will be assigned. Jamie Murray, who played in four games with Allen last season with a GAA of 1.44 and save percentage of .963, could be the goalie assigned to the Americans. This is definitely a wait and see.

– It looks like at least half of the defensemen on the roster will be new this season but that was also the case last season. And coach Martinson is very pleased with the new defensemen he has coming in.

DID YOU KNOW: Alex Lavoie played in Allen his first professional season (2013-14) and set the Americans’ all time rookie record with 76 points (25 goals 51 assists) in just 60 games. For his effort he was named 2013-14 Central Hockey League Rookie of the Year. After spending a season with Florida and Indy, Alex has signed to play in Sweden for the upcoming season. The more open ice in Europe should mesh well with Lavoie’s style of play.

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