BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – The Bakersfield Condors open the condensed 2021 season Friday night, with a season geared more toward developing players than winning a championship (likely no Calder Cup playoffs this season). It’s stacking up to be a team with a nice mix of veteran and young players.
What can we expect from this year’s crop of Condors? Here’s a quick look up and down the organization:
Initial Schedule (Home games in BOLD, all times local):
Friday, February 5, 2021 @ San Diego Gulls – 7:00 pm PT
Saturday, February 6, 2021 @ San Diego Gulls – 5:00 pm PT
Friday, February 12, 2021 vs. HENDERSON SILVER KNIGHTS – 5:00 pm PT
Saturday, February 13, 2021 vs. HENDERSON SILVER KNIGHTS – 8:00 pm PT
Wednesday, February 17, 2021 @ San Diego Gulls – 7:00 pm PT
Friday, February 19, 2021 vs. SAN DIEGO GULLS – 6:00 pm PT
Saturday, February 20, 2021 vs. HENDERSON SILVER KNIGHTS – 8:00 pm PT
Thursday, February 25, 2021 @ San Jose Barracuda (likely to be played in Tucson, AZ) – 6:00 pm PT
Wednesday, March 3, 2021 vs. SAN JOSE BARRACUDA – 6:00 pm PT
Saturday, March 6, 2021 vs. ONTARIO REIGN – 3:00 pm PT
Head Coach: Jay Woodcroft – third season with Condors; 63-48-13 career coaching record
Captain: Not Yet Disclosed
Last Season: Bakersfield finished the partial season with a 21-27-8 record, sixth in the Pacific Division, 14th in the Western Conference
2019-20 Season Summary: After making the Calder Cup Playoffs the season prior, the Condors struggled with call-ups and injuries last season and never seemed to get going. At the time the season ended, the Condors allowed more than 200 goals for the third time in their six-year AHL run (202 goals allowed, 3.61 goals allowed per game). Penalties were an issue, too, with the Condors piling up 723 PIMs. The end result was a tie for the sixth-worst penalty kill in the AHL (San Jose Barracuda), with the Condors allowing 48 goals in 239 times shorthanded.
Hot or Not?
The Condors come into the season with a decent mix of rookies and veterans on their roster. One that stands out is forward Seth Griffith, who was drafted by Condors GM Keith Gretzky when he was in Boston. Griffith is a former AHL All-Star and comes off two seasons in Manitoba, where he produced 98 points in 127 games (37G, 61A) with the Manitoba Moose. The other standout is Ryan Stanton, who returns to the Condors after a season with the Ontario Reign. The veteran defenseman patrolled the Condors blueline from 2017-19, playing in 111 games and posting a plus-21 rating.
- Joe Gambardella (F): Posted 28 points (14G, 14A) in 50 games in 2019-20
- Tyler Benson (F): Had the second-most assists on the team in 2019-20
- Brad Malone (F): Had 31 points in 49 games last season, also made an appearance in NHL with Edmonton Oilers last season
- Keegan Lowe (D): After three years with the Oilers organization, he has signed with the San Diego Gulls this season
- Evan Bouchard (D): He is currently up with the Oilers’ taxi squad
- Adam Cracknell (F): Comes back to the AHL after spending 2019-20 in the KHL with Kunlun Red Star
- Kevin Gravel (D): Rejoins the Oilers organization after spending the 2019-20 season with the Maple Leafs organization
- Olivier Rodrigue (G): The 2018 second-round draft pick (62nd overall) could see quite a bit of time in net for Bakersfield this season
What to Watch For?
- With the rotisserie of goalies in Edmonton, will Rodrigue be the anchor in net for Bakersfield this season?
- The Condors have a wealth of rookies on their roster; how will they acclimate to the AHL game?
Matthew Harding covers the Wichita Thunder for The Sin Bin. Follow and interact with them on Twitter @SinBinThunder.