SYRACUSE, N.Y. – The knowns and unknowns for the forwards and defense for the 2020-21 Syracuse Crunch have been broken down. It’s now time for the position with the most question marks: Goaltending.
It’s probably too soon in my tenure with this site for me to submit an article that’s just blank besides an introduction. But, if I could, it would be pretty symbolic of the Crunch’s goaltending depth chart at current. This is going to be a bit hair-raising for those who haven’t been paying attention to what’s going on with this particular position. All contract information comes from the amazing folks over at CapFriendly.
As the Tampa Bay Lightning organization currently stands, here’s the depth chart for 2020-21:
|NHL (Tampa)||AHL (Syracuse)||ECHL (Orlando)||Waiting in the Wings?|
|Andrei Vasilevskiy||??||Clint Windsor||Hugo Alnefelt (19 years old, Swedish Hockey League)|
|Curtis McElhinney||??||Magnus Chrona (Sophomore, University of Denver)|
|Ty Taylor (Junior, University of New Hampshire)|
|Kristian Oldham (Senior, Clarkson University)|
Here’s the breakdown:
WAITING IN THE WINGS: THE DRAFTEES
None of these players — Hugo Alnefelt, Magnus Chrona, Ty Taylor, or Kristian Oldham — have signed their entry-level contract with the Lightning. None of those who are attending a university are expected to leave to join Syracuse this season, especially with both professional hockey and college hockey so up in the air. If signed to deals, Alnefelt could come over from the SHL next season, and as Oldham is a senior at Clarkson this season, there is a chance Crunch fans could see him in 2021-22, too. But, there’s also a good chance one or both will be seeing a lot of ECHL time that year.
Speaking of the ECHL…
Back in March, the Crunch announced they had signed goalie Clint Windsor to an AHL contract. Windsor is someone the Lightning has had an eye on for a while now. He joined the organization’s ECHL club in Orlando in January 2019, where his performance was good enough to peak Tampa’s interest (despite a low number of starts due to a packed depth chart). He was invited to Tampa’s development camp in July of 2019, and he arrived with a good attitude.
“I came in here with a nothing to lose mentality. I’ve been around the game for a while and I know how to handle myself. Anything that I can learn from here or bring back to Orlando is something I can use in my toolbox….I’m ready for any opportunity given to me.
“I’m just working on my skating abilities….trying to put that together to build a solid game where I can be consistent and give my team a chance to win every night.”
During the shortened 2019-20 ECHL season, Windsor, 26, skated in 30 games with the Orlando Solar Bears. He totaled a 2.45 goals-against average and .927 save percentage with 15-12-2 record. Windsor will probably spend the majority of 2020-21 with Orlando, but there’s always the good chance he’ll see time in the AHL in Syracuse.
In what is becoming a pattern for Syracuse, the Crunch head into the looming fall offseason without any signed goalies at the AHL level. This past season, Scott Wedgewood and Mike Condon were expected to share the net, with Spencer Martin and Zachary Fucale acting as insurance in the ECHL. However, Tampa’s best laid plans went sideways when Condon, who was trying to resurrect his career after injury had thrown it in doubt, got hurt again and was sidelined for much of the season.
Condon played six games with the Crunch in December and January, going 3-2-1. He was sent to the ECHL in February in an attempt to give him consistent minutes, but even that didn’t last and Condon was loaned to AHL Charlotte not long after. He lost the only game he played for the Checkers. Fucale spent almost the entirety of the season in the ECHL and has since moved on to the Washington Capitals organization.
Wedgewood and Martin ended up sharing the net in Syracuse for much of the season. Wedgewood himself was injured for parts of it, so although on paper he was the Crunch’s number one netminder, he ended up playing in less games than Martin. At the premature closure of the AHL season, Wedgewood had a 13-8-3 record with a 0.893 save percentage and a 3.01 goals-against average . Martin had a 12-11-5 record with a 0.897 save percentage and a 3.00 goals-against average.
As mentioned in my article on Syracuse’s defense last month, the puck ended up in the Crunch’s net way more often than desired last season. When the AHL ceased play in March, Syracuse was allowing an average of 3.38 goals per game, and their 210 goals allowed was second-worst in the league behind only Toronto (212). Although an inconsistent showing from the team’s blue line certainly contributed to this struggle, the goaltending was also an issue. Health problems plagued both Condon and Wedgewood (the latter being known as a moderate signing risk already because of his injury history), and neither Martin nor Wedgewood could seem to be the anchor Syracuse’s struggling defense needed.
Will Martin or Wedgewood be back in a Crunch jersey for 2020-21? It’s probably more possible for Wedgewood than it is for Martin. Wedgewood was a cog in the Crunch’s social media machine during the league’s shutdown this past spring, hosting virtual Twitch games and tournaments. He was a positive, fun connection point between the team and its fans while the league wasn’t playing. He got to know the community better through all that, and was clearly comfortable in Syracuse. His injury history, however, now has another chapter added to it at the Crunch’s expense. This could certainly work against him once the Lightning is ready to tackle getting players for Syracuse.
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