ALLEN, Texas – It has been two weeks since Allen’s season ended and it is time to bring everyone up to date on a variety of topics. I want to start with a recap of a conversation I had with head coach Steve Martinson yesterday. He is in Rockford taking care of flood damage to some of his boat docks. We covered a myriad of topics and here are some of the highlights:

– If there is an overriding theme to the recruitment process for the upcoming season it is team speed and team defense. From veterans to rookies, Allen needs to improve team speed. Team defense this season was by far the worst since joining the ECHL. Here are the goals allowed the last five season:

269 2018-19
232 2017-18
203 2016-17
204 2015-16
203 2014-15

– There were times during the last season when Allen didn’t have enough players that could kill penalties. Part of better team defense is recruiting more players that have experience killing penalties in addition to offensive skill.

– Martinson has been working with the Wild and they have some things in the works that will help Allen and the AHL’s Iowa Wild. The current Wild management wasn’t fully in place until well into the offseason last year. They have shared with Martinson they will be signing more players this season which will be of great help to Allen.

– Martinson is in no hurry to sign players for next season until he has a better idea of what is happening with the Wild, the AHL playoffs, and the ECHL playoffs. It doesn’t mean he is just waiting as there is plenty to do before making signing decisions. Remember, the first day players can be signed for the 2019-20 season isn’t until June 16. Qualifying offers for any players Martinson wants to retain aren’t due until June 30.

– During the next 60 days, it will become more apparent what players from last year’s Allen roster will get AHL deals, sign in Europe and retire. Allen fans should expect some players in all three categories.

– Martinson emphasized to me what he said after the last game of the season, he is looking forward to building a new team for the 2019-20 season.

Playoff Predictions Revisited

Each season at Thanksgiving, I list the teams that will make the Kelly Cup playoffs. This is based strictly on what teams are in playoff spots on Thanksgiving day. Historical data proves somewhere between 75% – 80% of playoff teams are already decided by Thanksgiving.

– It is strange to think with a little more than 20% of the ECHL season complete you can predict who will be in the playoffs with close to 80% accuracy. Here are the teams that were in the top four spots in each division at Thanksgiving and the final results:

North Division
1. Newfoundland
2. Adirondack
3. Reading
4. Brampton

Three of four made the playoffs. Reading finished fifth just one point out of the playoffs. Manchester made the playoffs.

South Division
1. Jacksonville
2. Norfolk
3. Florida
4. Orlando

Three of four made the playoffs. It was predictable Norfolk would end up out of the playoffs and be replaced by South Carolina but these were the standings at the time.

Central Division
1. Cincinnati
2. Toledo
3. Indy
4. Fort Wayne

Three of four made the playoffs. Kalamazoo nipped Indy by two points for the last playoff spot.

Mountain Division
1. Utah
2. Tulsa
3. Kansas City
4. Idaho

All four teams made the playoffs.

History repeated itself again this season as 13 of the 16 teams in the Kelly Cup playoffs were in a playoff spot at Thanksgiving. That means 81% of the playoff teams were decided by Thanksgiving.

Kelly Cup Playoff Update

– The first round of the Kelly Cup playoffs are well underway and there have been a lot of close games already with nine games taking overtime to decide. The only division champion that is behind is Tulsa, who trails Kansas City 2-1 with game four in Kansas City tonight. The Central Division champs, Cincinnati, is ahead of Kalamazoo 2-1 with game four in Kalamazoo tonight. In the North Division, the #1 seed Newfoundland took a 3-0 lead over Brampton but lost to the Beast 4-1 last night. The Growlers will have another chance to close out the series on Saturday. In the South Division the #1 seed, Florida, won the first two games at home against Jacksonville but the Icemen won last night 4-3 at home to make the series 2-1. Game four is tonight in Jacksonville.

– The only team that can advance tonight is Manchester who is the #3 seed in the North Division. The Monarchs have a 3-0 lead over the #2 seed (Adirondack) with game four tonight in Manchester.

Other Thoughts

– You may have noticed Braylon Shmyr was loaned to the AHL after Allen completed their season. Braylon played the last two games of the season for San Antonio, who was out of the playoff picture. San Antonio brought in players so they could send players back to their affiliate (Tulsa) who was starting their ECHL playoffs.

Alex Breton finished his time in Springfield (AHL) in style by scoring two goals in the last game of the season. Breton played in 10 games with Springfield after being loaned on March 1. In those 10 games, he had four points (3G, 1A) and was +5. Springfield did not make the playoffs. If Alex is not signed to an AHL deal by Springfield it is hard to believe he won’t get a deal with some AHL team next season. You can be assured Martinson will give Breton a qualifying offer so he will have his ECHL rights for next season if he does sign an AHL deal.

Riley Bourbonnais did not play down the stretch for Iowa as they got players assigned from the Minnesota Wild (NHL) and were battling for a playoff spot. Since he was loaned to Iowa on March 1st, Riley played in 10 games and had one goal. Riley is another player that coach Martinson will definitely qualify so whether he signs with Allen, signs with an AHL team or goes to Europe, Allen will retain his ECHL rights.

– Iowa will take on Milwaukee starting on Sunday in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs. It is a best-of-five series. There are some familiar names on the Iowa Wild playoff roster. According to the AHL website the playoff roster includes 19 forwards, 10 defensemen and three goalies. Five players on the roster spent time in Allen. Goalie C.J. Motte, defensemen Nick Boka, and Jack Sadek and forwards Riley Bourbonnais and Dante Salituro. Not sure how much if any playing time these five players will get but they are in the playoffs.

Did You Know?

I posted on my ECHL Stats Twitter account (@ECHLStats) the players with the most assists in one playoff year in the last 15 seasons. Chad Costello was at the top of the list with 29 assists. When you look at the all-time record book Chad is all over the postseason records. Here are a few examples:

1st, Most Assists, One Playoff Year, 2016, (29)
1st, Most Assists in Final series, 2016, (10)
2nd, Most Points, One Playoff Year, 2016, (36)
3rd, Most Points in Final Series, 2016, (13)
3rd, Most Assists in Playoffs, Career, (61)
4th, Most Points in Playoffs, Career (83)

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