INDEPENDENCE, MO – After missing the postseason for just the second time in team history, the Kansas City Mavericks are poised to return to playoff hockey after a massive overhaul on the surface and in the locker room.
Head Coach: John-Scott Dickson – Second season as a head coach, both with the Mavericks. 33-30-4-5 record in his rookie season behind the bench.
Last Season: The first half of the season for the Mavericks came with many bumps along the way. With a rookie head coach behind the bench, an incredibly young roster, and injuries to their captain Andrew Courtney, the Mavericks took some time to find their groove. In the second half of the season, a light bulb came on and the play on the ice drastically improved. The Mavericks flirted with a playoff spot in the waning weeks of the season, but would eventually fall short, finishing fifth in the Mountain Division.
It is a new era for the Mavericks with the retirement of Courtney, and also the departure of goalie Josh Robinson. However, with several solid leaders on the ice and in the locker room, with talented youth sprinkled all over the roster, there is much to be optimistic about for the upcoming season.
- #NewBeginnings – The Mavericks come into this season with a lot of change. They have a new name (Missouri Mavericks to Kansas City Mavericks), a new affiliate (New York Islanders to Calgary Flames), and will need a new captain and stalwart between the pipes.
- #BuiltFromTheBlueLine – After injuries and call-ups decimated a large portion of the defensive core last season, Dickson focused on building up the blue line this offseason. He swung a deal to get Bryce Aneloski back to Kansas City which will definitely prove dividends on both sides of the puck. He also brought back fan favorites Patch Alber and Tyler Elbrecht, adding quickness (Alber) and physicality (Elbrecht) to the mix.
- #YouthInNet – After signing goalie Ty Rimmer in the offseason to help develop a young goalie expected to be assigned from Calgary, the Mavericks had to quickly change course when a second netminder was sent from the Flames. After already seeing Mason McDonald briefly during training camp, top Flames prospect Tyler Parsons was also assigned to the Mavericks. Rimmer was shipped off to Greenville for future considerations, and the Mavericks will begin the season with one goalie (McDonald – 21 years old) who can’t even take the other half of the tandem out for a beer (Parsons – 20 years old).
- When speaking with Dickson over the offseason, he was thrilled about how his team performed in the second half of the season. He spoke of the leaders really stepping up (most of whom are back with the Mavs this season) and showing the younger players how to be a pro. If the Mavericks are able to continue and improve on their play from the second half of last season, they will be back to playing playoff hockey.
- Forward Justin Breton had a shaky start to his tenure with the Mavericks, but the speedster has been one of the stars of training camp so far. The Mavericks will need to replenish some secondary scoring lost over the offseason, and Breton will be one of the guys relied upon to do so.
- There is a lot of optimism throughout the organization in regards to the new affiliation with Calgary/Stockton. While the Islanders supplied many household names to the Mavericks over the last couple of seasons, there were times when many players were plucked from the roster during vital parts of the season, without any help coming in return. So is the story of the low man on the totem pole. The Mavericks aren’t riddled with assigned players so far in the early parts of this season, but with both goalies coming from Calgary/Stockton, there’s a lot at stake. Fans can only hope for all teams throughout the affiliation chain to avoid the injury bug, especially between the pipes.
- Rocco Carzo – Carzo is back for his third season with the Mavericks after setting a career high in goals a year ago. Arguably one of the best two-way players in the ECHL, Carzo is on the short list for the next captain of the Mavericks.
- Dan Correale – Gifted with blazing speed, Correale burst onto the professional scene last season. Now back for his second professional season, Correale is out to prove he is one of the best forward’s in the ECHL. The biggest strides he took last season were on the defensive side of the puck. While still a little raw with the puck on his stick, Correale become one of this team’s best penalty killers, always willing to throw his body in front of any shot from anywhere on the ice. If he’s able to improve on the offensive side of the puck this season as much as he did on the defensive side last season, he’ll have an AHL deal in his future.
- Troy Donnay – After two seasons in Greenville, Donnay was signed by Dickson over the offseason. At 6-7, 210lbs, Donnay and his massive frame will look to patrol the defensive zone for the Mavericks and could be a difference maker. Forwards in the ECHL continue to get bigger and faster, and Donnay handles himself well on his skates for a man of his stature. Dickson wanted to sure up the defensive side of the puck this offseason. He already knows what he has in Aneloski, Alber, and Elbrecht. If Donnay can continue to develop and use his size effectively, the Mavericks could have a stout defensive unit.
Blocked and Reported
- Dane Fox – Fox led the Mavericks in just about every statistical offensive category a season ago. Despite only being 23 years old and still very much in play for a look at the higher levels, Fox went overseas and will play in Germany this season.
- Jacob Doty – Doty had a rough start after being assigned to the Mavericks from Chicago last season, but quickly turned his game around thanks in large part to finding his physicality. After the trade of Elbrecht, Doty filled the enforcer role and the rest of his game seemed to elevate with that. He will play in the EIHL with the Braehead Clan this season.
- Kevin Tansey – Most people forget that Tansey was a rookie last season. That is because not only was he the best defenseman for the Mavericks, but he quickly became one of the best defensemen in the ECHL. Tansey signed an AHL deal with the Grand Rapids Griffins, as was recently assigned to the Toledo Walleye.
With the improvements that Dickson made over the offseason to the defensive unit, and the influx of speed brought to the offensive side of the puck, the Mavericks will definitely improve from their 33 wins last season. A win total in the range of 40-42 can be expected, and if their young goalies develop as quickly as hoped, then that number will only go up. Either way, the Mavericks should be back in the postseason.
What Say You?
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