WICHITA, KS – All summer long, we have been bringing you signing announcements for next season’s Wichita Thunder squad. While the announced group holds a lot of promise, head coach Malcolm Cameron will get a live look at two of his signings and some of the players he could see later this year, this week at the 2016 Ottawa Senators Rookie Tournament.
This year’s camp will have 23 skaters; 13 forwards, eight defensemen and two goaltenders. Like you would expect from a rookie camp, there is a wide range of age; from Logan Brown at 18 years old, to Blake Tatchell, who is over 25.
The camp gets going tomorrow morning with a practice at the Senators practice facility, Bell Sensplex. From there, the teams will travel to London, Ontario for games, which begin Friday. Joining Ottawa in the round-robin tournament are the Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens and the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins. The Senators will open play against Toronto at 7pm ET on Friday night, Pittsburgh at 3:35pm ET Saturday, and Montreal at 1pm ET on Sunday.
The Senators rookies will be led by Kurt Kleinendorst, head coach of the Binghamton Senators, assistant coach, Steve Stirling and video coach, Dylan Crawford. The Senators hockey ops staff, including coach Guy Boucher will be in attendance.
Here is a look at the announced the Senators’ roster for the four-team rookie tournament in London, Ontario.
|13||Nick Paul||Binghamton (AHL), Ottawa (NHL)|
|36||Vincent Dunn||Evansville (ECHL), Binghamton (AHL)|
|46||Stephen Harper||Hamilton & Niagara (OHL)|
|47||Francis Perron||Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)|
|51||Logan Brown||Windsor (OHL)|
|53||Jack Rodewald*||Orlando (ECHL), Toronto (AHL)|
|59||Ryan Graham||Saskatoon (WHL)|
|60||Anthony DiFruscia||Niagara (OHL)|
|71||Gabriel Gagne||Victoriaville & Shawinigan (QMJHL)|
|76||Filip Ahl||HV71 (Swe-Jr.), Asplöven, (Allsvenskan), Sundsvall (Allsvenskan), HV71 (SHL)|
|78||Filip Chlapik||Charlottetown (QMJHL)|
|79||Ryan Rupert||Orlando (ECHL), Toronto (AHL), Binghamton (AHL)|
|94||Blake Tatchell*||Alaska-Anchorage (WCHA), Lake Erie (AHL)|
* => Signed by Wichita Thunder
|39||Andreas Englund||Djurgårdens (Swe-Jr.), Djurgårdens (SHL)|
|57||Brady Reagan||Lethbridge (WHL)|
|58||Maxime Lajoie||Swift Current (WHL)|
|63||Cody Donaghey||Halifax & Moncton (QMJHL)|
|67||Ben Harpur||Evansville (ECHL), Binghamton (AHL), Ottawa (NHL)|
|72||Thomas Chabot||Saint John (QMJHL)|
|73||Chris Carlisle||Evansville (ECHL), Binghamton (AHL)|
|80||Macoy Erkamps||Brandon (WHL)|
|32||Chris Driedger||Binghamton (AHL), Ottawa (NHL)|
|34||Matt O’Connor||Binghamton (AHL), Ottawa (NHL)|
So, the question becomes, who will come to Wichita and play for the Thunder this season?
In my interview with Cameron last month, he would not give a set number on players that would be coming down, citing the possibility of injuries and the log of players higher up in the affiliation chain due to the World Cup of Hockey. It is important for fans to realize the roster on opening night may look starkly different when the team comes home from their eastern road swing on November 4.
All of that said, here are a few possibilities for Thunder fans to watch for.
Up front, the list is lead by former Utah Grizzlies scorer Alex Krushelnyski. In the last two seasons with Utah, he has collected 117 points (42G, 75A) and is the pure scorer which has sorely been missing from the Thunder lineup since the Central Hockey League days. Krushelnyski signed a two-way AHL/ECHL deal this summer with the Binghamton Senators.
Next, Vincent Dunn and Ryan Rupert could make appearances in Wichita at some point during the season. Dunn played in 55 games for the Evansville IceMen last season, putting up 27 points (13G, 14A) and 154 penalty minutes in his role on the third line. Rupert split time between the Orlando Solar Bears (ECHL), Toronto Marlies & Binghamton Senators (AHL) last season and putting up 30 points (16G, 14A) in 66 games. Rupert has one-year remaining on his entry-level contract.
Of course, the Thunder will have the services of rookie camp attendees Jack Rodewald & Blake Tatchell. Both provide a lot of youth to the lineup and should be fun to watch, but Rodewald is ECHL-tested, having put up 47 points (18G, 29A) in 62 games as a rookie for the Solar Bears last season.
On the back end, the only real possibility for who could come down is Chris Rumble, who played in 64 games with the IceMen last season, collecting 39 points (11G, 28A). With Rumble on the back end, this gives Cameron three power-play threats with Landon Oslanski and James Melindy.
Finally, Wichita is shaping up to be pretty solid in net this season. Drew Owsley was announced by the team on August 9th after going 16-8-0, sporting a 2.54 goals-against average and .914 save percentage in 24 starts this past season with St. Francis Xavier University.
Owsley maybe joined by Scott Greenham.
Last season, Greenham appeared in 23 games with the IceMen, going 11-9-3 with a 2.78 goals against average and a .920 save percentage. Greenham also appeared in six games with the Binghamton Senators, going 3-1-0 with a 2.19 goals against average and a .928 save percentage.
The beautiful part about this time of year is that we can finally get some idea of who will be on the roster for Wichita this coming season.
Training camp for the Thunder opens October 1 at 10am at the Wichita Ice Center.