ALLEN, TX – You know that feeling you get when you open a can of soda or a beer that has been slightly frozen or dropped. As you very slowly open the can you just never know how much energy is going to come out. That is the way I feel about what is about to happen as we open the “can” on the 30th ECHL season in just two days. It has been a quiet week thus far, but a lot is about to happen.
Here is a reminder based on my reporting:
– The Barracuda have their first preseason game tomorrow night in Bakersfield, and all five tryout players from Allen (Basara, Archambault, Arseneau, Rissling, Thrower) should play in that game. I don’t think there is any way to watch the game, but there should be some reporting on social media. The Allen players have looked good in practice and have received some positive feedback. The game in Bakersfield will be a significant opportunity to show everyone in San Jose what they bring to the table. Obviously, the goal for the guys is to get signed to a two-way AHL/ECHL deal by the Barracuda, but even if that doesn’t happen, they are on the radar for loans to AHL teams during the season.
– If you have been tracking the Sharks and Barracuda training camps, you may have noticed the Sharks still have a lot of players in camp, somewhere around 32. Opening day for the NHL is just one week away, and the Sharks will have to trim their roster to 23. With so many players still at Sharks camp, the Barracuda camp has just 24 players. This could be good news for the Allen tryout players. The Barracuda play their first preseason game in Bakersfield tomorrow night, but they have their second preseason game Saturday afternoon (1:30 pm local time) in San Jose. Unless the Sharks send more players down it is possible the five Allen tryout players will stay in San Jose at least through the preseason game on Saturday.
– There should be two more player announcements over the next few days. That would put the roster total at 20 players. Coach Steve Martinson will continue strengthening the roster whenever he can, and these last two puzzle pieces will do that. Putting together a roster is much more complicated than many realize because you have to balance high-end players with younger players to stay under the salary cap. You can only have four players on the team with more than 260 pro games, you have to factor in how many players will get assigned from your affiliate, and housing costs dictate the mix between married and single players. There isn’t anyone that manages this recruitment chess game better than coach Martinson.
– The official training camp roster will be issued by the team any day. In addition to the 20 players Martinson has signed, there will be some other players in camp on tryouts. Mostly guys that will spend the season in the SPHL but just like the Allen players on a tryout in San Jose these guys are hoping to make an impression.
– One thing is certain, competition for opening day roster spots — due October 11 — will be fierce. With 20 guys signed in Allen and the possibility of getting four or five players from San Jose, there will not be enough slots for everyone. Martinson always describes training camp like this, “What you have done in the past might help you get to training camp but once camp starts everyone needs to prove themselves.”
– Another axiom you hear from coach Martinson is he has the same team every year; it is just the names on the back that change. His goal is to have players that stay in shape, work hard, put the team first, finish their checks and are difficult to play against but also bring skill to the ice. It has been a winning formula for over 20 years. The way the 2017-18 roster is shaping up, if all of the players that might end up in Allen do end up in Allen, this may be the hardest team to play against Martinson has ever assembled. I don’t mean the team with the most fights, but a team filled with tough and grit.
– You can also expect the training camp schedule to be issued in the next couple of days. The team is already assembling before the official opening day of ECHL camps on Friday. There just might be a couple of surprises over the next few days. For sure you should plan on attending the “Fanfest” event on Saturday from 11-3. I have been asked about when the Q & A will take place with coach Martinson. That is typically at noon or one o’clock. I will try and get a specific time and include it tomorrow.
– Here is a great article written by Kevin Kurz (theathletic.com) about the San Jose Sharks. What happens with the Sharks has a direct impact on the Barracuda and what happens with the Barracuda has an immediate impact on Allen. If you take an interest in the Sharks and Barracuda rosters this story is for you. Lots of detail on what players might be on the NHL roster versus the AHL roster. https://www.theathletic.com/110631/2017/09/26/10-sharks-observations-young-players-look-hungry-but-are-they-good-enough/
DID YOU KNOW: It is hard to believe it is time to kick off another Allen Americans season, the ninth in team history. And what a pleasure it has been to follow the team from the beginning. If you are an Allen Americans fan, there is no question you are spoiled. The team has never missed the playoffs, reached the championship finals in the very first year and won four consecutive championships (2013-16).
While the team has had plenty of struggles off the ice with three owners in nine years including numerous of budget issues, the on-ice product has never wavered. Losing in the second round of the playoffs last season was considered a disappointment, for most ECHL teams that would have been a huge success.
Of all of the impressive Steve Martinson stats one of the best is in his five years as the coach in Allen he has been in 15 playoff series with most of them being best of seven. His record in those 15 playoff series is 14-1.