ALLEN, TX – When I talk to Allen fans about the upcoming season, one comment I hear from almost everyone is how Steve Martinson will replace all of the offense represented by the players that will not be returning.
I have to admit this issue has been in my thoughts for some time. A lot of familiar names will be missing when the Americans take the ice for their home opener against Orlando on October 21. It is possible the top six scorers from last season will be missing.
Just as a reminder the top six point scorers last season were Chad Costello (122 points), Greger Hanson (76 points), Spencer Asuchak (66 points), Bryan Moore (51 points), David Makowski (50 points) and Gary Steffes (47 points). Moore and/or Makowski could be assigned to Allen if they don’t make the Barracuda roster out of training camp but they both have a shot at sticking in San Jose. These six players accounted for 54% of the Allen goals last season and 51% of the total points. It will be difficult to replace that much offensive firepower especially if Moore and Makowski are in San Jose.
– I am going to try and make some statistical comparison between the players from last season and the upcoming season but am not sure how valid that comparison is. It is also important to state success is undoubtedly more than how many points a team scorers. Looking at defense and goaltending between last season and this season is also crucial.
– First, let’s look at average points per game for players from last season that played a minimum of 35 games in Allen and compare that stat to the players for the upcoming season and the average points per game they scored last season.
1.69 – Chad Costello
1.31 – Greger Hanson
1.19 – David Makowski
1.03 – Spencer Asuchak
1.02 – Bryan Moore
.88 – Eric Roy
.86 – Zach Hall
.63 – Jake Marchment
.61 – Joel Chouinard
.57 – Dyson Stevenson
.44 – Tanner Eberle
.39 – Travis Brown
.23 – Mike Gunn
.20 – Derek Mathers
.20 – Harrison Ruopp
1.22 – Casey Pierro-Zabotel
.88 – Eric Roy
.86 – Zach Hall
.70 – Jonathan Lessard
.69 – Olivier Archambault
.66 – Mathieu Aubin
.64 – Zach Pochiro
.61 – Joel Chouinard
.58 – Marcus Basara
.44 – Tanner Eberle
.42 – Jaynen Rissling
.38 – Miles Liberati
.30 – Josh Thrower
.23 – Mike Gunn
.13 – Dalton Thrower
– If you look at average points per game, the numbers don’t lie. There was a lot more firepower last season compared to this season’s roster, but there are a few things to keep in mind.
– The roster for this season is not complete, so you can expect a couple of more new players to be added, which will add more firepower. Adding Moore and/or Makowski to the mix in Allen would be huge. While the hope is they stay in San Jose, if they are assigned to Allen it would make a big difference. I have mentioned numerous times that Vincent Arseneau is still unsigned according to eliteprospects.com, which tells me he is going to an AHL training camp. If he is on the San Jose Barracuda training camp roster when it comes out in the next few days that would be good news for Allen fans. If he is on the roster for some other AHL team, it probably means he will not be coming to Allen.
– Other than the players mentioned above, Allen will likely be assigned other players from San Jose that are on NHL or AHL deals. Last season Mike Brodzinski, Alex Schoenborn and Jonathan Martin all spent time in Allen. You can expect San Jose to send some of their NHL/AHL contracted players to Allen for development and to get them some playing time. Who that might be is not known right now.
– Steve Martinson plays a system that is very offensive minded. His team is always one of the highest goal scoring teams in the ECHL. Last season, Allen was second with 294 goals, and in 2014-15 they led the ECHL in goals scored with 292. The point being is you can expect some of the new players will score a lot more points in the Martinson system than where they played last season. There are plenty examples of players signing in Allen and scoring at a much higher clip. This would include Chad Costello‘s three 100-point seasons, Gary Steffes with 44 goals in a season which was double any other pro season, Jonathan Lessard‘s best season as a pro was in Allen when he led the team in goals (28), Alex Lavoie led Allen in scoring as a rookie (76 points) which is his highest point total as a pro. Hanson, Asuchak, Moore, and Makowski all had career years last season with point totals far exceeding their other pro seasons.
– The bottom line is looking strictly at the numbers the Allen roster as it stands today (17 players) doesn’t stack up to the stats from the 2016-17 roster. However, for the reasons stated above come opening day there will be plenty of offensive firepower on the ice for the Americans. And if the roster needs some change after the season starts, Martinson will make the changes.
After the team started poorly last year going 8-11 and finding themselves in last place in the division at the end of November, Martinson made a bunch of changes in just a few weeks. Matt Willows, Chris Crane, Mike Brodzinski, Tristan King, Alex Guptill, Jason Fram, J.P. LaFontaine and Rick Pinkston were traded, released or recalled. Allen added David Makowski, Bryan Moore, Harrison Ruopp, Zach Hall and Randy Cure. From that 8-11 start, Allen finished the season 49-17-2-2 and missed having the best record in the league by just two points.
– Goalie play is obviously a big part of team success and this coming season may be a bit different from last season. The net will be anchored again by Riley Gill who is the best goalie in the league. Last season Riley’s record was 32-7-2-0. In games when Riley wasn’t in goal Allen’s record was 17-12-2-2. The goaltending tandem this season could turn out to be improved. If you look at the San Jose depth chart, the Americans are usually assigned the #5 goalie in the organization. Going into training camp the San Jose depth chart should look like this:
#1 – Martin Jones
#2 – Aaron Dell
#3 – Troy Grosenick
#4 – Antoine Bibeau
#5 – Stephon Williams
Barring injuries and training camp surprises, Stephon Williams should be assigned to Allen, which gives the Americans an experienced second goalie with 58 AHL games to his credit. A Gill/Williams tandem could turn out to be a great duo.
– I know I am a bit obsessive about checking on how Chad Costello, Spencer Asuchak, and Josh Brittain are doing in their first season playing in Europe. I wrote an entire blog post (https://thesinbin.net/transition-to-europe-as-told-by-spencer-asuchak-and-the-costellos/) confessing that as much as I wanted them to be successful, just like a parent I want them to come back home to Allen. Here is how things stand after three games. They all play game four today (Sunday).
Chad – Chad’s team has gotten off to a rough start losing their first three games by scores of 2-1 in overtime, 4-1 and 4-1. With one point for the overtime loss, they are in 13th place in the 14-team league. Chad has been held scoreless in the three games.
Spencer – Spencer’s team had a terrible start losing their first two games by scores of 5-1 and 6-1, but they won their third game 5-4 and Spencer scored a goal. With a record of 1-2, the team is tied for ninth place in the 11 team league. By the way, the 5-4 win was over the last placed team. The goal is Spencer’s only point after three games.
Josh – Josh’s team has a win and two overtime losses in the first three games. They are tied for third place in the 11 team league. Josh has two goals and an assist in the first three games. By the way, Josh and Spencer play in the same league.
If any of them wanted to return to Allen, they have until February 15 to make that decision, and of course, Martinson would have to want them back. They have been in Europe for almost two months, and since it is their first foray, they would know by now if it is something they enjoy. Things could be quite different in Germany where Chad plays versus Slovakia where Spencer and Josh play. After their success in Allen with two championships for Chad and three for Spencer, it won’t be much fun if their teams keep losing. As I said in the earlier piece, everyone wants them to enjoy the experience in Europe, but at the same time, they sure would look good in red again.
DID YOU KNOW: Here is a list of Allen Americans players who had their best professional stats while playing in Allen. Keep in mind the years for each category (goals, assists, points) may have been different.
Chad Costello – goals (41), assists (89), points (125)
Greger Hanson – goals (35), assists (41), points (76)
Spencer Asuchak – goals (26), assists (40), points (66)
Gary Steffes – goals (44), assists (29), points (73)
Chris Crane – goals (21), points (38)
Aaron Gens – goals (9), assists (48), points (56)
Bruce Graham – goals (34), assists (48), points (79)
Tyler Ludwig – goals (20), assists (40), points (55)
Darryl Bootland – assists (29)
Kale Kerbashian – goals (16), assists (34), points (50)
Trevor Ludwig – goals (9), points (29)
Alex Lavoie – goals (25), assists (51), points (76)
Jonathan Lessard – goals (28), assist (29), points (57)