Saturday, July 16, 2016

Weekly Update - Roster, New Owners, Division Realignment and Former Player Updates

It has been quite a week considering it is the offseason. Everything from roster changes to division changes took place. Here is a recap:


ROSTER

- Allen announced their third player signing as J.P. LaFontaine will return for the 2016-17 season. He joins Chad Costello and Riley Gill as players that have been signed and announced. Keep in mind there are many other players that have already been signed and have not been announced. You can assume non vets that didn't get qualifying offers are signed at this point. That group would include Aaron Gens, Dyson Stevenson and Kyle Neuber. Even though he wasn't given a qualifying offer and could become a free agent because he is a vet, you have to assume Gary Steffes is also in the signed but not announced category. 

- No news on efforts to sign the players from last season who were on AHL deals but they typically take longer and their signing happens a little later. I know most of these players will return to Allen if they don't get AHL contracts. And there is a distinct possibilities some will get signed by San Jose.

- David Makowski has signed to play in Hungary next season. A couple of things as it relates to Makowski. He was given a qualifying offer by the Americans so they will retain his rights for the year. If he returns from Europe for any reason prior to February 15 his only option in the ECHL would be Allen. It is surprising to me David signed overseas as he is a young player that could make it to the next level and being in North America enhances that possibility. Makes you wonder if he would get an AHL offer in the near future would he change his mind about going overseas. 



DIVISION REALIGNMENT

The much rumored ECHL division realignment was finally announced this week along with a new playoff format. The conferences remain the same (Eastern & Western) but divisions were reduced from six to four. Here are the new divisions.
Eastern Conference


North Division:
 Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Elmira Jackals, Manchester Monarchs, Reading Royals, Wheeling Nailers

South Division: 

Atlanta Gladiators, Cincinnati Cyclones, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Norfolk Admirals, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays
Western Conference

Central Division
: Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, Quad City Mallards, Toledo Walleye, Tulsa Oilers, Wichita Thunder
Mountain Division
: Alaska Aces, Allen Americans, Colorado Eagles, Idaho Steelheads, Missouri Mavericks, Rapid City Rush, Utah Grizzlies

- The stated motivation for making the change was reduced travel costs, especially during the playoffs. That is why the league made the changes this year without making any changes to the already announced schedule. The first two rounds of the playoffs will be within the division. 

- Anyway you analyze it this is not a good move for the Allen Americans. The travel burden placed on Allen will be cost prohibitive especially when the schedules are adjusted for next season. Here is the mileage to each team in the new division:
Alaska - 4000
Idaho - 1605
Utah - 1238
Rapid City - 1058
Colorado - 842
Missouri - 473
- Division rivalries with Tulsa and Wichita will be lost. Allen will still play these teams numerous times in the future but it will not be the same being in different divisions. 
- The concept of having just four divisions and the first two playoff rounds being within the division is the way the ECHL was setup in Allen's first Kelly Cup winning season and it also mirrors the playoff format in other leagues. It is a good concept. It just is difficult for Allen to be in the Mountain Division when there are so many teams much closer. By the way, the Missouri Mavericks are in the same boat as Allen and have even more reasons to not be happy with the new realignment. 
- Here is an interview with the ECHL commissioner Brian McKenna written by Jeffery Lutz from the Wichita Eagle. The commissioner talks about the  rationale for the change. It is also interesting that he says some of the teams that will save travel dollars in the playoffs will subsidize teams (presumably like Allen and Missouri) that will have much higher travel costs. Here is the link: http://www.kansas.com/sports/other-sports/wichita-thunder/article89002427.html

OWNERSHIP
I know I sound like a broken record whenever I provide an update regarding the sale of the Allen Americans by saying an announcement could happen any day. As I have reported in the past, I think there is a purchase agreement in place to sell the team and the delay in going public with an announcement has to do with all of the legal details that have to be settled before a sale is finalized. Two issues that need to be resolved are determining all of the outstanding debts and settling all outstanding lawsuits. The new owners do not want a bunch of surprises concerning bills that have not been paid and also want the current owners to settle any outstanding lawsuits that have been filed. I am sure all parties are anxious to get these issues resolved and the sale made public. Stay tuned. 

OTHER ITEMS
- Several former Allen Americans will be playing overseas for new teams next year. Trevor Hendrikx has been playing in the United Kingdom (EIHL) for several years but is switching teams this season. He played in Wales (Cardiff) the last two years but will play in Scotland (Breahead) next season. Rylan Schwartz who was with the Orlando Solar Bears last season has signed to play in Germany (DEL2) for Heilbronner Falken. Kyle Follmer will also be in the EIHL next season having recently signed with the Fife Flyers (Scotland). The list of former Allen players signed to play overseas in 2016-17 is very long. In addition to those mentioned above you can include Jack Combs (Germany), Colton Yellow Horn (Czech Republic), Patrik Valcak (England), Jonathan Lessard (France), Dave Bonk (Japan), Judd Blackwater (Slovakia), Garrett Clarke (Poland), Garrett Klotz (England), Josef Fojtik (Czech Republic), Austin Smith (Austria) and Brett Skinner (Czech Republic). 

- Mentioned the other day that Matt Willows, who was the leading scorer for the Florida Everblades last season with 66 points (23 goals 43 assists) in 71 games, has signed an AHL deal with San Jose and could see time in Allen if he doesn't make the Barracuda team. Matt was the ECHL Rookie of the Year last season. 

- I am sure all Allen fans were excited to see Aaron Dell recently signed a two year deal with the San Jose Sharks. If you have followed Aaron's story over the years he has a history of overcoming the odds to succeed. When he was in youth hockey, in college (North Dakota), in Allen, in Worcester and in San Jose (Barracuda) he never started out as the top guy. But through hard work and perseverance he outperformed and became the main guy. Now it looks like he will have a good chance to be the back up goalie for the Sharks this season. Watch out because if he gets the chance in the NHL he may just outperform again. How lucrative is all of the hard work you ask? According to the site that tracks these things (General Fanager) if Aaron makes the Sharks team his salary will be $575,000 this upcoming season and $675,000 the following season. If he plays for the Barracuda (AHL) his salary will be $175,000 both seasons. That is a long way from when Aaron was a rookie playing in Allen (2012-13) for less than $500 per week. Here is an article written by Patrick Leiva of Blades of Teal that talks about Dell and the backup goalie competition for the Sharks: http://bladesofteal.com/2016/07/02/san-jose-sharks-resign-micheal-haley-and-aaron-dell/


DID YOU KNOW: Allen has announced three player signings thus far which pales in comparison to Fort Wayne. According to the Team Sin Bin (thesinbin.net) the Komets have already announced eight player signings. However, there are five teams (Colorado, Elmira, Norfolk, Tulsa, Wheeling) that have yet to announce a player signing. 



3 comments:

  1. Well, I don't like the new divisions. Those few teams west of Kansas are a travel problem. Wichita would at least be 6 hours closer to them than we are, not sure why we got stuck traveling west.
    But, if they don't mess with the schedule and just put us in the Mountain division but still have us play our close regional teams the most, then it really just effects playoffs.

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  2. I hope it changes again next year when the new teams arrive

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  3. I hope it changes again next year when the new teams arrive

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