Anyone who follows this blog knew Tuesday was the day all "future consideration" trades had to be completed but that doesn't make fans anymore prepared for what transpired. Dyson Stevenson was the player sent to Wichita in the transaction that ended up having Alex Krushelnyski assigned to Allen for the playoffs. Dyson is the definition of a team player who will do whatever it takes for his team to be successful. Stick up for a teammate, block a shot, play forward, play defense, score a goal, finish check, the guy could and would do whatever he was asked to do. And a great guy off the ice who was outstanding in representing the team with the fans and in the community. I had a chance to talk to Dyson this afternoon and ask if there is anything he would like to share and this is what he said,
"It was a phone call I wasn't expecting but it is pro hockey so anything can happen. I had an amazing time in Allen! I had the best teammates ever all three years and I would still do anything for everyone of them (until I play against them next year). The upstairs staff were all unbelievable to me! I owe Gus (Trainer) so much he was great to me especially with my concussions. Timmy (equipment manager) was unreal and the most professional equipment guy I have ever seen. I made a real close friend that I will miss everyday especially when I am on a bus and that is Monty Williams. He kept us safe on that shitty bus and still had time to be the most generous guy in the world. Finally, the fans in Allen were the best I have ever seen. Always positive toward the players and the team. And they wanted us to succeed more than any other fans in pro sports."
- I had the pleasure of getting to know Dyson off the ice as we spent many days around a fishing pond talking about everything but hockey. He will be a success in Wichita because he is a leader and will be the ultimate teammate. With two Kelly Cup championships to his credit don't be surprised if Dyson joins a long list of players that move on from Allen and become captain of their new team. (Daniel Tetrault, Jamie Schaafsma, Trevor Ludwig, Jarret Lukin).
- The other future consideration trade has not been announced as I write this but there will be a double dose of sadness when the player that was sent to
Indy in the transaction that had Tyler Barnes assigned to Allen for the
playoffs is announced. I will provide an update when the player is announced which should be later today.
- The full story behind these two transactions will probably never be known but the basis was to try and win an unprecedented third Kelly Cup. I know coach Martinson along with many other observers felt Allen had more depth going into the playoffs than in any other season. Things didn't work out as planned and now Allen has lost two players that will be tough to replace. Steve Martinson is hard at work recruiting the 2017-18 team and the old adage of cheer for the name on the front of the jersey and not the back could never be more true. However, it doesn't make it any easier to say good-bye to players like Dyson Stevenson.
- For coach Steve Martinson there is an off season but for General
Manager Steve Martinson there is never time to relax. Recruitment is
something he spends time doing everyday all year around but with Allen
out of the playoffs early, Martinson has had extra time to recruit. He shared with me that a big difference this off season is he has been able to talk to many more agents/players about coming to Allen. The first signings for next season should take place over the next few days as June 16 is the first day to sign players. It doesn't mean the team will announce the signings as that is more of a PR decision. Typically the team likes to make a big splash with the first signing announcement. With Chad Costello heading to Europe it won't be him but maybe Riley Gill's re-signing would be a good way to kick off the first signing for next season. I have not talked to Riley but it would be such a great foundation for the team if he would re-sign.
Season ending rosters are due tomorrow and teams can list no more that 20 players. This list is not very meaningful as Allen only had 17 players on their protected list that was submitted on June 1. The next
critical date will be on June 30. Until June 30 all of the Allen
American player's rights for the ECHL remain with Allen (unless the
are traded) but on June 30th Martinson has to submit to the league a
no more than eight players he wants to protect/qualify. These eight names do
not include players that have already signed. Because only eight players
can be protected there is incentive to get as many players signed by
June 30th as possible. The eight players will be given qualifying offers
which for the most part must be 5% above their salary from last season.
qualifying offer period is from June 30th to August 1st.
- The starting
point in putting together the 2017-18 Allen Americans team is determining a budget. While the salary cap
is a given cost ($12,800 per week), housing and insurance can cost the team more than the
players salary. A big cost factor is how many married players are on the
team. Married players get their own apartment while the single guys
share an apartment. Health insurance is much cheaper for single players
and married guys without children than it is for families.
With four championships and a second round playoff loss over the past five years you might
think everything would be positive in putting the 2017-18 team
together but that is not the case. Some of the players want to try
playing in the AHL or Europe. So you have a
situation where some players want time to find other
opportunities before committing to Allen. Another issue facing Martinson
is most players feel they
deserve a raise in pay, however the amount available for salaries will
increase by just $200 per week for the entire team. The salary cap is
set by the Professional Hockey Players Association (PHPA) and ownership
and is spelled out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA). This past
season the salary cap was $12,600 per week to be shared by all players
on the active roster. Next season the salary cap will increase to
$12,800. That is an average increase of just $10 per week per player.
What is Steve Martinson's secret to recruiting? Have as many tools in your recruiting
tool kit as possible. With the salary cap, competing based on salary is
not the key to success as a player can always find a team willing to pay
$50 or $100 more per week. The key to getting the best players is
having other reasons to have them want to play for your team. Here are
some of the many tools Steve Martinson uses when making a pitch to
- Allen has never missed the playoffs and has
been to the championship final five times in eight years and won four
championships. You can count on many additional weeks of pay as Allen
makes a deep playoff run along with a couple of extra months of lodging
and playoff bonuses. This can total $10,000 - $15,000 more in
compensation for a player over a team that does not make the playoffs.
You will play an upbeat,
aggressive offensive system in Allen that is also dedicated to defensive
hockey. Points you score in the ECHL won't keep you in the American
Hockey League (AHL) but
points will get you noticed. You have to be able to play without the
puck and you have to understand the game and that is what we will help
you with in Allen. With our system you will have plenty of opportunity
to get points. We
won't handcuff you in the third period with a lead. We
will take less risks but we will keep our foot on the gas. If you want
to play in a system where you can score a lot of points come to Allen.
You will play in a great
facility in the eight year old Allen Event Center which is surrounded by
shopping and restaurants.
- You will play for a team
that has a history of moving players to the AHL. Allen has had over 30 players
from their roster spend time in the AHL in their three ECHL
goal is to see you
progress in your hockey career.
- You will be able to develop your skating technique by working with Luke Chilcott who is the skating coach for the San Jose Barracuda (AHL) and the Allen Americans.
- While playing in the
Dallas Metroplex you have access to whatever interests you may have
including the Stars, Cowboys, Mavericks and Rangers. Playing where you
have a major international airport makes it easier for you and your
friends and family to travel in and out of DFW and for players to get to AHL cities quickly if called up.
will live in a place where you can play golf year around. Average high
temperature during the hockey season is 79 in October, 66 in November,
57 in December, 55 in January, 61 in February, 69 in March, 77 in April
and 84 in May. It is a great place to live whether your are single or married.
- If you like to fish there are plenty of opportunities within 30 minutes of your apartment. Fishing is great.
- One of the biggest detriments in recruiting in the past was that it was well known Allen traveled by bus more than other teams and players would bring that up as a problem. With new ownership Martinson can now tell players the team will be flying more and they have a newer, better bus when they drive to the closer cities. One of the bigger obstacles has been overcome.
- You will be helped with whatever your post hockey career interests are
through our intern program and you will be able to develop business
contacts while you are still playing that will be useful after you
retire. The DFW metroplex is a great place to build a post career
- There is a great fan base that supports the team and the players.
- With his record in Allen, Steve Martinson will have
plenty of players and agents calling him this summer. When you have a
successful program in a great location a lot of players will want to
play in Allen.
Steve Martinson has been around minor pro hockey for so long he has a
real advantage when it comes to recruiting.
But even with the contacts he has developed over the years he spends
many hours going over data
to determine who to recruit. He has a couple of techniques that he uses
to find those diamonds in the rough, players who have underperformed
but will thrive in his system and players that have not been used in the
right way on their current teams. It is no coincidence that each year
there are players that come in and have a career year in Allen.
Whether it is young guys or
experienced players, they thrive in the
issue the coach needs to be aware of is the veteran status of each
player as the number of veterans on the team is limited to just four. A
veteran is defined as a player with more than 260 regular season
professional games (for games in Europe only the top six leagues
count). The Americans finished this season with four veterans (Costello, Steffes, Chouinard and Brittain). Greger Hanson passed the 260 games played mark this past season and is now a veteran. With Costello and Brittain signed in Europe, Martinson will have some veteran spots available. It is always
good to have at least one veteran slot available for new players that
might want to come to Allen.
Here is my opinion of how Martinson will approach recruitment for next season.
- Coach Martinson will have a base of corp players returning. That doesn't mean everyone wishing to return
will be signed but he will reach out to everyone to see what they want
to do. Players like Asuchak, Hanson, Moore, Makowski and Hall are surely looking for AHL deals. Best case for Allen is San Jose will sign some of them. There will also be players already signed in San Jose that might start the season in Allen.
- Players that are ready to sign immediately will be the top priority. Those that wait
run the risk of other players being signed and a slot not being
available or money not being available when they are ready to sign.
- Coach Martinson will strive to get as many
players signed as quickly as possible. A good goal would be to have
two lines, four defensemen and a goalie signed by June 30. That may be a bit ambitious but it is a good goal.
With the average salary being about $640 per week ($12,800 divided by
20 players) finding good rookie players that make less than the average
is critical so you can pay the top end guys.
Popularity of players with the fans is not a big factor when it comes
time to signing. It is strictly based on performance. You can always
find another popular player.
- If Martinson finds a good player at the right price they will get signed right away.
- With just four veteran slots available the decision on veterans will be a difficult one.
The affiliation with San Jose will continue though it has not been
formalized yet. Allen will have players assigned for development from
the beginning of the season.
One thing is certain, Steve Martinson will have the same type of team as
he has always had. They will compete hard, be physical and be difficult to
play against. The team will be tough but also skillful. He recruits guys
that understand you must work hard, be in great shape, follow the
system, be a team guy and finish checks. He builds his teams to have
depth rather than a few super stars. This approach has worked for 21
years and it will work again in year 22 as he puts together the 2017-2018 team.
DID YOU KNOW: Dyson Stevenson played for Wichita coach, Malcolm Cameron, in junior
hockey for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. Stevenson's
last year playing for Cameron before turning pro (2013-14) he had 76
points (38 goals 38 assists) in 66 games.