It’s going to be a few weeks before the beloved Rampage take the ice for official Training Camp activities and as usual there will be some major changes going into the new season. Aside from fresh personnel, we know that there will be a new affiliation agreement next year between the St Louis Blues and San Antonio. There’s a lot more to that story obviously but until there is official word from the AHL, the Avalanche and various other parties there’s no reason to beat the same speculations into the ground. Safe to say we’ll get you the story as soon as it comes out.
Before we get to some summer signings, there are some folks that won’t be back. Here’s a rundown of notables:
Goalies Jeremy Smith, Nathan Lieuwen and Kent Simpson – Smith signed with the Carolina org, Lieuwen retired and Simpson is still looking for work.
Mat Clark moved to the Austrian League, Eric Gelinas has a PTO with Montreal, Sam Jardine and Justin Hamonic signed ECHL deals with Orlando and Wichita respectively.
Garry Nunn will ply his trade in Norway, Turner Elson signed with the Griffins, Colin Smith will be in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Mike Sislo is now in the Coyotes org. Joe Whitney, Troy Bourke, Jim O’Brien and Big Sam Henley are still on the market.
The Rampage made a few re-signings, Alex Belzile, Shawn St-Amant and Brendan Ranford will return on AHL contracts. Brady Shaw also signed an AHL deal after playing on an Amateur Try-Out at the end of last season. PTO Thomas Frazee signed an AHL contract but will go to Atlanta rather than the Eagles when he’s not with the team.
The Avs re-signed Duncan Siemens, Felix Girard, Joe Cannata, Rocco Grimaldi and Gabe Bourque to 1-year NHL contracts. Technically not a re-signing since he spent last season with the Blues/Wolves, but Andrew Agozzino returns to the org on a 2-year NHL deal.
Harvard captain Alex Kerfoot and Minnesota-Duluth captain Dominic Toninato, both centers, join the org on Entry Level Contracts along with 2015 Avs draftees J-C Beaudin and Nic Meloche. Veteran AHL defenseman David Warsofsky signed a 2-year contract that pays NHL salary guaranteed in the first year. Defenseman Jesse Graham moves over from the Islanders org on an NHL deal after not being qualified.
The Rampage added forwards Michael Joly and Jake Marchment, defensemen Josh Atkinson and Gabriel Verpaelst (camp try-out last year) and former DU goalie Sam Brittain to the roster on AHL deals.
Add to all that Spencer Martin, Bigras, Boikov, Geertsen, Lindholm, Nantel, Petryk and Vogelhuber and there’s quite an assortment to choose a team from. I’ve attempted to craft a depth chart several times this summer but there are so many unknowns it’s pointless. Rookie camp opens later this week and a fair amount of these fellows will be in attendance (roster here) . There are also a bunch of ATO/PTO players expected there, including unsigned Avs draft pick Ben Storm who had an ATO at the end of last year. Once we get an idea of how some of these players are getting used it will help sharpen up what the Rampage are working with.
The last wild card to throw in this mix is the continuing rumors that the St Louis Blues, who do not have an AHL affiliate this season, will be sending some amount of their prospects/depth to the Rampage to play this season. I’ve heard so many different speculations that I really don’t know what to think at this point. On paper, San Antonio seems to need a goalie but the Brittain signing along with having Cannata on an NHL deal puts some doubt there. They seem to need a #1 center, Wade Megan would be nice since he scores a lot and had good chemistry with Aggz last year but the Kerfoot/Toninato acquisitions throw doubt on that now too. Another experienced D would be a good thing to have but there are plenty of guys that could use the TOI already on the roster. Add to that the somewhat unique situation of STL not having an affiliate in this day and age and it’s even more confusing. When exactly would the Blues prospects join the team? Training Camp? The day before opening night? Even later? Who knows, just another interesting part of the puzzle.
Keep an eye out for our Rookie & Training Camp coverage and perhaps some of the roster and lineup questions will become clear before players head to San Antonio later this month.