As some of you know from Twitter, the kind people over at Raw Charge allowed me to change my assignment a bit in order to save what was left of my precious sanity. Instead of doing a write up for the end of the Crunch season, I was given the permission to focus on a group of specific players, mainly the players that were going to form the Black Aces for Tampa’s playoff run. Unfortunately, recent events have cancelled the formation of the Black Aces.
However, I had already done 12 “three paragraph reviews” of the guys I thought had a decent shot at being seen by the big club.
Why three? Well, that’s about all the strength I had when it came to guys like Korobov, and I like uniformity.
Because it’s so limited, and because I’m not a stats person but a, “hey, I saw this and-” kind of person, the reviews are very informal. But, I did the work and I like ‘em, so I’m going to start posting those here at some point. Maybe next week. I’ll post one player at a time and will probably get to the guys that weren’t going to be Black Aces but who were on the team at the end of the year.
We’ll see how depressed I get.
My writing is going to be condensed over at RC into two posts, the absolutes and the maybes. But I’m planning on sticking to one player at a time here, mostly because it’ll keep the blog going for just a bit longer before it fades out to give me a break before free agency starts. I get an off season too, ya know.
Anyway, look forward to that.
Thanks for the support all season, Tweeples and readers. It still, and always has and always will, means a lot.
From the NHL’s official release:
JOHNSON, MacKINNON AND PALAT VOTED CALDER TROPHY FINALISTS
NEW YORK (April 23, 2014) — Forwards Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche are the three finalists for the 2013-14 Calder Memorial Trophy, which is awarded “to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition,” the National Hockey League announced today. The Lightning is the first club to boast multiple Calder finalists since Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews finished first and third, respectively, in 2008.
Members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association submitted ballots for the Calder Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Tuesday, June 24, during the 2014 NHL Awards from Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas. The 2014 NHL Awards will be broadcast by NBCSN in the United States and CBC in Canada.
Following are the finalists for the Calder Trophy, in alphabetical order:
Tyler Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning
Johnson scored 24 goals to set a Lightning rookie record and tie MacKinnon for the lead among NHL rookies. He tied for the overall League lead in shorthanded goals (five) and tallied five power-play goals, becoming the second rookie in NHL history to record five of each in one season (Dennis Maruk, 1975-76). Johnson also led all rookies in total ice time (1,540:20) and face-offs (1,275). Signed as a free agent by Tampa Bay in March 2011, Johnson is the first undrafted Calder finalist since Chicago goaltender Ed Belfour took top honors in 1991.
Nathan MacKinnon, Colorado Avalanche
MacKinnon topped all first-year players in points (63), goals (24-tied), assists (39), power-play goals (8), game-winning goals (5-tied) and shots (241). The first overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft tallied at least one point in 13 consecutive games from Jan. 25 to March 6 (5-13—18), breaking Wayne Gretzky’s NHL record for the longest single-season point streak by a player age 18 or younger (12 games). MacKinnon is the fourth Avalanche player voted a Calder finalist in the past eight years, joining Paul Stastny (2nd in 2007), Matt Duchene (3rd in 2010) and Gabriel Landeskog (1st in 2012).
Ondrej Palat, Tampa Bay Lightning
Palat ranked second among rookie scorers with 23-36–59, three points shy of Brad Richards’ Lightning rookie record of 62 points in 2000-01. Palat was the League’s top rookie threat over the second half of the season, leading all first-year players in scoring after Jan. 1 (17-27–44 in 42 GP, including 14 multiple-point games) and earning NHL Rookie of the Month honors for January and March. He posted an eight-game point streak from Dec. 23-Jan. 9, the longest ever by a Lightning rookie, and led all first-year players in plus-minus (+32).
From 1936-37 until his death in 1943, NHL President Frank Calder purchased a trophy each year to be given permanently to the NHL’s outstanding rookie. After Calder’s death, the League presented the Calder Trophy in his memory.
Congratulations, guys!! Well deserved nomination for both.
You can do this.
All of you, Coach Jon Cooper included.
You can do this.
Focus only on the game ahead.
Take it one period at a time.
Play the hockey we know you can play.
Syracuse knows you all can do it because we’ve seen it happen. We remember it. We know this feeling. And we remember how it felt to see you all overcome every single challenge and play hockey.
Radko, Mark, Tyler, Ondrej, Richard, Alex, J.T., Andrej, Cedric, Kristers, Keith, and even Anders…you’ve all pulled on a Crunch jersey at some point in the past two seasons. You’ve all WON in Crunch jerseys at some point in the past two seasons. We’ve watched you all grow, we’ve watched you all develop, we’ve watched you all leave, we’ve watched you all excel.
We’ve watched you all do exactly what you were supposed to do.
The Lightning are NOT out of this. Our group, our Ex-Syracuse Cool Boys who gave this fan base so much hope and so much joy and so many amazing memories last year, are not out of this. The Lightning team as a whole, a team that I have watched all season fight and grow and change, is not out of this.
Hockey playoffs are made for this kind of drama.
Pick your heads up, boys.
One goes, you all go.
Play your game, <3.
For the first time in Syracuse Crunch history, one of our players has won the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, which means he has been selected as the 2013-14 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year.
And it is so incredibly well deserved.
Syracuse Crunch forward Eric Neilson selected as winner of the Yanick Dupre Memorial Award
Syracuse, NY – The American Hockey League announced today Syracuse Crunch forward Eric Neilson has been selected as the winner of the Yanick Dupr Memorial Award as the 2013-14 IOA/American Specialty AHL Man of the Year.
This award has been presented annually since 1998 to an AHL player for his outstanding contributions to his local community and charitable organizations. The Yanick Dupr Memorial Award winner is selected by the AHL and representatives from IOA and American Specialty from among 30 individual team Man of the Year honorees.
A six-time recipient of his team’s Yanick Dupr Award nomination (in five different AHL cities), Neilson has continued an impressive tradition of community service that has been a hallmark of his career. Since joining the Crunch organization in 2012, Neilson has gone above and beyond in his efforts to give back to the Syracuse community.
Neilson’s efforts this year were highlighted by his creation of the “Breakfast with a Champion” program, designing, developing and executing his initiative designed to teach elementary school students the importance of nutrition and healthy eating. Neilson was involved in every step of the program’s planning process, from pitching it to local schools to shopping for groceries to supplying students with tickets to Crunch games as rewards for their participation.
Neilson’s commitment to children was also seen in his work with as the primary speaker in the Crunch’s anti-bullying program, and as the team’s main spokesman for Upstate University Hospital including their “safe kids” public service initiative about concussion prevention. He dedicated time to issues such as men’s and women’s health causes also, generating awareness for breast cancer and heading up the team’s winning “Mustache Movember” team for prostate cancer research.
The AHL’s annual Man of the Year award is named after the late Yanick Dupr, who passed away in 1997 at the age of 24 following a 16-month battle with leukemia. A second-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1991, Dupr played four seasons in the AHL with the Hershey Bears and was an AHL All-Star in 1995.
In operation since 1936, the American Hockey League continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. Nearly 90 percent of all players competing in the NHL are AHL graduates, and through the years the American Hockey League has been home to more than 100 honored members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. The 2013-14 regular season ends on Saturday, and then 16 clubs will continue to vie for the league’s coveted championship trophy when the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs get underway next week.
Word on the street is that Tampa Bay and Eric are currently in contract negotiations. Eric said in the end of the season “Thank you, fans!” video that he wouldn’t want to play in front of any other fans. If you haven’t seen it yet, take a look:
In case you missed it, I really want Eric back next year, too.
This award is probably the most richly deserved in team history. Congratulations, Eric. Thank you, for all you do!
LIGHTNING RECALL FORWARD CEDRIC PAQUETTE FROM SYRACUSE
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forward Cedric Paquette from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today. Paquette will wear number 54.
Paquette, 20, has played in 70 games in his rookie season with the Crunch, posting 20 goals and 44 points to go along with 153 penalty minutes. He leads all Crunch skaters for goals and ranks tied for first on the team with two shorthanded tallies. Paquette ranks fourth in the AHL among rookies for penalty minutes. The 6-foot, 203-pound center has recorded four goals and three assist over his past six games with the Crunch.
The Gaspe, Quebec native skated in 126 career QMJHL games over two seasons with Blainville-Boisbriand, recording 58 goals and 131 points. He recorded career-highs for assists (56) and points (83) during the 2012-13 season.
Paquette was drafted by the Lightning in the fourth round, 101st overall, at the 2012 NHL Draft in Pittsburgh.
Black Aces/”Let’s see what talent we have” players are starting to gather in Tampa, Crunch fans, and that means our roster is going to start getting a little thin on recognizable faces. We’re fine, and only playing for pride, but it still kind of stings to lose these guys without saying goodbye for the off season.
Paquette has been one of the few pleasant surprises on the Crunch this season. His speed, development and poise has made him one of the top rookies to watch on the team. In his first professional season, he is fourth on the team in scoring with 44 points (20-24) and was one of three players on the roster to have played in all 70 of the Crunch’s games played up until this point. His game matured at the pace one believes Tampa expected from all of their rookies this season, and it says a lot about Paquette that he actually achieved that kind of maturity considering all of the roster turnover in Syracuse.
Paquette was ranked at 20 on Raw Charge’s Top 25 Under 25 list. Last season, Paquette played his way into the Calder Cup playoffs, making the roster of an already talent-loaded Syracuse team through his work during practice with the Black Aces. The coaching staff was impressed and Paquette saw ice time during the Eastern Conference finals. He played on the fourth line and contributed visible energy and physicality.
Paquette has continued his lack of fear about being physical, but he’s gotten smart about how and where to do it. His compete level is high, and he’s one of the few guys that Crunch fans could honestly say showed up every single game and made himself visible this season. He isn’t afraid to hang out in front of the net and definitely embraced the space created by Tampa’s ravaging of Syracuse’s roster this past season.
Syracuse Crunch sign Charles Lavigne to ATO
Syracuse, NY – The Syracuse Crunch have signed goalie Charles Lavigne to an amateur tryout contract, Crunch General Manager Julien BriseBois announced today.
Lavigne, 25, comes from the University of New Brunswick where he was 17-3-1, with four shutouts, in 22 games recording a .908 save percentage and 2.30 goals-against average. Lavigne also appeared in three postseason games this season earning a .921 save percentage and 1.72 goals-against average. Previously the Hawkesbury, Ontario native skated for St. Thomas University for three seasons with a 14-55-0 record, leading the AUS in saves each year. The 6-foot, 190-pound goalie also spent two years playing in the QMJHL for Quebec (2008-09) and Moncton (2007-08) with 34-11-2 and 6-15-5 records, respectively. Lavigne also spent the 2006-07 season with the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers going 6-3-0 with goals-against average of 2.62 and .917 save percentage in 12 games played.
Lavigne is expected to be available when the Crunch host the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday, April 11 at 7 p.m.
Be glad we got to say goodbye to Kristers this past weekend with two wins, kids, because he is gone for the season:
LIGHTNING RECALL KRISTERS GUDLEVSKIS FROM SYRACUSE
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis (güd-LEV-skeez) from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.
Gudlevskis, 21, has appeared in 34 games with the Crunch this season, posting a record of 18-11-4 to go along with a 2.68 goals-against average and .901 save percentage. He leads all Crunch goalies for games played and wins and ranks tied for second in the AHL for shutouts with five. Gudlevskis dressed for his first NHL game on February 8 against the Red Wings, but served as the back-up. He began the season with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL, posting a 7-4-0 record with a 1.83 goals-against average and .925 save percentage in 11 games.
A native of Aizkraukle, Latvia, Gudlevskis represented his country at the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. He played in two games for Latvia, posting a 3.54 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. Gudlevskis made 55 saves against Team Canada in a 2-1 loss in the quarterfinals at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Gudlevskis was drafted by the Lightning in the fifth round, 124th overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft.
No word yet on who his replacement will be, but the Post Standard is speculating the following:
Also, this would be neat:
Reminder: if Kristers plays in the NHL this season, he’ll be the first player ever to play in three professional leagues (ECHL, AHL, NHL) and the Olympics in one season. :D
Good luck to Kristers, and the same to Anders Lindback, who held up incredibly strong last night in relief of Ben Bishop, who left the ice injured in the first period.
Also, get well wishes to Ben! We’re thinking about you.