From my writing over at Raw Charge:
Walcott was obtained by Tampa in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick in the 2015 NHL draft. Walcott has played one game at the AHL level with the Hartford Wolf Pack. He finished the game -1 with no points or penalties. Walcott scored 7 goals and had 34 assists and was +20 with 40 penalty minutes in 54 QMJHL regular season games.
Hockey’s Future credits Walcott with a “mature game:”
Walcott was a rare 19-year-old rookie in the QMJHL when he stepped in to fill a big role in his first year of junior hockey. Despite his inexperience, he played a mature game with poise befitting his lack of experience at a high level. Contributing at both ends of the ice with a physical edge to his game, Walcott’s puck-moving skills are top notch.
I got to see some of that game personally when I attended the Boot Camp charity hockey tournament this past August in Quebec. I found that Walcott more than held his own against more seasoned professional players, some of whom had NHL experience. He blended well with his teammates and was visible for the right reasons.
A stacked house of players will be participating in Tampa Bay Lightning training camp in Brandon starting this week at the Ice Spots Forum in Brandon. You’re aware of the usual suspects who are already likely locks to suit up for the team playing home games at 401 Channelside Drive. Some others are destined for the Syracuse Crunch organization, while others are locks for a return to juniors.
Some, like Ray Emery and Charlie Dodero are pushing for roster spots; Emery is on a pro tryout with the Lightning (and the injury to Kristers Gudlevskis today puts more pressure on the club for Emery to prove able) while Dodero is on an AHL contract with Syracuse but could find himself demoted to the ECHL.
Read more and see the full roster over at Raw Charge!
Over at Raw Charge, I cover the signing of defenseman Charlie Dodero:
Dodero filled in on the blue line for the Crunch last season when Syracuse was in desperate need of reinforcements, and was able to prove that he was deserving of an AHL contract. If Dodero doesn’t make the team out of training camp, then he will be loaned to an ECHL team until he’s needed (which one that will be is still to be determined). As John pointed out in his own article, even with assuming that Nikita Nesterov and Luke Witkowski make the Lightning, Dodero will still face pretty stiff camp competition in Syracuse from the likes of Anthony DeAngelo, Daniel Walcott (assuming he’s signed at some point), Slater Koekkoek, Dylan Blujus, Matt Taormina, Joey Mormina, and Jake Dotchin.
But, even if he doesn’t make the team out of camp, Dodero is a fantastic insurance player who has already proved that he can chip in when needed in big ways. It’ll only be a matter of time before he lands in Syracuse again if he doesn’t stick immediately in October, and the Crunch will be better for having him waiting in the wings. He knows a lot of the guys in Syracuse already, is very familiar with the coaching staff and Tampa’s systems, and has proven that he can play at this level. This is a solid depth move for the Crunch to shore up their blue line.
A highlight from Raw Charge, where I break down some talking points dealing with the Crunch’s 2015-16 game schedule:
Syracuse is now in a division with Rochester, Utica, Binghamton, Albany, Toronto, and St. John’s, which partly explains why their opponents are spread out the way they are over the upcoming season.
As expected with this kind of divisional change, rivalries now highlight the Crunch’s schedule. Rochester and Syracuse have always been rivals, but many felt that a bite had been taken out of their rivalry with the separation of the teams into different conferences. The new North Division rectifies that, and also unites the Utica Comets with the Crunch. The Comets were another team Syracuse had a geographic rivalry with, but due to their placement in separate conferences, their rivalry never mattered much in the standings. Now, every game will have increased meaning.
Read more over at Raw Charge!
NHL forward Zenon Konopka, now a free agent, was cleared to play this past January after a heart-wrenching suspension that lasted through half of the NHL’s 2014-2015 season. As “Z” looks down the barrel at the end of his career, @Allovimo wonders about a promise he made, while @GeoFitz4 ponders possible roster projections for 2015-16 if that promise is kept. Read more over at Raw Charge!
As of 7/21/2015, this is what we know:
-Forward Tye McGinn has been signed to a one-year, two-way contract by the Tampa Bay Lightning:
-RFA winger Carter Ashton has made the decision to play in Europe next season. Ashton, who was traded to the Crunch last season along with David Broll from Toronto, never really got going at the pace many expected from him and didn’t seem comfortable with his place in the depth chart. In 29 games with Syracuse, Ashton totaled 19 points. He was scoreless in all three of the Crunch’s playoff appearances.
-Forward Vladislav Namestnikov and defenseman Luke Witkowski have been re-signed to one-year, two-way deals. Read more over at Raw Charge!
-As expected, RFA Philippe Paradis has been signed to a one-year, two-way contract by the Tampa Bay Lightning. Here’s the official release from the team. Paradis suffered a season-ending knee injury mid-way through last season, limiting how much time he played for Syracuse. However, he was looking pretty good prior to the injury, posting eight goals and 15 points to go along with 49 penalty minutes in 34 games. Getting himself back up to that pace will be crucial, both for the Crunch and Paradis himself. Syracuse was severely lacking in secondary scoring last season.
–Bolt Prospects posted their latest rough roster look:
–The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed veteran forward Jeff Tambellini to a one-year, two-way contract. Tambellini is 31 years old, and hasn’t played in the NHL since 2011, so he’s projected as a depth signing for Syracuse. Tambellini pretty much owned the AHL in the middle 2000’s. In 2005-06, he played in 56 games for the Manchester Monarchs, potting 25 goals and totaling 56 points. He played in 50 games for Bridgeport in 2006-07, netting 59 points. His best season in the AHL was 2007-08, again with Bridgeport. Tambellini scored a total of 76 points in 57 games (38 goals and 38 assists). If Tambellini can get back to those high-flying days, this signing will be huge for Syracuse. Here’s more over at Raw Charge.
–Jeremy Houghtaling has projected the Crunch lineup so far:
–The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed free agent defenseman Matt Taormina to a one-year, two-way contract. Here’s my article over at Raw Charge. Taormina is a very familiar face to Crunch fans, and is a welcome addition back into the fold. Taormina was ranked in the top 50 in a list of the best AHL free agents out there this off season, mostly due to his work on the power play with Worcester. During the 2012-2013 season, Taomina was a large part of the leadership core that guided the Crunch to the Calder Cup final. With JP Cote not returning to the organization, Taomina is a great pick up by the Lightning. He’s a player who already knows the system and has played under both Crunch head coach Rob Zettler and Lightning head coach Jon Cooper (when Cooper was coaching in Syracuse). He’ll be an easy lock for leader in the dressing room and on the ice.
–Forward Eric Neilson will not be returning to the Crunch in the fall. Brent Axe sums up why this sucks so much, even though it was probably the right business choice for the organization. Neilson was one of the most personable, gracious, and authentic people I’ve ever seen put on a Crunch sweater, and he did so much to further the brand and the mission of the team. He will be sincerely missed. I wish him all the best and all the luck in finding a new home.
–Bolt Prospects has projected both the Lightning roster and the Crunch roster so far (before the Taormina addition):
–Looking for everything that happened before free agency opened up? See our off season tracker.