The AHL has long been a testing ground for rules the NHL wants to see put into practice, and it looks like this upcoming season will bring changes for all of the clubs in the league in several areas. Here’s the release that talks about them:
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League’s Board of Governors has concluded its 2014 Annual Meeting, held this week at Hilton Head Island, S.C.
Chaired by AHL President and CEO David Andrews, the four days of meetings, which concluded Thursday, saw the approval of the following rules changes to be implemented beginning in 2014-15:
Rule 85 (“Overtime”)
- During the regular season, the sudden-death overtime period will be seven minutes (7:00) in length, preceded by a “dry scrape” of the entire ice surface.
- Teams will change ends at the start of overtime.
- Full playing strength will be 4-on-4 until the first whistle following three minutes of play (4:00 remaining), at which time full strength will be reduced to 3-on-3 for the duration of the overtime period.
- If the game is still tied following overtime, a winner will be determined by a three-player shootout.
Rule 20.4 (“Major Penalties”)
- An automatic game misconduct will be applied to any player who has been assessed two major penalties for fighting or three major penalties for any infraction in the same game.
Rule 9.6 (“Helmets”)
- A player on the ice whose helmet comes off during play will be assessed a minor penalty unless he immediately (a) exits the playing surface or (b) puts the helmet back on with the chin strap properly fastened.
“With the full support of the league’s Competition Committee and Player Development Committee, the Board has approved these changes with the betterment of our game and the safety of our players in mind,” said Andrews.
I ramble about all of this after the cut.
And be warned, when I say ramble, I mean ramble.
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After last season’s struggles, Crunch fans were hoping that the farm club wouldn’t be put in another position where call ups and untested player performance would decimate the season. Yes, call ups will happen, and, no, injuries can’t be helped, but an AHL fan always hopes that the pieces of a team have been put together well enough that it can withstand such events without a significant drop in team performance.
Well, it seems like special attention is being paid to that aspect, and attention is being paid well. The news was dropped today that the Lightning have signed AHL forward Jerome Samson. Here’s the release:
LIGHTNING SIGN FORWARD JEROME SAMSON
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed forward Jerome Samson to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Samson, 26, skated in 68 games with the St. John’s IceCaps of the American Hockey League last season, recording 27 goals and 56 points to go along with 49 penalty minutes. He ranked first on the IceCaps and 12th in the AHL for power-play tallies with 11. The Greenfield Park, Quebec native ranked second on St. John’s for goals and was third for points. He also appeared in 17 AHL postseason games last season, posting three goals and six points, helping the IceCaps reach the Calder Cup Finals.
The 6-foot, 195-pound forward has skated in 46 career NHL games, all with the Carolina Hurricanes over parts of three seasons, notching two goals and nine points. Samson recorded an assist in his NHL debut on January 7, 2010 against the Nashville Predators. He registered his first career NHL goals during the 2011-12 season while playing for the Hurricanes.
The undrafted forward has skated in 424 career AHL games with the IceCaps, Charlotte Checkers and Albany River Rats, posting 160 goals and 336 points to go along with 306 penalty minutes. Samson was named to the AHL First All-Star Team following the 2009-10 season after he posted 37 goals and 78 points while playing for Albany.
Samson was ranked at number 10 on the Penguins Insider’s AHL Big Board. According to their rankings, Samson is “a perennial 20-goal scorer who isn’t afraid to battle on the boards.” Samson will be everything the Crunch should need him to be: he can score, he isn’t afraid to get physical, and at 424 career AHL games, he’ll be another voice of leadership and guidance in the Crunch’s fairly young dressing room. He can also be some depth insurance for Tampa Bay, just in case.
This looks like the off season jewel of a signing for the Crunch this summer. With young forwards abounding on Syracuse’s roster, having a player with that much leadership and potential ability on the ice and in the dressing room can’t be overstated. Samson sounds like he has a little bit of everything in him. This is a strong signing for Syracuse, and a great depth signing for the Lightning.
Here’s some of the Twitter buzz on the signing:
Since the affiliation switch, the Crunch has gone 50/50 in the AHL’s East Division: in 2012-2013, Syracuse ruled it and won the division championship. In 2013-2014, Syracuse blew it and landed dead last at the end of the season. So, it’s difficult to predict how a made-over Crunch squad would have done this season. Now, with the AHL re-alignment for 2014-2015 set, it’s also pretty futile, too.
The Crunch has itself a new division and with it a host of new divisional opponents to worry about. The Crunch has been in the AHL’s East Division now since 2011-2012. Their opponents were the Hershey Bears, the WBS Penguins, the Binghamton Senators, and the Norfolk Admirals. For the 2014-2015 season, and the foreseeable future, the Crunch will be in the Northeast Division along with the Springfield Falcons, the Albany Devils, the Hartford Wolfpack, and the Bridgeport Soundtigers.
The Allentown Phantoms, previously located in Glens Falls, will be taking the Crunch’s slot in their old East Division. Other changes include:
• Calgary’s affiliate relocating from Abbotsford, B.C., to Glens Falls, N.Y., and playing in the North Division
• Lake Erie moving from the North Division to the Midwest Division
• Iowa moving from the Midwest Division to the West Division
According to the release that the Crunch put out, Syracuse was 3-5-1-1 vs. the Northeast during the 2013-14 season. They were 2-3-0-1 vs. Albany, 1-1-0-0 vs. Bridgeport, and 0-1-1-0 vs. Springfield. AHL teams change a lot during the off season, of course, so although it’s good info to have, treat those numbers as if they’re worth a grain of salt.
Now, yes, this does mean that the Crunch’s travel will probably increase in some ways, but we also know that it will stay the same in others. Syracuse played Albany 6 times last season. That will probably go up to 8 or 10, but Albany is just a few hours down the road. The Crunch saw Springfield twice. That will probably go up, obviously, and I would expect their play vs. Bridgeport to increase, too, at least by a couple of games. Springfield is three and a half hours away; Bridgeport is four and a half. Syracuse didn’t play Hartford; Hartford is four hours away from Syracuse.
However, on the other side of things, the Crunch played Norfolk 8 times last season, and were visitors for four of those games. That will probably either go down, or it may be eliminated all together. Norfolk and Syracuse have a rivalry thing going, yadda yadda, but Norfolk is no longer a division rival. It doesn’t make sense to do all of that traveling just for a rivalry. Also, Syracuse will continue to play closer teams like Rochester, Binghamton (also a rivalry team), WBS, Hershey, Glens Falls, and Allentown several times, regardless of divisional status and only because of geographical closeness.
Also, there’s this:
So, yeah. Just keep in mind that travel in the AHL is looked at much differently than in the NHL when it comes to playing divisional and/or conference teams.
Here’s the other part of the AHL release that came out today. It talks about the 2015 playoff format:
The format for the 2015 Calder Cup Playoffs has also been approved by the Board of Governors and remains the same as 2014: Eight teams in each conference will qualify for the postseason, with the three division winners earning the top three seeds and the next five best teams in order of regular-season points seeded fourth through eighth. The conference quarterfinals will be best-of-five series; the conference semifinals, conference finals and Calder Cup Finals will be best-of-seven series. Teams will be re-ordered after the first round so that the highest-remaining seed plays the lowest-remaining seed.
The Syracuse Crunch have signed goalie Allen York to a two-way AHL contract. York will presumably be the organization’s 5th goalie, a hole that desperately needed to be filled. York will probably land with one of the Crunch’s affiliates, either in the CHL with the Brampton Beast or, in the more likely scenario, in the ECHL with the Florida Everblades.
Here is the official release from the Crunch:
Crunch sign Allen York to AHL contract
Syracuse, N.Y. – The Syracuse Crunch have signed goaltender Allen York to a two-way AHL contract, Crunch general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.
York, 25, spent the 2013-14 season with four AHL clubs (Charlotte, Texas, Rockford and Syracuse) and two ECHL teams (Evansville and South Carolina). The 6-foot-3, 194-pound goaltender from Wetaskiwin, Alberta, started in four games for the Crunch and posted a 1-2-1 record including a 39-save shutout of Hershey Feb. 22, 2014.
York has appeared in 40 career AHL games for Springfield, Charlotte, Texas, Rockford and Syracuse compiling a 21-12-3 record, 2.57 goals-against average and .907 save percentage. He has also played 36 ECHL games with Chicago, Evansville and South Carolina amassing a record of 18-12-4 with a 2.97 goals-against average and .902 save percentage.
York was drafted by the Columbus in the sixth round, 158th overall, at the 2007 NHL Draft. He reached the NHL during the 2011-12 season and went 3-2-0 in 11 games for Columbus Blue Jackets.
Going on the assumption that Ben Bishop and Evgeni Nabokov will be holding down the fort in Tampa Bay while Kristers Gudlevskis and Andrei Vasilevski do their tour of duty in the AHL, one can see that the only spot left in the organization for a netminder was for a 5th goalie. Tampa Bay does have two other goalie prospects in Clay Witt and Adam Wilcox, but both returning to school this fall.
As long as Tampa’s recent development camp hasn’t changed anything drastically from that plan, York should be slated in as a depth signing who will get minutes with a Syracuse affiliate until needed by the Crunch. York has a rather small sample size in the AHL, but was capable as a stop-gap last season when the Crunch needed him. Should Vasilevski do as well or better than anticipated and get called up before the end of the AHL season, York could then be called on to be the back up behind Gudlevskis in Syracuse.
You can check out all of the goals by clicking on this link. Vladdy’s highlight goal comes at the 2:10 mark. There’s also a Crunch goal .38 seconds in, but the clip is barely viewable…and it comes after a terrible goals against by the Utica Comets. So, do yourself a favor and just enjoy the Vladdy-from-Nikita Kucherov highlight goal by itself.
I don’t know much about Cody Kunyk, to be honest, so I’ll let others speak for me. First, here’s the release from the Lightning:
Lightning re-sign forward Cody Kunyk to a one-year contract
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Cody Kunyk to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Kunyk, 24, made his NHL debut with the Lightning on April 13 at Washington, logging 10:12 in ice time. He was signed by Tampa Bay as an undrafted free agent on March 20, 2014.
The Sherwood Park, Alberta native skated in 37 games for the University of Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks this season, posting 22 goals and 43 points to go along with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-13 rating. The 5-foot-11, 197-pound forward led the Nanooks for goals, points, power-play goals (six) and shorthanded goals (two). Kunyk was named the WCHA’s Player of the Year and to the First Team All-WCHA team. He also led the WCHA for scoring during the 2013-14 season.
Kunyk skated in 148 games over four seasons at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, amassing 60 goals and 133 points. He set career highs his senior year for goals, assists (21) and points. Kunyk became the 30th Nanook in program history to join the 100-point club with a goal on November 22, 2013.
Raw Charge originally wrote about Kunyk back in March, when he was signed to his original entry-level contract. Assistant editor and writer Kyle Alexander had this to say about him then:
Kunyk plays center, but as we’ve seen before with Alex Killorn, it’s very easy to move a college center to the wing. He’s played in all situations for Alaska-Fairbanks, so he’s a versatile forward that will bolster organizational forward depth. I’d expect the team to let Tom Pyatt walk this offseason after failing to trade him, and Kunyk appears to fill that role quite nicely moving forward for either Syracuse or Tampa Bay.
Today, Alexander updated Kunyk’s story with the following:
He’ll likely slot in somewhere on the Syracuse Crunch’s center depth chart as he gets his first taste of the long grind of a professional hockey season. The NCAA is great for slow burn, long-term development but there can be a bit of an adjustment period for young players going from playing fewer than 40 games a year to playing almost double that number, including more back-to-back situations.
The two-way contract would also seem to indicate a healthy number of games in the AHL is the plan for Kunyk moving forward, who may eventually become an in-house Tom Pyatt replacement with a little bit more skill and scoring ability.
Crunch fans, you can follow Kunyk on Twitter!