Keeping in mind that this was written before the call ups yesterday…
Johnathan Drouin didn’t come to Syracuse to save the Crunch from itself. He came to get his NHL pre-season in. And, really, playing in the AHL at the beginning of the season is kind of like an NHL pre-season. Teams are trying to gel, are trying to figure what works and what doesn’t. Everyone’s in the same boat, more or less. The talent’s a little raw, but there’s always potential.
Drouin came here to get himself conditioned to go play hockey in the NHL. That he helped the Crunch get into the “W” column for the first time this season is just an added bonus. It’s a pretty added bonus, especially from a Crunch fan’s perspective. But, in the grand scheme of things, that’s all it is. It’s a bonus.
Drouin is here to make sure he’s ready to jump onto Tampa’s roster as soon as he gets back. He absolutely helped the Crunch win this past weekend, and he’ll hopefully/probably help them do it again this weekend, when Syracuse faces its first three-in-three of the season. The Tampa organization is a big believer in winning to develop, so anything that can help their developmental team succeed is a positive.
But then he’ll go back up to Tampa. The Crunch will have to find a way to win without him. This is where conditioning stints can be dangerous if fan expectations rise too high.
The good news? Syracuse looked more like a team this past weekend than they did for the majority of last season.
Read more over at Raw Charge!
LIGHTNING RECALL FORWARD JONATHAN DROUIN, DEFENSEMAN LUKE WITKOWSKI
TAMPA BAY –The Tampa Bay Lightning have recalled forward Jonathan Drouin and defenseman Luke Witkowski from the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Drouin, who was assigned to Syracuse for conditioning on Thursday, October 16, played in two games with the Crunch this past weekend, recording a goal and two assists with a plus-4 rating. Drouin was assigned for conditioning after suffering a minor fracture on his right thumb, causing him to miss the Lightning’s training camp. Drouin, 5-foot-11, 178 pounds, was the third overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Witkowski, 6-foot-2, 213 pounds, has played in all four games this season for Syracuse, recording an assist and 15 penalty minutes. In his first professional season in 2013-14, Witkowski appeared in 76 games with Syracuse, notching two goals and 12 points with 204 penalty minutes. He lead all Crunch skaters for penalty minutes. Witkowski skated in four preseason games with Tampa Bay this season, recording an assist and 11 penalty minutes.
My mind is a jumble of thoughts right now, some stemming from my very recent Raw Charge entry on conditioning stints and how dangerous it can be to rely on them too heavily to turn an AHL team around, so forgive me if this is a little scattered.
Although the Lightning had promised as recently as this morning that they weren’t making a D-call up and that they were going to leave Drouin in Syracuse for the originally scheduled amount of time, I guess they lied. We can’t blame them, really.
The Lightning is on a road swing right now. Drouin clearly proved he was ready this past weekend, and for whatever reason–maybe there’s a forward up there who is a little banged up–they obviously felt it was time to hurry the process of Drouin’s return. Witkowski has been called up because the Lightning lost defenseman Victor Hedman during their game last night in Vancouver, and were already a little thin with Radko Gudas out with a lower body injury that’s been nagging him since pre-season.
Apparently they felt they needed some extra insurance in both areas. What’s confusing with the defenseman recall is that just this morning Lightning head coach Jon Cooper told the media that he was “comfortable” with their depth on the blue line and didn’t anticipate a call up. By the way, off topic rant here, but part of that depth is Mark Barberio, who has yet to see a regular season game so far this season. Why Cooper isn’t playing Barberio more–hell, at all–astounds me. Barberio has clearly improved his game, with or without Cooper’s help, and to not give playing time to a deserving guy who has worked his ass off to improve is definitely head-scratchingly confusing. But, who knows, maybe Witkowski is just there for insurance and Barberio will see the playing time he deserves. I do hope Witkowski sees some time, just because he deserves it, too.
The Crunch doesn’t play again until Friday, so it’s likely that Witkowski might be back before we can even miss him. Either way, good luck, CatDog. Also, many thanks to Drouin for the memories. It was a fun weekend.
So, this is about, what, 16 hours late?
It isn’t late because of a lack of excitement about this, I promise you. This is pretty big for the Crunch and its fanbase. We usually don’t have this kind of right-to-the-NHL-skipping-the-AHL talent sweep through town. But, hey, Breaking Benjamin is back on tour, and yesterday that concert took precedent over nearly everything.
(It was glorious, by the way. Nearly two full hours of the new Breaking Benjamin. They did all of their singles, including “Rain,” and also did a ton of songs off of all three of their albums. I’m exhausted, I got to bed at 2 AM, but it’s been four years since I’ve seen them live, and that certainly made up for it!)
Anyway, ICYMI, Johnathan Drouin has been sent to the Syracuse Crunch for a conditioning assignment and is expected to play in both home games at the Onondaga County War Memorial this weekend. Tonight’s game is against the Springfield Falcons while tomorrow’s is against the Binghamton Senators. I have all of the links for you to be able to get caught up on this story:
Including this past Saturday’s game, the Syracuse Crunch has lost their home opener four times since the 2005-2006 AHL season. It isn’t usual for any Crunch team, regardless of NHL affiliation, to come out flat in front of the home crowd at the start of the regular AHL season. However, that’s pretty much what happened this past weekend as Syracuse faced off against two new divisional rivals and mostly looked unprepared, scattered, and lacking energy. Thankfully, there was some bright spots in the team’s performance from the weekend as a whole, but almost all of them came against the Hartford Wolfpack Sunday night.
First, though, came Saturday night. The Crunch faced the Springfield Falcons and just did not look very good. The members of the team seemed visibly disconnected from each other. No where was this more evident than when Kristers Gudlevskis was supposed to head to the bench for an extra attacker, but yet seemed to be unaware he was heading there. The guys in Crunch uniforms had to practically bring the house down with noise from their sticks on the boards to get him to notice what he needed to do. Also of concern was that the Crunch handed the Falcons seven power play chances, which exhausted their penalty killers and never really gave Syracuse a chance to build momentum. The Crunch racked up 58 penalty minutes, as opposed to Springfield’s 34.
Adding to the oddness of Saturday night was some strange roster choices made by head coach Rob Zettler. He chose to healthy scratch rising defensive star Slater Koekkoek prior to the game. He also healthy scratched center Cody Kunyk, who logged NHL time with the Tampa Bay Lightning last season. Both of them played Sunday night. However, on another odd roster note, energy spark and locker room leader Eric Neilson has yet to play a regular season game in a Crunch jersey.
Syracuse Crunch announce 2014-15
Upstate University Hospital Opening Night roster
Syracuse, N.Y. – The Syracuse Crunch’s roster has been set for Upstate University Hospital Opening Night. The team’s first game of the season is 7 p.m. Saturday at the War Memorial Arena against the Springfield Falcons. The 2014-15 Crunch include 14 forwards, eight defenseman and two goaltenders.
The complete 2014-15 opening night roster includes the following:
Forwards: Mike Angelidis, Jerome Samson, Jeff Costello, Cedric Paquette, Jonathan Marchessault, Cody Kunyk, Mike Blunden, Eric Neilson, Dalton Smith, Yanni Gourde, Henri Ikonen, Philippe Paradis, Tanner Richard and Joel Vermin
Defensemen: Joey Mormina, Jake Dotchin, Dylan Blujus, Matt Corrente, J.P. Cote, Slater Koekkoek, Luke Witkowski and Nikita Nesterov
Goalies: Kristers Gudlevskis and Andrei Vasilevskiy
No surprises, obviously, but it’s exciting that we’re so close. See you all tomorrow night!
(In case anyone needs the reminder – I’m Lex)
Crunch Club to open at War Memorial Arena
Syracuse, N.Y. – The Syracuse Crunch’s Upstate University Home Opener will be highlighed by the grand opening of the Crunch Club, an exclusive lounge for Crunch full season ticket holders.
The Crunch Club, located in Aseembly Hall on the third floor of the War Memorial, will open exclusivley for full season ticket holders at 5:45 prior to every Crunch home game. Crunch Club amentities include a cash bar and the ability to enter the arena prior to single game ticket holders. Access to the Crunch Club will be granted to full season ticket holders displayng their Crunch ID cards or season ticket.
On Saturday, Oct. 11, when the Crunch host the Springfield Falcons, full season ticket holders are encouraged to access the Crunch Club through a VIP Blue Carpet at the State Street entrance of the War Memorial Arena.
Additionally, the first 2,500 fans to enter the War Memorial Arena on Saturday will recieve a blue rally towel courtesy of Upstate University Hospital.
This. Is. Awesome.
Thanks, Crunch. Seriously. This is really exciting for all full STH. I can’t wait to try it out tomorrow night.
If you follow me on Twitter, you know why I didn’t get this up last night. Yes, I am still angry, but I am confident it will be resolved in the way it should be.
So, the Crunch trimmed their roster yesterday, and the cuts made really aren’t too surprising. Here’s the official release:
Syracuse Crunch trim training camp roster by three
Syracuse, N.Y. -The Syracuse Crunch trimmed their training camp roster by three today, assigning defensemen Dan Milan and Artem Sergeev to the Florida Everblades of the ECHL and center Cameron Darcy to Cape Breton of the QMJHL, Crunch general manager Julien BriseBois announced today.
Milan, 22, spent the 2013-14 season with the CHL’s Brampton Beast, Syracuse Crunch and Florida Everblades. Milan totaled 10 points (8g, 2a) and 108 penalty minutes in 50 games with the Beast. The 6-foot-2, 209-pound blueliner made his AHL debut with the Crunch on March 7 in a 4-1 loss to the Rochester Americans. The Detroit native has also played 46 career ECHL games with the Everblades registering eight points, he was scoreless in three games during 2013-14.
Sergeev, 21, appeared in 68 games for the Crunch in 2013-14, collecting 10 points (3g, 7a) and 50 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-2, 203-pound Moscow, Russia native made his pro debut in Syracuse’s final game of the 2012-13 regular season following his junior career where he totaled 86 points (18g, 68a) in 165 games over three seasons with the QMJHL’s Val’d’Or Foreurs.
Darcy, 20, returns to Cape Breton after amassing 82 points (35g, 47a) in 65 games with the Screaming Eagles during the 2013-14 season. The center was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the seventh round, 185th overall, of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.
Milan, certainly well-liked on Twitter, just hasn’t been able to crack our line up consistently yet. He had the chance last year, with so many things going wrong all over the place in terms of injures and call ups, but was just rather unforgettable. Sergeev was, if we’re being honest, in over his head last year in the AHL. His plus/minus was atrocious and he just couldn’t seem to find any solid footing in this league. With newbees Jake Dotchin, Slater Koekkoek and Dylan Blujus, and veteran Matt Corrente now on roster, someone had to get the squeeze.
Of note is that Nikita Nesterov is still on the Crunch’s roster. Nesterov is also a defenseman, and he was just about as underwhelming as Sergeev last year. The Crunch is at 8 defensemen right now (Cote, Mormina, Witkowski), but I doubt they will continue to carry 8 D. My guess is that the coaches are looking to see which if the kids-Dotchin, Koekkoek, Blujus, Nesterov-will stick.
Having not been able to see the team play in France, I don’t have much to say about Darcy, other than the fact that our forward crop is pretty deep right now, so I’m not surprised he got cut.
Finally, a bit of news that will come into clear focus at noon today: The Lightning put forward Richard Panik on waivers yesterday. If he clears, he will be assigned to the Crunch. Panik had an up and down season in 2013-2014 after making a splash during the memorable 2012-2013 season. During the Crunch’s run to the Calder Cup finals, Panik had 41 points in 51 games. In 16 AHL playoff games, he notched 14 points. He impressed enough to make the Lightning roster right out of training camp, but then struggled with consistency (we have a theme here) and was eventually demoted to Syracuse in January. He played 13 games total with the Crunch, scoring three goals and notching 8 assists.
There’s two big questions with Panik. First, will he clear waivers? We’ll know at noon.
Second, will he be able to get over the disappointment of being back in the AHL while watching similar young forward Vladislav Namestnikov basically take his place? It looks as though the Lightning have enough confidence in Vladdy to shift player positions a bit to accommodate another center, which is amazing news for him. We’re really proud of how far Vladdy has come, and we can’t wait to watch him make waves up in the NHL.
Addition/edit, 10/10/14: Panik was claimed off of waivers by Toronto yesterday. We wish him well.
However, maybe we’re speaking too soon on that last part. There’s one more roster question here to be considered: the injured Jonathan Drouin. Drouin will not play in tonight’s home opener for the Lightning. When he returns, another move may have to be made that could benefit Syracuse. There’s also still the possible AHL conditioning stint in play (I think, anyway, I tend to lose news when at work and then it takes me a bit to get caught up). Either way, it’ll be fun to see how this plays out.
Good luck to the Bolts tonight in their home opener. Enjoy it, Lightning fans.
Crunch fans, don’t forget the Welcoming event tonight at Turning Stone. I’ll be there, not that many of you know who I am. But, anyway, drive safe and go have some fun. Lots of new faces to see!