Raw Charge‘s Top 25 Under 25 is off to a roaring start, and I figured I’d start collecting links here for those Syracuse Crunch fans who think they’ve missed out:
#11 Slater Koekkoek | #12 Nikita Nesterov | #13 Brayden Point | #14 Andrej Sustr | #15 Jonathan Marchessault | #16 Matt Peca | #17 Kristers Gudlevskis | #18 Nikita Gusev | #19 Dominik Masin | #20 Adam Wilcox | #21 Dylan Blujus | #22 Yanni Gourde | #23 Dennis Yan | #24 Joel Vermin | #25 Tanner Richard | Near Misses
This is going to be stuck to the top of the blog for the duration of the countdown. Enjoy, many of our writers have put so much work into this!
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.
One of the major players Crunch fans wanted to see locked up before July 1st has been re-signed by the organization, just before he was set to become an unrestricted free agent.
Welcome back, Captain.
LIGHTNING RE-SIGN FORWARD MIKE ANGELIDIS TO ONE-YEAR CONTRACT
TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed forward Mike Angelidis to a one-year, two-way contract today, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced.
Angelidis, 30, skated in three games with Tampa Bay last season, recording 12 penalty minutes. He also played in 64 games for the Syracuse Crunch in 2014-15, recording 20 goals and 38 points while serving as the team’s captain. Angelidis ranked third on the Crunch for both goals and points, while leading the team with 138 penalty minutes. He has been captain of the Crunch since the beginning of the 2012-13 season.
The Woodbridge, Ontario native has skated in 10 career NHL games, all with the Lightning, posting one goal and 17 penalty minutes. Angelidis scored his first career NHL goal in his debut on January 24, 2012 against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Amalie Arena.
The Woodbridge, Ontario native has played in 579 career AHL games with the Norfolk Admirals, Albany River Rats and the Crunch, collecting 119 goals and 245 points, to go along with 1,217 penalty minutes. In 2012 he was a member of the Admirals team that captured the Calder Cup Championship as the Lightning’s top affiliate, skating in 18 games and recording a goal and six points. Angelidis has played in 61 total Calder Cup Playoff games, notching five goals and 21 points.
My stance on this particular signing has been stuck to the top of my blog now for nearly two months. I desperately wanted Mike back. I truly felt–and still feel, 100%–that there is no other player out there who can come in and Captain this team any better than he can. I am so, so excited to see that Mike will be back for his fourth season in a Crunch uniform. I welcome him back with open arms.
And I am not the only one:
As of 6/30/15, this is what we know:
–Captain Mike Angelidis is back. I repeat, Captain Mike Angelidis is back!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
-Defenseman Joey Mormina will return to the Syracuse Crunch for his third season on a one-year AHL-only contract. Mormina had 19 points last year for Syracuse, and finished the season at a +1. Mormina should help fill the shoes of the departing Cote, who probably wanted a two-way contract. Tampa obviously wasn’t willing to pay what Cote wanted, but Mormina, who has been on AHL contracts for a while now, was clearly happy to take what they offered for a chance to stay with the organization. Our D core is looking awfully young, and Mormina’s AHL experience and leadership will go a ways to help that.
-Forwards Carter Ashton and Philippe Paradis have been issued qualifying offers. Ashton skated in 29 contests with the Crunch and totaled 14 points. Paradis suffered a season-ending injury and only skated in 34 contests with Syracuse, netting 15 points and 49 PIM.
-Cody Kunyk, Dan Milan, and Danick Gauthier were not issued qualifying offers by the Lightning and will become unrestricted free agents. Kunyk had a difficult time penetrating Syracuse’s depth chart this past season, even when it was so thin it was practically transparent. Milan and Gauthier spent the majority of their contracts with lower-league teams, only making the trek to Syracuse when called on.
-Forward Mike Blunden has been re-signed by the Tampa organization. Click that link for my story over on RC. Despite his md-season injury, Blunden still managed to end the year ranked 10th in overall scoring on the Crunch with 22 points. The loss of his presence was palpable in the Crunch’s confidence level and on the score sheet. This will be Blunden’s fourth season with the Crunch overall. He also spent part of two seasons playing for Syracuse during their Columbus Blue Jacket affiliation in addition to last season under the Tampa affiliation.
–Forward Vladislav Namestnikov has received a qualifying offer from the Lightning. I wouldn’t expect him back in Syracuse (which we already kind of knew anyway):
–Defenseman Luke Witkowski has received a qualifying offer from the Lightning. No word yet on whether he’s signed or not. Once he does, my assumption is that his waiver eligibility may have a large part in determining where he’ll be come fall, which is certainly difficult for a fan like me. I want him to have his NHL dream, but selfishly (I’ll admit it) I want him to be a part of my team, too. Anyway, it’s a relief to see he has his offer. Luke played 50 games for the Crunch this past season, ending with a +6, 8 points, and 91 PIM. He also played in 16 games for the Lightning, earning 15 PIM. hE was part of the Black Aces, a group of guys who were with the Lightning all the way until the bitter end. Mike Angelidis (no news on him yet…) and Jonathan Marchessault were also part of that group.
–The Lightning have re-signed forward Jonathan Marchessault to a one-year, two-way contract for the 2015-16 season. Marchessault played in two Stanley Cup Playoff games with the Lightning this past postseason. He also appeared in two games with the Bolts during the 2014-15 regular season, recording one goal on April 11, 2015. The goal was his first NHL goal. He played in 68 AHL games with the Syracuse Crunch this past season, ranking sixth in the league for assists with 43. My guess is that Marchessault will be on the Crunch’s top line and be first in line for any forward call up the Lightning will need. However, he’s also waiver-eligible this season, so that could make his transition back to Syracuse iffy. I really don’t think the Lightning will have room for him, but he might be valuable to another NHL team that does:
–Forward Brian Hart has been signed to a standard entry-level contract. It’s a three-year, two-way NHL contract. I assume Hart’s meant to make the jump to the Crunch this upcoming season. Bolt Prospects has a good analysis of his signing over at their site. From the Lightning’s release:
Hart, 21, skated in 37 games with the Harvard Crimson during the 2014-15 season, recording seven goals and 17 points. The Cumberland, Maine native ranked sixth on the Crimson for goals and tied for seventh for points. Hart has skated in 98 career games with Harvard over three seasons, recording 18 goals and 50 points.
–Crunch defenseman JP Cote will not be back with the organization next season. His two year contract is up, and the Lightning have chosen not to extend another offer to him. He’s been within the Lightning organization for the better part of four seasons. He was part of the Calder Cup winning team in Norfolk, and then spent the next three of those seasons in Syracuse (except for a month-long call up to the Lightning he rightly deserved in the middle of the 2013-14 season). He’s going to be sorely missed for sure, as both a leader and as a force on the ice, especially on the PK. His shoes are going to be mighty big for someone to fill.
–Crunch RFA Dalton Smith will not be qualified by the Lightning, so he will not be back next season. Smith played with the Crunch for all of this past season and 19 games of the 2013-14 season. He was part of a deadline trade to the Tampa organization in March 2014. Columbus/Springfield received Dana Tyrell and Matt Taormina in exchange for Smith and Jonathan Marchessault. In his time with Syracuse, Smith notched 13 goals, 7 assists, and 130 PIM.