With the NHL lockout now officially underway, and 23 players assigned to Abbotsford by the Calgary Flames since Friday afternoon, the 2012-13 Heat roster has started to take shape with Training Camp less than two weeks away.
The NHL fan’s loss will the AHL fan’s gain, as most of the top players under 22 years on the planet will be competing in the American Hockey League (not unlike the 2004-05 season).
18 waiver exempt players (mostly entry level contracts – ‘ELCs’ as the kids say) were assigned to the Heat on Friday, while yesterday another five who had to clear waivers (Aliu, Byron, Kolanos, Piskula, Walter) followed suit.
We’ll take a good look at the building blocks Troy G. Ward and his staff have to build with this season this week. First, we start with a glance to the crease.
Barry Brust and Danny Taylor are both on AHL contracts and share the some history as well as an interest in being the ‘go-to-guy’ in the Heat crease.
Both puck-stoppers shared time in the LA Kings system, though they were never on the same team at the same time. Also, both have recently returned from European adventures in the D.E.L. – the top league in Germany. Taylor played in Hamburg for the Freezers in the 2010-11 season where he put up a 2.90 GAA and a .905 SP while Brust posted a 2.47 GAA and a .916 SP with the Straubing Tigers last season.
Taylor was immensely impressive in his first month of duty last year (which happened to be December with the team needing depth in the crease) and down the stretch – where he won nine consecutive starts.
Brust was an integral part of the Binghamton Senators 2011 Calder Cup Championship team, playing the bulk of the regular season (52 appearances) before Robin Lehner took the lion’s share of the crease time in the post-season.
This should be a great battle for the reigns between 26-year-old Taylor and 29-year-old Brust, as both have proven they can play the role of a #1 net-minder at the AHL level.
Notable in his omission from this category is Leland Irving, who wasn’t placed on waivers by the Calgary Flames, and will be in the thick of a battle to back-up Miikka Kiprusoff with Henrik Karlsson. Irving is one a one-year, two-way deal and for the first time in his career would need to cross waivers now that he’s out of his Entry Level Contract, that makes him much less likely to end up in Abbotsford this season than in years past, though one would think whomever doesn’t lay claim to the back-up position in Calgary would need a team to play for.
Others puck-stoppers who had stints in Abbotsford last season include Henrik Karlsson – who is in the final year of a one-way contract – and Joni Ortio who is playing for HIFK in his native Finland this season where he has posted a 2.52 GAA and a .900 SP in pair of appearances.