AHL Logo Ranking: No. 29 – Syracuse Crunch

Jared Clinton
Syracuse Crunch (via SportsLogos.net)

(The AHL has undergone a season of change and one third of the league has changed locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new season, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise. See the rest of the rankings in our AHL feed.)

This past season, the Syracuse Crunch recovered nicely from what was a down year in 2013-14. After landing an affiliation with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2012-13, Syracuse inherited a squad that was coming off of a Calder Cup championship the year prior as the Norfolk Admirals. The championship experience helped the Crunch get to the Calder Cup final in their first season of affiliation with Tampa Bay, but that success was short lived, as they failed to reach the post-season in Year Two.

As the farm team for the Lightning, there’s a lot to be excited about, however. Tampa Bay’s farm system recently produced one of the best lines in the NHL — the trio of Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov — and they could be on to something again with the likes of Jonathan Marchessault, Vladislav Namestnikov, Joel Vermin and defenseman Slater Koekkoek.

Scouts ranked star AHL netminder Andrei Vasilevskiy as the top goaltending prospect in THN’s 2015 Future Watch edition and goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis cracked the top 10 Lightning prospects. With Vasilevskiy a sure thing to make Tampa Bay’s roster in 2015-16, Gudlevskis will be back in the starting role for the Crunch this coming season. Read more

AHL Logo Rankings: No. 30 – Albany Devils

Jared Clinton
Albany Devils logo. (via SportsLogos.net/Chris Creamer)

(The AHL has undergone big changes in the past year and one third of the league will change locations or logos for the 2015-16 season. Leading up to the new campaign, The Hockey News will be ranking the logos of the league’s teams and offering a brief look at the history of each franchise.)

Big changes came to the New Jersey Devils organization this off-season, but it’s yet to be seen exactly how those changes will alter the future of the Albany Devils, the franchise’s AHL affiliate.

With longtime Devils GM Lou Lamoriello out of the Garden State and off to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ front office, the organizational shift has already begun. Longtime scout David Conte is out, former Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins coach John Hynes is in behind the bench, veteran Dainius Zubrus has been bought out and the organization is seemingly getting younger by the day.

Does that mean a shift in mentality for the Devils, who finished a pair of points outside of the post-season in 2014-15 campaign? This past season, the club was led by winger Joe Whitney, who scored 23 goals and 60 points in 67 games. But Whitney won’t be back, having signed a one-year, two-way deal with the New York Islanders. Scoring might be left to young guns such as Stefan Matteau, Reid Boucher and defenseman Reece Scarlett. Read more

Futures mailbag: best of the 2015 draft’s defensemen, Scott Laughton and more

Noah Hanifin (photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Thanks to summer world junior camps, prospects have been in the spotlight this week and for some, that meant reinforcing decisions on where they will play next season. Calgary’s Brandon Hickey says he’s going back to Boston University, Leafs pick Jeremy Bracco confirmed his commitment to Boston College and Zach Werenski is indeed headed back to Michigan. And speaking of Werenski, he’s part of our first mailbag question this week. As always, if you have a draft or prospect-related question, hit me up on Twitter at @THNRyanKennedy, using the hashtag #thnfutures with your question.

Let’s get to it.

Which of the first round 2015 defensemen has the biggest upside? And who is closest to being in the lineup?

– Tomas Djupsjobacka (@tdjupsjo)

In terms of upside, I’d go with either Carolina’s Noah Hanifin or Columbus’ Zach Werenski. Both have great size and skating ability, plus they can play in all situations. If you had asked me right after the draft who was closest to being in the lineup, I would have said Philadelphia’s Ivan Provorov, since he has the hockey IQ and physical edge to compete right away. But then Carolina signed Hanifin to his entry-level deal, ending his Boston College career after one stellar campaign. Perhaps he goes to the AHL this season, but given Carolina’s lack of depth on the back end, Hanifin may end up being the answer to both questions (Provorov also has more competition in Philly).

 

Very curious about your opinion on Sean Day’s development in Mississauga

– Alex Sloan (@Alex_Sloan)

Funny how that question became a flashpoint this week, what with Day missing the cut for Canada’s under-18 Ivan Hlinka squad. But I can also expand on the defenseman’s trajectory here. I think Day has been good so far in Mississauga, but this will be a huge year for him – and not just because he’s up for the draft. Conditioning was reportedly a factor in his national team cut, so that should be a priority. The Steelheads are also growing around him, so I need to see good offensive numbers, but also improvement in his own end. With his natural physical gifts, Day has great potential as an NHLer, if he can harness it and become a student of the game.

 

Which five NHL teams do you feel are in the best position when it comes to prospects and which five are in the worst position?

– Keenan Clarry (@KeenanClarry)

Here’s my best:

Edmonton – The high end of Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse vaults the Oilers to the top since McDavid is such a sure thing. I’m also a big William Lagesson fan.

Buffalo – Jack Eichel is the Sabres’ McDavid equivalent, plus you have Sam Reinhart, Justin Bailey and some nice long-term catches in Will Borgen and Christopher Brown.

Winnipeg – The deepest pool. Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan, Connor Hellebuyck, Eric Comrie, Kyle Connor, Erik Foley…it’s almost unfair at this point.

Arizona – Another great assembly with Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Dylan Strome, Christian Dvorak, Max Letunov, Brendan Perlini and Nick Merkley,

Anaheim – Already a great team, the Ducks have reinforcements ready in Nick Ritchie, Nic Kerdiles, Shea Theodore and Kevin Roy, plus longer-term gems such as Julius Nattinen and Jacob Larsson.

And my worst, with the caveat that some of these teams are in a win-now window and have therefore sacrificed prospects:

San Jose – Timo Meier and Nikolay Goldobin are solid, but not much depth behind them.

Pittsburgh – Derrick Pouliot used to be surrounded; now he’s one of the last elite prospects in the pipeline.

New Jersey – Pavel Zacha will help, but there isn’t much more scoring coming otherwise.

Toronto – Mitch Marner, Kasperi Kapanen and Scott Harrington have all really helped the Leafs’ outlook recently in this category, but they were thin before.

New York Rangers – Just don’t have the critical mass of prospects since they’re in their Stanley Cup window right now. Adam Tambellini and Pavel Buchnevich are good, though.

 

It’s been three years since he was drafted, but what can we expect from Scott Laughton?

– Vincent Mongrain (@vincentM10)

If the Flyers move out Vincent Lecavalier, Laughton is in a great position to make an impact on Philadelphia’s third line – which may not sound impressive for a first-rounder, but it’s a good role because Laughton can handle the responsibility. With Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier ahead of him, Laughton won’t be getting the big assignments in the early parts of his career anyway, but he can be a solid contributor and a two-way player.

 

From zany fashion to blazing speed, Kings prospect Kempe is one to watch

The Hockey News
Adrian Kempe (Blake Gumprecht)

By Andy Tonge

If hockey doesn’t work out for Adrian Kempe, perhaps a career in fashion is in order. The 18-year-old Swede made a bold clothing statement after Game 3 of the AHL’s Eastern final in Hartford. Walking out of the dressing room in suit and tie, Kempe dropped his flip-flops on the ground, put them on, took a quick picture of his ensemble to post on Twitter, and walked across the street to the team hotel.

While the zany Kempe made the mistake of not packing dress shoes for the two-day road trip, what he did on the ice helped fans and teammates alike forget what he did off it. Carrying a 2-0 series lead versus the Wolf Pack onto the road, Kempe scored in Games 3 and 4, as his Manchester Monarchs swept their way into the Calder Cup final. Kempe was named the No. 1 star of the series-clinching game.

Having completed his season in the Swedish League, the Los Angeles Kings’ 2014 first-round pick embarked on a journey across the pond, where he joined the NHL club’s primary affiliate in Manchester, which sat in first place for nearly the entire AHL season. In his second game, Kempe lined up on the first line, centered by all-star Jordan Weal. Read more

Blackhawks’ Teuvo Teravainen “doesn’t have a heartbeat”

Teuvo Teravainen (Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images)

Teuvo Teravainen’s real father, Timo, is a dentist in Helsinki. His surrogate father is a 40-year-old teammate Kimmo Timonen, and while the hockey world was fawning over Teravainen after Game 1, good old dad had a sobering message. “He’s got a long way to go,” Timonen said. “He’s a skinny guy, so he’s got to start lifting weights. I told him, ‘This summer you’ve got to make sure you work out.’ Golf is not a workout.”

Gee, thanks, Dad. Teravainen’s father might be “far, far in Finland,” but that fatherly advice isn’t. As Teravainen makes his way in the world, he’s learning things might not be as easy as he would have thought. In 2013-14, when he led Finland to gold at the world juniors and finished with 44 points in the Finnish League, many thought Teravainen had the second-line center job in Chicago waiting for him. But he struggled. Read more

Will Canucks prospect Shinkaruk become Jeff Skinner or a third-liner?

The Hockey News
Hunter Shinkaruk (Lindsay A. Mogle/Utica Comets)

By Casey Ippolito

Hunter Shinkaruk could be excused for not setting the AHL ablaze during his first season. Having missed most of his final junior term with a torn labrum, he had a ready-made excuse for making a slow transition to pro.

But he wasn’t prepared to indulge that narrative. “To be honest, I don’t really feel like I was too far behind when I went into camp,” Shinkaruk said. “I was fortunate it didn’t really hold me back as much as I thought it would.

The initial plot points in Act I of Shinkaruk’s pro career mirror the beginning of his junior years in Medicine Hat. Before ascending to a 49-goal season and the Tigers’ captaincy, the flashy left winger broke his leg prior to entering the WHL and struggled out of the gate. He watched a few games from the press box but quickly caught up, finishing top-five in team scoring and leaping to 91 points the following year. Read more

St. John’s IceCaps unveil new jerseys, mirror affiliate Canadiens

Jared Clinton
IceCaps jersey featured

The St. John’s IceCaps will hit the ice in new threads for the 2015-16 season. Like past seasons in which they adopted the look of their big club, the IceCaps will hit the ice looking like their affiliate in Montreal.

In a jersey-unveiling event in St. John’s, the IceCaps showed off the new duds, modeled by coach Sylvain Lefebvre and team CEO Danny Williams. Several Canadiens alumni, including player turned broadcaster Sergio Momesso, were also in attendance as the IceCaps premiered the new uniforms.

“With the unveiling of these sharp, clean, classic-looking jerseys today, the IceCaps have taken another tangible step in cementing our bond with the Montreal Canadiens,” said Williams. “There was never really a doubt in our minds that we would incorporate our revised logo into the elegant and world-renowned jerseys the Canadiens have proudly worn for almost a hundred years. It was a no-brainer. We’re excited about our bright, new look and I’m sure our fans will be as well.” Read more

Whoops! EA Sports leaks San Diego Gulls jerseys in new NHL 16 video

Jared Clinton
EA Sports accidentally leaked the San Diego Gulls jerseys in a game trailer. (via EA Sports/YouTube)

Back in February, the Anaheim Ducks officially unveiled that their new San Diego-based AHL affiliate would take on the Gulls moniker that has been associated with hockey in the Southern Californian city for decades.

The name announcement came along with the unveiling of a logo, but fans have been waiting to get a glimpse of the jerseys since the Feb. 22 ceremony. Now, thanks to EA Sports and NHL 16, fans can get their first look at the Gulls’ new uniforms in a video hyping up the return of the NHL series’ famous EA Sports Hockey League game mode. Read more