AHL Logo Ranking: No. 16 – Springfield Falcons

Jared Clinton
Falcons logo featured

(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.)

As part of the AHL’s big shuffle for the 2015-16 season, the Springfield Falcons lose their affiliation with the Columbus Blue Jackets and a squad that missed the post-season in the Eastern Conference by one point. In their place, the Falcons join up with the Arizona Coyotes and a club that made the post-season by in the Eastern Conference by one point. That’s quite the interesting swap.

Because of the affiliation change, there are obviously going to be a lot of changes to the Falcons lineup, but considering the amount of turnover in the Coyotes’ minor league system, there’s the chance this isn’t even a post-season team anymore. Really, it’s hard to tell what they’ll be.

This off-season alone, the Coyotes’ affiliate lost goaltenders Mark Visentin, Mike McKenna and David Leggio, forwards Justin Hodgman, Alexandre Bolduc, Darian Dziurzynski, Greg Carey, Francis Wathier, Phil Lane and defensemen Evan Oberg, Joel Hanley and Matt Lashoff. That’s more than half of a decent AHL team. That said, reinforcements were brought in.

Most notable of the new faces are Dustin Jeffrey and defenseman Dylan Reese, but there’s also the chance that should Anthony Duclair not make the Coyotes roster — which seems like a slim chance, at this point — he could end up in Springfield. This is a young, young roster. Only two players are 30 and not a single goaltender is over the age of 25.

One player who could make an impact, however, is Brendan Shinnimin. The 24-year-old finished second on the Coyotes in scoring with 22 goals and 47 points, but has improved his production steadily each year. He’s not a lock to spend the season in Springfield — he played 12 games for Arizona this past season — but he could breakout offensively this season. Read more

Vermette’s stay in Chicago was short but very, very sweet

Antoine Vermette (Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

As Antoine Vermette made his way through the mass of humanity in the cramped visitor’s dressing room at Amalie Arena after Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final, he was unfailingly polite.

“Sorry for the sweat,” he said as he brushed up against people on his way to the door. “I probably stink, too. But I guess that’s a good thing at this time of the year.”

There were games during the playoffs when Vermette didn’t stink at all. That’s because he was likely wearing expensive cologne under his designer suit while sitting in the press box. Check that. He kind of did stink, which was why he was in the press box wearing the expensive cologne under his designer suit in the first place. Read more

Max Domi hoping to be part of turnaround for Arizona Coyotes

The Hockey News
Max Domi (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)

By Carter Brooks

When you hear the name Domi, what comes to mind? Is it the record 333 career NHL fighting majors? Maybe it’s an unforgettable altercation with a fan in the penalty box. Whatever it is, it’s most likely not the words “goal scorer,” “captain material” or “first-line left winger.”

Newsflash: we aren’t living in 1997 anymore. The Domi of the 1990s and early 2000s is long retired. Tie’s name and legacy, however, live on in his 1995-born son, Max, who was drafted 12th overall by the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2013. Max is built just like his father. He is short and stocky with a pugnacious attitude. But, unlike Tie, Max can score goals. Lots of them.

Max thoroughly enjoyed his four seasons spent with the OHL’s London Knights. He racked up three consecutive 30-plus-goal seasons, highlighted by a 102-point campaign in 2014-15. He acknowledges the time spent in London has really developed his game and has paved the right path for the next stop in his career. Read more

Daniel Briere retires as a trailblazer

(Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

It would be disingenuous to say Daniel Briere came out of nowhere. After all, he was a first-round pick of the Phoenix Coyotes back in 1996, the same year he scored 163 points for Drummondville of the Quebec League.

But since he was waived by those same Coyotes seven years later, after failing to make a permanent impression on the club, it is remarkable to think how quickly he became one of the most dangerous players in the NHL shortly thereafter.

Read more

Coyotes prospect Nick Merkley is ‘a pleasure to be around’

Ryan Kennedy
Nick Merkley (Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)

Since the teenagers taken at the NHL draft this summer aren’t old enough to drink, we’ll assume Nick Merkley celebrated being taken 30th overall by Arizona with an Oreo ice cream sandwich instead.

That was the junk food of choice for the Kelowna Rockets right winger after road trips this season, and it served him well: Merkley finished sixth in WHL scoring and helped Kelowna drub the competition in the playoffs.

The Rockets dropped just three games on their way to a dream final with the Brandon Wheat Kings before that showdown turned out to be a four-game nightmare for the Wheaties.

“Sweeping them was crazy,” Merkley said. “We were just trying to get a split (in Brandon), then we got both games. It was huge for us.” Read more

The 10 oldest players suiting up in the NHL in 2015-16

Jaromir Jagr (Gregg Forwerck/Getty Images)

The Pittsburgh Penguins made a move yesterday that flew a bit under the radar, signing center Matt Cullen to a one-year, $800,000 contract.

Cullen, who has played in more than 1,200 games over his career, has been a steady middle of the lineup player throughout his career. Cullen can give the Penguins some veteran depth, so it’s not a terrible signing, but what’s shocking about the deal is that Cullen is inching closer to his 39th birthday.

The Penguins also signed Eric Fehr this off-season, but Fehr, a veteran of 10 NHL seasons, is still 10 years Cullen’s junior. That’s no small age gap. Even still, Cullen barely cracks the five oldest players this season. Here are the NHL’s elder statesmen with contracts for the upcoming season: Read more

Five players who could have bounce back seasons in 2015-16

Kari Lehtonen (Photo by Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

When Thomas Vanek hit the free agent market following the 2013-14 season, there was little doubt he was going to end up with the Minnesota Wild, but the club was hoping for a better campaign than what they got from the 31-year-old left winger.

Sure, Vanek turned in 21 goals and 52 points in 80 games with the Wild this past season, but at a $6.5 million salary, that wasn’t quite what Minnesota was looking for. The 52-point total was the second-lowest of Vanek’s career and his 21 goals were the fewest he had scored in a non-lockout year.

In the post-season, Vanek’s troubles continued, as he stumbled to four points — all assists — in 10 games. He didn’t score once for the Wild in the playoffs and, in a second-round series against Chicago that had three one-goal games, Minnesota desperately could have used Vanek finding the back of the net.

But there’s hope for next season. Vanek recently underwent surgery to repair two hernias in his left groin and he said he, “feels great,” and should be ready for training camp, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo. If he can bounce back, there’s hope that Vanek’s three-year, $19.5 million deal can start to look like a good one.

Vanek won’t be the only player looking to recover from a poor season, however. Read more