Well, February didn’t end the way we wanted but there is nothing wrong with the 9-2-1-1 record the Cyclones posted in the month. As things currently stand the ‘Clones are 36-19-1-2 which is good to the top spot in the Division and 2nd in the Conference. The Boys will have 2 big game against Conference leaders South Carolina coming up on their southern road trip. The Cyclones trail the Stingrays by 6 points but have 3 games in hand. Overall this road trip south will give Chuck a very good indication of just where the team stands with games against Charlotte, South Carolina and Gwinnett team that is fighting for a playoff birth. A 4-0 trip would be great but I think 3-1 would have to be considered a success.
Early March is always an exciting time for hockey fans. The NHL trade deadline is March 3rd, the AHL will announce Clear Day Rosters on March 10th, and the ECHL trade deadline is March 12th. While the NHL trade deadline usually doesn’t have much of an effect at the ECHL level, but it could be of significant importance for the Cyclones this season. The rumor mill has been working overdrive with talk of Montreal’s goal tending situation and Montreal’s desire to move either Carey Price or Jaroslav Halak. Should either one of the two be dealt at the deadline it would likely mean Robert Mayer finishing the year in Hamilton, forcing Chuck to make a move for another capable goalie or forcing Jeremy Smith carry the load the remainder of the season. The good news is Robert Mayer will be joining the team Wednesday in Charlotte which could be an indicator that neither Halak or Price are definitively being traded. We won’t know for sure until Wednesday.
The AHL Clear Day has a bit more bearing on the ECHL. Only players on an AHL team’s Clear Day Roster is eligible to play for that team for the remainder of the AHL season and the Calder Cup playoffs, unless emergency situations occur due to player recalls, injuries or suspensions. When Milwaukee and Hamilton release their respective Clear Day Rosters Chuck will have a pretty good idea of who will be available to him for the stretch run and into the playoffs.
Chuck hasn’t ruled out making any personnel changes by the March 12th ECHL trade deadline. He won’t tip his hand, but says there are needs that he and Dean have identified. A trade would be a way to address those needs but in order to make a deal there has to be a willing partner. We’ll have to wait and see if one materializes.
If Chuck doesn’t have the opportunity to pull the trigger on a trade there is still time to address the holes in the roster. Later in March Chuck will have the opportunity to add College players or players from Major Junior once their seasons have ended. The ‘Clones have had success with this in the past adding players such as Billy Irish-Baker, Kyle Bushee, Felix Petit and Matt Pierce. Apparently Chuck has Dwayne Zinger reviewing film of College and Junior players and at a previous Coach’s Show Chuck mentioned having a list of prospective College and Junior players that is several pages long.
The Cyclones roster currently has 12 forwards and 10 defensemen so there are options for making a trade deal. The questions that need to be answered are; what are the needs Chuck feels need to be addressed and who is Chuck willing to deal. Personally, I would like to see the addition of a true puck distributing forward. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Chuck package up a few players and/or futures if the right player was available. Trades can often strike a nerve with fans as players who are fan favorites can be dealt, but it’s Chuck’s job to make the team better and history indicates that he more often than not makes good moves.
Regardless of what happens the next two weeks will be fun to keep track of.