Archive for the ‘Offseason News: 2011’ Category

The winds of change have been blowing through the organization again this summer. Last summer it was the change we all new was coming at some point, the departure of head coach Chuck Weber and assistant coach Dean Stork. They were replaced by head coach Jared Skalde and Scott Fankhouser. Fankhouser has since been replaced former NHL veteran Andrew Cassels. Head coach Jared Skalde made another move this summer that shocked many Cyclones fans…

Ehgo gate…

There was no official word from the Cyclones but on August 11th, Ehgoetz, the player considered by most to be the Cyclones franchise player, announced via his Facebook page and Twitter (@BarretEhgoetz) that he had learned the Cyclones would not be inviting him back. There’s a lot of speculation floating around the internet as to why. Was Barret becoming too expensive? Did Barret not want to be a part of the style of hockey Skalde wants to play? Did Skalde feel that Barret wouldn’t be a good fit for the system? Was Skalde looking to further separate himself from the legacy of Chuck Weber? We’re not even going to attempt to answer that question but we will say that if we were hockey coaches we would do what we could to keep a player like Barret on our team. Ehgoetz might be a year older but he’s a smart, right place, right time kind of player. He’s defensively minded but still capable of 50 or so points. He’s proven his durability and heart over the seasons for the squad. What’s not to like about a player like Barret Ehgoetz? Thanks for all the memories Barret and all the best in your future endeavors.

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Egho Gate aside, this summer also marked a change in the PR department. In past years, we’d have to wait until mid August to hear about any player signings. This year Nick Brunker appeased many fans by bringing the Cyclones faithful regular updates on the new players that would be dawning a Cyclones sweater this fall. So without any further delay here’s how the roster is currently shaping up:

Neil Trimm (F)Trimm has spent his pro career in the CHL. His numbers are solid offensively which is something the Squad was sorely lacking last season. There’s never been any question that we like defensively minded hockey here at CycWords and the question we have about Trimm is his defense. His first 2 years as a pro he put up 74pts but was -23. However, last season he put up 80pts and went +24 so perhaps he’s become more of a 2-way player. The ECHL is a much more visible league when it comes to AHL call ups and at 6’2″ 200lbs there’s a chance Trimm may not stick around in Cyclones sweater if he replicates his numbers from last season.

Mathieu Aubin (F) –  We know what Mathieu is capable of and there is no doubt he can excel under Skalde’s offensively oriented system. He’s got good size and uses it well. Mathieu’s skating has always left a bit to be desired but showed improvement last season. If he worked hard over the off season and shows the same improvement there’s no reason he can’t have the kind of break out season that puts him back on the AHL’s radar. That is if he can stay out of the penalty box. Mathieu loves to run his mouth and while it’s entertaining to watch as a fan it does occasionally land him in the box.

Mike Liambas (F)The ‘Bus’ is back. Last seasons controversial late addition will be back again this season. Despite the fan reaction, the word is he’s well liked in the locker room. Mike has quite a reputation and that probably gets him in trouble but we were impressed with his hockey sense. He wasn’t a complete liability on the ice, he found soft spots in coverage offensively and always back checked defensively. The question for the ‘Bus’ will be if he can shake his reputation. The other issue is, while he checks harder than just about anyone we’ve seen, he isn’t a true fighter. His role is more of an agitator and as such really needs a true fighter on the bench behind him (think Morehouse/Benson in 2009-2010). to be really effective.

Ryan Blair (D)Blair will join the Cyclones after spending 4 years at UMASS Lowell. Blair was a plus player for his first 3 years for the Riverhawks before posting a -16 in his senior year. In his defense, looking at the rest of the teams numbers weren’t stellar either. It’s always hard to get what you’re going to get with rookies, some get it quickly and some take some time to come around.

Daniel Koger (F)When training camp gets underway it will have a European flair for the 2nd year in a row. Last season, it was Russian Ruben Begunts  adding the flair, this year it will be Hungarian Daniel Koger. Koger spent last season in the CHL after spending 2 years playing in Austria. Koger put up 52pts last season, his 1st in North America. His production was fairly balanced (29g-23a) which is nice to see. The question with many European players is how well they can adapt to the North American game. Daniel has the size and skill to find success in the ECHL, perhaps even the AHL, time will tell how he adjusts to the additional physicality of the North American game. If you want to get an early look at Koger’s game you can check out his promotional video here. The sound track isn’t child friendly so turn the volume down if there are kids in the room (You have been warned).

Nathan Moon (F)We aren’t even sure where to start on this guy. A quick Google search for “Nathan Moon Hockey” yields enough information to keep minor league hockey bloggers like us busy for days. The short story on the 2008  4th round pick of the Penguins is his positive offensive ability which consists of finishing ability and a quick first step. Apparently his overall skating ability hasn’t progressed much since being drafted and he lacks quick decision making during transition play like “give and go’s”. Statistically, Nathan put up some good offensive numbers during his OHL career (332 regular season points) but was -48. His numbers are almost Thomas Beauregard like, except despite his lack of defensive effort Beauregard was able to maintain a positive +/- in Juniors. Dig a little deeper into that Google search and you’ll find his Hockeyfights.com fight card. Based on it and the associated videos it seems like Moon plays a little on the chippy side. If Moon proves to be a solid 2-way player he’ll be a great addition, if not, Skalde better have something up his sleeve to generate offense while on the penalty kill.

Ryan Annesley (D)Don’t be confused by hockeydb.com, the Cyclones haven’t signed a 29 year old left winger. The Cyclones instead signed another rookie defenseman. Annesley spent 5 years at Niagra University (Ryan only played 7 games during the 09-10 season) where he put decent points as far as defenseman go. The concern for us lies in his final year for the Purple Eagles was his best production wise but also saw his lowest +/- at -9. Skalde bills him as “a very good skater who I see playing on our power play and in offensive situations. I know he’s looking forward to making the next step in his career and I’m excited to have a guy who can make that first pass, join the rush, and be responsible defensively.” Well, isn’t the world just perfect? Time will tell is he can actually pull that off at the professional level.

Matt McIlvane (F)McIlvane, a former Ohio State Buckeye captain, has had a tumultuous pro career. He’s spent time in Europe, played a few games in the AHL but has spent most of his pro career in the IHL/CHL, or whatever they’re calling it these days. He also missed out on much of last season due to injury. In an older write up the team over at Hockeyfutures.com consider Matt to be a power forward type of player with suitable finishing ability. He plays a physical game but needs to work on his passing and on ice vision. He could be a solid net front presence that the Cyclones have lacked in recent season. The question will be how well he has rehabbed from an injury which ended his 2010-2011 season very early which he took some time to discuss with Nick Brunker recently.

Mathieu Curadeau (F)Curadeau is a name Cyclones fans might remember from the 2009-2010 season which he spent with Kalamazoo. Mathieu possesses an AHL upside picking up a game here and there but has spent most of his career in IHL/CHL, with the exception of 09-10 season. That season with Kalamazoo was arguably his best putting up 47pts and ending the season +20. He had some good seasons early in his career for the Fort Wayne Komets but that was back when the Komets basically ran the league so the question has to be asked, “Is he really that good, or is he a product of team he played for?” Last season he returned to the Komets, which were no longer in control of the league and registered just 33 points and was -24. We aren’t really sure what to expect from Mathieu. He’s been billed as a skilled forward everywhere he’s played and that’s what we’ve come to expect from a French Canadian who came up through the QMJHL.

Matt Pierce (F)Pierce will make his return to the Cyclones after an injury shortened his 10-11 campaign. Matt is the type of player which should excel under Coach Skalde. He’s got good size, plays a physical game and has plenty of finishing skill. If he regains the form he had in his rookie season, he’ll probably get more than one look at the AHL.

Dan Eves (F)Eves, a mid season addition last year, returns this season. Eves is a well rounded player who is capable of averaging just shy of a point per game. He skates well and plays a solid physical game. He played just 17 regular season games for the Cyclones last season, but we’re interested in seeing what Dan can do over a full season with Coach Skalde.

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The Cyclones have traded the rights to late season addition and stand out Cory Conacher to Florida for the rights to Brad Snetsinger. Honestly, this isn’t a big deal. While Snetsinger has apparently, signed in Italy (he could return when that season is over), Conacher signed a one-way AHL deal with the Norfolk Admirals. The odds that Conacher laces them in the ECHL are slim at best.

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According to Eliteprospects.com Brock Sheahan has signed with SC Riessersee of the German Second League. Since he received a qualifying offer the Cyclones will retain Bock’s ECHL player rights for the 2011-2012 season. Best of luck Brock in Germany Brock.

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There still isn’t any news on the other players the Cyclones qualified. That doesn’t mean that Garrett Suter, Kevin Roeder, and Eric Kattelus haven’t been signed, just that it hasn’t been announced. However, if they haven’t signed, as of August 1st they were all free agents.

-Mike-

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Sorry for the long hiatus ladies and gents, sometimes life gets in the way of the things we’d rather be doing like updating CycWords. We’ll do our best not to let it happen again.

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We won’t spend too much time rehashing the end of the 2010-2011 season. Let’s just say it didn’t end the way we had hoped but when it was all said and done, it ended the way we expected. Sure, we were hoping the Boys would find their groove, ride the play of goaltender Brian Foster and put together a playoff run, but given they way the whole season played out, expecting the Team to recapture the magic of 2010 was too much to ask. The quick 1st round playoff exit was disappointing, especially after the scoring 9 goals on road to earn a split in the 1st 2 games only to see the offense go back on life support and tally just 1 goal the rest of the series. The Cyclones did manage to avoid the dubious honor of becoming the 1st team in Kelly Cup history to not qualify for the playoffs the year after hoisting the cup.

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Heading into the off season the front office had several questions to answer. The 1st regarded the future of the coaching staff. This one has clearly been answered with the announcement that former NHL veteran Andrew Cassels has replaced Scott Fankhouser as assistant coach. Our knee jerk reaction to this move was that it could indicate a short leash for Coach Skalde. After thinking about it for a bit we don’t think this is the case. Cassels, while having quite a resume as a player, does not have much experience as a coach. This isn’t a bad thing necessarily; we can recall a 1st year head coach who combined with a 1st year assistant coach here in Cincinnati who were pretty successful. As a former play it will come down to how well he can communicate the game.

The 2nd question deals with the affiliates. While no official word has been released, the front office is still using ” proud affiliate of the NHL’s Florida Panthers and Nashville Predators” in their press releases so we’re guessing there will be no change from last year. In addition, in a brief conversation with Coach Skalde at the recent Concrete Clones event, he mentioned he would be attending Florida and Nashville’s develop camps. The status quo had us a little worried but then July 1st happened. While Nashville didn’t do much, Florida’s front office was very active during the start of the NHL’s free agent season. It should lead to trickle down effect for the Cyclones. On a related note, the Florida Panthers have reached an agreement to be the parent club of the San Antonio Rampage after parting ways with Rochester; former Cyclones’ skipper Chuck Weber will head to warmer climates to lead the Rampage in their 2011-2012 campaign. As the rosters shake out up the food chain we’ll try to keep an eye on who may be making their way to Cincinnati.

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On the player front the Cyclones broke away from the norm in announcing the signing of forward Neil Trimm. Coach Skalde is pretty high on the Trimm as he enters his 1st season in the ECHL. Billed as a skilled forward Trimm had a break out year last season putting up 80pts (22g-58a) in 60 games but looking at his previous seasons we’re not ready to label him as a game changing player. In his 1st 2 seasons playing in the CHL Trimm did put up 74pts but he was also -33 in 103 games which raises some questions about his 2-way game.  Last year he put up a solid +24 to go along with those 80 points so perhaps he’s added some defensive responsibility to his game.

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In other player news, the League released the Qualified lists on Friday. The League allows each team to extend “qualifying” offers to 8 players from their protected lists, those players have until August 1st to accept the offer. If the player doesn’t accept the offer he essentially becomes a free agent. There are different rules applying to veterans so veterans are rarely qualified. You can read all the details in the posted link. The Cyclones qualifed Cory Conacher, Matt Pierce, Dan Eves, Brock Sheahan, Kevin Roeder, Eric Kattelus, Garrett Suter and Brian O’Hanley. The other advantage of qualifying players is that the qualifying team retains the players rights for 1 season if they aren’t playing in the ECHL. For example, if Cory Conacher signs and AHL deal with Rochester (which is no longer affiliated with the Cyclones) the Cyclones would still own his ECHL player rights so if Rochester choose to reassign him to the ECHL, they would have to assign him to Cincinnati or compensate the Cyclones if they wanted to assign him to their own affiliate. This was what happened after the 2008 season when JM Daoust was signed by WB/Scranton. Chuck had a strong feeling JM would be signed after the season so he qualified him to eliminate the chance that he would potentially get assigned to division rival Wheeling. This is a scenario which could end up applying to both Conacher and Brian O’Hanely.

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Also, according to eliteprospects.com there is an unsubstantiated rumor that Barret Ehgoetz is headed to Europe next season. This is one that we’re keeping our eyes on and as soon as we know more we’ll pass it along.

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That’s all we have for now. It’s the summer so we’ll be updating sporadically as news comes along. Enjoy the summer, the season will be here before we know it.

-Mike-