The AHL is a distant bell on hockey’s business plan currently, there are start dates and expectations but the trains won’t move until there are planes in the air. While we have time, let’s have a look at how things might have turned out for the Bakersfield men in 2020-21. Maybe it’ll come true and we can look back someday to see how close our guesses were to top dead center.
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Looking only at the AHL UFA’s (meaning Patrick Russell isn’t here), we are dealing with a pool that includes forwards Markus Granlund, Tomas Jurco, Brad Malone and Josh Currie; defensemen Brandon Manning and Keegan Lowe; plus goalie Shane Starrett.
I’m not sure any of them return. Currie is coming off a two-year deal that included a $25,000 signing bonus and a minor-league salary that averaged $130,000 a year. Why did he make so much on a minor league deal? He can deliver offense and he can play center, two important roles on an AHL team. I think Edmonton passes because the center depth chart is strong without him. Malone is on an AHL deal that will help the depth chart in the middle as well. Granlund is already gone, Manning had a tough season on and off the ice and Lowe was unable to repeat his previous performance. I don’t know what happened to Starrett but it’s unlikely the Oilers wait to see if he’s healthy. Jurco is the player I would have time for in this group.
This group includes Ryan Kuffner, Nolan Vesey, Cam Hebig up front, and Logan Day plus William Lagesson on the blue line. Angus Redmond is the lone RFA goalie.
Lagesson is a good bet to be signed, I think we could see him in Edmonton in 2020-21 but he’ll absolutely be a big piece in Bakersfield if the team can slide him through waivers. Logan Day is a righty blue and can help on the power play. I think Kuffner gets a contract because there’s been little time to evaluate him as a pro. He could be a useful piece not enough track to make the call. That’s an easy contract for the organization to sign. Vesey, Hebig and Redmond are likely down the line.
This is a large group, the Farm Workers post each year spends much of its time on these men. Tyler Benson, Cooper Marody, Ryan McLeod, Kirill Maksimov, Ostap Safin and Joe Gambardella are the forwards; Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov are the defensemen and Stuart Skinner plus Dylan Wells are the goalies.
Bouchard, Benson, Marody and Gambardella are NHL-ready and looking for their chance, McLeod could be there by the end of the 2020-21 season. Maksimov, Safin and Samorukov are in the ‘meander’ section of development, we’ll need to see progress this coming season. Skinner is a player the organization likes, patience must be wearing thing but Holland is notorious for waiting. Wells is in the spot where people get traded to make the 50-man balance.
Raphael Lavoie and possibly Philip Broberg would be the headliners, with Olivier Rodrigue, Theodore Lennstrom and Markus Niemelainen rounding out the group. I imagine Lennstrom would have a major impact on the AHL, as well Broberg and Lavoie if they landed in California.
I think the Oilers might want to add a veteran goalie for the 2020-21 season. Rodrigue would start in the ECHL, Wells and Skinner with the Condors and the veteran No. 3 NHL goalie could start a large number of Bakersfield games—perhaps a platoon with Skinner. This player would be the first recall. I picked Troy Grosenick but thought about Laurent Brossoit and there are several other interesting candidates. I also placed a RHD on the team (Chris Wideman) because I think Bouchard will be in the NHL. The rest of the roster is prospects or AHL contracts as noted below.
PROJECTED CONDORS LINEUP 2020-21
- Goalies (3): Troy Grosenick, Stuart Skinner, Dylan Wells
- Left Defense (7): William Lagesson, Dmitri Samorukov, Philip Broberg, Theodor Lennstrom, Markus Niemelainen, Jake Kulevich (AHL), Yanni Kaldis (AHL)
- Right Defense (4): Evan Bouchard, Logan Day, Chris Wideman, Janis Jaks (AHL)
- Center (5): Cooper Marody, Ryan McLeod, Brad Malone (AHL), Luke Esposito (AHL), James Hamblin (AHL)
- Left Wing (5): Tyler Benson, Joe Gambardella, Ryan Kuffner, Blake Christensen (AHL), Devin Brosseau (AHL)
- Right Wing (5): Raphael Lavoie, Kirill Maksimov, Ostap Safin, Jakub Stukel (AHL), Liam Folkes (AHL)
The recalls are obvious: Grosenick, Lagesson, Bouchard, Wideman, perhaps Broberg, Marody, perhaps McLeod, Benson, Gambardella.