Back for the penultimate day of the Chirps from Center Ice AHL Previews. If you missed the Pacific on Monday or the Central yesterday, you can scroll down or head to the top of the blog and use the drop down menu I installed there.
We are in the North Division today and there is lots of shake up in this division. Ottawa moved their prospects from Binghamton to Belleville, Montreal moved from St. John’s to Laval and New Jersey moved from Albany to Binghamton.
Penguins play everyone in this division. Home games listed in bold.
NHL Affiliation: Ottawa Senators
Record: 28-44-2-2 (60 pts., 7th place North Division playing as the Binghamton Senators)
Playoffs: Did not qualify.
Head Coach: Kurt Kleinendorst
Arena: Yardmen Arena
ECHL Affiliation: None.
Offseason Moves: Max Reinhart, Tyler Randell, Erik Burgdoerfer
The Case For: Last years Binghamton Senators team reincarnate as the Belleville Senators with a fresh look and a new city and venue. If we laid any money on dark horses in the North, smart money is on Belleville.
The Case Against: It may be an uphill battle. Look for an improved Ottawa prospect pool, but one that just misses out on a playoff spot in April.
Social Media: @BellevilleSens // /BellevilleSens // bellevillesens
vs. WBS: 1/6, 1/12
NHL Affiliation: New Jersey Devils
Record: 39-32-2-3 (83 pts., 3rd place North Division playing as the Albany Devils)
Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in four games to the Toronto Marlies playing as the Albany Devils
Head Coach: Rick Kowalsky
Arena: Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena
ECHL Affiliation: Adirondack Thunder
Offseason Moves: Bracken Kearns, Brian Strait, Mirco Mueller, Tim Erixon
The Case For: Watch out for the BInghamton Devils. They return a large corps of players who got them to playoffs last year and added some big names.
The Case Against: Binghamton is in a pool with a loaded up Rochester team, a Syracuse team that is the defending Eastern Conference champion. The North is shaping up to be a war zone.
Social Media: @BingDevils // /BingDevils // bingdevils
Broadcaster: Rob Lippolis
vs. WBS: 11/17, 12/22, 1/27, 3/9, 3/24, 4/7
NHL Affiliation: Montreal Canadiens
Record: 36-30-8-2 (82 pts., 4th place North Division playing as the St. John’s IceCaps)
Playoffs: Lost in Round 1 in four games to the Syracuse Crunch
Head Coach: Sylvain Lefebvre
Arena: Place Bell
ECHL Affiliation: Brampton Beast
Offseason Moves: Matt Taormina, Byron Froese, Peter Holland
The Case For: We have a feeling that one of these new Canadian teams in Laval here and Belleville will make playoffs and we are leaning heavily towards the Rocket.
The Case Against: Rocket had a boatload of departures which pushed the IceCaps to a four seed last season. These new guys better be ready to step up.
Social Media: @RocketLaval // /RocketLaval // rocketlaval
Broadcaster: Anthony Marcotte
vs. WBS: 10/20, 1/13
NHL Affiliation: Buffalo Sabres
Record: 32-41-0-3 (67 pts., 7th place North Division)
Playoffs: Did not qualify
Head Coach: Chris Taylor
Arena: Blue Cross Arena at the War Memorial
ECHL Affiliation: Cincinnati Cyclones
Offseason Moves: Kyle Criscuolo, Barry Goers, Sahir Gill, Kevin Porter, Seth Griffith, Adam Wilcox
The Case For: Totally overhauled, retooled roster put in place by a totally overhauled, retooled front office looking to win. Amerks signed big names and big role players and are expecting to jump out of the gate and contend.
The Case Against: Amerks aren’t going to surprise anyone and every team is going to give them their best. Will they be ready to answer the challenge is going to be the number one question.
Social Media: @AmerksHockey // /RochesterAmericans // amerkshockey
Broadcaster: Don Stevens
vs. WBS: 12/2, 2/16
NHL Affiliation: Tampa Bay Lightning
Record: 38-24-7-7 (90 pts., 1st place North Division)
Playoffs: Lost in the Calder Cup Finals to the Grand Rapids Griffins in six games.
Head Coach: Benoit Groulx
Arena: Oncenter War Memorial Arena
ECHL Affiliation: None.
Offseason Moves: Mat Bodie, Michael Leighton, Reid McNeill, Alex Gallant, Jamie McBain
The Case For: Defending Conference champs reload for another run. We think this is Syracuse’s division to lose.
The Case Against: Too many departures to other teams may be enough of a crack in the foundation to bring the Crunch down a few notches.
Social Media: @SyracuseCrunch // /syracusecrunch // syracusecrunch
Broadcaster: Lukas Favale
vs. WBS: 10/15, 11/24, 11/25, 2/24
NHL Affiliation: Toronto Maple Leafs
Record: 42-29-4-1 (89 pts., 2ns place North Division)
Playoffs: Lost in Round 2 in seven games to the Syracuse Crunch.
Head Coach: Sheldon Keefe
Arena: Ricoh Coliseum
ECHL Affiliation: Orlando Solar Bears
Offseason Moves: Cal Heeter, Vincent LoVerde, Chris Mueller, Max Novak, Josh Winquist
The Case For: Marlies started slow last year and it nearly cost them but they finished second behind the team that knocked them out in seven games. The number one threat to the Crunch in the North may not be Binghamton or Rochester, but Toronto.
The Case Against: Departing players from last year and their absences this season may end up hurting the Marlies.
Social Media: @TorontoMarlies // /TorontoMarlies // torontomarlies
Broadcaster: Todd Crocker
vs. WBS: 11/8, 3/20
NHL Affiliation: Vancouver Canucks
Record: 35-32-7-2 (79 pts., 5th place North Division)
Playoffs: Did not qualify.
Head Coach: Trent Cull
Arena: Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium
ECHL Affiliation: Kalamazoo Wings
Offseason Moves: Jaime Sifers
The Case For: The Comets always put up a fight and this year should be no different. With the viper pit of the Rochesters, Torontos, Binghamton and Syracuse of the division beating the tar out of one another, Utica could sneak up and claim a playoff spot.
The Case Against: The Comets are more of a team that you expect to be an easy two points for those teams mentioned above vs. the other way around.
Social Media: @UticaComets // /UticaComets // uticacomets
Broadcaster: Andy Zilch
vs. WBS: 2/27, 3/23
Back tomorrow to wrap up the previews with the Atlantic Division.