Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Catching up 4/2

I was out of the office on Sunday and Monday, so obviously there was a whole bunch of Adirondack Phantoms-related news that went down while I was away. I did my best to Tweet out the details, but did not have a chance to do a full analysis of everything until right now. Let's get to news and views.

NEWS: The Philadelphia Flyers traded Harry Zolnierczyk to Anaheim for winger Jay Rosehill.
VIEWS: With Jody Shelley still on the shelf recovering from hip surgery, Philadelphia had been without a true heavyweight since they lost Tom Sestito on waivers to Vancouver. That's what they're getting in the 6-foot-3 Rosehill, who has 18 NHL fights on his resume and dozens more in the AHL. Heck, he dropped the gloves 33 times in 2008-09 alone, but he dialed it back a notch or two in recent seasons. To some extent, the emergence of power forward Tye McGinn made Zolnierczyk expandable. They play different games -- Zolnierczyk is more of a speedster, McGinn is more of a power guy -- but there are only so many spots in the NHL and I think McGinn has a bit more upside.

NEWS: Shane Harper and Blake Kessel returned to the Phantoms after their ECHL seasons ended.
VIEWS: These next few weeks are going to be very important for those two players. They are in their final year of their entry-level contracts, and this could be a make-or-break moment for them if they want to earn a qualifying offer and return to the organization next season. Harper put up the best numbers of his professional career with Trenton -- posting 27 points in 15 games -- but he has just eight points in 42 AHL games this season. He is a goal scorer, but NHL teams don't use contracts on elite ECHL scorers. The question becomes if he is able to translate that success to the AHL level.  Kessel led all Titans blueliners with 41 points in 54 games, but at this point there is literally only one defenseman in the organization who is lower on the depth chart than he is, and that's Tyler Hostetter. And you all know Philadelphia doesn't exactly have the strongest defensive depth chart in the NHL. But all accounts from Trenton are that Kessel improved strongly in the second half of the season.

NEWS: Mitch Wahl was sent to the ECHL's Utah Grizzlies for the team's playoff run.

VIEWS: Wahl spent much of this season with the Grizzlies before the Flames traded him to the Flyers in the deal that sent Mike Testwuide to Calgary. He had just 1-3-4 in 15 games with the Phantoms, and never really wound up being as much of a factor in Adirondack's offense as the organization hoped he might. Phantoms coach Terry Murray has previously said that few things will do as much for a prospect's development as playoff experience, so giving Wahl the chance to get that experience makes a lot of sense. He was a third- or fourth-line player as of late here on a Phantoms team that has a next-to-zero mathematical chance of making a playoffs, and he'll go back to being a top-line player with the Grizzlies. Interestingly, he still leads the Grizzlies in scoring with 59 points. He's also another one that's playing for a contract, as he's a restricted free agent at the end of this year.

More on that angle with Harper and Kessel, as well as some of the other RFAs, later this week.

Until next time,


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