The Allen Americans made two big player announcements this week with the addition of forward Dyson Stevenson and defenseman Turner Ottenbreit. Both players would most likely had AHL deals if not for the pandemic. Stevenson played the entire 2019-20 shortened season in the AHL (Utica Comets) and Ottenbreit spent most of the season with the Iowa Wild. Two more examples of coach Martinson fulfilling his promise to have a more physical team in 2020-21.

 

Here is the current roster which is comprised of 19 players; 11 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies. As a group they have played 924 games with the Allen Americans and have 417 games of AHL experience. I have included each player’s combined point totals from last season including all teams and all leagues.

Forwards

Olivier Archambault – 54 points (18G, 36A), 47 games (ECHL)
Spencer Asuchak – 32 points (7G, 25A), 47 games (ECHL)
Jared Bethune – 18 points (9G, 9A), 27 games (USports)
Corey Durocher – 25 points (9G, 16A), 50 games, (ECHL)
Zane Franklin – 91 points (29G, 62A), 63 games, (WHL)
Colton Heffley – 18 points (9G, 9A), 37 games (USports, ECHL)
Josh Lammon – 27 points (8G, 19A), 54 games, (ECHL)
Braylon Shmyr – 16 points (7G, 9A), 34 games, (ECHL, EIHL)
Dyson Stevenson – 4 points (2G, 2A), 33 games (AHL)
Jared VanWormer – 37 points, (22G, 15A), 60 games, ECHL, AHL)
Patrick Watling – 34 points, (10G, 24A), 30 games, (USports)

Defensemen

Ben Carroll – 24 points (4G, 20A), 30 games (USports, ECHL)
Cody Corbett – 12 points (4G, 8A), 48 games, (ECHL, AHL)
Cole Fraser – 8 points (4G, 4A), 36 games, (ECHL)
Nolan Kneen – 40 points (12G, 28A), 61games, (WHL)
Les Lancaster – 28 points (5G, 23A), 43 games, (ECHL, AHL)
Turner Ottenbreit – 13 points (2G, 11A), 47 games (ECHL, AHL)

 

Goalies

Chris Nell – played for three ECHL teams last season, mostly with Atlanta. In 24 games with the Gladiators, Nell had a GAA of 3.56 and save percentage of .893.

C.J. Motte –  Motte started last season in Austria and ended the season in Great Britain (EIHL). He was statistically the best goalie in the EIHL over the 24 games he played with a GAA of 2.52 and save percentage of .927.

 

– The number of players signed and announced by ECHL teams varies from a high of 24 (Kansas City) and 23 (Rapid City) to a low of six (Newfoundland) and seven (Tulsa). It is impossible to draw any conclusions from these numbers at this point.

 

– Here is my ECHL Stats and Information Facebook post from this morning which is a recap of current starting dates for the 2020-21 season by league with some great links for details.Pandemic and tentative are the two most popular words in every professional hockey league press release talking about the start date of the 2020-21 season. Here are the best case scenarios on start dates by league.

SPHL – December 26 is the tentative start date with just five of 10 teams participating. Regular season reduced from 56 to 42 games. Here is the SPHL press release with the details including teams playing and those opting out.  https://www.thesphl.com/sphl-announces-changes-for-2020-2021-season

ECHL – Tentatively the split season starts December 11 with 13 teams playing a full 72 game season. Another 11 teams start January 15 playing a 62 game season. Two teams have opted out with more expected.

AHL – A tentative February 5 start date was announced just yesterday. AHL President and CEO said this about the new start date, “This gives us the best chance to have a significant season with fans in the building and we will see what happens here in the next two months.”  Here are in-depth details:  https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/30212221/american-hockey-league-pushes-start-season-back-feb-5

NHL – January 1 is still the tentative start date but few think it will stick because of salary and length of season issues between players and owners. Unlike the NBA and NFL who get substantially more television revenue than the NHL, without fans in the stands it is a tough go for NHL teams. Here is an in-depth story on the issues facing the NHL, well worth the read: https://www.pensburgh.com/2020/10/28/21537021/nhl-season-start-2020-nbc-pittsburgh-penguins-next-season

Here is another story, “Inside the pandemic-season plans for the AHL, ECHL and SPHL” with some more facts and information. This was written before the AHL changed their tentative start date to February 5 but still some good information:  https://www.espn.com/nhl/story/_/id/30197904/inside-pandemic-season-plans-ahl-echl-sphl

With the AHL season delayed until February 5 at the earliest, the impact on the ECHL creates many new questions. First, many players who were waiting in hopes of getting AHL deals are now scrambling to find ECHL teams. The 13 ECHL teams that will begin play December 11 have a real advantage in signing these players because the players are anxious to start playing and get a paycheck. I know coach Martinson is getting calls every day. He did caution there is a risk of signing too many of these players because of the chance of losing them when the AHL does begin play.

Another issue that gets more complicated with the new AHL start date is what happens to the players AHL teams have already signed. Some have been loaned to teams overseas but many others are sitting at home training and waiting. Will players be assigned to ECHL affiliates and if so what are the salary implications. Will players on two way contracts (AHL/ECHL) and one way contracts be assigned? How will players on NHL deals destined for ECHL teams be handled?  It makes sense to have AHL contracted players, especially the younger ones, play and develop in the ECHL rather than not playing. But AHL/NHL budgetary issues may also drive decisions.

– Another aspect of the pandemic relates to the issues between the US and Canada. You hear about AHL and ECHL teams temporarily relocating for the 2020-21 season. AHL teams in the US with their NHL affiliate in Canada are particularly impacted. The two ECHL franchises in Canada may have to temporarily relocate to the US for the 2020-21 season or suspend play. Seems like nothing is off the table at this point.

– From what I have heard, training camp for the 13 early starting ECHL teams will be two weeks before the start of the season as is usual. If that is the case the first on ice day would be the day after Thanksgiving, November 27. Not sure if the league or individual teams will require players to arrive early for COVID 19 protocols such as testing or quarantining.

– With the delayed start in the ECHL and an abundance of players available you wonder if the league might change the normal February 15 date for players to return from overseas to join ECHL teams. Some former Allen Americans are already playing games in Europe. Here are the stats on some of them:

Chad Costello – two points (1G, 1A) in three games in Norway

Colton Yellow Horn – seven points (4G, 3A) in five games in Romania

Dante Salituro – seven points (3G, 4A) in eight games in Norway

Daniel Leavens – eight points (3G, 5A) in eight games in Norway

Judd Blackwater – five points (2G, 3A) in five games in Romania

Travis Brown – two points (0G, 2A) in eight games in Norway

Stepan Falkovsky – one point (0G, 1A) in five games in Belarus

Yellow Horn and Blackwater are teammates

Leavens and Brown are teammates

DID YOU KNOW: Dyson Stevenson seems like he has been part of the Allen Americans for a long time but in fact he has played only two full seasons with the Americans. He came to Allen at the tail end of the 2014-15 season and played just five regular season games but was a big part of the playoffs in the Americans first Kelly Cup championship. In 2015-16 and 2016-17 Dyson played the full season for Allen which included their second Kelly Cup in 2016.

If you look at regular season stats since the Americans joined the ECHL, Stevenson is #11 all time in games played (126), #9 in penalty minutes (233) and #19 in points (55).

However, if you look at playoff games since Allen joined the ECHL, Dyson is ranked #5 all time in playoff games played (55), #3 in playoff penalty minutes (84) and #10 in playoff points (17) to go along with two Kelly Cup rings. Championship playoff experience that Stevenson brings to the table will be invaluable on the ice and in the locker room.