With the start of the new AHL season just around the corner, here is a rundown who has returned and who are newcomers on the current Wolf Pack roster:
Only half of the 24 players on the Wolf Pack’s current roster spent any significant time with the club last year, but two of those are the goaltenders:
Entering his fourth year of pro hockey, and fourth with the Ranger organization, Talbot is coming off of a year in which he grabbed firm hold of the number-one job in Hartford. Talbot played 55 games in 2012-13, surpassing his previous career high by more than 20, and his 3,105 minutes-played was the third-highest total in team history. The University of Alabama-Huntsville product had a career-best 91.8% save percentage last season and finished eighth among AHL goaltenders in wins with 25.
As a rookie last year, the towering 6-8 Ontarian got into 25 games with the Whale and went 10-8-2, with a 3.07 GAA, 90.6% save percentage and two shutouts. He wasn’t much of a factor early, but then reeled off a stretch just after the first of the year in which he went 8-1-2, with a 2.13 GAA and a 93.6% save percentage in 13 appearances.
Also returning from last season (in alphabetical order):
Spent much of last season as an extra wheel in New York, before getting in 10 games with the Whale late in the year. Was a solid ingredient for the big club in both regular season and playoffs two seasons ago, and packs a punch at 6-4 and 207 pounds.
Injuries limited Bourque to 53 games last year, in his second pro season, but he still bettered his rookie-year goal and point totals, with eight and 15 respectively.
Carroll was a nice fit for the Whale in 24 games of action last year after coming up from Idaho of the ECHL, earning himself an AHL contract for this season. The University of Minnesota-Duluth product had a goal, five points and 40 PIM with Connecticut, and the team was 13-7-2-1 with him in the lineup.
The Whale’s penalty minute leader last year with 170, Haley also hit double digits in goals, with 10, and had a pro career-best 13 assists and +10 rating. The seventh-year man also earned nine games with the Rangers.
Had a tough time with injuries last season, getting into only 40 games, but is the team’s leading returning scorer, with the top nine point-getters from last year’s club all gone. Had 7-18-25 on the season, after an impressive audition with the Whale the previous spring coming out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Earned kudos from the Ranger staff for his performance in Ranger camp.
Jean had a strong start as a rookie out of Lake Superior State last season, with points in each of his first seven pro games, but found the numbers hard to come by after that. At 6-4 and 203 pounds, with good wheels and hands, he is a tantalizing combination of size and skill.
Kreider had a strong finish to the season last year, with 7-4-11 in his last 14 AHL games, and scored a playoff overtime winner for the Rangers against Boston. He possesses a tremendous skill package, as evidenced by his 5-2-7 performance in for the Rangers in 18 games in the 2012 playoffs, fresh out of Boston College.
A 6-4, 230-pound banger with a pretty good scoring touch, Mashinter excelled with the Whale after being acquired from San Jose January 16 of last season. The fifth-year pro had 10 goals and 19 points in 35 games with Connecticut, and got into four games with the Rangers, after totaling only 2-3-5 in 30 games with Worcester before the trade.
An offseason injury kept McIlrath out of the lineup until after Christmas last season, but the big, aggressive blueliner made good strides once he got his feet under him. He had only five assists on the year, but point production is not his game, and he ended up +6 for the season. Also had 125 penalty minutes, which was tops among Whale defensemen and third overall on the team.
Yogan had a hard time nailing down a spot in the Whale lineup early in the year as a rookie last season, and did a stint in the ECHL, but came on later in the campaign. The 6-3, 203-pound Florida native posted 19 points in 43 AHL games before an injury March 30 ended his season.
And Who’s New…
There will be plenty of new talent to get acquainted with this season, as the franchise returns to the Wolf Pack identity and looks to get back in the AHL playoffs, and to help the parent Rangers to get closer to a Stanley Cup (new additions also listed alphabetically):
Allen got his feet wet with one game of AHL action last year, after joining the Whale out of U. Mass-Amherst. He then made a splash at this year’s Ranger training camp, making the big bid to earn a spot after coming in with very little fanfare. Those who know say he is a good fit for the organization’s system, and it seems as though the club is eager to see how he develops.
This guy is really both old and new, as he’s been gone for the past two seasons, but before that played his first four pro seasons with the Wolf Pack, logging 297 games in a Pack uniform, fourth-most in team history. A hard worker who can grind and chip in some goals, Dupont can play both wing and center, which helps his cause. What hurts is that he is over the “veteran” threshold of 260 pro games-played, and teams can only dress six of those guys per game. Is still unsigned as of this writing.
6-2, 215-pound rookie was an undrafted free agent signing by the Rangers from London of the Ontario League, after helping lead his hometown Knights to back-to-back OHL championships.
11th-year pro has played in nearly 300 NHL games with six different teams. Missed much of last season due to injury, but got into 10 games with Boston and two with Providence. Has always been a good source of offense off the blue line in the AHL.
Another rookie free-agent signing out of the Ontario Hockey League, Kantor played for Wolf Pack assistant coach Jeff Beukeboom when he was an assistant with the Sudbury Wolves of the OHL. Beukeboom raved about Kantor’s grit when the youngster joined the Whale at the end of his Junior season last year, and Kantor caught the Ranger scouting department’s eye as well.
Kristo was acquired from Montreal on Draft Day this summer for Christian Thomas, after Kristo led the WCHA in goals last year for U. North Dakota. The Rangers think very highly of his skills, and he was a better-than-a-point-per-game player over four years in college. He also won a World Junior gold medal with Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque and Derek Stepan as a member of Team USA in 2010.
Much will be expected in the AHL of Lindberg, who led the Ranger prospect team in scoring at the pre-training camp tournament in Traverse City. Though not yet 22, he has played in 178 games in Sweden’s top league and was playoff MVP last year, winning a championship with his hometown Skelleftea AIK team. Looks like he will be given a shot at the number-one center role left vacant by the trade of Kris Newbury.
Third-year man out of Cornell went to Game Seven of the Conference Finals his rookie year with Hamilton in 2010-11, then sat out an entire season with an injury. Was a combined +10 in 53 games for two last-place teams, Hamilton and San Antonio, last year. Pretty good resume to be available on an AHL contract.
Had a strong showing at Ranger training camp as a tryout invite, after playing the last four years at St. Mary’s University in his native Nova Scotia. Went to Florida of the ECHL last spring after finishing his college eligibility and did well, scoring four points in five playoff games and playing in 12 playoff contests. Good size at 6-1 and 192 pounds. Still unsigned as of Wednesday night.
Seventh-year pro out of Princeton found himself the odd man out on the Ranger roster, after spending the entirety of the last four seasons all in the NHL. Has 328 NHL games to his credit, plus a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals with the Flyers in 2010. Not real big, but a gritty shot blocker and excellent skater who will be counted on for some leadership on a young Wolf Pack team.
Stajcer got a cup of coffee with the Whale at the start of last year as a rookie out of the Ontario League, seeing action in three games, but spent most of the season in the ECHL with Greenville. He is currently rehabbing an injury and is likely to return to the Road Warriors when he is ready to play, with Talbot and Missiaen seemingly in possession of the two Wolf Pack spots.
Wolf Pack/Whale have seen a lot of him in his other stops in the Eastern Conference, like Adirondack, Springfield and Philadelphia. Eighth-year pro, acquired for Kris Newbury in a July 1 deal, is a premier point producer and power-play point man at the AHL level. Led Adirondack in assists last year with 34 and finished second on the team in points (40).