Welcome to Mile High Hockey's all new Lake Erie Monsters coverage for 2013-14! For those that might not know, the Monsters are the Avalanche's affiliate in the American Hockey League and their home is in Cleveland, Ohio. The team is made up of the Avs' top professional prospects mixed in with some veteran players for depth. And yes, I realize that anybody reading this article already knows all that, but you never know, somebody new might stop by some day.
To start off, this week we're going to take a look at the guys who finished off last year in Lake Erie, where they are going to be this year and what their contract status is at the moment. Then we'll take a look at who has been added over the summer so far and what they've been up to lately.
Joel Chouinard: Finished ELC and was not tendered. No word on future plans.
Geoff Walker: 1-year RFA contract not tendered. Signed with Tampa Bay.
Mike Connolly: Not tendered as RFA. Signed with Augsberger Panther of the DEL (Germany).
Thomas Pock: Signed to play for his hometown Klagenfurter AC in the Austrian League.
Sean Sullivan: Signed to play for MODO in the SEL next year.
Bill Thomas: Headed over to the KHL playing for Medevescak Zagreb.
Luke Walker: Joining Thomas in Zagreb next year. Tendered offer, rights retained until 2017.
Tomas Vincour: Signed to play for Ak Bars Kazan (KHL). Also was tendered, rights retained until 2018.
Jamie MacQueen, Brian Sutherby and Dean Strong ended the season with the Monsters but haven't signed anywhere as far as I can tell. John Negrin has signed with the Utica Comets (AHL), Barry Goers with Wheeling (ECHL) and Daniel Maggio with San Francisco (ECHL).
David Oliver is no longer an assistant coach, but will continue to be the Director of AHL Operations.
Markus Lauridsen: Signed a 2-year 2-way ELC with the Avs.
Karl Stollery: Signed a 1-year 2-way deal with the Avs, RFA next summer.
David Van der Gulik: Returning on another 1-year 2-way UFA contract.
Andrew Agozzino: Signed a 2-year ELC.
Bryan Lerg: The Monsters' captain will return on a 1-year 2-way UFA deal.
Paul Carey: Entering second and final year of ELC. RFA next summer.
Sami Aittokallio: Entering middle year of ELC.
Joey Hishon: Final year of ELC, will be RFA next summer.
Michael Sgarbossa: Entering middle year of ELC.
Gabriel Beaupre: Signed to a 2-year ELC.
Calvin Pickard: Entering middle year of ELC.
Brad Malone: Recently signed a 1-year 2-way contract, will be RFA next summer.
Mitchell Heard: Spent the second half of last year back in Plymouth of the OHL. In middle year of ELC.
Vincent Arseneau: Finished the year in Lake Erie on an Amateur Try Out. He reported on twitter that he had signed with the Monsters for this year, but I haven't been able to confirm this.
Dean Chynoweth will return for his second year as Monsters Head Coach and Jock Callander will also return as an assistant.
Duncan Siemens (D): Expected to start his first pro season in Cleveland after finishing his Junior career with the Saskatoon Blades. The 11th overall pick in 2011 is in the 1st year of a 3-year ELC.
J.T. Wyman (F): Comes to the LEM from Syracuse and the Tampa organization. 1-year 2-way UFA contract.
Garrett Meurs (F): The Avs 5th round pick in '11 joins the pro ranks on a 3-year ELC. Spent the last 4 seasons with the Plymouth Whalers of the OHL.
Colin Smith (F): Picked in the 7th round in 2012, Smith tore up the WHL last year with the Kamloops Blazers. Signed a 3-year ELC over the summer.
Guillaume Desbiens (F): Signed to a 1-year UFA contract after spending last year with the Chicago Wolves.
Trevor Cheek (F): Amateur Free Agent signing from the Edmonton Oil Kings of the WHL, 3-year ELC.
Mikael Tam (D): Former 2-year captain of the Quebec Remparts joins the Monsters on an AHL contract. Spent last year bouncing between Worcester (AHL) and San Francisco (ECHL).
Gabriel Desjardins (F): Signed an AHL contract with the Monsters, spent last year playing for Avs assistant Andre Tourigny in Rouyn-Noranda of the QMJHL.
Randy Ladouceur, a veteran with 10 years experience as an assistant in the NHL, has been hired as an assistant coach.
Jean-Ian Filiatrault, who is part of Francois Allaire's staff, will be the new goalie coach.
Beyond this there will be some tryouts invited to camp, but with 15 forwards, 7 defense (plus another likely coming from the Avs) and 4 goalies already, there won't be a whole lot of spots up for grabs. I admittedly don't know enough about the relationship between Lake Erie and the Cutthroats to say how many depth/injury replacement players may be signed and sent to Denver, but there should be a few.
On an unrelated note, crafting the AHL schedule depends on the NBA coming out with theirs first, so we should be getting that near the end of the month. We do know that that the Monsters will open at home on Friday October 4th (coinciding with the Avs hosting the Predators) and Saturday October 5th.
This column is a special interest inside of a special interest and it won't appeal to everyone who visits the site, but if you've read this far then you've got half a mind to follow along. The plan is to have a regular column updating what goes on in Lake Erie, stats, game summaries and whatnot. I plan to somehow watch or at least listen to most of the games and monitor the comments section of the latest column threads during games on the off chance anyone else is watching too. I'll also live tweet during games @mckinley06.
Next time: We'll take a more in-depth look at the players, their strengths and what roles they might play this season.
Gracias: AvalancheDB, CapGeek, lakeeriemonsters.com