It has been a good long while since my last update. But there is a very, very, very good reason for that.
I have decided to start my own blog!
Don’t worry, I am still writing at Anaheim Calling, providing this weekly “Meanwhile On The Farm” update as well as other prospect related content. But from now on the game recaps can be found over at DefendTheNest.com. As well as some other choice content, breaking news items regarding the Gulls and much, much more.
So please join me over there if you wish to follow San Diego... but don’t worry, I am not leaving my post as prospect writer for AC.
News & Observations
Now That The Dust Has Settled
So yesterday’s NHL Trade Deadline was always going to cause anxiety among the fan base of both the Ducks and the Gulls and I assumed that if any of the players on the Gulls were to be moved it would be a forward given the injury situation currently afflicting the blue line, but the time came and went with no players on the Gulls’ roster being swapped - unless of course you count Brian Gibbons who had only just been assigned.
The next major concern was what the Ducks would do with the recalled talent still presiding with the big club. On deadline day as per AHL ruling all players eligible for the Calder Cup playoffs must be on the roster, even if only by paper transaction. If you head over to AHL Transactions you will see all AHL clubs would have made a series of call up and send downs on the same day. This is to allow for bubble players to be returned to their respective AHL club should the parent NHL team be eliminated from the playoffs or playoff contention.
Eric Stephens reported that the Ducks had assigned and recalled the following players:
Which either blows all of their (maximum allowed four after trade deadline day) recalls for the season in one day, or some of those are counted toward the emergency recall given the Ducks do not actually have enough healthy bodies to ice a full line up.
Either way, the Gulls will be without those four until either the Ducks’ regular season ends, or Ryan Getzlaf returns from injury and either of Jones or Terry can be sent down.
That’s the bad news.
The good news is Sam Steel and Andy Welinski were sent down, and I believe the Gulls have enough existing talent and veteran leadership to stay afloat in order to make it to the Calder Cup playoffs. Once they get there they will receive those four back, not to mention the incoming black aces at the end of the season...
Potential Incoming Black Aces
Every year at the conclusion of their season, previous Ducks selections are eligible to sign tryout contracts and join the Gulls for either the end of the regular season or the Calder Cup run, depending on how each particular player’s junior club does in their own playoff run. Last year the Gulls suffered from the worst timing ever when they fell out of a playoff spot before any of the potential incoming black aces clubs could join them to help.
This year should hopefully be different; let’s check in on those potential incoming players and how their junior clubs are faring.
Maxime Comtois: Max currently leads the Q in points per game with 2.05 and has 39 points in 19 games including CHL player of the week honors on the back of back-to-back hat tricks. His Drummondville Voltigeurs have clinched a playoff spot and are one of the heavy favourites to come out of the Western Conference of the Quebec Major Junior league. Their regular season ends March 16th, and should they go all the way to the Championship Finals (those typically end mid May) there may still be time for him to join the Gulls for their run, depending on how his team fares. Update: Max was also just suspended 3 games for a charging incident, his second suspension in the QMJHL.
Antoine Morand: Much like last year, Morand and Comtois may be destined to face each other in the QMJHL playoffs. Last year it was Morand’s Titan that bested his childhood friend Comtois’ Tigres in the conference finals in a four game sweep. This year, if they are to meet again, it would have to be in the Championship Finals, as they are now on teams in different conferences. However, given both of their respective teams are among the favorites to make the Championship - as I said- it seems like fate. Morand has 68 points in 57 games as captain of the Halifax Mooseheads; his 1.19 points per game pace is slightly better than last years 1.15. His arrival full time next year might spell the end for Alex Dostie who plays a very similar game and has one year left on his entry level deal.
Benoit-Olivier Groulx: Groulx plays on the same team as Morand, but is not yet under contract. It is likely that he gets signed to his entry level deal at the conclusion of the Mooseheads’ season. He has 63 points in 56 games while serving as an Assistant Captain for Halifax, good for 1.125 points per game. The Gulls already have a backlog of centers, so barring injury I don’t see him getting in the lineup for the playoffs, but depending on when the Moosheads finish their year he could be given some looks at the tail end of the regular season. It should be noted that Groulx will need to play one more year of Juniors next year.
Hunter Drew: Sticking with the Q and the 2018 draft, Drew was selected as a 19-year old at last year’s draft, so is eligible to turn pro next year. He has 43 points in 52 games thus far which equates to 0.83 points per game, much better than last years 0.61 and has already surpassed last year’s 39 point effort. His Charlottetown Islanders have clinched a playoff spot and currently sit fifth in the Eastern Conference. A now rare commodity on the Ducks defensive depth chart in that he shoots right, his game is very similar to current Gull, Simon Benoit. Expect him to sign an entry level deal at the conclusion of the Islanders’ playoff run and join the Gulls as defensive depth cover.
Isac Lundestrom: Jumping across to Europe, Lundestrom had already spent time with the Gulls this season, and I see no reason why he wouldn't come back to help out with the playoff run. Since joining Lulea after the World Juniors, he has totaled 6 points in 13 games of action in the SHL. His team is currently 2nd overall in the league, which means they would get a bye into the playoffs to auto-qualify for the quarter finals. Depending on how Lulea does, he could join the Gulls by mid April the latest.
Kyle Olson: Anaheim’s 4th round pick in 2017, Olson is another CHL player turning pro at the conclusion of his Junior season. Bouncing back from an injury-plagued year last season, he has 62 points in 53 games for the Tri City Americans in the WHL, a 1.17 point per game clip. His team is currently 4th in the US Division and holding down the first wildcard spot for the Western Conference. The WHL playoffs start March 22nd, and unless the Americans can repeat the upset from a similar wildcard spot position that they achieved last year, I can see Olson being potentially the first potential black-ace to join the Gulls.
Brent Gates Jr.: Likely the last player from the 2015 entry draft to finally join the club that drafted him (Ruggiero and Metcalf seem like they will be allowed to walk), Gates Jr. is completing his final year at the University of Minnesota. He has 26 points in 33 games as captain of the Golden Gophers, third on the team in scoring and equal to his last year’s total with games in hand. For comparison, his numbers are similar but not quite as good as Mitch Hults before he signed with the Gulls at the conclusion of his Junior year at Lake Superior, but I can see the Ducks signing him to an entry level deal regardless.
Misc Goaltenders: I wont go into details on the goaltenders that may or may not show up toward season’s end, because it’s a total crap shoot as to whether one or all actually come. Olle Eriksson Ek is the only one under contract- and the only one likely to possibly come across at the conclusion of his team’s season- but given his numbers have been less than stellar (2.88 GAA and 0.899 SVS%), I cannot see him getting any game time.
The Ducks did not subtract from the Gulls over this past trade deadline, but they did acquire some additional depth. The most immediate of which is defencemen Patrick Sieloff from the Senators’ organization.
Meet Patrick Sieloff
Originally a 2nd round draft pick of the Flames in 2012, Sieloff was dealt to the Sens for Alex Chiasson trade in 2016 and has been with them since. He is controversially remembered for this hit during a Senators training camp scrimmage. It was MacArthur’s fourth concussion suffered in 18 months and the fallout from that essentially doomed his tenure with the Senators and potentially his career. He spent that entire year in the AHL and only saw one game total with the Senators over his two years with them. To put a potential positive spin on his story - his character arc reads a bit like how the Ducks/Gulls acquired Jake Dotchin.
Once highly touted? Check. Sieloff was once considered the consolation prize to any team that missed out on Jacob Trouba in the 2012 NHL entry draft. The two were defensive partners on the USNDTP. The Flames took him 42nd overall and claimed it wouldn't have been a reach to take him with their late first rounder (They infamously took Mark Jankowski off a high school team with that pick).
Loves to hit? Check. Like Dotchin, Sieloff is a punishing defender who loves physicality.
Former team perhaps given up on him too soon? Maybe? Dotchin demonstrated in brief action with the Ducks this year that he isn't terrible in the NHL (I would like to see how he does under a not Randy Carlyle system). Sieloff might be different in that I am not sure his mold of blueliner is made for the NHL anymore; he has also been mismanaged by two organizations and has had an insane run of bad luck. But... at the very least he could potentially benefit from a change of scenery and play in an organization where he isn't universally hated for possibly ending the career of one of their much loved forwards.
He has 9 points in 45 games this season with the Belleville Senators, and will fill a Dotchin-sized void on the Gulls’ blue line while allowing them to send Moldenhauer back to the ECHL once Mahura hopefully gets back. This also likely means that whatever Dotchin has - it could long term or season ending (but more on that below).
Meet Brendan Guhle
The kid everyone has been talking about ever since the trade went down, Guhle is a speedy (6th all time fastest skater at the AHL all star game this past January) high end skater who is big and is quoted as being able to take punishment but also deal it. Pronman initially ranked him as the Sabres’ 4th best prospect at the start of this year and highlighted his skating and how he used it to close gaps and transition on the rush. His most recent assessment after the deadline paints a slightly worse picture - stating that he doesn't appear to have much else other than his skating and speed. Time will tell, though, and if there is something the Ducks excel at it’s developing talented blue-liners.
Guhle has 27 points in 50 games with the Amerks this year in his second full pro season. Those points total tie him with Kalle Kossila and Trevor Murphy for 9th on the team in scoring and tied first with Murphy for first among blue liners in one fewer game. Good but not great numbers considering the Gulls got Murphy for Fiore in a one for one deal. On the bright side, Murphy was having a terrible year with the Roadrunners before joining the Gulls so perhaps the same could happen to Guhle once he eventually makes it down.
I wish I had more to tell you, but all I can say is that right now the following players are out with injuries. I have no idea what the injuries are or how they happened, and once I get time I will try to look back and figure out which games they happened in (if they did at all) and try get more info on them that way.
Dotchin has yet to see action with the Gulls since his most recent reassignment, so he was either injured with the Ducks in a game, during practice with the Ducks or during practice with the Gulls. As stated above, the acquisition of Sieloff leads me to believe that his injury is either long term or season ending. UPDATE: Hold the phone, Dotchin was at the Gulls’ most recent Bowling event with fans and I couldn’t see any visible signs of injury in the pictures taken of him. So perhaps he is closer to coming back and I was just speculating with the acquisition of Sieloff. UPDATE 2: He is quoted at the Fan event as saying he hopes to be back March 23rd for a game against the Reign. Thanks heaps Ashley Keenberg for the heads up.
Sideroff has seen just 20 games of action this season and does not appear to have come back since he suffered a hand/wrist injury during a fight in the first period of a game in Ontario just before Christmas. I was sure he came back for a few games maybe a week or so after that, but AHL.com has his last registered game played as that December 22nd affair so I guess he didn't. He was announced on the broadcast during the pregame show for one of the Gulls’ games last week as being out for the season. Tough break because the kid was looking a lot better this year. He has one year left on his entry level deal and will need to now battle Kyle Olson for a spot next year.
Mahura has only been missing in action as of recently. His last game was Feb 20th at home against Tucson, so he has only missed the one game so far. I did not see what happened to him nor did I notice him leave the game early so this one is still a mystery to me. Hopefully we see him back in the Gulls’ line up this coming Saturday.
On a previous broadcast against the Reign two weeks ago it was mentioned that Gazdic was out with injury. My memory is hazy, but I think I remember hearing on the most recent broadcast that he was - like Sideroff - out for the season also.
Matt Berry was also mentioned on the previous game’s pregame show as being out with an injury. I dont have any further details on that other than he, too, last played at home against Tuscon on the 20th. Hopefully his is not long term as he had developed some good chemistry on a line with Sam Carrick.
The Gulls had a much deserved week off and next play a two game series against the Heat, Saturday in Stockton and Wednesday back in San Diego. If the Gulls can take the full four points on offer from the 2nd to last in the Pacific squad they can move ahead of the Barracuda for 2nd place in the Pacific (if the Barracuda also lose to the Reign and Condors).