Archive for October 6th, 2010

Camp Update

October 6, 2010

Thanks to Dan D’Uva, who set up a phone chat with myself and Trenton Devils head coach Kevin Dean today.  I was in the middle of watching the Rays-Rangers ALDS — I’ll be covering the Yankees-Twins ALDS series and was studying this series since I’ll get to do the ALCS as well if the Yankees advance — so I had to switch into hockey mode pretty quickly when the phone rang.

I also had to go into scramble mode, since I didn’t have anything prepared…but here’s what I’ve got for ya:

— I asked Dean about the level of talent he’s been receiving thanks to the depth in the organization, as well the players he may still receive.

“With the depth we have now, you know there’s going to be good players coming down here,” he said, “You just didn’t know who they’re going to be.”

Dean said everything was status quo with the roster today, which is significant given the glut of forwards Albany currently has.  He made a good point, saying that with New Jersey’s roster being light and Albany’s being heavy, there’s a lot in flux right now at the top two levels.

— I also asked Dean if he noticed an increased level of competition in camp given the large amount of players for so few spots, and while he said he did sense a feeling of “internal competition,” he also said he felt that given he’s a new coach, even players who have been around will be working harder.

— Dean said he is keeping track of what other teams in the league are doing, but given his unfamiliarity with a lot of the names, that he’s relying on assistant coach Vince Williams for a lot of info on the opposition.

— The first-year head coach is happy with his first training camp as a bench boss, saying he’s “pleased with the pace and energy” so far at this year’s camp.

— Dean said he got to watch Trevor Kell a lot during New Jersey’s camp and felt he had a very good camp.

“His skating keeps getting better and better,” Dean said.

— I asked Dean about the demotion of Jeff Prough, and if there was any concern about a player having a poor attitude about having to return to the ECHL when he’s clearly played his way out of the league after two straight 30-goal seasons.

“I don’t see that with Jeff,” Dean said.

“That’s something you have to be in tune with.  Guys are going to be disappointed when they get sent down, and they should be.  Hopefully, you can turn it into a positive.”

— Dean also commented on the release of Eric Castonguay, and his subsequent signing by Reading.  You may recall that Castonguay played for Lowell last year, where Dean was an assistant.

“We felt like we made a good offer to try to bring him back, but Eric wanted to go in a different direction,” said Dean, noting that Chris Lamoriello and Castonguay had a dialogue about the matter.

“In the end, he felt like maybe he’d get a better look, a better opportunity with a different organization.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Trenton Roster Gets Huge Boost From Albany

October 6, 2010

Devils prospect Jean-Sebastien Berube headlines another group of players heading to Trenton (Photo: Mike Ashmore/2009)

There is no reason why this shouldn’t be the best Trenton Devils team in years. 

All the depth that the Devils organization has been slowly building — essentially restocking a nearly bare farm system — is starting to trickle down to Trenton.  Five more players have been assigned to Trenton from Albany, including G Dave Caruso, D Justin Pender, D Andy Thomas, F Jean-Sebastien Berube and F Trevor Kell.

The name that jumps off the page to me is Berube.

The Devils seventh round pick in 2008, Berube is a legitimate prospect in the organization, the first such player since Jeff Frazee, Kory Nagy and Nathan Perkovich to put on a T-Devils uniform.  Hockeysfuture.com has him listed as a C-level prospect, although he does not rank among the Devils top 20.

Berube, just 20 years old, has played for Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL for the past four seasons.  A feared fighter, Berube’s game has really rounded out, as he tallied career highs in goals (24) and assists (21) in 64 games last season.  You look at this guy’s stats and think he can one day be the total package.  With that kind of physicality and his penchant to put the biscuit in the basket, he’ll be an exciting player to watch develop this season.

This will not, however, be his pro debut.  Berube appeared in one AHL playoff game with the Lowell Devils last year, going scoreless.

The other names?  Well, they’re ones you know.

Caruso spent all of last season with Trenton after spending all but one game of the year before in the AHL.  He really picked up his game down the stretch, and posted a 21-20-2 mark with a 3.06 GAA and .908 save percentage in 46 games last year.  He will, most likely, enter the season as the club’s number one goaltender.

Pender…the problem with being honest in evaluating guys, is that sometimes they’ll come back the next season.  I’m as critical of him as I am because I see what he can be.  He really, really, really does have the potential to have a big impact on this club.  If he’s worked on his shot and worked on playing a more physical game before the whistle blows…he could really be an ECHL-style Zdeno Chara.  If he hasn’t?  We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.  He scored seven goals and added ten assists in 49 games last year.

Thomas is a solid addition to the Trenton blueline.  Just 24 years old, Thomas has spent parts of the past two seasons at the AHL level — although last year he got just one game with Lowell.  He played the other 71 with Trenton, and the durable D-man scored three goals and added 18 assists while posting 82 penalty minutes.

Kell…well, the captain is back.  He’s back for a fourth season in the capital city.  Last season, battling injuries and a lack of playing time during a stint in AHL Lowell, Kell appeared in just 44 games with the T-Devils, scoring 16 goals with 19 assists.  If he can find the right partner on the penalty kill, he can turn it into more of an offensive opportunity for Trenton than a defensive situation, as he did with Jim Henkel in 2008-09.

Trenton’s camp roster looks like this:

Goaltenders (3): Dave Caruso, Anthony Felice, Jeff Lerg.

Defensemen (8): Gord Burnett, Justin Coutu, David Leaderer, Tyler Miller, Martin Nolet, Justin Pender, Jordon Southorn, Andy Thomas.

Forwards (14): Jeremy Akeson, Jean-Sebastien Berube, Ryan Ginand, Ryan Hayes, Matthew Kang, Trevor Kell, Matt Lombardi, Jeff Prough, Brett Valliquette, Garett Vassel, Taylor Vichorek, Matt Vokes, Darcy Zajac, Tony Zancanaro.

Albany is still carrying a lot of forwards, and ECHL teams can only skate ten forwards.  This could get very, very interesting here in a few days.  A few guys who think they have jobs locked in could be going home.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Castonguay Released By Devils, Signs With Reading

October 6, 2010

(Reading PR) Reading, PA – The Reading Royals of the ECHL, affiliate of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins of the National Hockey League and the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League, today announced that the team has signed forward Eric Castonguay [“kass TOHN gay”].

Last year, Castonguay (5’11/197) (23), who hails from Granby, Quebec, scored two goals and assisted on five others in forty-five regular season games for the Lowell Devils of the AHL. Prior to that, for two consecutive seasons, Castonguay led the Trenton Devils of the ECHL in scoring, racking up a total of 117 points (49g-68a) in 124 ECHL regular season games.

Prior to turning pro, Castonguay played three seasons for the Lewiston MAINEiacs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he registered 161 points (72g-89a) in 205 total games. In 2006-07, Castonguay scored twenty-seven regular season goals as the MAINEiacs claimed the QMJHL regular season championship. He then racked up seventeen points (2g-15a) over the seventeen playoff games that it took for Lewiston to win the QMJHL’s President’s Cup.

The Royals now have twenty-four players (thirteen forwards, nine defensemen and two goaltenders) in training camp.

ECHL News and Notes

October 6, 2010

— Former Trenton Devils goalie Gerald Coleman has been officially assigned to Alaska after seeing some time with AHL Peoria.  In addition, former Elmira Jackals D Alex Dzielski has signed with the Aces.

— Here’s a move I’m excited about.  Jared DeMichiel, who was the goalie during RIT’s remarkable run to the Frozen Four, has been assigned to South Carolina by AHL Hershey.  Then again, given that I was excited to see Braden Holtby play and ended up getting stuck with Todd Ford the last time the Stingrays came in, I’m sure he won’t play when South Carolina comes to Trenton in mid-December.

— Long-time NHL’er Kyle Calder is back in the ECHL, signing with the Bakersfield Condors.  The former Blackhawk, Flyer, Red Wing and King played with the Anaheim Ducks just last season after a five game stint with the Condors.

— The Elmira Jackals were assigned D John de Gray by Anaheim.  He played in 41 games for AHL Rochester last season.

— Flyers fans might be interested to know G Nic Riopel has been assigned to Greenville.  He’s joined there by Brendan Connolly, who scored 12 goals last season for the Jackals. 

— Flyers fans, and T-Devils fans for that matter, will remember G Michael Teslak.  Teslak backstopped the Jackals in the greatest hockey game I’ve ever seen, making an ECHL-record 71 saves in the four overtime thriller to open the playoffs against Trenton in 2009.  He’s signed a tryout agreement with Idaho.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com