Binghamton’s AHL Preview

I wanted to take a look at Binghamton’s chances in the AHL this season, so first a little lay of the land is necessary.  Despite the lockout, most of the AHL’s top scorers remain in the league although there have been a few notable departures: Corey Locke (TPS SM-Liiga), Patrick O’Sullivan (HIFK SM-Liiga), Marco Rosa (Blues SM-Liiga), Alexandre Giroux (Dinamo Riga KHL), Chris Minard (Kolner DEL), Mark Cullen (Vityaz KHL), Paul Szczechura (Dinamo Riga KHL), and Justin Azevedo (Lukko SM-Liiga) to name some of the most prominent.

Binghamton is in the East Division in the Eastern Conference, where 34 of their 76 regular season games will be played.  Their division consists of: Hershey Bears (Washington), Norfolk Admirals (Anaheim; Tampa Bay last season), Syracuse Crunch (Tampa Bay, Anaheim last season), and Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh).  The rest of the conference includes the farm teams of Los Angeles, Phoenix, Boston, Winnipeg, San Jose, Philadelphia, New Jersey, the Rangers, the Islanders, and Columbus.  The B-Sens were the worst team in the league last season, so they can only improve.

Every team in the league has received an influx of unexpected talent, although the amount added varies from roster to roster.  As fans there’s a tendency to overvalue ones own prospects, although within Binghamton’s division the only forward added who is comparable to Jakob Silfverberg is Brett Connolly in Norfolk.

Turnover in the AHL is even more exaggerated than the NHL, so I’ve tried to keep the rosters focussed on key figures (rookies are in italics, NHL players are in bold, other roster additions are in green; points from last season are in brackets):

Binghamton (29-40-7, 5th division)
Forwards: Mike Hoffman (49), Andre Petersson (44), Hugh Jessiman (44), Pat Cannone (43), Stephane Da Costa (46-36), Jakob Silfverberg (SEL 49-53), Mika Zibanejad (SEL 26-13)
Defence: Jared Cowen (17), Andre Benoit (KHL 53-17), Tyler Eckford (25), Mark Borowiecki (22), Eric Gryba (20), Patrick Wiercioch (57-20)
Goaltenders: Ben Bishop (2.26), Robin Lehner (3.26)

The team is depending on development from a young forward group, but has vastly improved their blueline and solidified their goaltending.  Can they score enough?  They will be a much more competitive team and have an improved record over last year.  I expect at least a .500 record, so spot them for 38 wins (+9 over last season).

Hershey (38-26-12, 3rd division); 8 games against Binghamton
Forwards: Ryan Potulny (65), Jon DiSalvatore (61), Jeff Taffe (53), Boyd Kane (41), Ryan Stoa (36), Zach Hamill (23)
Defence: Dmitry Orlov (60-19), Patrick McNeill (41), Garrett Stafford (28), Tomas Kundratek (23), Julien Brouillette (21)
Goaltenders: Braden Holtby (2.61), Dany Sabourin (2.76)
Key Players Gone: Chris Bourque (91), Keith Aucoin (70), Jacob Micflikier (56), Kyle Greentree (34), Matt Ford (28), Cody Eakin (27)

The Bears have lost offense up front, but with an excellent goaltending tandem they remain a strong team (they are also the oldest team in the division).  I do expect a small step back as the improvements on the blueline are probably not enough to avoid a slip–likely in the 38 win range, but with more bonafide losses.  Here’s a blog that provides a fan’s perspective.

Norfolk (as Syracuse 37-29-10, 4th division); 8 games against Binghamton
Forwards: Devante Smith-Pelly (49-13), Patrick Maroon (74), Peter Holland (60), Kyle Palmieri (58), Dan Sexton (43), Ryan Lasch (SM-Liiga 59-62), Corey Elkins (Czech 26-13), Emerson Etem (WHL 107)
Defence: Matt Smaby (30-9), Nate Guenin (27-5), Jordan Hendry (NLA 29-10), Sami Vatanen (SM-Liiga 49-42), Hampus Lindholm (Allsvenskan 20-4)
Goaltenders: Frederik Andersen (SEL 1.62), Igor Bobkov (OHL 3.64)
Key Players Gone: J. F. Jacques (40), Mathieu Carle (D) (37), Kyle Cumisky (D) (29), Iiro Tarkki (2.45)

The team is depending on youth in net and on defence so I’d expect ups and downs throughout the season.  They have a ton of offence up front, but I’m not sold on their goaltending and expect them to take a step back.  I see them at 33 wins (-4 over last season).

Syracuse (as Norfolk 55-18-3, 1st division, Calder Cup champions); 8 games against Binghamton
Forwards: Brett Connolly (68-15), J. T. Wyman (40-11), Cory Conachar (80), Tyler Johnson (68), Richard Panik (41), Alexander Killorn (NCAA 34-46), Vladislav Namestnikov (OHL 71)
Defence: Matt Taormina (30-7), Keith Aulie (36-3), Mark Barberio (61), Evan Oberg (25), Dmitry Korobov (KHL 39-11)
Goaltenders: Dustin Tokarski (2.23), Riku Helenius (SM-Liiga 1.64)
Key Players Gone: Trevor Smith (69), Michel Ouellet (31), Mike Kostka (D) (32), Jaroslav Janus (2.36)

The best team in the AHL this past season has not lost much of their Calder Cup winning roster and will likely dominate the league again.  I really don’t see any holes on the team and it’s unfortunate for Binghamton that Syracuse is in their division.  I think repeating their phenomenal record is unlikely, but they’ll at least hit the 50 win mark again (-5 from last year).

Wilkes-Barre (44-25-7, 2nd division); 10 games against Binghamton
Forwards: Benn Ferriero (35-8), Trevor Smith (69), Riley Holzapfel (37), Eric Tangradi (37-31), Philippe Dupuis (42-31), Brian Gibbons (30), Beau Bennett (NCAA 10-13)
Defence: Alex Grant (37), Joey Mormina (21), Simon Despres (44-15), Dylan Reese (27-15), Joe Morrow (WHL 62-64)
Goaltenders: Brad Thiessen (2.82), Jeff Zatkoff (2.49)
Key Players Gone: Ben Street (57), Bryan Lerg (53), Colin McDonald (49), Geoff Walker (44), Jason Williams (42), Ryan Craig (30), Alexandre Picard (D) (21), Scott Munroe (2.52)

Heavy turnover among the top group of forwards, although in terms of talent I’m not sure much has changed.  The defence appears to have improved, but I’m not sure it’s enough to make the team meaningfully improved over last season.  The team will have a very similar record this season, so I’ll spot them 44 wins again.  Wilkes-Barre is followed by a couple of blogs for those interested in a fan’s perspective (here and here).

Syracuse will dominate just as it did last year (as Norfolk), Binghamton will be much improved while Wilkes-Barre should be about the same and Hershey and Norfolk will take steps back.  The division will finish as follows:
Syracuse
Wilkes-Barre
Binghamton
Hershey
Norfolk

Hershey and Binghamton may swap spots and I imagine only one will qualify for the playoffs.  It will be an interesting year.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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2 Comments

  1. […] 38 points, 11 less than Mike Hoffman‘s meagre team-leading total from last season.  Back in October I predicted that Binghamton would finish third in their division and compete for a playoff spot […]

  2. […] the Binghamton Senators in the context of their conference and measure expectations (I did the same last year and underestimated how much they would improve).  Even more so than the NHL, the AHL has gone […]


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