.Much of the talk in the AHL this summer has been about where would the Rangers go if they did leave. Rumors have been swirling that there may be vacancies in Glen Falls, Albany and Binghamton for next season. These upstate New York cities that have very strong Ranger fan bases and would naturally be attractive places for a Rangers affiliate.
While most of the talk in this season has been about Whalers Sports & Entertainment, leases and contracts, we need to talk some hockey. What is going to happen on the ice this year?
The Whale roster from last season has taken some hits. We know about Zuccarello, Moses, Thuresson, Valentanko, and so on but last month Casey Wellman was traded to Florida. Casey, who was acquired from Minnesota last season for Erik Christensen, he was traded by the Rangers last month to the Panthers for a 2014 fifth round pick. A very big bright spot for the Whale last season, Wellman had five assists and four goals in the playoffs, including the series clincher in overtime in game three against the Sound Tigers. Yet despite his success in Hartford, Wellman had little chance to crack the NHL roster and New York and should get more of a look in Miami.
Hartford hockey fans are also excited to see Marek Hrivik. They will continue to watch him develop in the AHL this year. Hrivik was relatively quiet during the regular season games he played but he, like Wellman, led the offensive charge into the Calder Cup playoffs last year. The Rangers are watching him with great interest. An undrafted player, if he picks up where he left off soon most of Hartford will know who he is and a trip to New York could follow.
The Whale goaltending will look different for the first time in two seasons. With Chad Johnson moving on to the Phoenix organization someone will have to fill fill his spot. After a sensational playoffs, Cam Talbot is ingrained as starter will most likely be backed up by either Scott Stajcer or Jason Missiaen. Missiaen is a mountain of a goalie at six foot eight and in 40 games for the ECHL's Greenville Road Warriors Missiaen put up a 2.71 GAA, a .916 save percentage and a 22-13-3 record. Stajcer isn't tiny, he stands six foot two, and he is also quicker. Both prospects have impressed this far in their careers.
Last year every goalie call up to the AHL went to Missiaen over Stajcer, so logic would dictate Missian has the inside track on the backup job..
AEG has announced some Friday night discounts at concessions in the XL Center. Friday Hartford Hockey Nights will feature $2 draft beers and $1 hot dogs. After paying NHL concession prices the last few seasons, these Friday night deals will bring some welcome relief. There are 11 Friday night games this season, the first being the opener on October 12 2012 against in-state rival the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.