The beloved Eagles played their first games as an AHL franchise this weekend, splitting a pair with the San Jose Barracuda. Game one featured a mostly ECHL lineup, resulting in a 5-3 loss, while Saturday’s game was closer to what we’ll see vs Chicago on Friday night. Along the way 13 players were cut, all but one sent to our affiliate in Utah for their training camp.
Coach Cronin made some remarks before Saturday’s game indicating the main point of the weekend was to see what they had, get a look at who could be the callups from the Grizzlies and trim the roster down to a manageable level for the final week of practice. Game two got pretty close to what the opening night roster will be and the results were decent.
Lineup: Game One
Goals: P1 Joly (Beaudin, Nantel), P3 Downing (Joly), Downing (???)
Shots For: 27
Shots Against: 41 (20 in 2nd period)
Power Play: 1/6, Penalty Kill: 8/8
Lineup: Game Two
Goals: P1 Boikov (Harms, Richart), P2 Lewis (Boikov, Richart), P3 Agozzino (Kosmachuk, Davis), Joly (Lewis, Meloche)
Shots For: 19
Shots Against: 23
Power Play 1/6, Penalty Kill (7/7)
I got to listen to game 2 on the radio and the lines were pretty fluid as it progressed. Defensively they were a lot better with the more experienced players but sacrificed game pace a little to do that. Only one period out of 6 did they generate 10 shots and that’s not going to work.
Five players ended up with more than one point, which is nice. Joly and Downing both had 2 goals and they are more depth than primary scorers so that’s good to see. The power play was 2/12 which is a little weak but the PK stopped all 15 chances.
After each game the staff made some cuts so here’s what the roster is like at the moment by position:
After Friday’s game, Winquist, McGauley, Rice, Carroll and Walters were cut and sent to Utah. Hunter Smith was released outright from a PTO. Cole Ully and Brendan Harms joined the group headed to the Grizzlies Sunday morning. Ully has been decent so far, I’ll consider him quality depth and the rest we’ll see. Depth chart right now looks like this:
Barron didn’t play in either game, the only forward not to do so. He’s been dinged up a bit so far in pre-season. Keep in mind the Avs need to cut some forwards theoretically and depending on injuries. Best guess is the Eagles get two more and it’s a close race.
Addendum: The Eagles announced the signing of Cody Bass to an AHL contract Sunday afternoon. Bass is an aging facepuncher with little puck skill that was consistently the worst forward in Avs training camp. We haven’t seen a clown like this signed in a few years so it’s tough to say why. I get that the Eagles are one of the youngest teams in the AHL but bringing in players that don’t contribute to winning on the scoreboard makes the team worse and leadership is a specious quality at best.
Matt Pufahl and Gage Ausmus were cut after the first game, Kevin Davis and Taylor Richart after the second. Conor Timmins and David Warsofsky are injured long-term so that’s a depth issue right away. Anton Lindholm is also injured and may choose to use a European assignment clause if cut. Mark Alt is the Avs 8th D right now so they may choose to keep him. Essentially we don’t know if any defenseman cuts are coming from the Avs at this point.
This is a case of careful what you wish for but the staff has little choice but to ice a young and inexperienced lineup. Right there is 522 games of AHL experience, mostly from Mason and Graves. Anderson, Ottenbreit and De Jong have 10 games combined. The staff are going to have a lot of teaching moments early but that should pay off in the long run.
This area is set with Pavel Francouz the starter and Spencer Martin the backup. Joe Cannata is still on the roster and can provide the depth when called on. I think the plan is to have him with the Grizzlies, they seem to think so anyway.
The Eagles staff have a handful of practices this week to construct the final lines, pairs and special teams units. Friday night they kick off the inaugural AHL season vs the Chicago Wolves with a rematch on Saturday night. Not trying to be a shill here but the AHL has a new streaming provider this season and a full season package for Colorado is $60. Download the AHL app and throw down, this is going to be fun to watch.