The Pirates will hold its first day of camp at the Portland Ice Arena where 31 players are expected to battle for only a handful of roster positions.
It’s a group that Phoenix Asst. General Manager, Brad Treliving, is very confident about despite their rookie status.
“What we lack in experience we will more than make up for in enthusiasm,” he said. “We have a really good group of players here that want to work hard.”
The Pirates will be one of, if not, the youngest team in the American Hockey League this season with 13 first-year players on the roster. Much of the veteran leadership will come from three players as Chris Conner, Alexandre Bolduc and Rob Klinkhammer are the only signed veterans on the roster, a departure from last season where Portland had an abundance of veteran players.
Although young, the strength of the Pirates according to Treliving will be on defense with the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Mike Stone, Chris Summers, David Rundblad, Max Goncharov, Mathieu Brodeur, Justin Weller, Mark Louis and Coyotes’ 2010 first round pick Brandon Gormley.
Ekman-Larsson is currently with the Pirates after the NHL locked out its players when the CBA expired less than two weeks ago.
“Even on defense we’re a pretty young group of players,” Treliving said. “But, defense will be the strength of our team.”
Portland Pirates Training Camp Roster:
Tony Lucia (Tryout)
Kale Kessy – attending Pirates camp while serving a 12-game suspension.
The team will hold a series of meetings on Friday before undergoing medicals examinations on Saturday. Normally, those medicals would have taken place in Phoenix, but because of the lockout they are taking place in Portland.
The Pirates first official practice will be on Sunday at Portland Ice Arena.
While some teams in the AHL invite 40 or 50 players to their training camp, the Pirates will have only 31 players in camp. The lone invite to training camp is forward Tony Lucia, who played 46 games last season for the Worcester Sharks. Lucia, a 6-3, 190-pound native of Plymouth, Minnesota, is the son of Don Lucia, long-time head coach of the men’s hockey team at the University of Minnesota.
Coyotes’ prospect Kale Kessy is making an unexpected visit to Pirates training camp after being suspended by the Western Hockey League.
Kessy was suspended 12 games for elbowing Ryan Pilon of the Lethbridge Hurricanes in the head last Saturday. This was seventh suspension handed down to Kessy by WHL, which included three from last season alone.
“He’s been in front of the judge before,” said Treliving. “We are going to bring him into camp in Portland. We’ll see where he’s at. We haven’t signed Kale so he here as an unsigned player.”
Kessy, a ’92 birth date, is eligible to play in the AHL this season. Joining the Pirates for camp is a similar situation to Darian Dziurzynski, who took part in training camp last season before going back to juniors to complete his overage season. Over the summer, Dziurzynski signed an AHL contract with the Pirates.
Treliving believes that Kessy’s game is more suited for the professional ranks, but wasn’t prepared to discuss what would happen beyond training camp.
“I’d say that his game is more suited to the pro game, but he’s playing against bigger players,” he said. “He’s a hard hitter. He forechecks hard and he hits hard. We just need to see where his level of development is at and we’ll go from there.”