Pirates’ leading scorer Alexandre Bolduc along with Andy Miele, Michael Stone and David Rundblad will be leave Portland Friday morning for Phoenix in order to take part in training camp with the Pirates’ NHL affiliate, Phoenix Coyotes.
All four players will join defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who is already in Phoenix after flying out of Portland on Monday.
Bolduc and company, while not officially recalled from Portland by the Coyotes until the lockout is officially over, will be joining the Coyotes for training camp, which is scheduled to begin tentatively on Sunday pending ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement by the National Hockey League Players Association.
Voting began Thursday night and expected to be completed by Saturday.
“Our plan, barring anything drastic, is to open camp on Sunday,” said Coyotes’ Assistant GM Brad Treliving. “But, player ratification won’t be finalized until Saturday so we’re in a waiting mode.”
The labor dispute came to an end Sunday morning as both the NHL and NHLPA reached a deal on a new 10-year pact, ending the 113-day work stoppage. The NHL Board of Governors unanimously ratified the new CBA on Wednesday with the hopes that a 48-game season will get underway on Jan. 19.
With such a short schedule in a compact time frame, it’s going to place a great amount of importance on the depth of the Coyotes.
“The one thing that’s really evident is you’re going to need a lot of bodies,” said Treliving. The depth of your organization is really going to be tested and I think we’ve got a lot of players that are having really good seasons and those that may or may not come to camp doesn’t necessarily mean they won’t play any games for us.”
“There are a lot of guys that deserve to be in camp, but the unfortunate thing is this is not a regular training camp. It short and quick and the message to the guys in Portland are that things could change in a day. If you are on a look, come and perform and if you are not just keep doing what you’re doing because it could be you up here the next day.”
Bolduc, who is departing Portland while on a three-game point streak, leads the team in scoring with 17 goals, 15 assists for 32 points and a plus-2 rating in 34 games.
Miele in his second year with the Pirates was on pace to eclipse points total as a rookie has 26 points (11g, 15a) in 35 games.
After a slow start, Rundblad has really begun to find his game, scoring six goals, 17 assists with a plus-2 rating in 32 games to lead all Pirates’ defenders in scoring.
Stone is only a point behind Rundblad with 22 points (6g, 16a) in 31 games.
Treliving wouldn’t place a timeframe on any player who is skating with the Coyotes once training camp opens.
“We’re on a wait-and-see basis,” said Treliving. “We’ve got to get into camp and see how everything goes and where we are at.”
As a result of losing all five players, Evan Bloodoff, Scott Arnold and Maxime Villemaire have been recalled from the Coyotes’ ECHL developmental team, the Gwinnett (GA.) Gladiators.
Bloodoff has appeared in 33 games with Gwinnett since being assigned to the club on Oct. 22 and was third in scoring on the team with 12 goals, 13 assists for 25 points with a plus-7 rating.
Arnold went down to Gwinnett nearly a month ago and played nine games before being recalled on Thursday, averaging nearly a point per game, scoring three goals, five assists for eight points.
Villemaire has appeared in 15 games with the Gladiators, posting one assist.
Treliving said that they are looking to add two defensemen to the Pirates roster with only five healthy defensemen in Portland currently. Max Goncharov has missed the last six games with an upper body injury and is listed by the team as day-to-day.
“We’re working on it and we hope to have something in place soon,” said Treliving.
Portland, who currently sits in first place in the Atlantic Division, second in the AHL’s Eastern Conference with a 21-12-1-1 record, will travel to Connecticut for a game Saturday against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, before heading to Worcester on Sunday afternoon.
The Pirates return home for a game on Tuesday against the Connecticut Whale, looking for its ninth consecutive win at the Cumberland County Civic Center and a chance to set a new franchise record for consecutive wins on home ice.