On Thursday, the Phoenix Coyotes assigned six players to its’ top affiliate, the Portland Pirates, while placing five players on waivers as they get ready to finalize its 23-man roster by 5:00pm Friday.
“I think the (Pirates) roster will be in flux through at least the weekend and possible longer depending waivers and injuries,” said Coyotes’ Assistant GM Brad Treliving. “With that many games in that short period of time, there’s going to be a lot going on.”
The Coyotes assigned forwards Chris Brown, Andy Miele, Brendan Shinnimin and Jordan Szwarz along with defensemen Chris Summers and Brandon Gormley.
Miele was recalled to the Coyotes along with Alexandre Bolduc, Michael Stone and David Rundblad last Friday, joining Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who left for Phoenix a week ago to taking part in informal workouts with other members of the Coyotes in Scottsdale, Arizona.
“Andy probably has taken as big of a step as anyone in the whole organization from last year into this year in terms of his overall game,” said Treliving. “We asked Andy to do a lot of things over the summer in terms of improving his face offs and defensive game. He is simply just a much better pro than he was a year ago. Now, for him, it’s getting that opportunity and continuing to play until that opportunity arises.”
The Coyotes also placed forwards Chris Connor, Nick Johnson, Rob Klinkhammer Chad Johnson and Joel Rechlicz on waivers. Johnson and Rechlicz remained in Portland, but were required to be placed on waivers as part of the NHL’s transitioning rules to a new collective bargaining agreement.
As part of the agreement between the NHL and its players’ association, players who either were on a one-way contract, or two-way contract and required waivers to play in the AHL during NHL lockout, must be placed on waivers prior to the start of the NHL season in order to be eligible to play in the minors.
“Some players were waived before the lockout and part of those transition rules is that once the lockout was lifted anybody who required waivers would need to be waived in order to go down to the AHL again,” said Treliving.
Rechlicz has appeared in 23 games for the Pirates, while Johnson had been the starting goalie for much of the year although rookie Mark Visentin has seen more of the net in the last month, playing a rotating schedule with Johnson, winning six of his last seven games.
The Coyotes still have 27 players left in training camp, and must trim its roster down to 23 players by Friday’s 5pm deadline, which includes Coyotes’ forward Raffi Torres who has eight games left on a 21 games suspension for an illegal check to Chicago Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa in last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
“The thing that jams us up a little bit is the Torres’ suspension,” said Treliving. “It’s difficult because that’s a player that we have no access to for eight games so we can only carry up to 22 players because one player has to be (Torres) and he’s not eligible to play.”
The Pirates currently lead the Atlantic Division with a 23-13-1-1 record, winning 13 of its last 16 games, and is tied with the Springfield Falcons for second place in the AHL’s Eastern Conference with 48 points, five points back of the Syracuse Crunch.
Treliving said that with the recent assignments to Portland, which will give them 23 players, including injured defenseman Max Goncharov and forward Jordan Martinook and Boris Valabik, who is dealing with immigration issues, they will have enough players to field a roster for the Pirates next game, which is Friday night in Providence Rhode Island against the Bruins
NOTES: Alexandre Bolduc and David Rundblad were named to the Eastern Conference roster for the AHL All-Star Classic being held later this month at the Dunkin Donuts Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Both players are currently in Glendale, AZ participating in Coyotes’ training camp.