The exit sign over the St. John’s IceCaps’ dressing-room door will be flashing bright in the next day or so, but the American Hockey League team will also be laying out a mat saying “welcome back.”
As of Tuesday night, IceCaps’ head coach Keith McCambridge couldn’t offer details on which players will be headed to the post-lockout training camp of the parent Winnipeg Jets, but did say he now expects the departure numbers to be on the high side of previous expectations, which would mean St. John’s could lose five players for at least the duration of the Jets’ camp. And McCambridge, who had previously speculated about losing three defencemen and two forwards, now says it could be the reverse — two rearguards and three from the front lines.
It is known rearguard Paul Postma is Winnipeg-bound, but the total and exact disposition of the recall should be announced after the NHL and its players union formally ratify the lockout-ending agreement they reached on Sunday. Other factors will be the health of players returning to Winnipeg, whether the Jets want to bring more than the roster maximum of 23 players to camp and whether Winnipeg will sign or offer tryouts to any free agents.
Whatever happens, the IceCaps are already arranging for replacements. Two of these preparatory additions are expected to join the team today, with one thought to be forward Josh Lunden, who played 11 games (one assist) with St. John’s in 2011-12, and attended the team’s training camp last fall.
There is at least one other call-up has noting to do with the upcoming resumption of the NHL season.
“(Goaltender) Mark Dekanich was hurt in practice (Tuesday) ... it’s a hamstring,” said McCambridge, “so we’re bringing in Chris Carrozzi.”
Like Lunden, Carrozzi also spent some time with the IceCaps last season (1-1 record) and participated in St. John’s most recent training camp before being assigned to the ECHL’s Ontario (Calif.) Reign, where he’s posted a 13-6-0 record and 2.85 goals-against average.
Lunden has also been in the ECHL, one state over, playing with the Las Vegas Wranglers, scoring six goals, adding 10 assists and picking up 35 penalty minutes in 35 games.
The IceCaps have four signed players — forwards Joey Sides, Ray Kaunisto and Norm Ezekiel and defenceman Jake Marto — with their ECHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles, but haven’t tapped that source this week ... at least not yet. One reason is that the Eagles are already dealing with a roster shortfall — they had just 14 skaters for a recent game — in part because they have already lost forward Ryan Schnell and defenceman Cody Sol to St. John’s.
“We really like what Ray Kaunisto brings, for example” said McCambridge of the winger who played a game for St. John’s last month before being sent back to Colorado. “But right now, we don’t want to do anything to make it harder on them (the Eagles) than it has to be.
“We’ll wait and see what happens with Winnipeg and then with us and on whatever else happens before we make those decisions.”
The IceCaps, who will look to end a six-game home ice losing streak when they take on the Toronto Marlies Friday and Saturday at Mile One Centre, aren’t the only team making ECHL call-ups. The Marlies, for example, announced Tuesday they are bringing in forwards Andrew Crescenzi and Jamie Devane, defenceman Ryan Grimshaw and goaltender Mark Owuya from their respective ECHL teams.
Owuya, who was playing in Las Vegas with Lunden, will be needed if Marlies’ No. 1 goalie Ben Scrivens attends the Toronto Maple Leafs’ training camp. That, in turn, would seem to be very much dependant on whether the Leafs actually make a long-rumoured trade for Roberto Luongo.