The Newfoundland Growlers begin their first-ever ECHL training camp in 11 days.
As of Wednesday morning, they have six signed players.
But take you finger off the panic button. Suppress that “What the …!!!” rising in your throat. Don’t break the glass on the fire alarm.
They’ll be just fine.
We’ve been telling you throughout the summer how the majority of the Growlers’ roster will be made up of players sent to Newfoundland by their affiliates, the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs and their American Hockey League’s Toronto Marlies.
Well, it’s looking more and more like you can say the “vast” majority of the Growlers’ roster will be the product of Leafs/Marlies assignments.
Think of the respective teams’ training camps as ponds connected by streams.
The Maple Leafs’ camp, which is well underway, still features 51 players, making it the largest body of water.
There will be a trickle-off of three players still in their teens and due to be sent back to their junior clubs. But the big outflow will begin on or around Sept. 24 when the Marlies open their own training camp. Because to get down to a 23-man roster, the Maple Leafs will have to cull 25 other players.
Some of that might happen through by injury designations; for example, four would-be Marlies/Growlers at the Toronto NHL camp — forwards Josh Kestner, Mason Marchment, Derian Plouffe and Kristian Pospisil — were officially listed as hurt earlier this week. There could be a reduction through trades or waiver losses (then again, these might result in an increase in numbers).
There are two unsigned players who have been sent to the Marlies — Toronto draft picks and defencemen Sean Durzi and Mac Hollowell — who could turn pro this fall if inked to contracts, but who are also eligible to return to their OHL junior teams as overagers.
Straight-out releases are less likely since all the players in the Toronto camp, except for those a couple of those junior-aged players, are signed to professional contracts. The Maple Leafs’ camp , as of today, doesn’t have any players on try-outs.
But whatever happens, it’s a good bet that there will be another 20 players assigned to the Marlies by the Maple Leafs. We say “another” because Toronto dispatched 17 bodies to their AHL farm team a few days ago.
So there’s another pond — the Marlies one — that should contain three dozen or so players, not counting a few others who might be expected to attend the Toronto AHL camp as unsigned invitees.
They won’t all be staying in T.O. It looks like as many as 14 or 15 players will accompany Growlers’ head coach Ryane Clowe — who is participating in the Maple Leafs’ camp — back to St. John’s at the end of the month.
Think of it as the last connecting stream, one flowing east.
Exactly who’ll be in that stream will be determined — in part — by camp performances in the coming days, but count on most coming from an 18-player contingent signed to American Hockey League contracts with the Marlies, a group that includes Newfoundlanders Colin Greening (who won’t be sent to the Growlers) and fellow forward Zach O’Brien (who might be).
Both Greening and O’Brien attended Toronto’s main camp. Greening is still there along with two other AHL-contracted players — Rich Clune and Emerson Clark — but will wind up with the Marlies by next week.
O’Brien was among the 17 sent to the Marlies over the weekend. So was Latvian defenceman Kristian Rubins, the only one of the six players signed directly by the Growlers who attended Toronto’s NHL camp.
The other definite Growlers are two St. John’s natives , forward Marcus Power and James Melindy; Bonavistan, former NHL rearguard and presumptive first captain Adam Pardy; goaltender Michael Garteig and forward Semyon Babintsev.
And you can also count on a number of tryout players attending the Growlers’ training camp, which will see the team playing exhibition games against the Brampton Beast in Stephenville, Deer Lake and Clarenville.
One name we keep hearing in regard to those tryouts is forward Scott Trask, a 25-year-old from Bonavista who turned pro last season with the Huntsville (Alabama) Havoc of the Southern Professional Hockey League after four years at Acadia University and three years with the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
So there you have it Fourteen or 15 players from the Leafs/ Marlies. Six already signed. Maybe a couple hooking on as the result of successful tryouts.
The Newfoundland Growlers might look pretty thin right now, but should have no problem filling out the ECHL-mandated 20-man active roster a couple of weeks from now.
Training camp depth charts
Players signed to professional contracts and in the Toronto Maple Leafs’ training camp as of Tuesday:
Key: A — AHL contract, I — Injured, J — Will be returned to junior team if he doesn’t earn an NHL roster spot,
Jeremy Bracco, Adam Brooks, Connor Brown, Emerson Clark (A), Rich Clune (A), Adam Cracknell, Pierre Engvall, Tyler Ennis, Frederik Gauthier, Colin Greening (A), Carl Grundstrom, Zach Hyman, Andreas Johnsson, Josh Jooris, Josh Kestner (A, I), Nazrem Kadri, Kasperi Kapanen, Josh Leivo, Par Lindholm, Mason Marchment (I), Patrick Marleau, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, Derian Plouffe (A,I), Trevor Moore, Chris Mueller, Kristian Pospisil (A,I), John Tavares, Dmytro Timashov
Andreas Borgman, Connor Carrick, Travis Dermott, Jake Gardiner, Ron Hainsey, Justin Holl, Timothy Liljegren, Vincent Loverde, Martin Marincin, Andrew Nielsen, Igor Ozhiganov, Margan Rielly, Calle Rosen, Rasmus Sandin (J), Jordan Subban, Nikita Zaitsev
Frederik Andersen, Curtis McIlhenny, Calvin Pickard, Garrett Sparks
Players already assigned to the AHL’s Toronto Marlies by the Maple Leafs:
Key: A — AHL contract, E — ECHL contract, O — Eligible to return to junior team as an overager, U — Unsigned
Matthew Bradley (A), Hudson Elynuik (A), Giorgio Estephan (A), Brady Ferguson (A), Griffen Molino (A), Ryan Moore (A), Zach O'Brien (A), JJ Piccinich (A), Scott Pooley (A)
Sean Durzi (U, O), Alex Gudbranson (A), Mac Hollowell (U, O), Sam Jardine (A), Stefan Leblanc (A), Kristians Rubins (E)
Kasimir Kaskisuo, Eamon McAdam
Players signed by the ECHL’s Newfoundland Growlers who did not attend the Toronto Maple Leafs’ training camp:
Marcus Power, Semyon Babintsev
James Melindy, Adam Pardy