Houston Aeros 1994-2013: Thank you for all the great memories and two decades of great hockey and entertainment.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

D Connelly signed, early roster preview

First things first, the Wild signed defenseman Brian Connelly (Rockford/Abbotsford last season) to a two year, two way deal on Friday. He's a puck-moving assist machine and was voted to the All Star Game the last 2 seasons. He finished 2nd among defensemen with 52 points last season and will be a huge asset on the blue line.

Top notch pick-up for the Aeros and great depth for the Wild. He's a Colorado College alum, as are Nate Prosser and Chad Rau, so that club grows a little bigger.

Meanwhile, according to Mr. Russo, that was #49 of the 50 professional contracts the Wild are allowed have on the books.

Teams leave a contract or two open in case something crazy happens later in the season and they need to sign someone (like when Fredheim was signed late last season due to a defenseman crunch). Which tells me that it's very likely the Wild/Aeros are finished with depth signings that will significantly impact the Aeros.

And really, the roster is quite full, where usually there are 2-3 spots to give AHL/ECHL bubble guys a shot. You can see below that there's not really even room for minor league contracts on this team unless they decide to send some of the rookies down to play more minutes in Orlando and plug in some more experienced AHLers. I would lump this in the "Good Problems to Have" bucket.

C Jake Dowell (VET)
C Charlie Coyle
C Zack Phillips
C Chad Rau
C Joel Broda
C David McIntyre (tendered qualifying offer, still needs to be signed)
C Jarod Palmer (tendered qualifying offer, still needs to be signed)

RW Brett Bulmer
RW Justin Fontaine
RW Nick Palmieri (tendered qualifying offer, still needs to be signed)
RW Carson McMillan (tendered qualifying offer, still needs to be signed)

LW Johan Larsson
LW Jason Zucker
LW Stephane Veilleux (VET)
LW Kris Foucault

D Brian Connelly
D Chay Genoway
D Tyler Cuma
D Steven Kampfer
D Drew Bagnall (VET)
D Kyle Medvec
D Josh Caron
D Colton Jobke
D Jonas Brodin (maybe)
D Sean Lorenz (AHL deal)

One thing, right off the bat is that it looks like there won't be any issue with the veteran rule. I didn't do the math on everybody, but Bagnall, Dowell, and Veilleux are the only ones I see that would be considered "veterans" for the purposes of this rule.

Obviously, those qualifying offers have to get sorted out, but I don't see why any of them should be a big deal. Also, while the Wild roster is pretty much full up with 1-way contracts (Scandella and Spurgeon the exceptions, and they've likely secured their spots), there will of course be injuries and whatnot that will send some of the Houston guys up.

Here's a quote from Russo's "Wild Depth Chart" post a few days ago that indicates the teams intentions:
"As I wrote in today's analysis, yesterday's moves to sign Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, as well as signing Zenon Konopka and Torrey Mitchell on July 1, almost assures that the Wild will be patient with its prospects and have them grow together in Houston. That is the way the good teams do it. Be patient, don't force-feed kids into the NHL, promote when they're ready."
One thing is for sure, this is going to be a wicked young team, so there will be a lot of figuring out the pro game, what they can/can't get away with here that they could in junior or college. As we've seen, that can take a good chunk of the season (or seasons) for some guys. And as full as this roster is, some may get to do some of that in Orlando.

The coaches and the older guys will have their hands full doing a lot of teaching, I suspect, and fans will need to be patient through the growing pains. But this team has the potential to be very fast, with a good balance of skill and toughness.

This time last year, a few of these new kids might have expected to get a real chance at skipping Houston altogether, but it really is a luxury to be able to play important minutes in relative anonymity. In prior years, Wild prospects have not always had that good fortune (even though it probably feels lousy at the time).

And Coach Torchetti should be happy as he finally has that all-important internal competition for ice time that he was so desperate for last season and never really got due to all the injuries and call-ups.

As much as I was ho-hum about last season, I'm super excited to see what unfolds this season. If the front office can keep the attendance momentum going, it could turn out to be a really fun year.

So... can we start now? Is it October yet? *sticks hand out door* No, definitely NOT October yet. *sigh*

Up next on the T3I agenda is putting together a little info on each of the new guys so you (and we) have a better sense of what they're all about.


Brian said...

I think this is going to be an amazingly interesting year for Houston w/ all of the *talented* youngsters. Best prospect group Minnesota has ever had. Have fun Houston fans!

Brian said...

It's going to be a great year for Houston fans. This is certainly the most talented group of prospects MN has ever sent down.

Ger said...

The Aeros roster is definitely looking like it has the potential for big things this year. Seems like there will be some tough decisions to make regarding the forwards.

I could see the lines working out something like this:




(Brodin will probably go back to Sweden for a year)

Forecheck said...

Isn't Brodin a year too young to be here?

Ms. Conduct said...

You are right. Fixed it.

n0e11e said...

agreed to the Nth power on the last part. it needs to be october RIGHT NOW.

Brian said...

Brodin can play in the AHL. Age limit applied only to canadian junior prospects -I think.

Brian said...

Even with Parise and Suter, I'd almost rather watch this Houston roster to see how they develop.

Ms. Conduct said...

Oh crap! You're totally right! Geez. I need a freaking flow chart or something...

Forecheck said...

Wait - Isn't Connelly the guy who was carried of the Toyota Center ice in a stretcher after colliding with a teamate?

Ms. Conduct said...

I don't recall that, but someone else might.

B2 said...

I remember the incident when two Heat players KO'd each other while making a line change. I don't remember if it was Connely that was carted off on the stretcher or not.

Forecheck said...

Also, what I've read about the CBA negotiations is looking pretty grim. How will a lock-out affect all of this?

Forecheck said...

As our own John Royal reported, it was Josh Meyers who was carried off the ice.


I guess John is hibernating during the offseason, or simply watching baseball (same thing - especially given the Astros' ineptitude this season.)