The Albany River Rats are starting to take shape now. Yesterday, the Carolina Hurricanes released 15 players who were sent to their minor league affiliate up north. The Rats who hit the road were: Justin Peters, Kevin Nastiuk, Dan Manzato, Wade Brookbank, Tim Conboy, Mark Flood, Joey Mormina, Steve Ward, Mike Angelidis, Nichlas Blanchard, Bobby Hughes, David Gove, Kirk MacDonald, Brandon Nolan, and Jerome Samson. Good luck dudes! Now go win that Calder Cup!
This will be the first time in several years that the Carolina franchise is responsible for supplying the manpower to fill the entire roster of their AHL club. I think they have done a pretty good job of it, so far. They have puck-moving defensemen, they have stay at home guys. They have a couple of enforcer types. They have scoring forwards as well as gritty, muck in the corner guys. They even improved their goaltending. Chemistry is important of course and they have to get a few breaks, but this team should be competitive.
The guys who stayed here for now, but who will probably make it up to Albany eventually are: Keith Aucoin, Ryan Bayda, Noah Babin, JD Forrest, Casey Borer, Pat Dwyer, Jacob Petrulazek, Trevor Gillies, Brett Carson, and Michael Leighton. I guess one or two of them could make the team, who knows? It depends on whether Chad LaRose gets healthy and if Laviolette is happy with 7 defensemen or wants to keep 8. According to our poll, the majority thinks Ryan Bayda would be the keeper if the Canes retain an extra forward. I can't say I disagree with that. If someone on the defense is kept, my guess is that it would be either Babin or Carson. Considering that both of them are so young and inexperienced though, I expect that they are both sent to Albany eventually so that they can get as much playing time as possible. They aren't going to get any better or improve while sitting in the pressbox as the Canes number 8 defenseman. The same goes for Forrest and Borer, if either of them can work their way up to that number 8 position. At this point in all of their careers, they need playing time. The Canes can always start with 7 on the blue line and then recall one of those guys as soon as someone gets hurt. They are just a short flight away. TGIF!