A Portland Pirates Update For Your Convenience
Don’t feel like digging up who the Sabres have under contract in the AHL? Aren’t sure what holes are open in Portland? Curious as to who the new guys on the Pirates are? Let me do all the hard work! I’m gonna go ahead and break down what’s going on up in Maine with the Sabres’ minor league squad.
So, before I go any further, have you – my loyal Black & Blue & Goldeteers – bookmarked Cap Geek’s Sabres salary chart yet? Get on it already if you haven’t! The wonderful thing about this chart is that it also contains all of the Sabres’ non-roster players (aka the Portland Pirates).
Now without further ado, let’s get down to business. Yesterday, Pirates forward Travis Turnbull tweeted that a former teammate and good friend of his was signed by the Sabres to play in Portland. Chris Roy of the Maine Hockey Journal then broke the story, followed by the Sabres’ official announcement. That man is Dennis McCauley, a RWer last season with the AHL Worcester Sharks. If this is true, then that would give the Pirates a fully-loaded right side (Corey Tropp, Jacob Lagace, Dennis McCauley, and Tim Conboy) and this is even without Mark Mancari maybe or maybe not re-signing with the organization. If he were to re-sign, that would immediately throw him on the top line, switching Lagace or McCauley over to the left side.
With the right side covered, let’s shift one position over to center. Luke Adam has recently made the jump from the QMJHL after a ridiculous season and strong WJC showing and Felix Schutz and Paul Byron both return after up and down seasons last year with the Pirates, leaving the fourth line center slot open. Darcy still has plenty of time to sign AHL players, so there’s no rush really to fill this position.
Next up is the left wing spot. The left side is going to vary pretty strongly on two happenings – the re-signing of Mark Mancari and the return of Nathan Gerbe from Buffalo. Gerbe being demoted would immediately deposit him on the top line with Luke Adam and either Mancari or Tropp. If Mancari does re-sign, either Lagace could get shifted to the left to offer better scoring balance (playing opposite Tropp) or McCauley could get shifted to the LW on the 4th line to allow for more scoring lines. Even then, Turnbull and Derek Whitmore are returning from the 2009/2010 season which muddles up the lines even more.
Continuing on, our journey’s next stop is at the blueline. The Sabres currently have five AHL defensemen signed and ready to go – newcomers Nick Crawford and Alex Biega will join the promoted-or-not Mike Weber, Dennis Persson, and Drew Schiestel. The club is currently waiting on offensive d-man Marc-Andre Gragnani to see if he returns. If he does, the Pirates will have six defensemen. Regardless of whether or not he signs, the team could lose Weber to the NHL if he impresses enough during training camp in September to earn a spot with the Sabres. At this point the Pirates will most likely be looking at one or two roster spots that need filling before the season rolls around.
[[EDIT: I forgot about TJ Brennan when I did this post originally. Whoops]]
Our tour concludes in the goal crease, where Swedish youngster Jhonas Enroth holds court. With the Sabres letting JP Lamoureux walk (all the way up to Abbottsford, actually), there is an opening as his back-up that the club has a number of ways of filling. They can either sign a veteran goaltender to play back-up or they can call-up any one of their three goaltending prospects not already in the AHL (Brad Eidsness, Nick Eno, Connor Knapp). It’s too bad the let Lamoureux leave, as he was a very good back-up to Enroth and proved he could handle the workload when his starter went down.
Prospect camp yielded some interesting possibilities (such as West Seneca’s own Brian Roloff possibly playing well enough to earn an AHL contract), but by the by, Regier still has a little bit of work left to do until the Pirates are ready to resume play. Fortunately he’s got about a month and a half to get everything set up and ready to go.