Come early next week, roster size and contract-numbers limits will have their say as what is a fairly large training-camp group for the St. John's IceCaps gets whittled down by about a third.
The exact outcome of that culling process will be determined, in part, by what transpires during the Mary's Cup, the three-game pre-season tournament between the IceCaps and Syracuse Crunch, which begins tonight at Mile One Centre.
As of Wednesday, St. John’s IceCaps coach Keith McCambridge had 37 players on the team’s training camp roster. Roughly only a third will make the team’s regular season roster, but every available healthy player will see action in the Mary’s Cup pre-season tournament against the Syracuse Crunch which starts tonight at Mile One Centre. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram
As of Wednesday evening, after the assignment of goaltender Eddie Pasquale from the parent Winnipeg Jets and with forwards Andrew Gordon and Jerome Samson having cleared waivers, there were 37 names on the St. John's pre-season roster. According to IceCaps' head coach Keith McCambridge, the plan is for each and every one of the campers to see action in the tourney, which continues Saturday afternoon in Clarenville and concludes Sunday afternoon at Mile One.
"We'll keep everyone around until Monday," said McCambridge. "That's because we want to give ourselves the best possible chance to evaluate all the players. As of right now, everybody will play. Obviously injuries will be a factor, but as of right now, everybody will get a game."
Of the 37 players in camp, there are 11 players without contracts. Besides those tryouts, there are a few who are signed, but will start the season with St. John's new ECHL affiliate, the Ontario (Calif.) Reign. But McCambridge insists that whatever happens early next week - when players find themselves saying goodbye mere days after saying hello - won't necessarily mean "so long."
There will always be the need for mid-season call-ups. The IceCaps used 46 different players - two rosters worth - in 2012-13. And that was even though the NHL lockout meant, that for half a season, St. John's wasn't susceptible to the normal amount of recalls to the parent Winnipeg Jets.
So McCambridge, along with IceCaps general manager Craig Heisinger and pro scout Bruce Southern, are looking to compile, in advance, a list of known quantities, not just of players under contract, but players who may be with ECHL teams other than the Reign, but could help down the road.
"I would like to have a pool to draw from when injuries take place, whenever something happens and we need replacements," said McCambridge. "Obviously, there are only so many contracts we can ink players to. But if a player doesn't earn a contract out of camp here, it may be a scenario where he's made a good enough impression and if we need somebody and he is available, then we're going to target that player and bring him back up here.
"We'll already have in our mind what that player can bring, what he can potentially add to our lineup if that call-up comes his way."
If any of those who won't be sticking around after Monday are looking for examples of what McCambridge is talking about, they need look no further than to forwards Kael Mouillierat and Josh Lunden, and to defenceman Patrick Cullity. All three finished last season in regular roles for the IceCaps after not having been here at the start of the campaign - Mouillierat and Cullity weren't even at St. John's training camp - and all three were signed to AHL contracts over the summer, with Mouillierat even earning an invitation to the Jets' main camp earlier this month
Lunden did no skate with the IceCaps Wednesday. He's listed as day-to-day with a hand injury ... McCambridge said it's not just the Mary's Cup games that will shape opinions. He says the scrimmages the team has been conducting at Mile One this week will also play a role. "It's a good percentage of it," said McCambridge. "Scrimmages are important to to me also. There's not a mindset of "he'll be better in a game than in the scrimmage. Scrimmages have value. That's why they're in place" ... It will be what you see if what will play for the Crunch in the tournament. Syracuse brought 20 players to Newfoundland, meaning there are no spares. At last word, there were 36 players still in training camp with the parent Tampa Bay Lightning, including a dozen who were regulars with the Eastern Conference champion Crunch last season. That group includes forwards Mike Angelidis, J.T. Brown, Brett Connolly, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, P.C. Labrie, Ondrej Palat, Richard Panik and defencemen Mark Barberio, Radko Gudas, Dmitry Korobov and Matt Taormina ... The Metrobus Park and Ride service is available for tonight's exhibition game, with service runs from Bowring Park and Confederation Building. The fare is $4 per person.