While the main club is busy contemplating its
shiny gently worn new forward, the minors are bemoaning lost depth. The current Solar Bears roster is built to hold one of the extra Leafs-system goaltenders as well as six to eight more developing players, and as of the trade, the Bears have lost two or three of these.
Those of us who write about the Solar Bears were projecting Tom Nilsson to be sent down, and quite possibly Matt Finn or Taylor Beck depending upon their performances at camp. These three have magically transformed into one NHL player, but the greatest question now is goaltending.
With Christopher Gibson moved to the Islanders, Garret Sparks, the Solar Bears' stalwart starter last season (who arguably Sparks'd the team into playoffs) seems to be a lock for a Marlies position.
Where does that leave the Solar Bears as far as next year's lineup? The current Solar Bears roster has not yet been posted for the season, but the following players are slated for the lineup:
Johnny McInnis - F
Scott Tanski - F
Matt Hatch - F
Lindsey Sparks - F
Joe Basaraba - F
Adam Reid - F
Torin Snydeman - F
Tyler Currier - F
Scott Wamsganz - F
Ludwig Karlsson - F
Carl Nielsen - D
Eric Baier - D
Spencer McAvoy - D
Myles Harvey - D
Reggie Traccitto - D
You'll notice that with 15 Solar Bears signed, the Bears have contract space for 6 more players (5 as of Nov. 15). (Although in the words of my ECHL reporter friend, Don Money, "Trust me, if Toronto sends more, the Bears will cut players.")
Below, you'll also notice that the last name on the list is a forward who was cut from Leafs' camp before it began (D Brenden Miller). Will he be making his way south?
Several of last year's Bears are at Leafs' training camp this week, hoping to play their way out of Orlando: D Max Nicastro (with the Bears most of last year, and who was also in Slovakia), F Ryan Rupert (who is arguably too skilled to stay in Orlando), and F Brady Vail.
Two players who look as though they were signed with the ECHL in mind are Justin Johnson and Justin Holl, who mostly played with Rockford's ECHL team the Indy Fuel last season. That makes the list of potentially sent-down players:
Brady Vail - F
Ryan Rupert - F
Justin Johnson - F
Justin Holl - D/F
Max Nicastro - D
Brenden Miller - D
...And whoever else looks like they've earned a spin in Orlando.
The final question is, who will Orlando have in goal? There are two prospects currently at camp who might fit the bill. One, Rob Madore, is a 27-year-old career ECHL goaltender who previously played with Cincinnati Cyclones. He had a solid SV% of .905 in 46 games played with the Cyclones last season, but more importantly, a .930 SV% in 24 playoff games. We'd be happy to have him.
The other option is 20-year-old college goaltender Lucas Peressini. Peressini lost 5-4 against the Sens in the first rookie tournament.
Rob Madore - G
Lucas Peressini - G
Will this news be out-of-date in about a week? Most likely. But this is our starting point. More news to come!