About Ryan Norman

I'm a 22-year-old Psychology student originally from Labrador City, NL. I love music and hockey, especially rambling on about the Leafs and IceCaps. Drop me an e-mail or follow me on Twitter @rNorman747 for lots of chatter about all of this plus stuff no normal person should really care about. Up The Irons.

Offseason Gameplan: Jason Jaffray

Photo courtesy of CBC.

With the inaugural season of the St John’s IceCaps now in the books, it’s getting to be about that time where we look forward to next season and all that it may bring. After such a long and successful season, the excitement and desire for a short summer may be stronger than it has ever been in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Given that the AHL is most frequently used as a prospect feeder system for National Hockey League teams, it is understood that roster turnover in the AHL is usually much greater than you’d expect to see from a typical NHL team. Basically, the team that suits up for the 2012-2013 AHL season may look quite different from the team that was iced this year. There are many questions yet to be answered.

One such unanswered question centres around the future of the current IceCaps captain, Jason Jaffray. Jaffray, who turns 31 next month, is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st.

JJ posted an impressive 17 goals and 38 points in 47 regular season games this past years with the IceCaps, before being sidelined with a season-ending neck injury that kept him out of the Calder Cup playoffs, a factor that must be considered when examining the IceCaps loss to the Norfolk Admirals in the Eastern Conference Finals. He also played 13 games for the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL, picking up an assist and collecting 7 penalty minutes.

Jaffray underwent neck-fusion surgery in late-April and won’t be able to resume skating until the middle of this summer, which obviously creates a number of problems in terms of the Captain re-signing a new contract. Jaffray would not be able to re-join the team until after the season has started as well.

Health and age concerns aside however, Jaffray was and continues to be an inspiration to his teammates.

As Brendan McCarthy reported for The Telegram on May 5th:

“But there never was a point where I didn’t want to be around the team,” continues Jaffray… “When you have a serious injury like this, that’s what keeps you sane … being around the guys, being in the dressing room, helping out any way I can.

 

“If it means going over power-play video with the guys or just being in the dressing room, supporting them after games just having my face around … it might help a little bit. I’ve played a lot of playoff games, been through a lot of playoff runs over the years and hopefully, my leadership can be used in this run.”

 

Given his contract status and health concerns, where do you think Jaffray will land in 2012-2013? His leadership certainly brings an interesting dynamic to the situation. Should his neck continue to be a concern, would he make a good addition to the IceCaps coaching staff? Will he be back and better than ever? These questions certainly won’t generate any easy answers, but it makes for an interesting summer.

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Roster News: IceCaps acquire Trotter and Sawada, and more

From TheAHL.com:

The Winnipeg Jets, parent club of the AHL’s St. John’s IceCaps, have assigned goaltender Peter Mannino and forward Kenndal McArdle to the AHL’s Portland Pirates. In exchange, the Phoenix Coyotes have re-assigned forward Brock Trotter from Portland to St. John’s.

In addition, the Jets have assigned forward Michael Forney and the IceCaps have traded forward Shawn Weller to the Texas Stars. In exchange, the Dallas Stars have re-assigned forward Raymond Sawada from Texas to St. John’s.

It’s becoming more and more clear, as Jeff Brewer put it, that the IceCaps are certainly making a significant push to become the 2012 Calder Cup Champions.

Trotter has 14 goals and 38 points in 40 games split between the Pirates and the Hamilton Bulldogs and will add to the already offensively stocked forward group. Raymond Sawada brings with him (in addition to NHL experience) the experience of having played in the Calder Cup Finals in 2 of his last 3 campaigns. Michael Forney, a .962 PPG player at the ECHL level, hopes to add to the offence in his 2nd stint with the IceCaps this season.

We wish Kendall McKardle, Shawn Weller, and Peter Mannino all the best with their new clubs.

After these latest moves, how do you feel about the IceCaps and their playoff aspirations?

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Some Perspective

I have a sort of personal post for you all today. It’s not about the IceCaps, and to be honest it is only marginally about hockey.

On Wednesday, January 11th, we lost somebody, who despite his short time on this Earth has inspired everybody that has had the privilege of speaking with him.

His name is Joshua King. He was a 12-year-old Corner Brook native who was born with cystic fibrosis, a genetic disease that causes a buildup of fluid in the lungs and impacts many other organ systems as well. From the day he was born, Joshua struggled with his disease, enduring procedures and pain that could bring a man twice his age to the point of despair.

The most compelling aspect of Josh’s personality however, was his ability to take it all in stride. Never one to make excuses, Josh would never be found with anything other than a smile on his face and a story on his lips. Joshua was my girlfriend’s cousin. Over my 9 years with her, I have met him several times and heard countless stories about his endless enthusiasm for life. He was aware of the effects that his condition would have on the length of his life and seemed to relish in it by making the best of every single day. I have never been around a more intelligent, thoughtful, and respectful young man. I only wish I had the opportunity to get to know him even better.

Josh was an enormous hockey fan. In particular, he loved the Leafs. He got the chance to meet many of the players over the past few years at the Air Canada Centre with the Sick Kids program and it was thrilled to do so, regardless of why he was in that position in the first place. Josh loved to play hockey as well. When his condition deteriorated to the point where skating became difficult, Josh, who wanted nothing more than to continue playing the game he loved, switched to playing between the pipes. This is what hockey is about, folks.

Late last year, after years of waiting, Josh received a double-lung transplant. By the middle of this week, his young and fragile body could take the strain no longer.

With all of the talk these past few week about the Montreal Canadiens language disputes and All-Star snubs, it’s easy to lose sight of what hockey is all about. As Josh showed throughout his life, hockey is about heart. Hockey is about the determination to fight through the toughest battles life can put in front of you, and keeping your head high when the going gets tough. It’s not about media scuffles, politics, or managerial decisions – it’s about doing what you have to do to play the game you love to play. This is how he played the game, this is how he lived his life.

Joshua King lived by these standards, and so should the rest of us.

For more information on cystic fibrosis and to make a donation for research, please click here.

To leave a message on Joshua’s Facebook page, please click here.

Thank you for reading. Follow me and The Ice Flow on Twitter.

Postma and Redmond named All-Stars

The rosters for the 2012 AHL All-Star Classic were released this afternoon, and two of your St. John’s IceCaps have made the list as part of the Eastern Conference contingent. Defencemen Paul Postma and Zach Redmond will join head coach Keith McCambridge in Atlantic City on January 30th for the AHL’s annual showcase of the best the league has to offer.

Both Postma and Redmond, as you would expect, have had great years for the IceCaps thus far. Postma is currently ranked 2nd among AHL defencemen in points, tallying 6 goals and 25 points in his first 26 games with the club. In addition to scoring 15 points in his own right, Redmond was likely selected based on his defensive prowess and dependability, after playing in all 32 IceCaps games and registering a +9 on the year.

You can take a look at the complete rosters and learn more about fan balloting here.

What are your thoughts on the All-Star selections?

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2 Months Deep: How NHL Teams are Using Their AHL Affiliates

Your newest Winnipeg Jet, Carl Klingberg - Courtesy of Global Winnipeg

As of December 1st, the NHL landscape looked like this in terms of the overall standings: (Oh by the way, if you predicted that a) Minnesota would lead the league after 2 months and/or b) Anaheim would barely have it’s head above water at this point, e-mail me, and I’ll let you make each of my personal decisions for the whole of 2012)

1. Minnesota Wild                        15-7-3                     33pts

2. Pittsburgh Penguins                14-7-4                     32pts

3. Detroit Red Wings                   15-7-1                     31pts

4. Boston Bruins                          15-7-1                     31pts

5. Chicago Blackhawks                14-8-3                    31pts

6. St. Louis Blues                          14-8-2                    30pts

7. Florida Panthers                      13-7-4                    30pts

8. Toronto Maple Leafs                14-9-2                   30pts

9. New York Rangers                  13-5-3                    29pts

10. Philadelphia Flyers                13-7-3                    29pts

11. Phoenix Coyotes                     13-7-3                    29pts

12. Vancouver Canucks               14-9-1                    29pts

13. Dallas Stars                             14-9-1                    29pts

14. Los Angeles Kings                   12-8-4                    28pts

15. San Jose Sharks                      13-7-1                    27pts

16. Buffalo Sabres                        13-10-1                   27pts

17. Edmonton Oilers                    12-10-3                  27pts

18. Nashville Predators                11-9-4                    26pts

19. Ottawa Senators                     12-10-2                  26pts

20. Washington Capitals              12-10-1                  25pts

21. New Jersey Devils                  12-10-1                  25pts

22. Montreal Canadiens               10-11-4                  25pts

23. Tampa Bay Lightning            11-11-2                   24pts

24. Colorado Avalanche               11-13-1                   23pts

25. Winnipeg Jets                          9-11-4                    22pts

26. Calgary Flames                       10-12-1                  21pts

27. Carolina Hurricanes               8-14-4                    20pts

28. New York Islanders                7-11-4                    18pts

29. Anaheim Ducks                       7-13-4                    18pts

30. Columbus Blue Jackets          6-15-3                    15pts

Yes, it’s very early, and no, 9 wins won’t separate 1st place from last place for long – but alas, these are the way things stand as we enter the month of December.

Teams such as the Wild, Panthers, and Maple Leafs are all doing much better than expected, while some usually dominant teams such as the Capitals, Ducks, and Lightning are all floundering. Again however, it’s early. Things can, and almost certainly will change as the season rolls along.

This is all very well and good, but what does it have to do with the AHL or the IceCaps?

I had an idea.

Every 2 months of the season, I will take a look at two things. First, I will look at the NHL standings, given that they depict the successes and failures that the parent clubs of each AHL franchise are having on the ice. Second, I will compare these standings to a second list, which indicates the degree to which each NHL team is utilizing talent from their respective AHL affiliates.  I am looking to examine the relationship between NHL team success and the use of AHL talent, without getting into any statistical analyses.

Below is an Excel Spreadsheet that lists the NHL teams in order, based on how many AHL players they have called up to their main roster in the first 2 months of this season. Take a look.

October and November NHL/AHL Call-ups

For those of you who may be unable to open the document, here are the Top 3, and the Bottom 3 teams in terms of AHL player usage.

1. Philadelphia Flyers (Adirondack Phantoms): 12 call-ups [Legein, Zolnierczyk (twice), Schenn (twice), Rinaldo, Gustafsson, Holmstrom, Wellwood, Bourdon, Marshall (twice)]

2. Buffalo Sabres (Rochester Americans): 12 call-ups [Tropp (twice), MacIntyre, Brennan (twice), Kassian (twice), Szechura (twice), McNabb (twice), Finley]

3. Anaheim Ducks (Syracuse Crunch): 11 call-ups [Newton, Maroon (twice), Jacques (4 times), Bonino, Holland, Guenin, Deslauriers]

…….

28. Tampa Bay Lightning (Norfolk Admirals): 2 call-ups [Ritola, Tyrell]

29. Boston Bruins (Providence Bruins): 2 call-ups [Caron, Hamill]

30. Los Angeles Kings (Manchester Monarchs): 2 call-ups [Voynov (twice)]

From the list, you can see for example, that the Boston Bruins have only made 2 AHL call-ups this season.

As you can imagine, there are a number of reasons why an NHL team would call up an AHLer at any given time. In the example of Boston, they went 12-0-1 in the month of November. When a team is rolling like that, why would you rock the boat by bringing in somebody new and potentially mess things up? Obviously, one factor involved in determining the number of call-ups a team will make is the success the initial NHL lineup has (typically). The inverse can be seen in the case of the Anaheim Ducks, who are currently 29th in the NHL. When things aren’t going so well for an NHL club, the desire to call-up an AHL player quite clearly increases. Anaheim for example, sits in 3rd with 11 call-ups so far this season while struggling from the get go, including calling up Jean-Francois Jacques FOUR times (tied with Detroit’s Brendan Smith and Fabian Brunnstrom for the most of any AHL player so far this season).

Another factor that determines AHL involvement is injuries.The Pittsburgh Penguins, who have done remarkably well given that they have been obliterated by injuries, have made 8 call-ups in the first 2 months of the season (9th overall) to address the gaps in the lineup that had to be filled at short notice. The same is true for teams like the Toronto Maple Leafs. When the Leafs suffered injuries to their #1 goalie, 2 of their Top 6 D-men, and 5 of their starting forwards, the AHL Marlies were used rather often to plug the holes.

In the case of your St. John’s IceCaps, the Jets have called up 7 different players at different times to address injury issues and shake up the struggling lineup (12th overall). Those players are Peter Mannino, Mark Flood, Brett Festerling, Paul Postma, Jason Jaffray, Arturs Kulda, and most recently, Carl Klingberg. Interestingly, if the list I drew up ranked teams in terms of the number of unique call-ups in the first 2 months, they would be tied for 3rd in the league, with 7 different players making the trip to the big club. Only the Leafs, Blue Jackets, Panthers, Wild, and Flyers have used as many or more of their respective affiliate’s players.

As the season rolls along, it will be interesting to track the progress of the NHL teams while looking at the degree to which they are relying on AHL talent in times of need. As it is only early in the season, the connection should only become more apparent with time. Stay tuned as we follow this going forward.

Follow @Normaniac747 and @SJ_IceCaps on Twitter.

Weekend Transaction News: Jets recall Mannino, MacLean claimed by Coyotes

StJohnsIceCaps.com - The Team's Official Website

As per Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun, The Winnipeg Jets have recalled goaltender Peter Mannino from the IceCaps to fill the void left on the team by the injured Chris Mason. Mannino has played in 4 games for the IceCaps this season, posting a .902 save percentage and a 2.47 G.A.A. to go 2-2. Mannino is expected to backup the Jets current starter, Ondrej Pavelec. While he is only expected to be with the team for 1 game, there is always the possibility that his stay could be extended, depending on the severity of Mason’s groin injury. He will certainly however, rejoin the IceCaps in the near future.

Yahoo! Sports

In other news, the Jets placed LW Brett MacLean on waivers yesterday afternoon, and he was claimed by the Phoenix Coyotes today. If MacLean had cleared waivers, he would have joined the IceCaps, just as Aaron Gagnon did earlier this week.

MacLean has registered 2 assists and 6 shots in 5 games with the Jets this season. In his last AHL season (2010-2011) he scored 23 goals and 27 assists in 51 games for the former Phoenix Coyotes farm team, San Antonio Rampage

With the Jets having such a rough start to the season, these roster moves are not at all unexpected. They are also not going to be the only ones, so keep your eyes and ears open for more news about future transactions that will see Jets become IceCaps and vice versa.

Follow @Normaniac747 and @SJ_IceCaps on Twitter.

Aaron Gagnon clears Waivers, Will join IceCaps

From TSN’s Hockey Insider, Bob McKenzie (via Twitter):

WPG puts Aaron Gagnon on waiver. / WPG’s Gagnon was on injured reserve to start the season. Healthy now, needs waivers to be sent to AHL.

Gagnon, a 5’10”, 185lb, 25-year-old centre, has yet to play a game with the Winnipeg Jets this season because he has been recovering from an injury he suffered this past season when he was part of the Dallas Stars organization.

In 222 AHL games (with the Iowa Stars, Grand Rapids Griffins, and most recently the Texas Stars) he has registered 49 goals and 66 assists for a total of 115 points (0.52ppg).

Scouting reports have described Gagnon as a defensively-minded forward with a knack for winning faceoffs. It should be interesting to see where Gagnon would fit in the current IceCaps lineup.

*UPDATE* from Ken Wiebe (@WiebeSunSports) of the Winnipeg Sun:

#winnipegjets announce C Aaron Gagnon has been assigned to St johns IceCaps after clearing waivers on Friday.

What do you think about your newest IceCap?
Follow @Normaniac747 and @SJ_IceCaps on Twitter.

Pirates down IceCaps 5-2 to split pair

McElhinney

After a whale of a victory last night for the IceCaps, the Portland Pirates responded tonight with a 5-2 win of their own at Mile One Centre. Portland goaltender Curtis McElhinney stopped 40 shots in the win. Contributing tonight’s game recap is one of my best friends and certainly my Twitter sparring partner, Charles Pickett (@Pickett2112) – season ticket holder, and somebody you should definitely follow for live game coverage:

Game 7 – Splitsville

The St. John’s IceCaps knew they needed to keep the momentum going into tonight’s game in order to come out on top and pick up 2 big insurance points within the Atlantic Division.

Despite a brief sluggish start out the gate, the IceCaps did well keeping that intensity up but found themselves down 1-0 to the Pirates after the first period after Ashton (not to be confused with Aaron) Rome sends one behind Mannino late in the period.

Heading into the 2nd, we saw a different IceCaps team take the ice. After some serious cycle time it looked as if the IceCaps were in the drivers seat. Just a handful of minutes in, AHL vet Shawn Weller was rewarded with his first goal of the season putting one up on the powerplay and tying things at 1-1. Less than 8 minutes later St John’s center and Newfoundland’s own Jason King also found the back of the net with his 5th goal of the season.

The IceCaps had a great chance to keep the pedal down on the Pirates immediately after the King goal midway through the 2nd with two chances on the PP, when the Portland defender Arsene took a tripping call. The PP looked re-charged tonight and got off to a quick start with the goal by Weller, but late in the 2nd they couldn’t get things clicking again. It looks like the IceCaps are trying to change the PP system and there have even been some new line combos with Clark getting some time with Jaffray and King on the top line, but once again, they still really couldn’t get much going on the PP tonight, going 1/7.

The Pirates quickly turned things around to start the 3rd period off of a quick play by Pouliot. Later in the period a jam play from Mathieu Beaudoin gave Portland their first lead since the 1sr period putting them up 3-2.

After the Beaudoin play, the IceCaps got into penalty trouble. Despite how strong the PK has looked so far this young season, Kyle Chipchura  made no mistake about it putting Portland up 4-2. Portland would go on to add an empty netter to make the final score 5-2.

A loss is never quite easy to get over, and with a lengthy road trip looming for the IceCaps, there are still several tweaks to be made. But overall their game is a pretty solid, straight forward one. Their cycle down low tonight was very strong and once again they peppered the opposition with over 40 shots.

Throughout the game there were a lot of chances that went by the wayside, including a partial break away by new fan favorite Carl Klingberg. He didn’t bury it, but drew a penalty on the play after getting the slash. Also somewhere in there Mark Flood rang one off the post.

By taking a glass-half-full mentality, a quick glance at the standings should tell us that this one loss should not be a cause for concern.

Follow @Normaniac747 and @SJ_IceCaps on Twitter.

Breaking: Mark Scheifele returned to Junior

Well, this isn’t exactly “breaking news” in the true sense of the phrase, but the Winnipeg Jets (parent franchise of your St. John’s IceCaps) have returned 18-year-old pre-season phenom Mark Scheifele to the Barrie Colts of the OHL.

After a remarkable pre-season in which he dominated play and appeared to set himself apart from the rest of the 2011 NHL draft class (aside from the red-hot Oilers prospect Ryan Nugent-Hopkins), Scheifele has struggled since the regular season began, scoring only 1 goal in his first 7 NHL games.

Sending an 18-year-old back to his junior team is very rarely a bad thing. This gives Scheifele a chance to further develop his game so that the next time the Jets come calling in the future, he will be better suited for professional play – whether that be with the Jets, or indeed with the IceCaps.

It will be interesting to see how other teams who have 2011 first rounders on their roster respond now that Scheifele has been returned to Junior. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Edmonton), Gabriel Landeskog (Colorado), Adam Larsson (New Jersey), Mika Zibanejad (Ottawa), and Sean Couturier (Philadelphia) are the other 2011 first rounders who are still with their respective NHL teams.

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Report: Jason Jaffray named first IceCaps Captain

From Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun, via Twitter:

St. John’s IceCaps first captain will be former Manitoba Moose forward Jason Jaffray. Alternates to be named at later date #ahl

There you have it folks. Jason Jaffray will be the 1st captain of the St. John’s IceCaps. After weeks of speculation about the possibilities, Jaffray beat out Jason King and other candidates to take the captaincy. As was also reported, the alternates will be announced at a later date. We’ll keep you posted, as always.

Follow @Normaniac747 and @SJ_IceCaps on Twitter.