Tuesday's Talk 9/20

Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Phantoms forward Chris Conner qualifies as a 'veteran' player under the AHL's Veteran Rule. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
A new weekly feature this upcoming season to generate discussion during the week.

Written by: Tony Androckitis, Twitter/Facebook

Editor's Note: Each week, the plan is to have this weekly feature available for more discussion during the week. While Phantoms/Flyers related questions will be a center of focus, any AHL-related questions are welcome and will be answered here each week.

To submit your questions for next week's edition of Tuesday's Talk, you can simply leave your question in the comments section of this or any article on the website. You can also ask your questions via FaceBook or Twitter (links are in the byline of this article). 

The World Cup of Hockey is in full-swing, and plenty of top prospects are currently engaged in various rookie camps and prospect tournaments across North America. 

For the Philadelphia Flyers organization, rookie camp began today in Voorhees, New Jersey and will continue on Wednesday with another practice before the Flyers take on the New York Islanders rookie camp squad tomorrow night.

Main training camp for the Flyers begins Friday, then there's NHL preseason games and the first round of cuts which leads into the beginning of AHL training camp. The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are set to open training camp on October 1st - less than one week before their opening AHL preseason game October 7th at home against the Charlotte Checkers.

Tuesday's Talk this week features the topic of the AHL Veteran rule and understanding the parameters for what qualifies a player as a "veteran". As always, reader-submitted questions are answered each week!

Be sure you're also following Highland Park Hockey on Twitter (@H_P_Hockey) and subscribe to the newly created YouTube channel for even more extra content this season!

You can keep Highland Park Hockey on the road providing live AHL coverage by making a donation to our GoFundMe page today. Feel free to share the page.

Tuesday's Topic - The AHL's 'Veteran' Rule

In every American Hockey League (AHL) game during the regular season, teams are limited to how many 'veteran' players that can be dressed and in the team's lineup. 

The league's 'veteran rule' states that of the 18 skaters in the lineup, only five veteran players who have played more than 320 professional games (including the NHL, AHL, European Elite Leagues and the KHL) are able to play. In addition, one 'tweener' player who has played more than 260 games but fewer than 320 can also dress. This rule doesn't apply to a team's goaltenders.

The number of games played at the start of the season is the number used for the rule. Players who enter the season under the veteran the games played threshold (260-320 pro games, or less than 260 pro games) will remain a non-veteran player for the duration of the season.

As an example, here's a look at the Lehigh Valley Phantoms' potential veteran players for the 2016-17 season:
T.J. Brennan (496 pro games), Chris Conner (651), Colin McDonald (645), Andy Miele (370), Will O'Neill (280)
The Phantoms have room to fit another veteran player on the roster should someone from the Flyers roster be sent to the AHL i.e. a Chris VandeVelde (433 pro games), Andrew MacDonald (578) or Brandon Manning (321).

Will O'Neill's spot in the lineup will be secure no matter how many veteran players are on the Phantoms' roster due to the fact that he slides into that between 260-320 games played slot and is the additional veteran allowed to dress in the lineup.

Last year, Phantoms' forward Jay Rosehill and to a lesser extent Aaron Palushaj saw themselves sitting out of the action due to the abundance of veteran players on the roster in 2015-16 (Andrew MacDonald and Sam Gagner were in the minors together at one point, giving the Phantoms 8 veterans).

Having quality AHL-level veterans is a must to support a team's prospects and younger/inexperienced players, but there's a fine line between building a winning atmosphere with talented pro players and stunting the development of prospects. In this regard, the Flyers have set up the Phantoms well with the flexibility to add another veteran player throughout the year.
Your Questions Answered!

Q: Do you see any big name NHL players signing to play in the AHL this season? - Don Morey, via Facebook
A: With a lot of players going into NHL training camps on a tryout basis, it will be interesting to see if any big name NHL players past their prime are forced to sign AHL-only deals to begin the season. Last year, the notable ones I saw often like Scott Gomez (Hershey) and Sam Gagner (Lehigh Valley) were two of the bigger names in the AHL. 
Not a 'big name NHL player', but I was surprised Corban Knight (signed by Phantoms to an AHL deal) wasn't able to land an NHL deal after spending considerable time in the NHL with the Florida Panthers last year.
Q: The possibility of seeing Tyrell Goulbourne on the Flyers' 4th line in the future? - Perttu Junnonaho via article comments on HPH
A: I think Goulbourne could have a future in an NHL bottom-six if he continues to work on his game, mainly consistency and playing to his strengths. I wrote about Goulbourne's rookie season and the potential for him to be an NHL player down the road in this summer feature back in late May.
Q: How do you see the new franchises (Springfield Part Two and Tucson) faring? Do you see them thriving, like a Wilkes-Barre/Scranton or floundering like the Phantoms franchise, which jumped from town to town before finding more stable grounds in Lehigh Valley? - Josh McMullen via Facebook
A: Of the two new franchises, I think Springfield will have a tougher time thriving than Tucson for the simple fact that the city of Springfield is no stranger to the AHL and they've been towards the bottom in attendance (last in the AHL in 2015-16). The city of Tucson will certainly have more buzz in adopting a new team early on, but it will be interesting to see if they can maintain that excitement. 
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton is starting to feel the effects of dropping attendance the past few years. What used to be a weekly sellout at Mohegan Sun Arena is now a half empty arena on a Friday or Saturday night. That "new" feeling with the common fan wares off quickly, so the importance of gaining those die-hard fans early is key to long term success.
Q: Regarding Las Vegas' franchise: what do you see happening there? Do you see a team moving out there or will they just make their own? - Josh McMullen via Facebook
A: Great question. It depends which direction the AHL wants to go with a potential Las Vegas affiliate. The league has obviously been all in on the expansion out west, so I could definitely see the new Las Vegas team getting their own affiliate - making 31 AHL teams in the league - to mirror what the NHL is doing. 
As for where, that remains to be seen but a lot of early reports I've seen about it have pegged cities with already established hockey arenas in ECHL markets (past and present) i.e. Sacramento, Fresno, Salt Lake City.
In Case You Missed It
  • Highland Park Hockey is now on YouTube! Be sure you're subscribed to the channel!
  • Since joining the Highland Park Hockey staff, Flyers prospect guru Tim Riday has been a busy man. He put together a fantastic overview of Flyers Rookie Camp taking a look at the 21 participants. Riday also had this well-written explanation of why this year's camp isn't just another Flyers Rookie Camp. 


Jofa King said...

Thanks for the continued work. So many teams are at their limits for cap and # of contracts. With all these PTOs and AHL deals, do you think we'll see guys like Knight perhaps sign an NHL deal once training camps wrap up? There would be some contract slides for JR players to give more breathing room in the # of contracts allowed, or if some salary is sent to the minors / buyouts / injury reserve, etc.
I mean PHI might not be in a rush to sign him to an NHL contract right away, but would likely have more breathing room to do so later in the season if they wanted to. So many moving parts and scenario planning for GMs.

PerttuJunnonaho said...

I am happy if my comments can influence some kind of path to Tyler Coulbourne"s future in NHL and be a really good stepping stone to he"s surge for a place in our teams 4th line left wing position, which is now Vandevelde"s to lose! So if Coulbourne is harnessing his physical play and will continue to impress in playing to his strengths he will form a core to our team now and years to come!

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