Monday's Catch Up & Links 3/6

Monday, March 6, 2017
AHL Trade Deadline and late overseas additions are on the horizon for Lehigh Valley. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Editor's Note: Decided to move my weekly Sunday Storylines feature back to Monday to start the week with an overview of the bigger picture. Remember those 'Monday's Catch Up' stories?

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms had a much-needed day off Monday after a three-game weekend saw them in Springfield, Massachusetts for a Friday night game, in Hartford, Connecticut Saturday for a Saturday afternoon matchup and finishing the weekend with a Sunday afternoon tilt in Providence, Rhode Island against the Providence Bruins.

They'll regroup after taking four out of a possible six points on the weekend and hope to get a little healthier this week before a mid-week game against the first place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

Atlantic Division Playoff Picture

Standings through 3/6's games

1. W-B/Scranton: 58GP, 39-16-3, 81 points (.698 PCT)
2. Providence: 58GP, 34-15-5-4, 77 points (.664 PCT)
3. Phantoms: 57GP, 36-18-3, 75 points (.658 PCT)
4. Bridgeport: 57GP, 35-19-2-1, 73 points (.640 PCT)
5. Hershey: 59GP, 31-17-8-3, 73 points (.619 PCT)
6. Springfield: 58GP, 22-26-8-2, 54 points (.466 PCT)
7. Hartford: 58GP, 21-32-3-2, 47 points (.405 PCT)

Phantoms' Playoff Update: With the two points Sunday,  Providence moves back into second place in the Atlantic Division - pushing the Phantoms into third place two points behind the Bruins with one game in hand. Lehigh Valley trails first place Wilkes-Barre/Scranton by six points after the Penguins handled Hartford 6-3 Sunday at XL Center. Bridgeport, in the fourth and final playoff spot in the division, lost in regulation to Utica Sunday. Fifth place Hershey trailed Springfield 2-0 in the 2nd period, but rallied for four unanswered goals in a 4-2 win to creep into a tie points-wise with 4th place Bridgeport with two more games played than the Sound Tigers.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms' magic number to clinch a berth in the 2017 Calder Cup Playoffs is currently at 33 points. You can also keep track of the playoff races in the AHL's daily Playoff Primer.
Phantoms' Team Report

Five players - Robert Hagg, Steven Swavely, Danick Martel, Taylor Leier and Boyd Gordon - are on the team's injured list currently.

  • Hagg was unable to finish Friday's game after a Springfield Thunderbirds forward fell awkwardly on his leg in the final minute of the second period. His lower body injury was awaiting further evaluation, but it's possible he'll be out a few weeks.
Here's the play where Hagg was hurt in final minute of 2nd period. Thunderbirds' forward awkwardly fell on Hagg's leg. #LVPhantoms #Flyers

  • Martel also didn't finish Friday's game after a two-goal performance in the first period. He was said to have entered the concussion protocol, but was at the same time hopeful he'd be able to play this week.
  • Swavely blocked a shot in the third period of Sunday February 19th's game in Utica and is going to be out several weeks - sporting a cast on his left hand/wrist area.
  • Gordon has missed nearly a month, leaving February 8th's game vs. Binghamton after a BSens defender fell and slid into Gordon's knees in the corner boards.

AHL Trade Deadline

Wednesday, March 8th - The AHL's Trading Deadline
  • AHL teams are allowed to make trades with other AHL clubs around the league, but can only make moves at the AHL-level.
  • Monday afternoon, the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators completed an AHL trade. The Devils sent defenseman Brandon Gormley to Ottawa for future considerations. Gormley will report to AHL Binghamton, who enters the week 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the North Division. 
  • No live blog for AHL deadline day, but I will have more on who exactly can be dealt before Wednesday in a future story.'
  • We'll have a post to highlight any deals made around the league and their effect moving forward sometime after the deadline Wednesday evening.
Mikhail Voroybov & Potential Late-Season AHL Additions

With the NHL trade deadline already passed and two days before Wednesday's AHL trade deadline, the only thing that remains is late additions to the AHL club in either the form of college free agents, Canadian juniors players on amateur tryouts, overseas players or some recent draft picks.

One player that might be on the horizon for the Phantoms' roster is the Philadelphia Flyers' 4th round pick in 2015 - forward Mikhail Vorobyov.

The 20-year-old forward recently finished his second season in the KHL with Salavat Yulaev Ufa - tallying three goals and eight assists in 44 games this season - and had a good showing at the U-20 World Junior Championships earlier this year with 10 assists in seven games.

Vorobyov finished out the last of his contract with Salavat when they were eliminated in five games in the first round of the KHL's playoffs, and while the team is hopeful they can re-sign him to remain in the KHL he remains unsigned and shows at least a potential interest in coming to North America and taking the next step toward becoming a part of the Flyers organization.

The Flyers aren't in any rush to sign Vorobyov in terms of losing his North American rights, and have to sort of tread lightly while he decides his future in the KHL. Vorobyov's contract officially ends on April 30th.

It's certainly possible that Vorobyov could join the Phantoms this spring or even next fall. The Flyers' organization seems high on him, and getting him adapted to North American pro hockey at the AHL level is the next step for him in every player's dream of making it to the NHL. Whether or not that comes sooner rather than later remains to be seen.

Another intriguing potential late season addition from overseas is winger Oskar Lindblom, who's SHL team Brynas IF is expected to make postseason play.

Like Vorobyov, Lindblom is also an unsigned draft pick (5th round - 2014). In the SHL this season, Lindblom is enjoying a breakout season with 21 goals and 23 assists in 50 games.

The Gavle, Sweden native playing for his hometown pro team turns 21 in August and didn't look out of place at the AHL level in his eight-game stint with the Phantoms last spring. Depending on how his team's upcoming playoff run goes, Lindblom might be back in a Phantoms' uniform this spring.

Weekly Wrap Up

Last Week

Friday, March 3rd: Lehigh Valley - 5 at Springfield - 4

In a back-and-forth game Friday night in Springfield, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (35-17-3) willed their way to a 5-4 win over the Thunderbirds to kick off a three-game weekend road trip with a much-needed two points in the standings.

The win came at a cost, however, as both Robert Hagg and Danick Martel left the game injured and did not return.Martel tallied a pair of goals in the first period before his departure, while Chris Conner tallied a go-ahead goal with 0.5 seconds left before the second intermission.
Greg Carey and Colin McDonald tallied a pair of early third period goals that seemingly broke open the game with a 5-2 Phantoms' lead, but Springfield battled back with a pair of quick goals of their own.

Anthony Stolarz allowed four goals Friday, but his 44 saves on 48 shots were a big part of Lehigh Valley's 5-4 triumph.

Saturday, March 4th: Lehigh Valley - 3 at Hartford - 1

It hasn't been easy, but the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (36-17-3) are finding ways to win this weekend following their second consecutive win Saturday evening in Hartford.

The WolfPack did not play last night and were waiting for the Phantoms on a quick turnaround - hoping to catch them amidst some adversity.

Instead, the Phantoms took a 1-0 lead on Chris Conner's 19th of the season in the second period and when Hartford tied it up in the third were able to get a timely goal from captain Colin McDonald with 1:56 left in regulation to help the Phantoms to a 3-1 win at the XL Center.

Alex Lyon was fantastic in net, turning aside 32 of the 33 shots that came his way, including several big-time stops in crucial moments of the game.

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms (36-18-3) entered their third and final game of a weekend road trip through the northeast looking for a clean sweep but ran into a well-rested Providence Bruins (34-15-5-4) team eager to avenge their Friday night loss on home ice to Albany.

The Phantoms fell behind early and despite making it a one-goal game early in the third period, they were unable to complete the comeback at the Dunkin Donuts Center Sunday evening in a 7-3 loss.

The Week Ahead

Wednesday, March 8th: Lehigh Valley at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton - 7:05 p.m. ET

Friday, March 10th: Hershey at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET

Saturday, March 11th: Utica at Lehigh Valley - 7:05 p.m. ET


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