While there might not be a bench boss announced officially yet on who will take the keys as head of hockey operations, along with Head Coach, critical dates in the ECHL’s physical calendar year come and go including Projected Lists and more importantly End of Season Rosters.
The biggest surprise to some Thunder faithful who was left off the End of the Season’s roster was goaltender Alex Sakellarpoulos as his tenure with Adirondack’s organization has come to close. The 28 year old net-minder was not was not among the 20 players submitted to the ECHL yesterday. He will be free to negotiate with teams for a job next season, if he chooses to continue to play hockey at a professional level. The move wasn’t shocking considering that the organization could be moving in a completely brand new direction, with the team not making the Kelly Cup Playoffs for the first time since the team’s inception in 2015, not counting the shortened COVID-19 year in 2019-20.
Sakellarpoulos’s time with the Thunder comes to a close after finishing with a 30-25-6 record behind former Thunder head coach Alex Loh.
Adirondack did not project forward Robbie Payne but for a good reason with Payne quietly signing an AHL contract for the rest of the 2021-22 season with an extension for the 2022-23 season on March 24th 2022 after earning himself a PTO back in February. Payne quickly impressed Clevland’s bosses Mike Eaves, Mark Letestu, Brad Thiessen and team general manager Chris Clark. The Gaylord, MI native tallied 15 goals, 11 assists in 35 games for Adirondack last season. Robbie finished with 21 points in 39 games in the AHL from February to April.
The Thunder do not Possess the rights to any player who spent time in Adirondack last season who were under contract with the New Jersey Devils and were assigned to play here at any point during the season from Devils GM Tom Fitzgerlad and Comets Head Coach Kevin Dinnen.
Those players include: Patrick Grasso, Tyler Irvine, Jordan Kaplan, Joe Masonius, Samuel Laberge, Patrick McGrath, Michael Vukojevic and Mareks Mitens.
Patrick Grasso, Tyler Irvine, Mareks Mitens, Jordan Kaplan, Joe Masonius, Samuel Laberge and Patrick McGrath all signed standard player contracts back on July of 2021 but the terms of those deals weren’t released to the public at the time, so there’s a good chance that they all we’re just one year deals. My educated guess is that they are all RFA’s and will be negotiated starting on July 13th when the RFA and UFA period begins in the American League. They could be back in the Devils organization or could be free to be signed elsewhere. If they indeed sign elsewhere in the AHL; Adirondack won’t be linked as their ECHL team.
Adirondack’s season-ending roster includes: Conor O’Brien, Brandon Kasel, Blake Thompson, Jimmy Mazza, Tim Theocharidis, Ivan Chukarov, Jarrod Gourley, Trey Phillips, Rourke Russell, Jake Ryczek, Alexandre Carrier, Shawn Weller, Sebastian Vidmar, Ryan Smith, Billy Jerry, Luke Stevens, Shane Harper, Colin Long, Peter MacArthur and Nick Rivera.
There’s a great chance that Theochardis and Gourley latch on to AHL deals with Utica next season as both got an extended look at the Triple A level.
Today begins a two-week period in which the organization can re-sign players without having to use their eight qualifying offers to maintain exclusive negotiating rights with June 16th beginning the first day to sign contracts for the 2022-23 season. With no head coach announced yet, there’s a good chance that there might be a signing without a bench boss.
Adirondack did protect Kyle Thacker, who skated in eight games before heading over to Europe to finish out the season with Fife Flyers. Steven Ruggiero who Thunder fans might not recognize the name, was intending to play in Glens Falls, before the whole North Division in the ECHL opted out of play in 2020-21, Frankie Melton who was cut right before the Thunder’s season began; went on to have a career year with the EIHL (Manchester Storm) in England, Ryan Roth who was acquired from the Reading Royals but ultimately decided to return to school, Danick Paquette who was claimed by Adirondack from Trois-Rivières Lions never skated in a single game last season. Ryan Walker who hasn’t played since the 2020-21 season after splitting time with Adirondack and Binghamton was projected along with fan favorites Matt Salhany and Mike Szmatula who both played for SønderjyskE in Denmark last season. Both were projected to return to Adirondack at some point last season during the Overseas Deadline on February 15th but ultimately decided not too.
The next date circled on the ECHL calendar will be June 30th into July 1st with Qualifying Offers due to Players by 11:59pm and then the start of 2022-23 Playing Season.