The Rochester Americans have played 40 games this season and have a horrible 17-19-2-2 with 38 points and are in last place in the North Division. Technically, they’re only 7 points out of a playoff position which can be accomplished. I’m still holding out hope that the Amerks will be a Calder Cup contender. That’s what we do as fans of sports teams, hope for the best even when it seems like an extreme longshot.
Overall assessment: Is the season over yet? When can a new affiliation be signed? In other words, this team is at the bottom of the league. Time to start counting down the days until the end of the season, it’ll take a miracle to get into the playoffs.
Defense: Clay Wilson was asked to play as more of a defensive defenseman instead using his offensive skills and that has likely held him back. Mike Kostka has 20 assists and 5 goals but on the defensive side? He’s there, that doesn’t mean much. And then you have Joe Callahan and Mike Caruso.. they say if you have nothing nice to say don’t say it at all. Paul Baier and Colby Robak work hard but that doesn’t win games.
Offense: Mike Duco is the Amerks leader with 12 goals in 27 games. Michal Repik has 7 goals and 28 assists in 35 games which is acceptable. After that the scoring is spread out amongst players but the issue is that there’s no real offensive threat. The team has varied in style from dump and chase hockey to recently trying to bring the puck over the blue line but is getting beat almost every time. AJ Jenks has potential but potential doesn’t provide immediate help.
It could be debated that Mark Cullen up until this point would have provided the stats that come along with a #1 center and helped out a lot. If Michael Grabner was not claimed off of waivers at the start of the season he would’ve also provided fire power on offense. Also, losing Michael Nylander to an injury hurt as well.
Cullen is expected back in February and could help out immensely on offense but he can’t fix the real problem on this team: the defnse. Even if the Amerks can make the playoffs this defense will get eaten alive and burned on every shift.
As for goaltending, Jacob Markstrom has been improving which is what a prospect should do in his first professional season. Tyler Plante has played well when given opportunities. Both have had bad games but both have played very well to only be left hung out to dry by the defense and offered no help with the offense being able to score.
Chuck Weber seems to have done well with what he’s been given.
The team appeared to be turning around in mid December but those glimpses of success quickly disappeared. I wish I could write that the second half of the season will be different but that’s not likely. The only thing to really look forward to in the second half of the season is the final days of the Florida Panthers as the affiliate of the Amerks. At some point a new affiliation will be announced and we’ll have a new outlook on the future.