ELMIRA, N.Y. - As the ECHL affiliate of the NHL's Ottawa Senators and New Jersey Devils, and the AHL's Binghamton Senators and Albany Devils, the Jackals are tasked with developing prospects throughout the organizations. The Road To The Show presented by Liberty Travel provides details on how those prospects are progressing.
Ottawa Senators (NHL) – The Eastern Conference playoff teams are set and Ottawa did not make the list. The Senators were not able to manufacture a strong enough comeback down the stretch. With three games remaining in their season the Senators are 34-31-14 and nine points behind the final wild card spot. One of the bright spots this season was the sensational play of Erik Karlsson. The 23-year-old Swedish Olympian scored a career-high 20 goals and led all NHL defensemen with 72 points. He has increased his physical play by more than double his previous career high with 122 hits. Despite the minus-15 rating Karlsson has blocked a career high 100 shots and has taken a stride forward in the defensive zone. Kyle Turris enjoyed a breakout season and took one big step forward to quieting the critics of the former third overall draft pick. The New Westminster, British Columbia native increased his career high goal total from 12 to 25 and his assist mark from 17 to 31. Turris’ 56 points rank third on the team and he leads the Senators with a plus-22 rating. Clarke MacArthur signed a two-year contract with Ottawa in the offseason after spending the past three seasons in Toronto. The former third round pick of the Buffalo Sabres scored a career high 24 goals and notched 55 points in 76 games. Trade deadline acquisition Ales Hemsky recorded an impressive 12 assists and 16 points in just 17 games with the Senators. Rookie defenseman Cody Ceci exceeded expectations and skated in 46 games with Ottawa after spending last season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Ottawa 67’s and the Owen Sound Attack. Ceci, who turned 20 in December, tallied three goals (two game-winning goals) and eight points. 20-year-old Mika Zibanejad posted 16 goals and 32 points in his second professional season. Mike Hoffman and Mark Stone also made their impressions in extended stints with the big club.
Binghamton Senators (AHL) – Six games remain in the Senators’ regular season and only six points separate the East Division leader from eighth place. Binghamton is battling with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton for the East Division with a 41-23-6 record. The Senators and Penguins are tied with 88 points but Binghamton holds a game in hand over Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. Matt Puempel has had a tremendous first pro season with 28 goals and 46 points in 68 games. The 2011 first round pick saw his eight-game point streak come to an end last Saturday, but he picked up where he left off with two goals on Sunday. Puempel leads the team with 15 power-play goals and is the active Senators’ leader in goals. Second-year defenseman Chris Wideman began last season with Elmira but spent most of it with Binghamton where he posted 16 assists and 18 points in 60 games. This season Wideman has exploded for 41 assists and 49 points in 68 games. The St. Louis, Missouri native ranks among the top five AHL defensemen in points, assists, power-play assists and power-play points. Fellow blueliner Danny New hasn’t seen game action since March 1 because of an injury and a stocked back-end. The former Providence College captain has split this season between Elmira and Binghamton. New had 12 assists and 13 points in 31 games with the Senators. Forward Danny Hobbs hasn’t scored since his AHL debut on February 1, but he has seen action in nine games with Binghamton this year. Hobbs had a career year in Elmira and notched another career first with his AHL call up. Defenseman Troy Rutkowski has been squeezed out of the lineup since March 8. The former Portland Winterhawks captain has one goal in 11 AHL games and also spent some time in Elmira this year. Goalie Scott Greenham was performing at a high level in his brief playing stint with Binghamton before the goaltender logjam returned. Greenham is still in Binghamton but is on the injured list.
New Jersey Devils (NHL) – New Jersey saw its seven-game point streak and its playoff hopes come to an end on Monday. The Devils fought back valiantly after an awful start to the campaign but they ran out of games to complete the comeback. Injuries occur over the long, grueling NHL schedule but when key pieces are wearing suits instead of hockey gear during the push for the playoffs the slim chances get smaller. The Devils’ second-leading scorer Patrik Elias is out with a head injury, fourth-ranked scorer Adam Henrique is out with a groin injury, Ryane Clowe is out again with a head injury, Jacob Josefson is out with a lower-body injury and so is Bryce Salvador. The amazing Jaromir Jagr is 42-years-old but has played in all 79 games this season for New Jersey. Jagr, who is of the greatest to ever play the game, leads the team with 40 assists and 64 points, which has increased his career total to 1,752 points. Rookie defenseman Eric Gelinas, who wasn’t born yet when Jagr was a rookie in the league, had an impressive offensive start to his career but was chastised for poor defensive play. Gelinas even spent a couple games playing winger in an attempt to decide what position would be the best fit for the young talent. He ranks eighth on the team with 29 points in 60 games. Twenty-two of Gelinas’ 29 points have come on the power-play, which puts him in the category with the best young special teams specialists in the NHL. Ryane Clowe and Damien Brunner had disappointing first seasons in New Jersey after signing with the club in the offseason. Clowe could not stay healthy after suffering an early-season concussion and posted just 26 points in 43 games. Brunner joined New Jersey after he spent last season with the Detroit Red Wings and posted just 24 points in 57 games. On the bright side, 24-year-old Adam Henrique broke out with a team-leading 25 goals this season.
Albany Devils (AHL) – Albany has five games left in its season and the results will dictate whether it will be a playoff year in Albany. The Devils sit seventh in the Eastern Conference with a 35-23-13 record but hold a slim one point advantage over Hershey and just two points over Norfolk who is on the outside looking in. Four of the past seven games have gone to overtime or the shootout but Albany has only earned the extra point in one of those games. At this stage in the season the Devils need to be securing the second point to ensure a postseason appearance. Luckily for the Devils four of the final five games are at home, where they played much better this season. Albany is 20-9-5 on home ice compared to 15-14-8 on the road. Joe Whitney set a new professional career high with his two assists last game. Whitney now has 21 goals and 52 points in 69 games. Rookie Reid Boucher has scored an impressive 19 goals in 51 games at the AHL level. Boucher also earned a call-up to New Jersey earlier this season. At this point in the season AHL teams can take advantage of the league’s roster rules and add players who finished their collegiate or major junior seasons. Albany has signed Ben Johnson, Curtis Gedig, Joe Faust and Graham Black to amateur tryouts. Johnson was drafted in the third round (#90 overall) by New Jersey in the 2012 NHL Draft. He is also a cousin of fellow Devils prospect Blake Pietila, who just completed his junior season at Michigan Tech. Gedig, 22, was drafted in the seventh round (#204) by New Jersey in the 2009 NHL Draft. The blueliner just finished his senior season at Ohio State University. Faust was drafted in the fourth round (#114) by New Jersey in the 2010 NHL Draft. The 22-year-old just completed his senior campaign at the University of Wisconsin. Black joins Albany after he recorded 97 points with Swift Current in the WHL. The 21-year-old was drafted in the fifth round (#135) by New Jersey in the 2012 NHL Draft.