Shaf's Blog: Filling Up The RosterAug 9, 2017
In the days since Blog #1, the Rays’ signing news has quieted down a bit and it has become clear that Coach Ryan Warsofsky was able to secure many of his first choice players early on in the offseason. Over the past week, South Carolina has added two more skaters for 2017-18.
Last Thursday, an All-Star for All-Star trade was announced with the Stingrays acquiring defenseman Travis Walsh from the Idaho Steelheads in exchange for forward Steven McParland. While McParland turned heads in his rookie season and will definitely be missed, Walsh impressed in his own right, playing 65 games in a very competitive Mountain Division. In fact, the rookie’s seven goals and 27 points would both have been tops on the Stingrays amongst defensemen last season as Max Nicastro’s five goals and Steve Weinstein’s 25 points led the way from the back-end. Walsh figures to grow into a featured role on defense and factor in for some power play minutes on the man-advantage. He is the fourth defensemen secured for next season along with Danny Federico, Jake Flegel and Frankie Simonelli.
Then on Friday, the Stingrays announced the signing of veteran forward Nick Johnson. An older player at age 30, Johnson will fit into a leadership role despite never having played pro hockey in North America. His signing announcement news story had some good lines indicating he understood the importance of helping out the younger players on the team while providing a scoring punch in front of the net. He also already has a great relationship with his new coach, who was his collegiate teammate. I know many fans were upset to see Rob Flick and Domenic Monardo sign overseas, but Johnson, who is coming back west after seven seasons in Europe, seems like a good bet to replace some of that production.
As I mentioned, the announcements have slowed down a bit over the last few weeks. I’d imagine there are two factors at play right now. One is that a lot of the bigger names currently available are still pursuing contracts in the AHL and are holding out hope for a deal at the higher level. The other is that SC is slowly running out of available spots on the roster! With 15 already under contract and additional help on the way in the form of affiliated players from Washington and Hershey once training camps begin, roster spots are at a premium. I believe Coach Warsofsky will still have some more news in the next few weeks, but compared to most other ECHL teams, South Carolina has filled a good amount of space for next year early on.
I had a few tweets this week soliciting questions from Stingrays fans and will continue to do so for future blogs. Noted season ticket holder and excited fan Travis Rogers (@StingraysFan) hit me with a “broadside” of items through multiple posts. Travis, I will answer what I can, but I honestly don’t know the answers to a lot of these! First off, I can’t confirm any rumors about any players. I am not privy to negotiations between players, coaches and agents or their decisions about the future. Nothing is official until Coach submits the correct paperwork to the league and I don’t ask for any information until it’s safe to be announced.
• The promotional calendar is coming along! We’re not ready to disclose anything yet, but rest assured we will have a mix of some old favorites and new themes for our upcoming 25th Anniversary year.
• The Stingrays are planning to host their annual alumni game as they have in years past on Oct. 20 before the team opens the season against Greenville. There will be more details and information on the game as we get closer to October. (Thanks for the question, @kelly_903!)
• The North Charleston Coliseum will begin making ice on September 26. So #IsItOctoberYet? Sorry, we’ve still got about seven and a half weeks to go.
Thanks again for reading and Go Rays!