Friday, August 31, 2012

Reports: Texas Stars Add D John Ryder Out of Denver University

Last night, the Denver Post reported that defenseman John Ryder from Denver University has signed an AHL contract with the Texas Stars. Ryder, a 6-foot-1 200 pound blueliner, played a total of 142 games over five seasons for the Pioneers, scoring just one goal and 21 assists.

The Stars had no comment on reports of the signing, as of Friday morning, but confirmed the signing late Friday afternoon.

"Just seemed like a good fit. They came to me and I’m just excited for the opportunity," Ryder told the Denver Post.

If Ryder is under contract, I'm guessing that he has some chance of being the seventh defenseman in Texas but probably a better chance of spending most of the season in Idaho.

Here's the release:
The Texas Stars, proud American Hockey League affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today the signing of former University of Denver defenseman John Ryder to a standard AHL contract.

Ryder, (6’1”, 200 lbs.), joins the Stars after completing his senior season at the University of Denver of the WCHA where he tallied four assists and 32 penalty minutes in 30 games played. He led the Pioneers last year with 209 hits and registered 33 blocked shots in spite of missing 13 games mid-season due to a broken kneecap. In his five-year collegiate career Ryder posted 22 points (1 goal, 21 assists) and 180 penalty minutes in 142 NCAA games; he also made four consecutive appearances for Denver in the NCAA Tournament (2009-2012). The Colorado Springs, Colo. native led the Pioneers in hits each of the last three seasons, racking up 802 hits in 102 games from 2009-2012; he recorded over 1,000 hits during his college career.

Ryder’s true freshman year (2007-08) was abruptly cut short when he suffered a right hand injury that required season-ending surgery after only eight games played and he was granted a medical redshirt. The 23-year old, who majored in finance and management, was named to the All-WCHA Academic Team for four consecutive years (2008-2012).

Friday, August 24, 2012

Explaining the AHL Veteran Rule and Examining Texas Stars Veterans

Maxime Fortunus, one of the Texas Stars' veterans. (Credit: Steven Christy)

As we slog through the deadest month of the year in terms of hockey news, it's a good time to review one of the most basic rules of the AHL roster: the veteran rule. Here's the leanguage that the AHL uses on its website to describe the rule.
Of the 18 skaters (not counting two goaltenders) that teams may dress for a regular-season game, at least 13 must be qualified as "development players." Of those 13, 12 must have played in 260 or fewer professional games (including AHL, NHL, IHL and European elite leagues), and one must have played in 320 or fewer professional games. All calculations for development status are based on regular-season totals as of the start of the season.
If that's a little confusing, that's OK. Let's break it down.

Essentially, a hockey team is most usually made up of 12 forwards, 6 defensemen and 2 goalies. Goalies are exempt from the veteran rule. For the 18 remaining skaters, the veteran rule states that 12 of those players must have played fewer than 260 regular season pro games. Of the remaining 6, one of those must have played fewer than 320 regular season pro games. Of the remaining 5 at that point, there are no restrictions on how many games have been played. All measures are taken at the beginning of the season and don't change as the season goes on.

With 76 games in an AHL season, two-hundred and sixty games is enough to get through a player's initial three-year entry-level contract (ELC) without hitting the rule. In fact, fourth year players are generally exempt from the rule, having played at most 246 regular season games to that point (82 NHL games per season over 3 seasons).

The 320 games player rule was added in the 2007 PHPA CBA negotiation to allow one "tweener" player. Examples of these would be Travis Morin or Luke Gazdic in the 2013-14 season.

Here is a list of the most veteran players on the Texas Stars this season. You can see in the list that only four players expected to spend time with Texas this season will qualify as AHL veterans.

Player NHL AHL Total
Toby Petersen 397 443 840
Maxime Fortunus 8 501 509
Tyler Sloan 99 366 465
Francis Wathier 9 383 392

Included for completeness, here are the next few "most veteran" players. None of these players triggers the veteran rule, though.
Player NHL AHL Total
Colton Sceviour 1 232 233
Travis Morin 3 225 228
Luke Gazdic 0 197 197

Friday, August 17, 2012

Analyzing the Texas Stars 2012-13 Schedule

The AHL has released the 2012-13 schedule this afternoon. This year's schedule is garnering interest from more than just AHL fans as the NHL faces a potential lockout situation and NHL faithful are looking for a hockey fix elsewhere.

Texas, of course, plays a full slate of 76 games split evenly 38 home and 38 road. The schedule is made up entirely of Western Conference opponents with all 14 teams making a visit to the CPC while Texas makes a return visit to each. The season starts on the road in San Antonio on October 13th and comes home immediately for their first home game on Sunday the 14th against Charlotte. The season stretches all the way to April 20th this season.

Important notes about the season include:
  • Longest home stretch: Five games, March 1 - 13
  • Longest road stretch: Six games (twice), November 25 - December 5 and January 13 - 25.
  • 3 in 3s: 6

The Stars play most of their games against the South Division, a total of 44 games. San Antonio, Houston and OKC will each see Texas 12 times. Charlotte will get a surprising eight contests against Texas. Eighteen of the remaining games will be against the Midwest and fourteen against the North.

Month by month breakdowns are:
  • October: 7
  • November: 11
  • December: 14
  • January: 12
  • February: 11
  • March: 12
  • April: 9
The extension of the season out to April 20th helps to alleviate a usually crowded February. Texas played 14 games in 28 days last year. December looks to be the roughest month as the Stars have 14 games in that month and nine of those on the road.

Texas also will have eleven of their first fifteen at home and follow that with eleven of the next fourteen on the road.

The full schedule is here.

Taylor Vause Earns Training Camp Invite from Texas Stars

Taylor Vause in a late season game in OKC (Credit: Steven Christy)

After just a five game tryout at the end of last season, Taylor Vause made enough of an impact to earn a training camp invite for the 2012-13 season. Swift Current PxP voice Shawn Mullin first reported the story here on his blog. The Stars confirmed the story to 100 Degree Hockey but had no further comment.

Vause had a goal and an assist in those five games before breaking his foot blocking a shot and ending his season. Vause spent his junior career with the Swift Current Broncos, finishing his four year as team captain and leading the club in points.

The invite is a great one in my estimation. The Stars have picked up quite a few leaders from junior in their free agent picks, including Brenden Dillon, who captained the Thunderbirds in his final season in Seattle. The fact that Vause broke his foot blocking a shot in a completely meaningless game at the end of a lost season speaks to his commitment.

Texas currently has two AHL contracts in goalie Josh Robinson and forward Mike Hedden.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Texas Stars Announce Pre-Season Games Against Rampage, Aeros

The Texas Stars announced their pre-season schedule today, a slate of three games in four days in the first weekend of October. Typical opponents are among those included with two against the Rampage and one at home against Houston.

Here are the schedule details.
Wednesday, October 3rd – Stars vs. Houston Aeros
7:00 pm @ Cedar Park Center

Friday, October 5th – Stars vs. San Antonio Rampage
7:00 pm @ Cedar Park Center

Saturday, October 6th – Stars @ San Antonio Rampage
3:00 pm @ Ice & Golf Center at Northwoods

Note the earlier start time of 7:00 PM despite the weekday game. In the past, weekday games were at 7:30 PM and Saturday games at 7:00. Also note that San Antonio's game will be at the Northwoods Ice Center. I have attended both of the prior two games at the Ice Center and recommend you get there early if you want decent seats. The best ones are standing against the glass. Tickets for that game are usually $5. SA season ticket holders get in for free though.

Here's the full release:
The Texas Stars, proud AHL affiliate of the Dallas Stars, announced today their 2012-13 pre-season exhibition game schedule.

The Stars will open their 2012-13 pre-season schedule on Wednesday, October 3rd at 7:00 pm CDT with a home game against the Houston Aeros at the Cedar Park Center. They will then play a home-and-home series with the San Antonio Rampage; first hosting their in-state rivals on Friday, October 5th at 7:00 pm at the Cedar Park Center and then traveling to San Antonio for a 3:00 pm face off. The Rampage will hold Saturday’s game at their official practice facility, the Ice & Golf Center at Northwoods, located at 17530 Henderson Pass in San Antonio. 2012-13 Texas Stars individual game tickets, including the two pre-season home games, will go on-sale at a later date.

The Stars will announce their full 2012-13 game schedule within the next few days, while the team’s full training camp schedule will be released at a later date.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Around the League: AHL Schedule Is Coming, Blame the NBA

Milwaukee is among the cities causing the AHL schedule's late August release. (Credit: Mike Goelzer)

Just a few short notes in the dead of summer...

NHL and ECHL fans have had schedules in hand for weeks, even months, but the AHL fanbase will have to wait a week or possibly a bit more for the 2012-13 slate of games to be released. The AHL has set an August 20th date for a meeting of the Board of Governors to approve the schedule. Preliminary schedules went out to teams this week for review. After the final vote, the schedule should be finalized and sent out pretty quickly.

If you want to blame someone, take aim at the NBA. The Association takes precedence over the AHL in terms of scheduling, which affects the five member teams that share their arenas with a basketball tenet. Those clubs, all in the Western Conference, delay the schedule until up to three weeks after the NBA schedule release, which happened this year on July 26th. Remember also that some teams, while not sharing a venue with the NBA, would like as much as possible not to share nights with them for traffic and attendance reasons. OKC is a good example. The Cox Center is right next to the Thunder's home arena, Chesapeake Energy Arena, in downtown OKC.

Elsewhere in the league:
  • Now officially a former Star, Ray Sawada signed an AHL deal with St John's, where he finished the 2011-12 season. [The Telegram]
  • The Texas Stars Ice Girls held tryouts this past weekend and have already told members of their squad if they made the team. @KenzieShep is apparently among them.
  • Dan Weiss, PxP for San Antonio, reports that the NHL-CHL transfer agreement died a quiet death this summer. That agreement's main relevant point to the AHL being that players drafted out of the CHL can't play in the AHL until they turn 20. If this happens, all bets are off in terms of who could join. The biggest possibility to come over for Dallas could be Radek Faksa. [Twitter]