First season in the AHL has come to an end. Manitoba looked completely unbeatable out the gates, sitting on 96% Pct at New Years. But thankfully Winnipeg called up some of their talent, which was good enough to win a Stanley Cup quite frankly. So they fell off hard towards the end of the season and only ended up beating us by 1 point when all was said and done. We've had huge issues with injuries, and all of them have been to our top 2 centers more or less. And when they weren't injured they spent a fair chunk of time being called up to Nashville. That combined with our goalies feeling like being completely useless as we started the new year lead to us slipping down to 4th. Then a new and exciting bug started to happen. When I checked which goalie was in net and set my shot targeting accordingly they would end up actually having the other goalie in net. As I "watch" games with no highlight and fast clock speed I can only make changes to my lineup when injuries happen or between periods. After I noticed this was happening I just started to check which goalie was actually in net after the 1st and swapping my targeting. This combined with us having full manpower for the first time since early November lead to a resurgence that saw us finish 1 point off of 1st in both our division and our Conference. We also set a new goal-scoring record for the AHL in this save.
Considering how bad our goalies are I'm shocked we managed above .800 BP%. Nashville decided to buy out both their AHL goalies at the start of the season and replace them with a UFA pickup in the form of the Devils' discarded AHL goalie. So we had below .900 in net all season long. I tried to get in a consistent UFA goalie; He had good tech and solid mentals, but his physicals let him down. As a result he became our 1B to Cormier's 1A. Although I'd say they're more like a 1B and 1C if we're being honest about it.
At some point during the season Team Canada tried to poach me, and Team USA came in for me again. I refused both naturally, but they seem dead set on having someone who isn't from the NA be their GM. Seems pretty odd to me.
I really, really don't like this team by the way. Nashville's prospects are absolutely horrible; The ones that don't have low consistency have low pressure or horrible mentals. And some have the unholy trinity of all of the above. This team has an unprecedented ability to throw away 2+ goal leads in minutes. So getting as much out of them this season as I did came as a surprise to say the least. It wasn't because of what Nashville sent down though (apart from Martens, he's insane) it was the UFAs I brough in that carried the NHL prospects on their backs.
You know your NHL affiliate is in trouble when your top 3 scorers and #1 Defenceman are all players signed to your AHL team. Matt Revel is also signed to the AHL team, but he was here when I took over so I won't take credit. But that does mean that of our top 10 producers only 4 were NHL prospects; That's not right at all. But at least the College and former Q players I brought in were high impact. Wade Allison was an especially big surprise as he isn't that insane looking. Because of the numbers we coaxed out of Brendan Franklin he's now gotten signed by Montreal who drafted him in the 5th round but didn't bother to sign him out of College.
For the first round of the playoffs we'll face Grand Rapids. We have had some issues with them over the course of the season, but after we started to figure out their goalies down the stretch our fortunes have improved. So I'm hopeful we can get past them.
The first series against Grand Rapids ended up being a hard one. Their goalie stood on their head all series long and despite heavily outplaying them we were taken to game 5 where we sealed the 3-2 series win.
For our second series we were faced up with Charlotte, whose goalie Jack Lafontaine is one of the guys who has no weaknesses at this level. Thankfully Cormier decided to be the best he's been all season and we were able to get a somewhat lucky 4-1 series win. We did completely outplay them all games though, but with that goalie I wasn't expecting such a dominant series. For the Conference finals we were faced up against San Diego, and as both their goalies have about .850 against us this was only going to go one way. We ended up taking them out 4-1 as well. And we were heading into the Calder Cup finals against the Rochester Americans. Their goalie was all over the place with his save% but in the end it was out own goalie that made the series a lot scarier than it needed to be. We started out by winning both games at home. Then in game 3 Cormier had a .826 followed by a .852 in game 3. This saw the series tied heading into game 5 where Cormier was back in action and put up a .950 letting us walk away 3-1 winners, putting Rochester up against the ropes at home in game 6. Côté had gotten injured, but Nashville was nice enough to sign a major-junior player and send him down to us just in time to join us for what could be the final game of the season. Cormier backstopped us with a .944 and the new sent down player Serdyuk put up two assists as we coasted to a 5-2 win. Making us Calder Cup champions in our first season in the AHL. THANK GOD! I will never manage in the AHL again. I'm way too much of a control freak to deal with having 0 roster stability, and being forced to use poor players just because my AI controlled parent team can't draft to save it's life.
If against all odds I manage to get a job in the NHL in the next week or so I'll be in a position to possibly draft Martin Carlin, by beating him to the NHL narrowly. But I'm not expecting any position to open up until after Free Agency hits. Once in the NHL i'll use the same modified Challenge rules as I did beyond season 1 in my Seattle save. So only 2 trades per year, and only 1-for-1 or 1-for-2. I can't trade for players, only for picks. I can't trade for rights, I can't make offer sheets, I can't sign RFAs(except my own), I can't sign UFAs, I can't trade for 1st round picks, I'm skipping the rules for signing coaches as that doesn't make the game harder at all. At best it makes it slower, and it barely even achieves that. In line with how I've played the entire save I won't sign a head coach at all. I also won't interact with the waivers at all unless I need a paperweight for cap floor reasons.
So how have my former teams gotten along after I left? I'll start by looking at Edinburgh who fired almost all my coaches, several of them I brought over and had work for me in the AHL. Player wise they have also gotten rid of almost all the ones I brought in. After I've left they have finished 7th both years in the league, barely beating .500 Pct. In the Cup they got knocked out in the Quarter finals in their first season and the Semi finals in the 2nd year. In the first season they failed to make it out of the CHL group stage. And this season they obviously didn't qualify.
BB Armada traded away Willie Boisvert after 16 games despite him having 17 points. He went to Charlottetown where he scored 60 points in 50 games. Good trade! They too finished 7th after I left them. In its infinite wisdom it dropped Martin Carlin from the 1st line to the 4th line and his points production went from 97 points under me in his rookie season to 16 in his sophomore season. As a result he's plummeted out of the 1st round in the draft, which is why I'm getting a bit more hopeful about maybe being able to get my hands on him.
Let's also take a look at where some of our more interesting former players are right now:Erik Wallberg
was playing a lot of minutes in his first season with Amur in the KHL, almost scoring at PPG pace. In his 2nd year they dropped him to the 4th line and his production stopped. But at this point Buffalo came in and signed him. We actually played against him in the Calder Cup finals as he was playing as Rochester's 1st line Center. He scored 4 points against us and was +3 in rating. So he's still pretty darn good.Filip Hasa
kept playing with Edinburgh for a season but was given a much smaller role. He decided against resigning with them as he got drafted into the Q. His rookie season yielded 34 point in 57 games for the struggling Acadie-Bathurst team.Carlin
I already touched upon. Adam Åhman
is currently the 2nd best goalie in Swe-2 for BIK Karlskoga and Phillip Schultz
never really grew much beyond what he looked like when I left. He's now back in Rødovre playing in Metal Ligaen.
During the playoffs both Wade Allison
and Colton Cardwell
got signed by their respective NHL teams after the season they had with me. So as much as I didn't enjoy my time in the AHL, I did manage to get 4 young players who had been looked over a shot at making it in the NHL.Ricky Worth
, our most exciting looking British prospect was bought by an EPIHL (2nd tier of Britain) team. I'm looking to probably sign him in a late round whenever I get my 1st NHL draft to play him as my 4th line Center. He's got just enough attributes to get it done and he's consistent, relaxed and as a huge Center:Allround with a two-way game he's the exact kind of guy I like on my 4th line. These days he's also got 20/14 feet and 13 in faceoffs. So he could definitely make a positive impact.
As far as possible jobs go, Buffalo is currently very insecure. And they hold the rights to Erik Wallberg, so that's very appealing. They have only finished in the playoffs once since this save started and they missed the playoffs two years in a row. So they are a team in need of help. Not to mention a team with 0 cups, which is also appealing. The other possible NHL team as it looks right now is the Ducks as they barely made the playoffs last season and finished 2nd from the bottom this year. But personally Buffalo is a lot more appealing. Partially because I haven't played in the Eastern Conference for ages. But mostly due to the Wallberg+no cups combination. I should also add that if I make an exception from the "no trades for players" rule for players who played under me in previous teams. Because I'm a bit nostalgic.