Happiness fills the entire hockey community as the NHL lockout ends, but for certain teams like the Phantoms, a troubling season just became more troubling. When the Phantoms lose Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier and Erik Gustafsson to the Flyers sometime this week, their top point scorer will have only 13 points, thirty-three games into the season.
The Phantoms find themselves tied for last place in the Eastern Conference. They have already lost Ben Holmstrom for the year with an ACL tear and are now on the verge of losing their top three point-getters – Gustafsson may find his way back to the Phantoms lineup if the Flyers have a healthy defensive roster. Zac Rinaldo will also be rejoining the Flyers once camp is underway.
Paul Holmgren made a trip to Glens Falls, NY Sunday night to inform Head Coach Terry Murray of the CBA deal. Schenn, Couturier and Rinaldo were the only names of definites to rejoin the Flyers’ roster, but no other definites to join training camp have been named. Although the Phantoms will lose some significant players, Holmgren states, “It’s about the Flyers. I think Terry Murray and his staff down there, they understand that.”
With the inevitable departure of several key players from the Phantoms’ squad, the Trenton Titans are sure to get the worst of the post-lockout roster moves. After recently losing Blake Kessel and Ian Slater to the Phantoms, the Titans will now most likely lose Shane Harper, Andrew Johnston, and Matt Mangene. Luke Pither is another player that might be called up to the Phantoms’ roster.
The Titans have also struggled this season (12th in East) and will undoubtedly have trouble catching up in the standings after losing some key players.
The Phantoms will hope other players such as Eric Wellwood and Harry Zolnierczyk can step up and provide some offense once the NHL season does begin, barring neither of them end up on the Flyers’ roster. Tyler Brown and Mike Testwuide will also need to step up for the Phantoms. Jason Akeson started the season with Trenton, but was since called up and has had a decent season, posting 3 goals and 10 assists in just 19 games with the team. He will need to keep up that play if the Phantoms want to make any sort of a late-season run.
Although the Trenton Titans will most likely be hit the hardest with this situation, the Phantoms also have quite an uphill battle. With a little more than half the season to be played, a big roster transition like this could be either a good thing or a bad thing for a team. Luckily for the Phantoms, every team in the league must go through this process.