The Reign had a full complement of 23 bodies in practice Monday, a group that figures to get smaller soon.
Coach Karl Taylor said he must submit his roster to the ECHL by noon Wednesday, but “usually we try to do it on Tuesday, just to get everything in order.”
As noted last week, Martin Jones’ arrival has left the Reign with three goalies fighting for one position. Finding a new home for two of them will be Taylor’s tallest task over the next couple days. Since teams around the ECHL are making roster cuts, that’s easier said than done.
“It doesn’t happen very often” that you see preseason trades, Taylor said. “Usually teams want to see their own players, so you have to wait, see how your guys go, how you start, who you recruited. We have time invested in the people that are here currently. So it doesn’t happen lots, but lots of (coaches) pick up (players) off waivers.”
Kellen Briggs pitched a shutout against the Stockton Thunder on Saturday, quite a statement in Briggs’ only game appearance. Still, Taylor vowed to give Garrett Zemlak and Mike Zacharias — neither of whom got into a preseason game — more time in practice to state their case to make the roster.
The second order of duty: With only six defensemen currently on the roster, Taylor said he would like to add another before the season starts. Taylor signed promising rookie Jordan Hill in the summer, but Hill was able to land an AHL pro tryout contract with the Manchester Monarchs.
The Reign would also benefit from a few defensemen currently with the Kings returning to health – Matt Greene, Colten Teubert and Viatcheslav Voynov. Teubert and Voynov will be sent to the minors (probably Manchester) once they’re healthy enough to practice. Greene (shoulder) hasn’t been cleared for contact but the Kings might choose to send a defenseman – likely Jake Muzzin – to Manchester once Greene is activated. So theoretically, that’s as many as three extra blueliners heading to Manchester, creating a surplus that might spill down to Ontario.
In the meantime, Taylor doesn’t want an injury to force his active roster below the six defensemen that usually skate in each game. And he needs to shed two goalies.
“If we can get a D-man, we’re going to trade for him,” Taylor said. “If there’s a guy on waivers, we’ll do it that way. It’s cheaper and easier. But you might not get him. It’s all based on your order of selection.
“We’re watching guys that are getting released from different teams, and also trying to acquire through trades or free agency. We like the guys we have, we just want more depth.”
The forward picture is less complicated. Pierre-Andre Bureau is nursing an undisclosed injury, and was wearing the red jersey normally reserved for non-contact players in practice. That leaves the team with 12 healthy forwards at the moment. Assuming two goalies are cut, that leaves 20 healthy players (12 F, 6 D, 2 G). The ECHL limit is 18, excluding players on injured reserve.
“We have to make a few moves. We have a couple forward decisions, potentially. We have a couple bumps and bruises that might delay that a little longer,” Taylor said.
That’s the picture as it stands right now. Any trades or waiver-wire activity will be reported here when we get it.