Hello, Cuda Country! Happy offseason. If you read my last blog, I noted that I would be going to an every-other-week format during the offseason, so here we are two weeks later. In this edition of Nolly’s Notes, we’re going to bounce around little bit. Let’s start with Calder Cup Playoffs. Although the Barracuda aren’t participants, the Calder Cup playoffs are in full swing for the first time since 2019. In fact, the Pacific Division’s first round is complete, with all three series winners sweeping their best-of-three matchups. Only the Bakersfield Condors advanced as a lower seed, beating Abbotsford 2-0 on the road.
Round two will go from a best-of-three series to a best-of-five series. The top team in the AHL, the Stockton Heat will take on the Bakersfield Condors, last year’s Divisional winners, and the Ontario Reign will square off with the Colorado Eagles.
11 Barracuda alumni are still in contention for the AHL’s ultimate prize, including Antoine Bibeau – Charlotte, Alex True – Charlotte, Sam Harvey – Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Marcus Vela – Hershey, Robbie Russo – Utica, Mark Alt – Rochester, Aaron Dell – Rochester, Kurtis Gabriel – Rockford, Stefan Noesen – Chicago, Cavan Fitzgerald – Chicago, Keaton Middleton – Colorado and Matt Tennyson – Milwaukee.
In the Stanley Cup Playoffs, there are six former Barracuda players still competing for the greatest trophy in sports including Jake Middleton – Minnesota, Ryan Carpenter – Calgary, Evander Kane – Edmonton, Colin Blackwell – Toronto, Jonny Brodzinski – New York (Rangers) and Barclay Goodrow New York (Rangers).
AHL or NHL, I just can’t get enough playoff hockey. As a broadcaster, calling playoff hockey is as good as it gets. I’m looking forward to moving into Tech CU Arena and getting back to competing for the Calder Cup.
Moving on, we’ve got a jersey reveal! The Barracuda officially released its “blackout” sweater, marking the first time in the team’s history that it will have a black uniform in the fulltime rotation. The team has worn black in the past but only as a one-off. It’s also the first time the club will don a uniform with a script logo instead of the fish as the crest. In my opinion, you can’t beat a black jersey. It’s sleek, intimidating, and flat out sharp. What is also exciting is the team announced it’ll rock ‘em on opening night (Oct. 22). It’s also part of a total refresh. The Barracuda will reveal two more jerseys this offseason. Let’s go! Love me some new unis. Is it October yet?
Speaking of reveals, I can confirm the ‘Cuda and the American Hockey League have more exciting news to reveal this Wednesday. And no, it’s not that the seats are being put in at Tech CU Arena, although that’s happening too. I can’t give anything away, but I can tell you to keep an eye out on our social channels on Wednesday morning around 11 AM.
Big congrats to Barracuda captain Jaycob Megna who signed a two-year extension with the Sharks on Monday. A well-deserved deal for a guy who jumped all over his NHL opportunity last year. Megna played so well, if I had to guess, the Barracuda are going to need to search for a different captain next year because I don’t see him spending much time in the AHL.
The Sharks finished the ’21-22 season with the 22nd-best record in the League, meaning they had the 11th-best lottery odds based on the inverse-order ranking. According the SJSharks.com, because teams could only move 10 spots, the Sharks had the lowest odds of any team that can win the first overall selection (3%). If the team above San Jose in the overall standings -21st-ranked Columbus – were to win the lottery, they could have only moved up to either the second or third overall selection in the draft. Teams could also not fall more than two places from their current selection order so the lowest the Sharks could fall was 13th overall. On Tuesday, the Sharks officially secured the 11th spot. Not moving ahead or falling back in the lottery.
Montreal won the lottery and will pick first overall as they will also serve as the host of the 2022 NHL Draft which will be held on July 7 and 8 at Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec. Round 1 will proceed on July 7, with round 2 through 7 occurring the following day. San Jose currently holds nine selections in the upcoming draft.
The Pacific Division is racking up the hardware this spring. All major AHL awards that have been given out to this point, will be taken home by members of the Pacific Division including Mitch Love – Stockton, A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the AHL’s outstanding coach, Dustin Wolf – Stockton, Aldege “Baz” Bastien Memoria Award as the AHL’s outstanding goaltender, Jordan Gross – Colorado, Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman, and T.J. Tynan – Ontario, Les Cunningham Award as the AHL’s most valuable player.
One other bit of news before we sign off. The Seattle Kraken officially announced its AHL club the Coachella Valley Firebirds would begin its first season playing out of Climate Pledge Arena since its brand-new barn won’t be ready in time for the start of the year in Palm Springs. Meaning the Barracuda could travel to Seattle at some point during the early stages of next year. We'll have to see how the season shakes out.
That’s do it for this edition of Nolly’s Notes. Thanks for reading and so long until next time.