Time is ticking away on a tough decision for Bob Tory and Mike Williamson. Which three 20 year-old will make the Tri-City Americans 2017-2018 roster? With five 20 year-old on the roster: D Brendan O’Rilley, LW Jordan Topping, LW Maxwell James, RW Vladisav Lunkin, and G Patrick Dea two of them will have to be traded or released.
Baring a trade, I think the decision is really whch two of four 20 year-olds will make the team. With only two goalies on the current roster eligible to play the whole season, newly acquired goalie Patrick Dea is a lock. He was signed in the off-season after spending the last four years playing for the Edmonton Oil Kings. The 5-11″ 169 pound product from St. Albert, Alberta owns a 19-31 record, 3.86 goals against average (gaa), and a .882 save percentage (sav%), with one shutout in his regular season career. He has played very well in the preseason with a 1.71 gaa and .940 sav%. He will be sharing the net with Beck Warm. I expect them to be used like Evan Sarthou and Rylan Parenteau were last year. Alternating games and riding the hot hand towards the end of the year.
Now I think you can make an educated guess and say Vladisav Lunkin will not make the team. This is tough because the 6′-1″ 200 pound Right Wing from Ufa, Russia has been a productive offensive player during his three years with the Ams. He has scored 118 goals in 183 career games, including back to back 20+ goal seasons. The reasons he doesn’t stick with the Ams is he is not only a 20 year-old, but also an import, the Ams are deep at forward, and the Ams drafted two Defenseman in this years import draft.
I believe Jordan Topping makes the team. The 6′-1″ 200 pound Left Wing from Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, was the leading returning scorer going into the 2016-2017 season. He hurt his ankle at the Dallas Stars camp and missed the first 29 games last season, but was extremely productive in his return. He was second, to Morgan Geekie, in points per game with 28 goals, 25 assist, in 43 games. His productivity keeps him on the team, however, of the five players, he would probably bring the best return if he was traded.
I don’t believe Bendan O’Rilley makes the Ams roster. The 6′-3″ 203 pound Defensemen from Southlake, Texas has spent his entire four year career with the Ams. With the Ams bringing in four defenseman this off-season, I think the new abundance at the position makes him expendable.
Now it would be wrong if I didn’t mention I am a big fan of Maxwell James and hopefully I am being as unbiased as possible. The 6′-4″ 227 pound LW product from Kamloops British Columbia, provides the team with a physical presence they like. Because he is physical, good on the penalty kill, played well in last year’s playoffs, and has looked good in this year’s preseason he makes the roster.
Dea and James played well Tuesday against a young Kootney Ice team, while Lunkin and O’Rielly were scratches. I expect Lunkin and O’Rielly to play in the final preseason game this Saturday, against the Chiefs while James will probably be scratched. Good luck to all the players and no matter what decision is made I wish the players that don’t make the team well and hope they have success in the future as long as it doesn’t come at the expense of the Ams.