The Manchester Monarchs have three games left in their schedule for this season. As you know, Modo is done for the season but had to play some relegation games in a lower league to ensure their contract for next season.
Huge news came out this morning, though. Adrian Kempe arrived in Manchester, New Hampshire yesterday and could make his professional North American debut on Friday. Jon Rosen later confirmed that Kempe signed an ATO with the Monarchs and reportedly, Modo doesn't expect him back.
Kings (@LAKings) April 14, 2015
While nothing is confirmed about an ELC, Kempe seems like he's ready to make the jump across the pond permanently.
Haft 3 grymma år i Modo! ❤️— Adrian Kempe (@adriankempe) April 14, 2015
I'm not sure if I've mentioned it, but damn I love this kid.
Seems like Head Coach Mike Stothers put Kempe through a nice bag skate (assumably to test his conditioning levels) today. The translation to the follow up tweet is amazing.
Men jag älskar ju att trampa— Adrian Kempe (@adriankempe) April 14, 2015
What's not to love about this kid who turned 18 in September? Anyway, Kempe will wear #9 for the Monarchs and the lines could look something like this:
Mersch-Shore-O'Neill Kempe-Weal-Brodzinski Backman-Dowd-Auger Van der Gulik-Crescenzi-O'Brien Does the AHL have a mercy rule?— Andy Tonge (@AndyTonge1) April 14, 2015
Although, let's just say that lines are fluid under Stothers so Kempe may end up seeing time with Shore (presuming he's healthy enough to play) and Dowd.
Also, John Hoven believes that Kempe will be offered an ELC after playoffs. However, nothing "official" has been said so I guess take that with a grain of salt.
Andy Tonge of Mayor's Manor is super jammed so go check out his twitter timeline to see what he thinks of the best team in the AHL.
Speaking of which, let's get down to some other Monarchs news.
With a weekend sweep, the Monarchs are proud owners of the best record in the league.
It's official!! The Monarchs have won the Macgregor Kilpatrick trophy for the first time in franchise history! pic.twitter.com/FjdeopTw6b— Manchester Monarchs (@MonarchsHockey) April 12, 2015
It's basically the equivalent of the President's Trophy in the AHL. They look like a very strong group so I'm hoping this isn't a case of when Vancouver won the President's Trophy like 3 years in a row by feasting on weak competition in their division, similar to what the Monarchs do now, but never managing to win the championship title.
The Monarchs are well coached, though, and according to Tonge, Kings management seems very happy with him right now. One thing that's very different about Stother's approach is that he makes this team shoot more. He harps on them to shoot far more often than Morris apparently did. Per Tonge, the Kings now seem more interested in a hands on development. It could be a coincidence, or maybe not. Just an interesting thing to know. I'll be curious to see how Stothers and the rest of the team adjusts to a tougher division and schedule next season.
Manchester Monarchs 2014-15 Individual Stats
|37||Nick Shore (X)||C||38||20||22||42||23||16||7||3||101||19.8|
|14||David Van der Gulik||LW||54||11||13||24||11||39||1||2||93||11.8|
|18||Mike Richards (X)||C||16||3||11||14||6||4||1||0||39||7.7|
|15||Paul Bissonnette (total)||LW||53||1||6||7||-6||150||0||0||35||2.9|
Alex Lintuniemi is a 19-year-old Finnish defenseman who played for the Ottawa 67's in the CHL and was selected 60th overall at the 2014 draft. He was signed to an ATO following Ottawa's elimination from Memorial Cup playoffs. The Helsinki native picked up a point on his first shift in his first pro game by assisting on Colin Miller's wicked slapshot. He has since signed his ELC and is expected to compete for a spot on Ontario's blue line next season.
Berube continues to be awesome. He leads the league in wins and is 28 overall in save percentage.
Patrik Bartosak, aka "Barto," has moved up into ninth overall in sv%, though he's played considerably fewer games than Berube. He, however, is quite the adventurous netminder and doesn't really adhere to the traditional butterfly (by his own admission). I suspect he's a lot of fun to watch, even if he can be a bit scary. Much like another goaltender in LA's system...
Michael Mersch has been on an absolute tear of late. He started off the year a little slow but has points in seven of his last eight games. His type of play is to crash the net (similar to Marian Gaborik) so he could end up as a 20 goal scorer in the NHL.
Stick tap to Josh Weissbock for compiling these and making them publicly available. Thank you for your services.
The Monarchs have been a bit up and down this year, though that's to be expected. They finally managed to overtake Utica at the top of the American Corsi Hockey League standings with the best Fenwick Close %. However, this hasn't been updated in a couple of weeks so things may have changed.
But it's interesting to visually compare where the Monarchs were a year ago to where they are now, at least in terms of team defense and shot suppression (two staples of the Kings' game).
|DATE||VISITOR||HOME||TIME (ET)||GAME RESULTS||TICKETS|
|Wednesday Apr. 1, 2015||Monarchs||Devils||7:00 PM||Monarchs (2) - Devils (1)|
|Friday Apr. 3, 2015||Monarchs||Pirates||7:00 PM||Monarchs (4) - Pirates (3)|
|Saturday Apr. 4, 2015||Monarchs||Wolf Pack||7:00 PM||Monarchs (2) - Wolf Pack (3)|
|Friday Apr. 10, 2015||Pirates||Monarchs||7:00 PM||Pirates (2) - Monarchs (3)|
|Saturday Apr. 11, 2015||Monarchs||Sound Tigers||7:00 PM||Monarchs (5) - Sound Tigers (3)|
|Sunday Apr. 12, 2015||Monarchs||Sound Tigers||3:00 PM||Monarchs (4) - Sound Tigers (0)|
|Friday Apr. 17, 2015||Pirates||Monarchs||7:00 PM||BUY|
|Saturday Apr. 18, 2015||Sharks||Monarchs||7:00 PM||BUY|
|Sunday Apr. 19, 2015||Monarchs||Bruins||3:05 PM|
The Monarchs have two home games left where they close out the VIP Cup series against the Portland Pirates (Arizona Coyotes), which Monarchs lead 8-3 and will win for the second consecutive year. On Saturday, they play the Worcester Sharks (San Jose Sharks) then head out to Providence on Sunday to take on the Bruins (Boston Bruins).
The first date of AHL playoffs hasn't been announced yet but it'll probably be somewhere around April 24.
The Monarchs' most likely first round opponent will either be Portland or the Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets), both of which present a challenge to the Monarchs. Portland currently has the tiebreaker against Springfield, plus a game in hand and only have to win two of their three games. Springfield would have to win both their games this weekend and hope that Portland loses two in order to move on.
Portland always plays Manchester tough physically with lots of fights but Springfield has solid goaltending and pretty good forward depth so it's kind of a toss up and it's only a five game series in the first round.