Everblades Roster Continues to Grow as Season Approachesby Alex Reed
The 2016-17 season is a little more than a month away, and the Everblades hockey operations department continues to make quality additions to an already solid lineup. At the beginning of August, the team had locked in an intriguing blend of skill, speed and size. Over the course of the past month, that trend continued as several more players have tabbed Southwest Florida as their hockey home in 2016-17.
The Everblades opened the month of August with seven players on their roster. However, that number has now jumped to a dozen players. Forward Michael Kirkpatrick stands out as a key signing which should help inflate the team’s ability to score goals. Kirkpatrick finished last season as the top scorer for the Adirondack Thunder (ECHL) totaling 60 points, including 29 goals. Kirkpatrick along with center Matt Berry who was added to the mix earlier in the summer, gives the ‘Blades a skilled one-two punch from an offensive production standpoint.
The ‘Blades also added some size and skill up front by inking gritty forward John McCarron from the Wheeling Nailers. The 6-3, 220-pound McCarron helped guide the Nailers to a Kelly Cup Finals appearance this past spring. McCarron collected 23 points (11g, 12a) with 42 penalty minutes in just 25 postseason contests. McCarron is an individual who finished strong in his rookie campaign last season and will be looking to elevate his game in year two.
Florida also brought back another late season addition to the roster from last year in forward Ralph Cuddemi. Cuddemi posted five points in his nine games with the ‘Blades, including a two-goal performance in the regular season finale against Orlando. Cuddemi, along with blueliners Chase Golightly and Alexander Kuqali will certainly bring a wealth of potential to the table.
Forward Stephen MacAulay was recently added to the mix. MacAulay just finished his career at St. Mary’s University. He had a fruitful career in the QMJHL winning two Memorial Cup titles with Saint John Sea Dogs in 2011 and the Halifax Mooseheads in 2013.
The team also spent the past month bolstering its defensive corps with veteran Corey Syvret and newcomer Zack Kamrass. Syvret returns for his second season in Florida where he was a mainstay at the blue line last year. Look for Syvret to assume a big leadership role in the coming season. Kamrass joins the Everblades from the Idaho Steelheads. Kamrass logged 24 points (4g, 20a) last season, and possesses next-level talent. Kamrass was very impressive in his five meetings against the Everblades last season.
Other skaters in the fold for next season could come from the team’s AHL affiliate the Charlotte Checkers. Last week, Charlotte added the services of forwards Mike Ferrantino, Levko Koper, and defenseman Kevin Raine to AHL deals. The Checkers also added forward Mitchell Heard, who was a teammate of Kirkpatrick in Adirondack last season. It was here that Heard recorded 32 points and 114 penalty minutes in just 33 ECHL games, while chipping in seven points in 22 AHL games with Stockton. The outcome of training camps will determine where these players will open up the season.
The situation between the pipes remains to be seen. Most likely it will come down to how several goaltenders perform in NHL and AHL camps. The top two spots with the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes are pretty much locked up with Cam Ward and Eddie Lack. However, that leaves two spots in Charlotte and two with the Everblades to still be determined. Last week, Anthony Peters was again signed by Charlotte for another season. There is certainly the potential to see him donning an Everblades sweater again this season, especially with the recent addition of veteran Michael Leighton to the Hurricanes organization last week. Peters amassed an impressive 27 wins for the ‘Blades last year, and has worked very hard in the offseason to earn an AHL contract again this year. Peters will certainly compete for a spot with the AHL club, but a numbers game could result in him landing in Florida at the start of the season.
Other goaltending possibilities could come from a pair of Carolina prospects in Daniel Altshuller and Alex Nedeljkovic. Last season, Altshuller made great strides in improving his game in his sophomore season with solid play and consistency. Nedeljkovic is another promising young netminder who will push Altshuller in camp. However the Hurricanes may elect to have the 20-year old receive more playing time, which is something that he could certainly receive in Estero in 2016-17.
As of today, the Everblades’ roster features 12 ECHL contracted players. While a few more pieces are expected to be added soon, Head Coach Brad Ralph is pleased with how it is shaping up.
“Our roster is still evolving, but its going to be an emotional, talented group,” said Ralph. “We have really focused on high character players to shape the core of this team. The ability to play with pace is important to us. All of our defensemen are extremely mobile and will activate up ice. We will have three lines featuring individuals who can all be first-line players. We will have a very deep team that will be reliant upon every member contributing his best to the cause.”
To view the current Everblades Roster CLICK HERE
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For more information, call 239-948-7825, or stop by the team’s main office located at Germain Arena from Monday through Friday 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
The Everblades are the proud ECHL affiliateof the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes###