Recalls and reassignment are few and far between these days, with just eight teams still alive in the NHL and AHL alike. A flurry of activity occurred today though, as two surviving Stanley Cup Playoffs contenders have called up a number of players from their AHL affiliates, who both ducked out of the Calder Cup Playoffs with first-round losses. According to the AHL, both the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins have recalled their “black aces”, the group of minor league players brought up largely to practice with the NHL team during the postseason once their own season is over. With the salary cap not a factor in the postseason, most big league teams often choose to bring up a large number of AHLers for the experience, as well as emergency depth, and the Avs and Bruins have done just that.
Little more than a paper move for the Avalanche, the team has called up five players from their neighboring affiliate, the Colorado Eagles. The group includes goaltender Pavel Francouz, defenseman Anton Lindholm, and forwards A.J. Greer, Dominic Toninato, and Logan O’Connor. Each of these players has logged time with the Avs this season, with Greer leading the way with 15 games while the others all played in at least two. The skaters played minimal roles and combined for just three points, but Francouz, a veteran import from the KHL, was clutch in two relief appearances with a .943 save percentage and 1.96 GAA. Yet, it is Francouz who is least likely to see any playoff action as the third-string keeper. With lineup regular Matt Calvert battling an injury, one of the forwards could in fact make an appearance in this postseason. Greer and O’Connor, who finished second and third respectively in Eagles scoring, would be the top candidates.
Boston’s recruits are not coming from far away either, as they have called up a whopping 13 players from the nearby Providence Bruins. Forwards Anton Blidh – who signed an extension earlier today – Paul Carey, Peter Cehlarik, Ryan Fitzgerald, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, Trent Frederic, Zach Senyshyn, Lee Stempniak, Jack Studnicka, and Jordan Szwarz and defensemen Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen, and Jakub Zboril have joined the club. Amazingly, all but Fitzgerald, Studnicka, and Szwarz have suited up for Boston this season and Szwarz played in a dozen NHL games last year. The least experienced name is actually the most exciting, as this will be Studnicka’s first non-training camp experience with the Bruins. The 20-year-old, who most consider the Bruins’ top prospect, is fresh off a 73-point regular season and point-per-game postseason in the OHL and his NHL debut is highly anticipated. However, it is very unlikely to come in these playoffs. In fact, the Bruins are deep at every position as is and it would be a surprise to see any of their “black aces” take the ice outside of extenuating circumstances. On the other had, the team could use some energy and offense in their current series, so who knows.