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2011 Exit Interviews: Springfield Falcons Forwards

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Last week, Matt and Mike presented the exit interviews for the Columbus Blue Jackets. The season has also ended for the Springfield Falcons in the AHL. With an eye to the future, the Blue Jackets will once again next season place their top prospects here in Springfield. The just completed season had a few high points. Unfortunately, when things went bad, they went Mike Commodore-bad and never fully recovered.

Like the Jackets, the Falcons were competitive for most of the season. Like the Jackets, a bad stretch late in the season cost them the opportunity to make the playoffs. Like the Jackets, some retooling will be needed to achieve the goals of the team in 2011-2012. I am optimistic for both the Jackets and the Falcons next season. With the crew that played here for most of the season intact and some new faces fresh out of juniors and college, the future is indeed bright. Let's take a look at the season that might have been, starting with the forwards.

Before I get started, I'd like to mention a couple of points. First, I'll limit my assessments to the players with at least 20 games in with Springfield. (I might make an exception for Mike Commodore though.)

Also, I will limit the review to players who were under contract with Columbus. The Falcons had a handful of players who did well, but were under straight AHL contracts. I will address these players briefly at the end. If there is any interest, please post in the comment section and I'd be happy to discuss these players.

One other item of note: "What we expected" is more tangible with the big club, with the prospects I will add how the player came to the Blue Jackets and mention previous season stats.

SPRINGFIELD FALCONS FORWARDS:


TOMAS KUBALIK - RW

  • 21 years old on May 1st
  • 76 games, 24G, 29A, 53 points (led the Falcons)
  • -7
  • 16 PIM


What we expected:
Kubalik was the Jackets' fifth round draft pick in the 2008 entry draft. Following an impressive 2009-2010 season with the Victoriaville Tigres of the QMJHL (33G 42A, 75pts, +16 in 58 games), he was slated to make his pro debut this season.


What we got:
Kubalik brought a smooth skating danger to the Falcons' often feeble offense this season. He led the team in goals (24) and points (53) in his rookie season. In addition to emerging as a legitimate scoring presence, Tomas also got his first taste of the National Hockey League with a late season call up to the Blue Jackets.

What we need to see:
With one pro season now under his belt, expect Kubalik to show his improvements in the next training camp. Dependent on Scott Howson's off season maneuvering, I can see Kubalik making the Jackets next season. If he ends up back in Springfield and remains healthy, he could be an 80+ point scorer at the AHL level.


BEN GUITE - C

  • 32 years old
  • 72 games: 17 G, 30 A, 47 pts.
  • +12
  • 91 PIM

What we expected:
The veteran Guite was signed by Columbus prior to the 2010-2011 season on a one year deal to provide a degree of leadership for the Falcons. Ben was appointed team captain early in the season. A veteran of 175 NHL games (mostly with the Colorado Avalanche between 2006 and 2009), his experience was a prime factor in joining the Blue Jackets organization.

What we got:
Guite's value to the Falcons has to be measured not just by his on ice numbers, but by his value off the ice as well. His statistics were adequate in a season that saw the captain injured and playing through it for a good part of the campaign. Guite finished second in overall scoring on the Falcons.

What we need to see:
It is yet to be determined if Guite will be offered the chance to return to the Jackets' organization for another season. Ben will turn 33 this summer and may have to start planning his post playing career.



MAKSIM MAYOROV - LW

  • 22 years old
  • 69 games: 19G, 14A, 33 pts.
  • -12
  • 16 PIM

What we expected:
Mayorov was selected fifth by Columbus in the 2007 entry draft. He spent the previous two seasons with the Jackets' AHL affiliate in Syracuse, putting up 17G, 14A for 31 points in his rookie season of '08-'09 and 17G, 15A for 32 points in '09-'10.

What we got:
Like his first two pro seasons, Mayorov finished the 2010-2011 season with numbers similar to his first two pro seasons. In a late season call up to the Jackets, Maks notched his first NHL goal against the Chicago Blackhawks.

What we need to see:
A restricted free agent at the end of the 2011-2012 season, Mayorov needs a breakout season for the organization next season. However, after three pro seasons, all with similar numbers, one has to wonder why breakout numbers hadn't shown themselves in the previous three seasons. One other point, he did show a better offensive knack once he was put on a line with his countryman, Nikita Filatov.



TREVOR FRISCHMON - C

  • 29 years old
  • 80 games: 4G, 25A, 29 pts.
  • +6
  • 39 PIM

What we expected:
Last summer, Frischmon re-upped with the Jackets on another one year, two way NHL-AHL contract. Trevor had played at the AHL level for the organization for the previous four seasons. A dedicated grinding type player, Frischmon would be a key player in terms of stability and special teams.

What we got:
Frisch was the Iron Man of the Falcons, playing in all 80 games this season. Conservative, his 29 points were his career high, and his +6 was his best +/- since posting a +12 in '07-'08. Frischmon fit the bill as a tight checking specialist and was an important part of both the power play and penalty kill units.

What we need to see:
Trevor is another player who has completed a one year deal. In a development environment, it's hard to read the tea leaves and estimate who or how many experienced players might return next season. Frischmon was an asset to this season's Falcons both on the ice and in the community. His loyalty to the Jackets' organization over the last five seasons is apparent.



KYLE WILSON - C

  • 26 years old
  • 23 GP, 12 G, 12A, 24 pts.
  • -4
  • 2 PIM

What we expected:
Wilson played the first half of the season with the Jackets. He was sent to Springfield in late January. He came to the organization as a Calder Cup winner the previous two seasons with the Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals).

What we got:
Wilson arrived in Springfield on a Saturday afternoon and played his first game for the Falcons that night, scoring the only goal of the night for Springfield. The next day, he put up three points and commenced what would be a brief but successful run for the Falcons.

What we need to see:

Possibly an omen, possibly an oversight, but Wilson has already been deleted from the Jackets roster pages on the official website. Others who have completed their one year deals remain listed. If Kyle returns, more ice time should keep him with the big club for the season. If he doesn't get that ice time, he will end up back in the AHL again.



MIKE BLUNDEN - RW

  • 25 years old
  • 37 GP, 12 G, 9A, 21 pts.
  • -6
  • 41 PIM

What we expected:
Blunden joined the Falcons when the Jackets re-upped him for another one year deal. Mike played 40 games for the Jackets in 2009-10 and had an opportunity to join them out of camp. After scoring 84 points in his last year of juniors (Erie Otters - OHL), his highest point output in the pros was 37 for the Rockford IceHogs of the AHL in 2007-08.

What we got:
Blunden started the season on what was the Falcons' #1 line and quickly established himself as a presence on the wing with Tom Sestito and Chad Kolarik. As the roster evolved, he became less of a factor and ultimately was injured in January and missed the remainder of the season.

What we need to see:
Like with Kyle Wilson, Blunden's info no longer appears on the Blue Jackets website. The team may be done with him.



NIKITA FILATOV - LW

  • 20 years old
  • 36 GP, 9G, 11A, 20 pts.
  • -2
  • 20 PIM

What we expected:
After another weak start with the Jackets, Filly was sent to Springfield in December. Although it seems like forever, he is only 20 years old, but he continues to struggle to adapt to the North American game.

What we got:
More of the same from Nik. There were shifts where his abundant (and untapped) talent appeared limitless. Then sadly, much more of the time, we saw the level of effort that got him demoted in the first place. Added into the mix, was a late season concussion and we ended up with another disappointing season from Filatov.

What we need to see:
Filly wasn't signed to a big contract to skate in the "A". He needs to make sure he's healthy and in good shape for the start of training camp. He will need to showcase his apparent skills and prove to management that he is capable of playing in the NHL. He is signed through next season, so it will be interesting to see how well he plays while in search of a new contract.



TOMAS KANA - RW

  • 23 years old
  • 31 GP, 2G, 4A, 6 pts.
  • -2
  • 43 PIM

What we expected:
Kana was acquired by the Jackets on December 8, 2009 from the St. Louis Blues organization. He experienced a hand injury midway through training camp this past September. In the four weeks it took him to recover, the Jackets sent him to the Falcons. Last season in the AHL with Syracuse, Kana scored 28 points in 50 games.

What we got:
Kana never really got it going this season. He had just nine games under his belt when he was injured in a fight against fellow Czech countryman Tomas Kundratek, then of the Hartford Wolfpack, in a game on November 13th. Kana damaged thumb ligaments and required surgical repair. He finally returned to the lineup on February 4th against the Providence Bruins. Relegated to third and fourth line status, his ice time took a hit and he simply wasn't a factor for the rest of the season.

What we need to see:
Currently unsigned, he is a restricted free agent and a healthy Kana can certainly contibute at the AHL level. The key for him is to remain healthy and play himself back into shape.


QUICK HITS:

Trevor Smith - acquired from the Anaheim Ducks after the trade deadline frenzy. Smith was adequate for the Falcons in 33 games, putting up 8 goals and 8 assists.

Chris D'Alvise - joined the Falcons on a PTO in late November. He scored six points in his first seven games and was signed to an AHL contract with the Falcons. Dally was relegated to "in residence" status after the AHL Clear Day rosters were set. With the influx of college and juniors, he played his last game of the season on March 16th.

Nick Tarnasky - the veteran also came back to Springfield via the PTO route. Nick played 66 games for the Falcons with 7 goals and 13 assists, and was a +2. Nick's 150 PIM was second only to the traded Tom Sestito.'s 193 while with Springfield. Nick is still only 26 years old and the 6'2", 230 pounder could still find his way back to the NHL.

Steven Goertzen - The Falcons were Goertzen's fourth AHL club since 2005. A veteran of 309 AHL games coming into the season, Goertzen added a playmaker's ability frequently in special teams situations.

Coming tomorrow on The Cannon, goaltending and defense!