08/09/2017 4:07 PM
Photo By: Robyn Iwaskiw / Brampton Beast
The month of August is upon us and while many are enjoying the warm Southern Ontario weather, Brampton Beast Head Coach Colin Chaulk is hard at work building a roster ahead of the 2017-18 ECHL season.
With several notable departures from last season’s squad, including David Pacan, David Vallorani, Luke Pither and Tim Billingsley among others, some may believe that the team may take a step back in 2017-18 but Chaulk insists the players currently under contract plus new recruits through the Montreal Canadiens organization will help keep the Beast near the top of the ECHL standings.
“Look at the forwards we have signed,” Chaulk said.
“Kevin Dufour scored 20 goals in college. Mitch Zion didn’t play last season but scored nearly a point-per-game when he came in a year ago. He will be hungry. Brandon Marino has led both the CHL and ECHL in scoring. Chris Leveille finished sixth on the team in scoring as our tenth forward. Let’s not forget that we’re negotiating with players at the American Hockey League level on a weekly basis. Laval has signed a pair of players to AHL/ECHL deals. Those players are going to be in Brampton for some of the season, so one would think.”
In this moment in time, it’s easy to look at the number of goals scored by departing players and think it’s impossible to replace that production, but Chaulk knows first hand that scoring lots of goals doesn’t always create a winning team.
“Are we missing a little bit of scoring right now? Yeah,” Chaulk admits.
“We would like to add a guy or two. Quite honestly, we had too much scoring and too many guys who refused to go to the hard areas consistently. We’re learning from that. We have guys that can get into those hard areas and that’s how we’re building our roster this season.”
With a great returning core of players, highlighted by longtime captain Brandon Marino, defensive stalwart Jordan Henry and up-and-comers Mitch Zion and Chris Leveille, as well as new recruits Tyson Wilson, Kevin Dufour and Paul Cianfrini, this year’s squad will certainly have a new look, but Chaulk believes that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“This situation is going to give a few guys an opportunity to show what they can do.,” Chaulk said.
“Also, we’re in August right now. I believe we have a solid base. At this time last year, we didn’t have the depth on defense that we have now. Right now, we’re still looking for two pieces: a solid two-way centreman and another scoring winger.”
Building an ECHL roster during the offseason is no easy task. Between scouting players, making countless phone calls, contacting players and their agents and locking up returning skaters, there’s rarely a dull moment in the Beast coach’s office.
High-end talent is hard to come by in the ECHL. Last season, the Beast were blessed with a pair of top-ten scorers in Vallorani and Pacan, but rosters change from year to year and recruiting players of that calibre and getting them to sign on the dotted line doesn’t happen overnight. Sometimes, patience is the key.
“You really can’t forecast what’s going to happen,” Chaulk said of recruiting elite talent during the summer.
“You’re going to get two or three, maybe four dynamic players at the end of September following the end of development camps and rookie tournaments. Two years ago, that was Angelo Miceli and Travis Brown. Last year, that was Yannick Veilleux and Mathieu Gagnon.”
Another big change for the Beast this offseason is the departure of Assistant Coach Peter Goulet. He was a big part of the club’s success last season and left an indelible mark during his two-year tenure with the Beast. Coach Chaulk is searching for a suitable replacement but is in no rush to make any coaching decisions.
“I went through the interview process with a few guys and have a short list,” Chaulk said.
“From there, I will make a decision. I’m not in a rush. I’m still looking to sign two high-end players, plus I’ll have other guys coming in to compete for jobs. My focus is two high-end players. It will still be another week to two weeks before anything is finalized there (with the Assistant Coach).
While the pieces are slowly falling into place for Chaulk as he forms his squad for the upcoming season, but that doesn’t mean there’s no work left to be done.
“At this point, we’re trying to get some of our players into American Hockey League training camps,” Chaulk said of his workload over the next few weeks.
“We’re really focusing on getting some high-end talent. We’re trying to get a few more guys who are able to push the guys we have already signed. That’s really it.”