The Chicago Wolves ended their season last Friday in a game 5 loss against the San Antonio Rampage. The Wolves were down 2-0 in the series before rallying to force a deciding game. It was a great hockey game with Chicago rallying from 2-0 to tie the game and get the game to Double OT before letting in the winning goal. It was a decent season for the team overall but there are some decisions for the Wolves to make over the summer.
There has been a lot of talk of the Vancouver Canucks looking to part ways with Alain Vigneault. After this first round exit as well there has been discussions of letting him go and bring in a fresh face to bring a new form into the fold. Why not Craig MacTavish? Craig was signed by the Vancouver organization before the start of this season to lead the Wolves. You would think that Vigneault had a little anxiety in his system when he knew a successful coach was signed on that he needed to improve.
After a game 7 exit in last year’s Stanley Cup and a first round exit it has made a lot of individuals stir up some rumors. If MacTavish indeed does get the nod for the Canucks job, the Wolves will be again looking for another head coach to take over their team. It’s a big difference from years ago with the stability of John Anderson being an anchor behind the bench.
Coming or Going?
Another issue every year is the departures of veterans and players from the Vancouver Canucks prospects as well as the Wolves signings. Below is who is a UFA (unrestricted free agent) and a RFA (restricted free agent).
Darren Haydar: There has been a lot of talk that Haydar will head to the HV71 Sweden team. Another name that might be familiar to fans is Jason Krog who was linemates with the Haydar while on the Wolves. It would suit Haydar better with the much bigger ice and the tax free money which is also a hot commodity for hockey players.
Kevin Doell: After a year filled of injuries Kevin Doell didn’t get much time to get back into game shape as he came back near the end of the season. Doell could be another player who could get the urge to go back overseas as he has played there before. If the Wolves could bring him back and he could put in a healthy season would be a huge positive.
Mike Davies: Davies was used sparingly throughout the first of half of the year due to the Canucks prospects getting more ice time. But in the last half Davies found himself dressed for numerous games and showed that he has the hands to play in this league. I can see Davies returning as well unless he gets a better offer from another team or a team closer to home (i.e. Peoria).
Tim Miller: Now with Miller he is like the second coming of Ryan Garbutt. Garbutt who currently is with the Dallas Stats showed his tenacity for the Wolves in the year he played. Miller has shown he can play on any line along with the special teams as you can call him the "utility man" . Miller has shown he has the heart and aggressiveness to move to that next step, so don’t be surprised if he gets an NHL tryout. If for some odd reason Miller doesn’t get that option I don’t think the Wolves will be disappointed to bring him back.
Matt Clackson: Clackson was looked at as the enforcer of the squad and wasn’t afraid to stick up for his teammates. Clackson only saw 43 games this year and I’m sure he would like to see more next year. When Clackson was in the lineup he did what he was asked to do. But if he wants more ice time he will probably find another organization next year.
Dustin Friesen: Friesen was hurt for most of the year and his 19 games weren’t something to be talked about for years to come. He was on a two way contract between Chicago and Missouri and not sure if he will return for the upcoming season.
Mark Matheson: Matheson was a solid blueliner for the Wolves this year and did a great job on the back-end. An unfortunate end to the season where he blocked a shot with his ear was unexpected, but he sacrificed his body for the team. I can see the Wolves bringing him back just for the leadership he possesses along with helping the younger crop of defensemen develop.
Antoine Roussel: Roussel was another agitator similar to Clackson for the team this year. He did have 177 in penalty minutes but was also a dismal +/- 13. Roussel can lead the team in the tough guy aspect but the offensive stats need to improve. I think it's a 50/50 possibility he gets another chance with the Wolves.
The last 4 years have been tough on the entire organization with twice not making the playoffs while the others were a first round and second round exit. The team strides itself on winning it all and even though this year was a mild success you can bet Don Levin and Co. are not satisfied. It will be an interesting summer again for the team and there could be another fall of fresh faces in the Allstate Arena.
Filed under: Chicago Wolves