As most American Hockey League groups reached the midway mark of its 72-game common season over a busy weekend, it is an opportune time to test in on the progress of 4 AHL rookies and Kraken prospects contributing to affiliate Coachella Valley’s first-place standing within the Pacific Division and total greatest document within the 32-team league.
The quartet of Ryker Evans, Ville Petman, Peetro Seppala, and Tye Kartye are all adjusting to the elevated velocity and physicality of the AHL whereas delivering productive seasons. Evans, a defenseman drafted 35th Total within the 2021 NHL Draft, leads the Firebirds rookies in scoring with three targets and 20 assists.
Petman and Kartye have seven targets a bit to prime the group. Kartye scored his seventh purpose of the season to begin the CVF scoring in Sunday’s 4-2 comeback residence win whereas Petman notched an help on the Firebirds’ necessary insurance coverage purpose. Kartye has 20 factors on the season (7 G, 13 A) and Petman stands at 15 factors (7 G, 8 A). Defenseman Seppala is in double-digits himself with a purpose and 9 assists.
By all accounts, Evans is prospering each on and off the ice in his first yr as an expert. He was named an AHL All-Star earlier this month. The 21-year-old mentioned the largest adjustment is “consistency and being the very best participant I will be each single day.”
“For me, meaning enjoying my sport, skating with the puck, engaged on my shot, getting my shot by way of to the web,” mentioned Evans. “Being constant on each ends of the ice is how I can develop my sport.”
Evans is rooming with Carsen Twarynski, the Kraken’s enlargement draft selection from Philadelphia, and Luke Henman, in his second yr of AHL play after changing into the primary participant signed by Seattle in mid-Could 2021. It is the primary season throughout which Evans did not stay along with his household (throughout his youthful days) or billet household (as a juniors participant in Regina, SK).
“It is positively a change this yr,” mentioned Evans. “It is the three of us in a home. It has been superior attending to know my teammates and there is at all times one thing to do [away from the rink]. The good climate right here positively would not restrict us. You will be exterior just about every single day… not many hockey gamers are allowed to try this [during a season].”
Evans says his roommates are avid golfers and he’ll tag alongside however thus far doesn’t have the bug for the sport as his roommates and plenty of different Firebirds gamers.
Firebirds coach Dan Bylsma mentioned in a latest dialog that every one 4 AHL rookies are assembly the problem of upgrading their abilities and aggressive degree in the next customary of play, whether or not it is Evans and Kartye stepping up from juniors or Petman, 23, and Seppala, 22 , already accustomed to enjoying in opposition to opponents who’re 5 to even 15 years older throughout three-plus seasons of their native Finland prime professional league.
“The tempo of the NHL [during training camp and preseason games] and American League Hockey is one thing [AHL rookies] Have to do: Alter to creating performs faster, studying performs faster, studying to play protection, getting adjusted to the velocity.
“I’d say it up to now within the season Ville Petman is our most improved participant. ‘Pets’ is exhibiting his compete degree increasingly more every single day. He’s including some good offense and skill. He is developed right into a penalty killer who’s keen to dam photographs. He confirmed fairly properly in a preseason sport for Seattle. He had some chunk to him and performed heavy that is an enormous a part of his sport.”
Bylsma mentioned “I would put Ryker Evans in there [for most improved player] as properly. During the last month, his play by him improved leaps and bounds.”
Early in final summer time’s growth camp, seeing Seppala for the primary time in individual, Bylsma preferred what he was seeing from the 22-year-old who had logged three full seasons (plus six video games as an 18-year-old in 2017-2018 ) in Finland’s prime skilled league, SM-Liiga: “He is a heady participant. He sees the sport properly and was studying performs faster [compared to some of the other prospects skating at the Kraken Community Iceplex].”
Bylsma added Petman and Seppala are each thriving regardless of enjoying a a lot heavier schedule of video games – and the primary 22 dates away from the brand-new residence enviornment in Coachella Valley.
“The early season was crammed with some troublesome journey,” mentioned Bylsma. “Nobody was of their residence beds [for nearly two months before the new training center opened in November]. It was a troublesome slog. for these two [Petman and Seppala]they had been adjusting to the North American sport [smaller rink size] and the sheer variety of video games on the similar time.”
Bylsma has praised his veteran core of leaders (Max McCormick, john hayden, Kole Lind, Alexander True) for mentoring their youthful teammates by each phrases and instance. For Evans, he and his defensive companion Jimmy Schuldt have been a gradual power for the Firebirds. Schuldt, 27, has appeared in 187 AHL video games and performed one sport with Vegas within the spring of 2018 after a stellar four-year profession with NCAA Division I St. Cloud State.
“He is been superior to play with,” mentioned Evans. “He is taught me quite a bit. He is actually large on communication and he has a unique means to take a look at the sport. I love his positivity from him every single day.”
Evans mentioned he and his fellow youthful gamers can not help however get pleasure from working towards the present state of being the AHL’s prime crew – steadily in a top-five tier that features venerable AHL franchises such because the Hershey Bears, Toronto Marlies, and Windfall Bruins .
“We now have an amazing mixture of veterans and younger guys,” mentioned Evans. “Everybody’s acquired a job and everybody’s fulfilling their roles. It is an incredible crew to play on. I do not suppose I’ve had this a lot enjoyable enjoying hockey in just a few seasons.