Off Season Game Plan: Acadia

A year removed from a league title, can the Golden Bears contend in 2013-14 or are they headed down the standings?
by Marcel Cormier | July 5, 2013, 1:15 PM ET

With two SICHL championships in their 8-year history, the Bears can feel pretty golden about their tenure in the league. Outside of the 2010-11 season the club has qualified for the playoffs each year and more often than not, managed to be at least a threat once they began. 

The 2012-13 campaign was a unique one for the entire league as the record book was not just rewritten but outright destroyed and replaced fropm cover to cover. In this bizarre season the Bears established their own records, smashing their previous highs in team wins, points and nearly all of their individual scoring records as well. Unfortunately, there were a handful of other teams in the league who also enjoyed unparalled success and four of them share the Canadian Conference.

"It was a strange year in that it seemed there was no in between; you were either a contender or awful," said Acadia head coach Dave Hakstol, "There were 12 teams with over 100 points and then there were 6 that had less than 50."

Acadia began the year feeling confident that they could challenge for back-to-back championships and although they had a team that could do it, they fell short losing out in the opening round of the playoffs to Winnipeg. Their 6th place finish in the overall league standings saw them behind only one team from the World Conference - the Hamburg Gladiators.

As is the case in every summer, there will be changes in Acadia but not many. The team isn't expected to lose many players to free agency as the young roster doesn't have many older veterans on the team that aren't signed already for next year.

UFA: Brooks Orpik and Martin Brodeur.

Orpik will surely assume the Franchise Player tag currently held by Tomas Vokoun while Brodeur will become an unrestricted free agent.

RFA: Claude Giroux, Curtis Glencross, Peter Mueller, Scott Hartnell, Michael Grabner, Max Talbot, Ryan O'Reilly, Dustin Byfuglien. Minor leaguers Mike Connolly, Carter Camper, Brayden McNabb, Brad Thiessen, Martin Jones and Dustin Tokarski.

Expect Giroux will be signed outright while the rest of the SICHL roster free agents to be at least qualified. The farmhands will also be resigned with the exception of Brad Thiessen who will be released in order for the team to free up space in the organization.

Sources indicate that role playing forwards Spencer Machacek  and Brandon MacMillan could be passed on the depth chart by a number of players graduating from the minors or rookies just beginning their pro careers. The list of expected challengers for SICHL spots in the fall includes: J.T. Miller, Beau Bennett, Matt Frattin, Reilly Smith up front and Jake Gardiner, Tyler Spurgeon and Paul Postma on the blueline. 

Goaltender Braden Holtby will assume the starting job in Acadia with Vokoun is more than capable support. Swede Jacob Markstrom will be in a position to be recalled if needed but will be the starter in Val d'Or.

Expected Line Combinations

 Based on the current roster and expected changes with free agency...

The Golden Bears will return their top line of Claude Giroux centering Jordan Eberle and Scott Hartnell but much up front beyond the top 3 could switch up.

  • L1) Hartnell---Giroux---Eberle
  • L2) Grabner---O'Reilly---Brouwer
  • L3) Glencross---Desharnais---Bennett
  • L4) Mueller---Couturier---Frattin
  • L5) Beagle---Talbot---Reilly Smith
  • L6) Hartikainen---Tyrell---Vincour

Acadia has a plethora of SICHL caliber defence so trades are possible. The depth chart looking ahead could resemble this:

  • Orpik---Byfuglien
  • Smid---Petry
  • Spurgeon---Lydman
  • Gilbert---Klesla
  • Postma---Gardiner

Goaltending has sorted itself out after time waiting impatiently for drafted netminders to develop enough to impact the SICHL roster:

Promotion from the Prospects list to at least the farm roster:

Draft Strategy

As is always the scenario with Acadia, the Bears have an abundance of draft picks stockpiled. They currently hold three picks in both the 1st and 2nd rounds as well as five others in the event. It is being reported that the Bears are open to moving at least one of their 1st round picks.

Free Agency

There is no real need for the Bears to pursue an unrestricted free agent at this time. However, should they lose a player to an offer sheet again, as has happened several times in the past, Acadia has a bankroll of $62.5 million dollars at its disposal.



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