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San Diego Gulls Season Preview
By Thomas Harrington
The San Diego Gulls are about to start their third season of play as Anaheim’s AHL affiliate. It’s been a productive relationship between the two teams. When Anaheim needs to call players up from the minors, reinforcements are close by and readily available. Bob Murray has supplied the Gulls with a ton of young talent, especially on defense. San Diego has had a strong roster over the last couple of seasons and reached the second round of the Calder Cup Playoffs both years. Ontario defeated them two years ago, and San Jose emerged the victor this past season. San Diego will ice another strong roster and hopes to go even deeper in the playoffs this coming season.
In net, the Gulls have a number of options to choose from. Once Ryan Miller is healthy, Reto Berra will be assigned to San Diego. Coming into this season, he was assumed to be the starter, but with him in Anaheim for the start of the season, that job could be taken by someone else. Veteran Dustin Tokarski has a chance to grab the job, though he doesn’t seem to be in Anaheim’s plans for the long term. Instead, I think that Kevin Boyle will likely be the starter until Berra returns. He had a solid rookie season last year with the Gulls but struggled when he was in the ECHL. He’ll need to be more consistent this season if he wants to be San Diego’s starter. Finally, there is the newly signed Angus Redmond. He had a great season at Michigan Tech before turning pro and signing with Anaheim. He’ll probably get some games in San Diego, but I think he’s likely to see more time in the ECHL than the AHL.
Once again, San Diego will have a very strong defensive core. Despite Brandon Montour, Shea Theodore, and Jaycob Megna no longer being available, the Gulls have a very deep defense. Jacob Larsson leads the unit, and though he probably won’t be there for the entire season, expect him to be on the top pairing when he is in San Diego. Andy Welinski and Keaton Thompson had strong rookie seasons a year ago and will look to be even better this year. Marcus Pettersson will be in his AHL rookie season but was one of the surprises of training camp as he had a very strong preseason. Brian Cooper played in 37 games as a rookie last year and could see more action this season. Steve Olesky, Jeff Schultz, and Stu Bickel will provide veteran support for what is a relatively young blueline. With Montour, Theodore, and Megna gone, the Gulls have lost a lot of talent on the backend, but it’s still a very talented group.
The Gulls had a deep offensive core last year, and it’s even better this year. They have a number of players, both veterans, and rookies, who can fill the back of the net. As rookies, Kalle Kossila and Kevin Roy were second and third in scoring on the team last year. This year, both expect to up their point totals and hope to see time in the NHL as well. When healthy, Nicolas Kerdiles is one of San Diego’s best forwards, but injuries have hampered him over the last couple of seasons. As long as he stays healthy, expect a big season from him. Rookies Mitch Hults, Alex Dostie, Julius Nattinen, Deven Sideroff, and Austin Ortega should all chip in with some offense this year. Hults, Ortega, and Sideroff all got a taste of the AHL at the end of last season, and that will hopefully serve them well this year. Dostie and Nattinen are arriving from juniors and will get their first taste of professional hockey. Giovanni Fiore and Derek Grant are both currently in Anaheim, but both will likely see some time in San Diego this season. Grant is more of a depth veteran, but Fiore will be counted on to be one of San Diego’s leading scorers when he’s in the lineup. He scored over 50 goals last year and had a very impressive training camp. Veterans Corey Tropp, Sam Carrick, and Spencer Abbott should provide the team with a veteran scoring presence. Tropp led the team in scoring last year, while both Carrick and Abbott arrived at the deadline and were nearly a point per game to close out the season. Veteran Jordan Samuels-Thomas will provide strong defensive play and timely scoring. He should be one of their top penalty killers this season. Scott Sabourin and Mike Liambas will rack up the fights and penalty minutes. Kossila, Fiore, Roy, and Kerdiles could all see time in Anaheim this season, but the Gulls have enough depth that they should be okay when players are called up.
Though the defense isn’t as strong as it was a year ago, it’s still a solid group. When combined with good goaltending and the deepest offensive core that Anaheim has ever given San Diego, the team has some high expectations this year. It should be another exciting year of Gulls hockey!
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October 7th, 2017
Filed under: Ducks News Tagged: ducksnpucks, Gulls season preview, san diego gulls, season preview