With a little more than a month to go before training camp opens, the man primarily responsible for putting together the Portland Pirates likes how the team looks on paper.
“Today, I’m pretty comfortable with the group that we have, but I’m always a little tentative because the best laid plans in July and August are not always what you see when the season starts,” said Phoenix Coyotes assistant general manager Brad Treliving.
“It’s always difficult sitting in August to know who is going to end up where, but we do have a number of bodies up front, and, depending on how it sorts itself out, I like where we’re at, right now.”
The 2012-13 edition of the Portland Pirates promises to be younger and bigger than the squad that remained in the race for a berth in the Calder Cup playoffs right until the final game last season.
“We’ve added some guys who have a little bit of everything in terms of some skill, some experience and some size,” Treliving added, “so the things we wanted to address I think we have at this point, and we’ll see how it plays out.”
The Coyotes, who replaced the Buffalo Sabres as the Pirates’ NHL parent before last season, are scheduled to open their training camp Sept. 21 at Jobing.com Arena in suburban Glendale, Ariz. The earliest the Pirates can open their training camp at the refurbished Portland Ice Arena is Sept 28.
“I think the core of players we’re going to count upon are the young players (Portland) fans have already seen and the young players we’ve drafted,” Pirates Coach Ray Edwards said.
Seven players who spent their professional rookie seasons with the Pirates are scheduled to return, while as many as 11 rookies could make the Portland roster.
Portland’s veteran corps will come from a group of 13 players who will first be given a chance to earn a spot on the Phoenix roster.
“These are depth guys for Phoenix, and they’re good (AHL) players,” Edwards said.
A total of 14 players who spent the bulk of last season with the Pirates are no longer in the Coyotes’ organization. Seven of them have signed to play for teams in Europe, which is relatively high number for the AHL affiliate.
“I haven’t analyzed that, to be honest,” Edwards said. “I think you can look at it in a lot of ways, but, to be honest, I deal with people that we have, not with people that we don’t. I wish them all the best, obviously, and hope that they have success, but we’ll deal with the people we have.”
Edwards is unsure of the status of Brett MacLean, a 23-year-old forward who suffered a cardiac emergency July 2 while playing hockey in Owen Sound, Ontario.
“He’s not going to know anything for a couple of months, so I think we have to plan on not having him,” Edwards said. “Really, the big thing right now is his safety.”
The Coyotes still may make a few moves prior to the opening of training camp.
“We’re still looking at tweaking the defense a little bit, depending on how things sort out (in Phoenix),” Treliving said.
“On the back end, we’ve got different guys who will be with us, depending on how it shakes out upstairs,” Edwards said. “I think we’re one or two defensemen away from being where we want to be. Up front, we’re pretty much done.”
The 2012-13 AHL schedule isn’t finalized, but the Pirates will begin their season on the road during the weekend of Oct. 12-14.
The Cumberland County Civic Center will be unavailable for the first three weeks of the season because of renovation work, so the Pirates will play their home opener Oct. 19 at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: