BINGHAMTON, N.Y. – The New Jersey Devils organization is officially entering season number three of their relationship with the ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder, and it seems to finally be coming together from a player movement prospective.
The Thunder announced on Tuesday that former Union College product and Spotswood, NJ native Ryan Walker will be returning to Glens Falls for his second full season of professional hockey, which is fantastic news for Binghamton Devils fans. While only suiting up for one game with Bingo during the 2018-19 season (and then only two preseason games for the Devils against the Syracuse Crunch back in September), the 5’10” speedster showed a lot of promise. Walker was first introduced to the Devils organization when he was inked to a Amateur Tryout (ATO) in March 2019. He quickly made an impact for the ECHL club towards the end of the season, skating in five games for Adirondack.
While his efforts might not have shown up immediately on the score sheet, the Thunder re-signed him for his first full professional season. He didn’t disappoint. With 19 points (8G+ 11A), the 23-year-old started to flash his skill he had at Union where he collected 68 points (32G+36A) in the four years he spent calling Schenectady, NY home.
While the season may have been cut short due to COVID-19, he could have shown lots of promise for Binghamton’s Head Coach Mark Dennehy, with Walker being a potential call-up late in the season as the Devils made a late push into the Calder Cup Playoffs. Coach Dennehy could have played with multiple line combinations, putting Walker with a veteran forward like presence like Chris Connor and young, 22-year-old center Brandon Gignac.
I could go on for days with many different combinations, playing the role as “Fantasy Head Coach”. Putting him with guys like 10-year veteran Ben Street or Ryan Schmelzer would have been fun to see. If only the full hockey season was played, it would have been fun to see where Walker finished in points, maybe earning himself more than the three games in the AHL he’s played in the past two seasons. However, I certainly see Walker getting a decent run and even staying put in the American League this coming season.
The surprise return of goaltender Alex Sakellaropoulos to Alex Loh’s squad and to the Adirondack Thunder for the 2020-21 season. For those that don’t remember, the Binghamton Devils gave Sakellaropoulos his first taste of the AHL way back on December 26, 2018. While he may not have appeared in relief or started a game for Binghamton, the experience he got with the AHL club was not wasted. You can never get enough experience in my opinion, and that first call-up was the first of three for the Tinley Park, IL native.
He then signed a PTO with the Utica Comets nine days later. While not appearing in any contests in his stint with the club, he would return to Adirondack until March. The third time was the charm for the 26-year-old netminder after signing his third PTO of the season. He started two games for the Springfield Thunderbirds where he had a .900 save percentage (SV%) with a 2.90 goals against average (GAA).
Regarding his numbers during his first stint with the Thunder, Sakellaropoulos went 19-6-5 in 33 starts and finished with an .915 SV% while totaling a 2.51 GAA. After the conclusion of the 2018-19 season, he had bounced around amongst three ECHL teams: the Norfolk Admirals, Rapid City Rush, then finished the season in Orlando with the Solar Bears.
If Sakellaropoulos stays healthy, he certainly could be used in a pinch or potentially earn himself the backup role if an injury comes to a Devils goaltender during the season. Last year, Binghamton used six goaltenders during the course of the season — Eamon McAdam, Evan Cormier, Gilles Senn, Cory Schneider, Louis Domingue, and Zane McIntyre. Two of the six goaltenders spent time with Adirondack Thunder last season — McAdam & Cormier.
Four players contracted to Binghamton saw action with Adirondack last season — McAdam, Cormier, Colby Sissons, and Ludvig Larsson.
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