The NHL is back and the San Francisco Bulls are feeling the trickle-down effects.
The Bulls are not only losing NHLers Torrey Mitchell and Ryane Clowe, but Andrew Crescenzi, Jamie Devane, Mikael Tam and Daniil Tarasov are also leaving the team to skate in the AHL.
“That’s the nature of our business. It’s tough to deal with sometimes,” coach Pat Curcio said. “We haven’t really had to deal with it the first three or four months of the season because the NHL has been gone.”
After only two games with the Bulls, former San Jose Sharks forward Torrey Mitchell is leaving to join his NHL squad, the Minnesota Wild. Forwards Crescenzi and Devane are returning to the Toronto Maple Leafs organization after being loaned to the Bulls in early November. Crescenzi and Devane joined the team because the roster of the Maple Leafs’ AHL affiliate was full as a result of the lockout. Tam and Tarasov are leaving the club to join the Sharks’ AHL affiliate in Worcester, Mass.
Clowe never skated for the Bulls in a game, but his presence behind the bench is a key reason why the team boasts the ECHL’s seventh-ranked power play.
While the team is losing several pieces, so are most the club’s ECHL rivals. The Alaska Aces, for example, are parting ways with five NHL players.
“Everyone is in the same boat,” Curcio said.
Despite the roster shuffle, the Bulls are keeping their top eight scorers.
“I think we still have a pretty strong team,” forward Jordan Clendenning said. “I know we lost some pretty big elements to our squad, but I think we might even be stronger now compared to the rest of the league.”
The team knew Mitchell’s days were limited if the NHL returned and Tam has been shuffled between the Bulls and Worcester throughout the season. The biggest loss is the 6-foot-5 Crescenzi, who anchored the team’s checking line alongside Kris Belan. Crescenzi also played on both special team units and posted a +1 in 23 games with the team.
“Crescenzi to me right now is going to be impossible to replace because we really don’t have a shutdown center now,” Curcio said.
The club signed defenseman Joe Tolles on Wednesday to replace Tam on the blue line and forward Jonathan Lessard re-joined the team after being released earlier in the season. Tolles has skated in 45 games ECHL games with the Florida Everblades, the Wheeling Nailers and the Kalamazoo Wings.