1. Home
  2. News
  3. Who will turn it up to 11?

Who will turn it up to 11?

Thursday, May 26th
Who will turn it up to 11?

It’s been nearly 20 years since the ECHL dropped its previous handle as the East Coast Hockey League and adopted its billing as the “Premier ‘AA’ Hockey League” in North America, placing a greater emphasis on player development and advancement.

During the 2021-22 season, the Orlando Solar Bears continued to demonstrate the team’s ability to provide opportunities for players to get to the next level of their careers.

Three former Solar Bears (Connor Ingram, Zachary Fucale and Hugo Alnefelt) made their major league debuts this season, bringing the total number of Solar Bears-developed players to reach the NHL to an even 10 through a decade of hockey. The three NHL debuts also represented the largest number of Solar Bears graduates in the last 10 seasons.

There were even more indications of player development:

  • 15 AHL Professional Try-Out agreements were offered to Solar Bears players this season, above the league average of 11
  • Six PTOs were provided to players via the Syracuse Crunch, AHL affiliate to the Tampa Bay Lightning, above the league average of four call-ups to affiliate organizations
  • Eight players received PTOs with non-affiliated AHL clubs, including Tristin Langan who earned two separate PTOs with the Manitoba Moose
  • Solar Bears captain Kevin Lohan made his AHL debut with Syracuse in October, then later appeared in two contests with the Ontario Reign

Additionally, eight former Solar Bears saw game action in the National Hockey League, the largest number of Solar Bears alumni playing in the NHL in a single season.

Several notable standouts include:

Darcy Kuemper posted a career-high 37 wins in his first season with the Colorado Avalanche, and now has his club one victory away from its first trip to the Western Conference Finals since 2002.

Forward Mason Marchment enjoyed a breakout campaign with the Florida Panthers, tallying 47 points (18g-29a) in 54 games; 43 of Marchment’s points came in 42 of the President’s Trophy-winning club’s wins, and his absence due to injury in the Panthers’ second-round series with Tampa Bay was noticeable as the Cats bowed out in a four-game sweep.

Goaltender Zachary Fucale made his NHL debut with the Washington Capitals in November and proceeded to set an NHL record for the longest streak without allowing a goal to begin his career at 138:07.

Goaltender Hugo Alnefelt was thrust into a tough spot in late December in a relief appearance for Tampa Bay, but he became the first Solar Bears player to make his NHL debut with the Lightning since Orlando and the Bolts entered into their affiliation prior to the 2018-19 season.

It begs the question: who among the former Solar Bears players is in the best position to make their NHL debut next season, bringing the total of developed players up to 11?

Here are three players, broken down by position, with perhaps the best chance to break through:

Forward: Jimmy Huntington – Huntington was traded to the Nashville Predators organization in February and the entry-level contract he originally signed with Tampa Bay back in 2019 is set to expire at the end of this season, but the forward has appeared to embrace a change of scenery and leads the Milwaukee Admirals with four goals in the Calder Cup Playoffs. Should Nashville extend him an offer for next season, it would appear Huntington has a good opportunity with the Predators.

Defenseman: Alex Green – Like Huntington, Green’s entry-level contract is set to expire this summer. The defender enjoyed a solid second season of pro hockey, more than doubling his previous goals, assists and point totals with Syracuse. The Lightning also have three defensemen headed for unrestricted free agency this summer, so in the event Green is brought back by Tampa Bay, he could potentially receive an increased role in Syracuse that may lead to an opportunity in The Show.

Goaltender: Amir Miftakhov – the 2020 Tampa Bay Lightning draft pick was originally slated to compete for the No. 1 spot in net for the Solar Bears in training camp, before a series of injuries in the Bolts’ pipeline elevated Miftakhov to the AHL for the majority of the season. Mitakhov thrived early on, and by January he had been ranked as the seventh-best prospect for the Lightning by The Athletic. When he was assigned to Orlando, the young netminder posted a .920 save percentage in five appearances with the Solar Bears. Currently one of four goaltenders under contract to Tampa for next season, the right set of circumstances could see Miftakhov get a cup of coffee with the big club.

Upcoming Home Games

Full Schedule
Greenville Swamp Rabbits @ Orlando Solar Bears
Friday, April 26th
Greenville Swamp Rabbits @ Orlando Solar Bears
Puck Drops:
7:00 PM EDT
Kia Center
Greenville Swamp Rabbits
GVL Greenville Swamp Rabbits
at
Orlando Solar Bears
ORL Orlando Solar Bears
Kia Center
Greenville Swamp Rabbits @ Orlando Solar Bears
Saturday, April 27th
Greenville Swamp Rabbits @ Orlando Solar Bears
Puck Drops:
9:00 PM EDT
Kia Center
Greenville Swamp Rabbits
GVL Greenville Swamp Rabbits
at
Orlando Solar Bears
ORL Orlando Solar Bears
Kia Center
Greenville Swamp Rabbits @ Orlando Solar Bears
Sunday, April 28th
Greenville Swamp Rabbits @ Orlando Solar Bears
Puck Drops:
7:00 PM EDT
Kia Center
Greenville Swamp Rabbits
GVL Greenville Swamp Rabbits
at
Orlando Solar Bears
ORL Orlando Solar Bears
Kia Center

Latest News

More News
Solar Bears Announce Home Playoff Dates For First Round Series
Solar Bears Announce Home Playoff Dates For First Round Series
Solar Bears Announce 2024 Playoff Roster
Solar Bears Announce 2024 Playoff Roster
Bear Bites | Week of Apr. 15
Bear Bites | Week of Apr. 15

Get Hockey Updates

Sign up for our email newsletter to be the first to know about news and upcoming games!