The moves that head coach and general manager Chad Wiseman has made thus far this season has made it clear that the New York Riveters are going to be a radically different next season. One look at the projected first line, which will almost certainly be built around the currently unsigned Hannah Brandt and Amanda Kessel from the University of Minnesota, makes the Riveters’ focus on speed and skill apparent.
With so many talented new faces joining New York in featured roles, where do standout veteran forwards Brooke Ammerman and Meghan Fardelmann fit into the picture?
Last season Ammerman was tied with Bray Ketchum, who she displayed noteworthy chemistry with, for the team lead in points with 14 in just 15 games played. Ammerman was a mainstay on New York’s top line and was directly involved in 35 percent of all of the Riveters’ goals. Clearly, she was an impact player for New York.
As Kessel made clear during her conference call with members of the media on May 2, speed is clearly going to be a significant part of the Riveters’ new identity. Ammerman is talented and has a great mind for the offensive part of the game, but her lack of foot speed might lead some to assume she has no place on the revitalized Riveters roster.
But with her offensive abilities Ammerman can still be a part of the solution in New York.
If Wiseman can find a way to bring back Ammerman, who made $16,500 last season, he would give New York a greater balance of attack. Being on the second line would keep Ammerman away from top defensive pairings, which would help the New Jersey native make more of an impact on the scoreboard. Plus, having her on the roster would also take some of the pressure off of Kessel and the top line to produce every night.
The same is true of veteran winger and locker room leader Fardelmann.
Fardelmann proved throughout last season that she was valuable both with and without the puck. Given the cap space that needs to be reserved to sign key players including Brandt, Liudmila Belyakova, Michelle Picard, and others, re-signing the soon to be 29 year old Fardelmann for the $20,000 she made last season would be a tall order.
Fardelmann was second on the Riveters in goals, despite not getting as many shots on net as the team’s other productive forwards. She also registered just a single assist in 18 regular season games and two postseason games in 2015-16. With that said, it’s hard to find much to criticize about Fardelmann’s play, especially while skating with the possession-dominated Riveters.
On a team that had an overabundance of defensively-attuned forwards, Fardelmann was one of New York’s best. But is Fardelmann worth another $20,000 in cap space on a team that desperately needs to find a new offensive identity? Most likely not.
The question then becomes how much cap space can Wiseman set aside for a valuable forward like Fardelmann while making sure to leave enough space to sign a second goaltender and the remaining six skaters that New York needs to fill out its roster.
With all of the new, talented players joining the Riveters roster Wiseman can’t forget how important it is for his team to have depth. A short bench and an over-dependence on the top line for all of the team’s offense already proved to be a poor recipe for success last season for the Riveters.
Having the best players from last year’s team become the depth scoring for next year might just be the best approach to completing New York’s roster for the 2016-17 season.