Report: Harper Set To Join Titans (UPDATED)

It seemed that the Trenton Titans would be down a forward after the loss of Marcel Noebels to the Adirondack Phantoms, but apparently that won’t be the case after all.

Adirondack forward Shane Harper is getting sent down to the capital city, and should be available to the club for their trip to Wheeling on Friday. The transaction was first reported by Michael Cignoli of The Saratogian. Cignoli notes that, according to Phantoms head coach Terry Murray, Harper will be sent to the Titans to accrue top-six minutes that can turn his game around, a la what the plan was for Andrew Johnston.

Thing is, Johnston is still here, so where exactly does Harper fit into the top six? Those spots seemed to be filled by Andy Bohmbach, Stephen Schultz, Jacob Cepis, David Laliberte, Kelly Zajac and Johnston. The third line is also rather untouchable with the Kory Nagy, Ian Slater and Jacob Drewiske trio.

So for me, Harper enters the tenth forward logjam that features Matt Mangene (who can also play on the blue line, which he may need to right now), Justin Taylor, Alexandre Carrier and Bryan Haczyk when he returns. However, of the top six guys mentioned, perhaps Cepis and even Johnston have their spots being somewhat tedious right now — Johnston specifically hasn’t looked too sharp since his concussion — but there continue to be a lot of guys for not a lot of spots right now. Keep in mind that Mangene, Carrier and Haczyk are all AHL-contracted players as well.

Harper, a 23-year-old from Valencia, CA., makes top-six minutes difficult to justify considering he’s tallied all of three points through 23 games with the Phantoms this season, all of them on goals. It’s hard to envision this being something similar to what happened with Phil DeSimone, where he comes down for a weekend, lights the league on fire and then goes back up, right?

Well, sort of. The right wing has struggled at the AHL level to be sure, posting 18 goals in 118 career games. But in his lone ECHL season, Harper was a point-per-game player, putting up a 22-23-45 line in 48 games with the Greenville Road Warriors during the 2010-11 campaign. Between that season and two big years in the WHL with the Everett Silvertips, he has a history as a scorer, and perhaps this stay in Trenton will be what he needs to recapture that form.

From an Adirondack press release:

Phantoms head coach Terry Murray said he likes the possibilities for the future with Harper. “He just needs to get his game going. He’s a player who can bring offense, he can score goals. I’m aware of his resume from last year. He has not been able to break in there on a regular basis in a top six situation where in my opinion he should be.”

Murray said the ECHL will provide an opportunity for his young prospect. “Sometimes it’s an individual confidence that is lacking. In and out of the lineup and it’s hard to get your game on track. He’ll get into a situation now where he can play a lot. Play important situations and all situations. I think that’s important for a skilled player and scoring player to be able to recover that confidence and get himself going.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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