The Titans Or The Titanic?

For all the roster instability that turned last season’s underperforming team into a relatively non-competitive group towards the end, there might not have been a stretch crazier than what’s unfolded in the capital city over the past few days.

Gone are Ryan Grimshaw (AHL, Toronto) and Eric Baier (AHL, Providence). Called up to Adirondack are Matt Mangene, Shane Harper, Andrew Johnston and Tyler Hostetter. Marcel Alvarez leaves the team after Saturday. Blake Kessel and Ian Slater got called up a few days ago. A once full cupboard is now relatively bare. A team thought to be in better shape than most when the lockout ended got ravaged far worse than many had thought they would be.

And it may not be over, with Andy Bohmbach, Stephen Schultz and Kory Nagy — forwards all under ECHL deals, just like Grimshaw and Baier were — still somehow with the club, perhaps thanks to a surprisingly high demand for defensemen at the AHL level. The Devils have also yet to call up any of their players, with no clear indication that they won’t do so just yet.

In reading Michael Cignoli’s Rink Report, Johnston’s comments perhaps summed up the situation in Trenton best:

“Leaving that locker room yesterday, it was half-empty by the time we left,” he said.

Are there reinforcements? Sure. But with all due respect to Derrick Pallis, Gentry Zollars, Brad Peltz, Aaron Schmit and Corey Tamblyn, expectations from most are that they won’t be at the same level the others who left were at, or they’d have been here by now. If Pallis’ and Zollars’ names sound familiar, well…they should be. Both defensemen were on the Titans at the end of last year’s miserable season, and both were underwhelming.

Pallis, who was brought in after his college career ended at Princeton, was by far a more impressive player collegiately than he showed in his pro debut last year. He had one assist in nine games and was a -9, although things have seemed to gone better for him this year with the CHL’s Fort Worth Brahmas, for whom he’s posted eight points (2-6-8) in 25 games this season with a +4 rating.

Zollars, who was the subject of a moving video tribute upon his return to Trenton during one of his handful of games played with Orlando this season, well, he is perhaps the product of Trenton’s often laughable affiliation with Danbury of the FHL, where he’s put up very good numbers (4-18-22) in 23 games. But in 13 games with the Titans last year, the 26-year-old managed just two assists and was a -5, which actually isn’t too bad given the porous nature of that team and its goaltending.

Peltz was very, very curiously assigned to Trenton by the AHL’s Binghamton Senators, who have a direct affiliation with the Elmira Jackals. A forward, Peltz is a Senators draft pick (R7, 2009) and had played in 12 games with the Jackals THIS SEASON. The former Yale player is perhaps in a situation similar to that of Luke Pither, who has apparently been forgotten about by the Flyers organization all together despite putting up fantastic numbers after he was unceremoniously shipped out to Wheeling.

Schmit is a former Ferris State defenseman who has been kicked around between three different teams this year in the CHL and SPHL. He has size — 6-foot-4, 229 pounds — and did post six points with the SPHL’s Pensacola Ice Flyers, where he spent the majority of this season.

Tamblyn spent the first nine games of his pro career with the Elmira Jackals last season following his graduation from Clarkson. He posted a 2-1-3 line then, and was let go by the Idaho Steelheads this season after just two games, despite collecting an assist. Since then, he’d been with the SPHL’s Mississippi Surge, where he tallied 17 points in 25 games. The 5-foot-11, 182 pounder was a +9 on the season.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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