The Comets currently sit in third place in the North Division with 51 points, six back of Albany and 27 (!) back of the league-leading Marlies. Like Vancouver, Utica is a borderline playoff team with the IceCaps, Americans and Crunch nipping at their heels behind them.
For comparison's sake, last season's Calder Cup winner the Manchester Monarchs (now the Ontario Reign) are first in the Pacific with 61 points. So, yes, the Kings and their AHL affiliate both lead their respective Pacific Divisions. Smack yourself.
Taking a quick stock of their roster:
> Hunter Shinkaruk is boss, leading the way at 18-16-34 in 40 games. His 18 goals puts him just outside the top ten in the AHL and he needs four more goals to tie Pascal Pelletier’s single-season record from the 2013-14 season. Not surprisingly, his 19.6 SH% is ridiculous and also a team best. He remains the odd man out in terms of NHL call ups (there's a glut of LW options with Shinkaruk, Brendan Gaunce, Ronalds Kenins and Michael Zalewski) but his development is rolling along quite well.
> Gaunce (13-12-25) and Jordan Subban (8-17-25) are right behind Shinkaruk in terms of production. Barring injuries, it will almost certainly be Gaunce's best season in the AHL and, while it's Subban's first AHL season, it's possible he comes close to matching his solid seasons with the OHL's Belleville Bulls.
> It's also a first AHL season for Cole "McDavid Ain't Nothing" Cassels who (very) quietly has gone 1-3-4 in 38 games so it's been a bumpy transition from the OHL.
> Remember magic Michael Zalewski? He's only appeared in five games since being reassigned, but he's gone 4-3-7 in that span, two of those goals being game winners. Ho hum.
> Joe Cannata and Richard Bachman have split the goaltending duties almost evenly (24 to 21 respectively) with Cannata picking up 12 wins to Bachman's 9. By way of S%, they rank 18th and 19th respectively in the league.
> In his 7th AHL campaign, Carter Bancks, who went was invited to Vancouver's camp back in 2014 after leaving Calgary, is 7-15-22 which are all career bests. Bancks currently plays on the second line with Chris Higgins and Wacey Hamilton.
> Speaking of the professor, Higgins has gone 1-4-5 in seven games so far which is promising for his chance to rebound elsewhere as the NHL trade deadline nears. Brandon Prust has yet to play, but the ankle seems healed and he's ready to help the Comets despite the demotion:
"I come in here with a good, positive attitude and want to try and help this team win," Prust said. "I want to be a leader and bring some energy.
"Hopefully, I can be a positive influence and just kind of show (the younger players) what I've learned over the years. … I feel like when I was in the AHL, I was always looking up to the older guys and watching what they do."
The Comets last played on Tuesday night when they fell behind the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins 3-0 before crawling back to tie the game with markers from Higgins (his first for the team), Subban and Gaunce only to lose in OT. The Penguin second goal of the game was assisted by former Canuck Tom Sestito.
The Comets take on the Binghamton Senators tonight starting at 7 PM ET. The Senators are the second worst team in the AHL currently and to help answer that question which burns deep within your soul, yes that is where Zack Stortini is. After tonight they'll travel down to Pennslyvania for a game tomorrow night against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
Anyone specifically catch your eye that you're excited to see get called up or lock up a position in training camp this fall?