A look at the 2019-20 Springfield Thunderbirds roster: Forwards
The T-Birds should be deeper and more productive up front
With this summer’s acquisitions at both the NHL and AHL level, the Springfield Thunderbirds should boast a deeper and more productive forward group than they did last season. In addition to the players listed below, depending on how things shake in Florida Panthers training camp, the T-Birds could end up with talented rookies Owen Tippett and Aleksi Heponiemi on the roster, or they could get back more experienced players like Dryden Hunt or Jayce Hawryluk.
The undrafted 25-year-old, who played collegiately for the Ohio State Buckeyes, led Springfield in goals (30) and points (59) in his third AHL season to earn a one-year extension with the Panthers organization. He represented the Thunderbirds at the 2019 AHL All-Star Classic. Greco also made his NHL debut on December 13 in a 5-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild, going scoreless and posting a -3 rating. The hardworking winger scored 29 times for the Thunderbirds in 2018-19 and is now up to a total of 75 goals in 224 games in the AHL.
Thompson finished second on the team behind Greco with 26 goals and 53 points. His total of 27 assists was a new career-high. Thompson’s 181 shots on goal and 111 PIM were also good for second-highest on the club. Undrafted out of the University of New Hampshire, Thompson has scored 20-plus goals four times in the AHL. In 2014-15, he set career-highs of 33 goals and 55 points with the Albany Devils. The 30-year-old is in the final year of his contract with the Panthers.
Signed to a one-year, two-way deal in July, Roy spent the last three seasons as a member of the Anaheim Ducks after that franchise drafted him 97th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft out of Northeastern University. The 26-year-old has appeared in a total of 28 NHL games, producing six goals and one assist, all during the 2017-18 season when he spent 25 games with the Ducks. In 125 career AHL games, Roy has amassed 88 points on 31 goals and 57 assists, all with the San Diego Gulls. In 18 Calder Cup playoff games, he has scored four goals and four assists.
After an effective junior career with the Peterborough Petes and Sarnia Sting in the OHL, the speedster turned professional in 2018-19 and played in 75 AHL games, where he totaled just five goals to go along with 20 assists. Ang wasn’t a big goal scorer in junior, but he should be able to hit double digits going forward as his takes on a bigger role with the Thunderbirds this season.
Bajkov registered 100 points in final year of junior as an over-ager with the WHL’s Everett Silvertips. His first season as a pro was a bit of struggle. In 18 AHL games with Springfield, he scored 3 goals and 5 points. Bajkov was a little more productive in the ECHL where put up 14 points (4G/10A) in 31 games with the Florida Everblades after playing two scoreless games with the now defunct Manchester Monarchs. The 21-year-old appeared in three postseason games for the Everblades.
The Finnish Repo was Florida’s final selection in the 2017 draft. After signing an entry-level contract with the Panthers, the forward returned to Liiga’s Tappara and produced 14 goals and 12 assists in 50 games. In the postseason, Repo notched 4 goals and 3 assists in 15 games as his club fell to Kärpät in the league final. Repo crossed the pond and the played the 2018-19 season with the Thunderbirds to adjust to the North American game and put up a solid numbers of 12 goals and 20 points as an AHL rookie while carrying over the physical side he displayed in Liiga.
Last season, Toninato appeared in two games with the Colorado Avalanche and scored his first NHL goal on February 14, 2019. The 25-year-old, 6-foot-2, 200-pound native of Duluth, MN, played in 57 games with the Colorado Eagles of the American Hockey League, producing 29 points (14G/15A). In the Calder Cup Playoffs, Toninato registered two assists over four games. He has played 39 career NHL games with Colorado (2017-18 to 2018-19), recording three points (1G/2A). Toninato has amassed 41 points (21G/20A) in 88 career AHL games.
The 23-year-old Latvian appeared in 45 games with Orebro HK of the Swedish Hockey League, recording 26 points (18G/8A) during the 2018-19 season to garner a two-year, entry-level deal with the Cats. The 6-foot-4, 205-pounder has represented Latvia at the IIHF World Championship four times, including the 2019 tournament in Slovakia. He was originally selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the seventh round (184th overall) of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Playing in his fourth AHL season, the 27-year-old Lowry established career-highs with 55 games played, 10 goals, 20 assists, 30 points and 72 PIM. A former fifth round pick of the Los Angeles Kings, The Calgary native played four seasons at Cornell University before turning pro in 2015-16. He will become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
A former third round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, Pu began the 2018–19 season with the Carolina Hurricanes AHL affiliate, the Charlotte Checkers. Pu struggled to translate his offensive game to the AHL level and was re-assigned to ECHL’s the Florida Everblades, on February 9, 2019. After scoring at a point-per-game through 5 appearances with the Everblades, Pu returned to the AHL. The 21-year-old was traded by the Hurricanes to the Panthers in exchange for future considerations, which correlated with the Checkers acquisition of Tomas Jurco, on February 25, 2019. In nine games with the Thunderbirds, Pu produced just one goal and one assist.
Byron turned pro in 2017-18 after four seasons with the NCAA’s Maine Black Bears. As an AHL rookie, he scored six goals and added seven assists in 39 games. The 2018-19 campaign saw Bryon appear in 44 games and establish new offensive-highs with 13 goals and 12 assists, while picking up just 18 penalty minutes. He was awarded the Thunderbirds team award for Good Sportsmanship this season. Bryon signed on for another year with Springfield in June.
The 23-year-old native of Coquitlam, British Columbia just completed a four-year NCAA career split between the University of Wisconsin (2014-16) and Northern Michigan University (2017-19). In his last two seasons with Northern Michigan, the 5-foot-10 Rockwood tallied 15 goals and 68 assists for 83 points in 81 games. Rockwood played seven late season games with the Thunderbirds on an ATO and produced his first AHL goal and six assists to earn a one-year AHL contract.
Pecararo, 23, turned pro last spring following his collegiate season with Northeastern University, in which he put up 30 points (11G/19A) in 37 games for the Huskies. The 5-foot-11, 163-pound forward also previously skated collegiately with the University of Maine. The native of Canton, MA picked up his first professional point with an assist in the Thunderbirds’ season finale victory at Providence on April 14. He signed a one-year AHL deal with Springfield in July.
Horton completed his first full professional season with the Thunderbirds in 2018-19, scoring eight goals and adding nine assists for 17 points to go along with a +10 rating and 37 penalty minutes in 62 games played. The 24-year-old signed a new one-year AHL contract in July. Prior to turning pro, Horton captained the Harvard Crimson hockey team in his senior season in 2017-18. In a four-season career at Harvard, Horton captured two ECAC championships in 2014-15 and 2016-17.