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The case for Olivier Archambault [Update: The Crunch have signed him to an AHL deal]

The forward has been clutch for the club since signing a PTO with the Syracuse Crunch in January,

Scott Thomas

Sometimes in hockey, a rash of sudden injuries can turn out to be an odd blessing in disguise. That situation can force players into the spotlight who maybe weren’t getting good looks before. It could also bring forward an unexpected diamond in the rough, a player that is signed short-term but seems to fit in with the team’s long-term goals.

This looks to be the case for forward Olivier Archambault and the Syracuse Crunch.

The Crunch signed Archambault to a professional tryout contract (PTO) on January 23rd. At the time, he had 52 AHL games under his belt, cobbled together over the course of 4 seasons. In those 52 games, Archambault had scored 7 goals and netted 9 assists. His most recent AHL team before Syracuse was the San Jose Barracuda, where he earned two goals and three assists in 12 games.

Archambault’s numbers in the ECHL were better, though that isn’t exactly unusual. He had totaled 145 points (71g, 74a) in 142 career ECHL contests. Those totals came over a career that spanned four teams: the Allen Americans, the South Carolina Stingrays, the Quad City Mallards, and the Alaska Aces.

Since signing with Syracuse, Archambault has seen a bit of a reassurance of his scoring abilities in the AHL. In 18 games with the Crunch, Archambault has totaled 6 goals and 5 assists. He has continued to give head coach Ben Groulx a reason to play him, finding space on the ice even with the recent return of Gabriel Dumont and Matthew Peca. He has been put into games over regular roster players like Alex Gallant.

Archambault has a couple of highlight reel-worthy goals for Syracuse in his 18 games. None came prettier than the goal he scored last night in the Crunch’s game against Springfield in overtime, a goal that gave a rather banged up Syracuse the W.

Friday night, the Crunch played without the services of defensemen Jamie McBain, Reid McNeil, Erik Cernak, and forward Dennis Yan. All of them are apparently hurt. Playing without three regular defensemen was a tough blow for a team that just recently clinched a playoff spot and is still fighting for that coveted first round home ice advantage.

Although Springfield isn’t a divisional rival, the second place Crunch (83 points) is chasing first place Toronto (90 points), and is being chased by third place Rochester (76 points). The first two teams in each division get home ice for the first round of the playoffs, so staying in either first or second is crucial for Syracuse. Every point counts.

Last night, Syracuse pulled away with two goals in the first forty minutes of the game, but then they gave up their lead in the third and the game ended tied at two apiece. Thanks to Archambault, the Crunch came away with two points last night, helping them to stay in the race for home ice.

By the way...Boy, was his goal pretty:

It was so pretty that his teammates just had to see it again.

PTO’s are for 25 games in the AHL. There’s no limit on the number of PTO’s a player can sign, so the organization could decide to just sign him more to ensure his services through the playoffs. However, I think Archambault deserves the security of an AHL contract. PTO’s can be cut at any time, at the discretion of the club. An AHL contract would be a nice reward for Archambault, who has seriously stepped up when the Crunch has needed him to and has obviously become a solid member of the team.

Update:

The Crunch announced that they’ve signed Archambault to to an AHL contract for this season and next.