This afternoon, the Syracuse Crunch announced that they have reassigned goaltender Connor Ingram to the Orlando Solar Bears, and are keeping Martin Ouellette recalled. Ingram has been scratched for the past three Syracuse Crunch games, with Eddie Pasquale dressing for Friday and Saturday, and Ouellette dressing Sunday. Ingram, per the organization, is perfectly healthy -- and is now about to travel with the Orlando Solar Bears to St. John’s.
Ingram posted an airport Instagram photo of himself, tagged at Walt Disney World, earlier today. This is just a little strange, considering that the Orlando Solar Bears are about to head further north, not further south. Per Don Money, the Solar Bears schedule is to “leave today for St. John’s, practice at Mile One tomorrow, and [have] games Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon.”
Is this reassignment a rehabilitation stint?
Earlier today in Crunch Corner, Justing had this speculation:
The surprise of the week was the recall of Martin Ouellette and the fact that he was dressed for all three games. Despite repeated assurances that both goalies were healthy, Connor Ingram was scratched for all three games. Eddie Pasquale started Friday and Saturday, while Ouellette started on Sunday. By scratching Ingram the weekend before the AHL trade deadline, the Crunch opened themselves up to plenty of speculation as Ingram is one of the league’s leading goaltenders. The move could have backfired if Ouellette had struggled against the Amerks, but in the end it worked out pretty well for Coach Groulx.
Here are the various goaltender stats, per the press release:
Ingram, 21, has appeared in 22 games with the Crunch this season posting a 14-7-0 record, .922 save percentage and 2.26 goals-against average. Last season, the Imperial, Saskatchewan native put up a .914 save percentage and 2.33 goals-against average along with a 20-11-2 record in 35 games with the Crunch. He also played in three games with the Adirondack Thunder of the ECHL recording a .960 save percentage, 1.30 goals-against average and 2-0-1 record.
Ouellette, 27, has appeared in three games with the Crunch this season, recording a 2-0-0 record, 0.87 goals-against average and .966 save percentage. He won his first start in net with Syracuse stopping 19-of-20 shots in a 2-1 victory over the Binghamton Devils on Jan. 21. Ouellette has also played in 27 games with the Solar Bears this season recording an 18-7-2 record with a .908 save percentage.
Ingram’s stats are particularly noteworthy and add to the confusion. He’s been one of the best goaltenders in the AHL and currently leads the league in save percentage, which is obviously good enough to stay at that level. And given that he’s the organization’s top prospect, it would seem in his best interest to keep playing regularly at the best level he can handle.
Without delving too deeply into pure speculation, perhaps the organization has specific things they want him to work on and feel he has a better opportunity to address those at a lower level. Perhaps they also want him in Orlando where he’ll be closer to Tampa and the Lightning’s goaltending staff.
On the surface, this is a confusing move. But the Lightning organization has been consistently effective in player development so they likely have a reason for this decision. Whether we get that explanation publicly is another question.
But for now, the Solar Bears are getting a huge addition in net. And for the Crunch, they get Ouellette, who has been one of the best goalies in the ECHL for the past several years and is a more than capable backup for Eddie Pasquale during the stretch run.