Matt Fuller Among Those Back In BIRMINGHAM
The Bulls 2019-2020 season was definitely one to forget. Coming off an SPHL Championship appearance in the 2018-2019 season, the Bulls looked primed to hoist the cup for the first time in 2020 since returning to Birmingham. Although the season was cut short, it may have benefited the Bulls. Finishing 8th in the league and no playoffs in sight, COVID forced the SPHL to cancel the season early, in turn, giving the Bulls and rest of the league more time to prepare for the 2020-2021 season.
A very interesting aspect of the SPHL is that players play on year-to-year contracts across the board. Even though there are 1 year deals there are still protected players. Each team is allowed to “protect” a certain amount of players, what this does is prevents players from negotiating with other clubs from the SPHL, but may negotiate with other teams in other leagues.
Among these protected players are: Matt Fuller, Kasey Kulczycki, and Mike Davis. So far, these 3 players are the only ones announced for the 2020-2021 campaign. Although there are only 3 rostered players announced, it is still early. Let’s break down what these players will bring back this upcoming year.
First off, and most notable, Matt Fuller. To put it plain and simple, this guy was an absolute stud last season on the defensive line. The 27-year-old Canadian native will look to build off of an impressive 2019-2020 campaign where Fuller was named to the All-SPHL First Team. Although Fuller finished with 24 points (1 fewer than the previous season), there were 11 less games, so to finish with 24 points is a significant improvement for the amount of games. One other notable stat line is that Fuller had 11 goals, which is best for his Bulls career. Now on to the concerning part. Throughout the first 3 seasons Fuller had a positive +/- with the team, but this past year that took a drastic hit in the form of a -12 +/- overall. At first glance this raises a red flag, but let’s be honest, last season was a rough year for the whole team.
As for an outlook on Matt Fuller for this upcoming season, look for Fuller to improve on his form from last year and have the best season of his career yet. Expect a very impressive year where Fuller will challenge for All-SPHL First Team once again and possibly for an MVP if everything goes to plan.
Next up on the list is forward Kasey Kulczycki. The 26-year-old Canadian will be joining up with the Bulls for a 3rd consecutive season. Much like Fuller, Kulczycki’s points dropped slightly and +/- was noticeably different. During the 2018-2019 season Kulczycki had 8 goals and 10 assist, whereas in the 2019-2020 season there was 6 goals and 10 assist from the forward, but do not forget to take into account the 10 less games played. The +/- jumped from +3 in 2018-2019 to a -4 in 2019-2020, and although this is not a positive stat remember that the whole entire team did poorly in this category compared to the previous season, as mentioned with Fuller.
Head coach Jamey Hicks had this to say in a statement from the Bulls about Kasey Kulczycki, “We really liked Kasey’s development last season.” said Hicks. “He is a reliable player for us. His leadership will be an added asset and we know he comes to play every night. He will continue to see an expanded role with us.”
What can you expect from Kasey Kulczycki this season? Expect Kulczycki to have a steady role similar to the past 2 seasons. A player that will be able to have a solid all around impact, but not necessarily a game changer. This could be the year that he will see more responsibility, as Hicks mentioned, and possibly break out. Do not expect for Kulczycki to be making plays left and right, but defiantly keep an eye out for some solid shifts.
Last, but certainly not least, we take a look at Mike Davis. Much like Matt Fuller, Mike Davis had some solid stats despite the performance of the team. Davis ended the year with 37 points, which was down 8 from the previous season, but once again consider that Fuller played 8 less games in the 2019-2020 campaign. As you could guess the +/- was not the prettiest, from -3 in 2018-2019 to -16 in 2019-2020. Despite these numbers Davis is one of the more pleasing performers to watch on the ice.
“A quiet and consistent player that goes about his business. He has been a valuable player for us.” said Bulls head coach Jamey Hicks. “I’m really excited about having Mike back in a Bulls uniform. He will be continued to be looked upon to create offense for us.”
Davis will defiantly be a welcomed return to the Bulls this season. Expect Davis to do what he does best, score points while being quiet and going about his own business. This 2020-2021 season will be what Davis wants to make it. We all hope that he will continue his form from the last 2 years and help push the Bulls one step closer to the championship.
This upcoming season for the Bulls is arguably a make or break season. It is a season where not only the players, but Jamey Hicks and front office, must prove to the fans that the Bulls will be competing for a championship consistantly. After a less than hoped for season the Bulls will need to pull together and make a push to bring the Presidents Trophy to Birmingham, Alabama. By bringing back these 3 players, most notably Fuller, this is a good expression from the front office in what the goal is. To bring a tire to the Magic City. Throughout these next few months it will be interesting to see what signings are made and how the Bulls look to prep for a historic season.
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