There’s been lots of movement this summer, as there is every summer, in the Hockey world.
Hartford Wolf Pack and New York Rangers fans know that Matt Zuccarello avoided arbitration and resigned with the Rangers for $1.15M. The Rangers have resigned their other free agent players with the exception of Derek Stepan, who remains unsigned. The primary free agent on the Wolf Pack roster was Brandon Mashinter. The left winger, who was acquired from Worcester for Tommy Grant and who played very well when he first arrived, has been re-signed to a new two year deal.
In other Wolf Pack related news, defenseman Mike Vernace had a strong second half for the Connecticut Whale last season. Vernace reversed his plus/minus finishing the year with a plus-12. The 27-year old Toronto native scored several key timely goals during a failed late season surge to make the playoffs and battled through several injuries, especially his right ankle, and has signed to play in Germany for Adler Mannheim in the DEL.
Shayne Wiebe, who started off strong in Greenville (ECHL) last season (12 points in 12 games), did a good job filling in as a checker with the Whale. However, a freak late season knee injury during a pre-game skate cost him the remainder of the regular season, and Wiebe is going across the Big Pond to try his luck in Switzerland. Wiebe signed a one year deal with EHC Olten of the Swiss B League.
A few part time past Wolf Pack players are migrating overseas defensemen Rory Rawlyk and Tysen Dowsak will play for Dundee Stars in England and Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) while Matt Waddell goes from HC Alleghe Italy A League to the Nikko Icebucks in Japan and the Asia League Ice Hockey (ALIH).
Overall, 98 AHL players have made the decision to head to Europe this coming season, two of those were coaches and two others contracts were cancelled.
In the returning from Europe category, former Wolf Pack center and two time AHL MVP Corey Locke will lace up the skates with the Chicago Wolves this season after splitting last year with TPS Turku (Finland) and winning the German DEL championship with Eisbaren Berlin. Another returnee will be one-time top scoring center Broc Little. The Yale University standout returns from AIK Sweden where he played the last two years signing a one year AHL deal with the Springfield Falcons.
WOLF PACK PRE-SEASON HOCKEY
The Wolf Pack will play the Springfield Falcons twice when players return to the ice in a little over a month. The first will be at the Mass Mutual Center on Friday, September 27 at 7pm and then again on Sunday, September 29 at the Simsbury International Skating Center at 2pm.
Quinnipiac University will host an exhibition game Sunday October 6th at 5pm against Canadian college powerhouse St. Mary’s Huskies of the Atlantic University Athletic Association (AUAA) who are coached by former New Haven Nighthawk Trevor Steinburg.
The Sochi, Russia 2014 Olympics for hockey is set to have NHL player participation and the preliminary rosters of the US, Canada, Russia and Switzerland have been released.
The US squad features several ex-Wolf Pack players such as Ryan Callahan and Ryan McDonagh. Two Connecticut natives Max Pacioretty (New Canaan) and Jonathan Quick (Hamden). Stepan of the Rangers is also on the list.
On the Canadian side, former Wolf Pack defenseman Marc Staal and former Sound Tiger rearguard Travis Hamonic were on the preliminary list and the Rangers Rick Nash.
On the Russian side of the ledger the host country squad has two former Wolf Pack players both now with the Columbus Blue Jackets defenseman Fedor Tyutin and forward Artem Anisimov.
In the Switzerland pre-Olympic camp former Wolf Pack Andres Ambuhl, former Sound Tigers Nino Neiderreiter and goalie Tobias Stephen and former Springfield Falcons rearguard Goran Bezina.
Congrats to former Connecticut Whale VP of Business Development and former New England Whalers (WHA) Garry Swain who was named commissioner of the American West (Junior) Hockey League (AWHL) based in Montana, a seven team league classified as a Junior B circuit. He started his pro career after being selected number one and fourth overall in the NHL draft by Pittsburgh in 1969. Swain played just nine games for the Penguins and played two seasons for the Whalers.
One time Wolf Pack goalie Scott Meyer has moved from assistant coach and goalie coach of the Cedar Rapids (USHL) to the GM of the Hudson Crusaders of the Minnesota Junior Hockey League (MNJHL).
Abbotsford hired Robbie Ftorek to be their new assistant coach. Ftorek played and coached for the New Haven Nighthawks was let go last year with Erie (OHL). Ftorek and his family lost his younger daughter Anna Victoria a little over a year ago. Hope the new digs will help ease the pain for a solid hockey guy and his family.
Pierre Sevigny, who played on the very first Wolf Pack team is rumored to become an assistant coach with the Quebec Remparts (QMJHL) to new GM /Head coach Phillippe Boucher, a former NHL defenseman who is replacing Patrick Roy.
Former Wolf Pack Dale Weise avoided arbitration hearings signing one year deals. Wiese $750,000 with the Vancouver Canucks.
Former Hartford Whalers defenseman Randy Ladouceur, after being dismissed in Montreal last summer, has signed to be the assistant coach for the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters. Former Springfield Falcon Bryan Helmer, signed after the lockout, has retired as the AHL’s third all time leader in games played (1,117 games). Helmer becomes the assistant coach with the Peteborough Petes (OHL). While wishing Helmer the best of luck, but part of me wished he would have played one more full year and become the all-time leader in games played.
Lastly, the Rangers signed defenseman Troy Donnay from the Erie Otters (OHL) to an entry level contract.
Donnay, would be called a project who stands 6’8, but only weighs 186 lbs, a few Outback dinners are in order. His plus/minus the last two years was simply atrocious at minus-39 and minus-31 respectively. Donnay is likely to be headed to Greenville (ECHL), who the Rangers will share with the Philadelphia Flyers in assigning players.