BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
HARTFORD, CT – While it was a relatively quiet week last week for the Hartford Wolf Pack and New York Rangers, this week there was more movement and a lot of Pack and Rangers related players signed deals and moved about.
The Rangers announced the signings of three players, two for the NHL club and one for the AHL.
Defenseman, Dylan McIlrath obtained a $200K raise on a one-year $800K deal. The team signed free agent forward, Josh Jooris, from the Calgary Flames. It is expected that he will center the fourth line while Oscar Lindberg recovers from surgery. Jooris is a strong penalty killer for the Flames. He made $975K last year. Details of the new deal have yet to be published. Jooris’ father Mark is a scout for the Vancouver Canucks and the head coach/GM for Burlington (OJHL).
As we reported first last week and it became official this week, defenseman Tommy Hughes was re-signed for a one-year, two-way deal at $632,500K-NHL and $65K-AHL.
The leaves two RFA’s (restricted free agents) for the Rangers to sign, Chris Kreider and Jimmy Hayes, and one at the AHL level, Marek Hrivik. Cantlon’s Corner has heard that Hrivik has in fact signed, but the announcement of the signing will likely come in the next two weeks.
Late Thursday 2015 draft pick, Robin Kovacs from Sweden, put his name on a three-year, entry-level contract. His NHL salary will be $803,333 and his AHL pay is $70K. Kovacs was selected in the third round, 62nd overall. He spent most of the last season with AIK in Sweden Division 1. Kovacs tallied 21 goals and played four games with Rogle BK of the Swedish Hockey League.
The Rangers are expected to go on the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes. The Hobey Baker forward from Harvard declined to sign with the Nashville Predators who originally drafted him. During last month’s draft the Pred’s traded his rights to the Buffalo Sabres.
On the NESN (New England Sports Network) blog, there were unconfirmed postings that Vesey was on the verge of signing with the Boston Bruins. NESN is the Bruins broadcast network.
The Maple Leafs, Bruins, Rangers, and Buffalo are considered to be the finalists even though he cannot sign until August 15th.
ON THE MOVE
The summer address changes keep rolling on…
George McPhee, who had a seven-year pro career that included a brief stint in New Haven and played 109 games with the Rangers and after 17 years as the GM of the Washington Capitals, was named the first GM for the NHL expansion Las Vegas franchise.
McPhee played the game hard and had a good wrist shot, but in his heyday, despite being just 5’9, was one of the most feared fighters in the NHL. Injuries cut short his career short with it ending after just six games with the Devils in 1986.
McPhee won the NCAA Hobey Baker Award at Bowling Green as the nation’s top college hockey player in 1981 registered 80-plus points in his freshmen and senior season.
McPhee’s son Graham was selected by the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL Draft last month. The younger McPhee is heading to Boston College in the fall for his freshmen Hockey East season under the guidance of Eagles head coach, Jerry York, who coached the elder McPhee at Bowling Green.
The Vegas team’s special advisor to owner Bill Foley is former Hartford Whaler, Murray Craven, who played 1,071 NHL games mostly with Philadelphia. Craven tallied 266 goals and 759 points. Craven was a native of and played junior hockey with Medicine Hat (WHL). He started out with the Detroit Red Wings and after Hartford played with Vancouver and Chicago before ending his career with the San Jose Sharks.
Next up for Las Vegas will be the announcement of their scouting staff, their head coach, and his staff and then likely their AHL farm team destination for the 2017-18 season. The name and logo, according to Foley, is expected to be unveiled in October with the delay coming over trademark considerations regarding the name and logo.
Jack Combs, who played 18 games with the Pack and the rest of the season in the ECHL with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, heads off to Germany to play for the Fischtown Penguins, the newest entry in the German DEL league. Combs also played for the Sound Tigers back in 2012-13 season.
Fischtown was elevated from the German DEL-2 league when the Hamburg Freezers were folded by their parent company AEG.
Joining Combs in Fischtown is Rob Bordson, who spent most of the year with Iowa and ten games in Providence with the Bruins after starting the season with Adirondack (ECHL)
Kevin Goumas, a former Canterbury Prep player, is another AHL’er off to Europe. After spending most of the year with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and a dozen games with Reading (ECHL), Goumas heads to Mora IK (Sweden-SHL). Brendan Shinnimin who played in Springfield heads to SC Langnau (Switzerland-LNA).Brett Olson Portland is another heading to Austria and EC Salzburg.
Brendan Shinnimin, who played in Springfield, heads to SC Langnau (Switzerland-LNA).Brett Olson Portland is another heading to Austria and EC Salzburg.
Portland’s Brett Olsen is another heading to Austria and EC Salzburg.
That brings the total number of AHL’ers to date leaving for the European continent at 43.
A slew of ex-Wolf Pack players are signed and are off to new destinations.
Kelsey Tessier, after splitting last season playing for two teams in two different leagues in Sweden, signs with Vienna (Austria-AEHL).
David Liffiton leaves HC Innsbruck Austria for Frederikshavn IK (Denmark-DHL).
Corey Locke goes from EHC Visp (Switzerland-LNB) to Villacher SV (Austria-AEHL).
Jeff Taffe stays in the KHL going from Neftekhimik (Russia) to HC Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia).
Matt Ford stays in North America going from Bakersfield to Grand Rapids.
Landon Ferraro, son of ex-Whaler Ray Ferraro, lands a nice one-year, two-way deal with St. Louis/Chicago (AHL) at ($750K-NHL/$275K-AHL).
Joining Ferraro in Grand Rapids, Michigan is Carter Sandlak, son of ex-Whaler Jim ,who split last year between Charlotte and Florida (ECHL).
Jake Marchment, the nephew of former Whaler Bryan, was originally drafted by Los Angeles has signed an AHL deal with San Jose to play with Barracuda.
Dave Barr, a former Whaler and who had a cup of coffee with the Rangers, becomes the new assistant coach with the Florida Panthers leaving Buffalo.
Mike Halmo leaves the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and signs a one-year two-way deal with Tamps Bay/Syracuse at ($575K-NHL/$150K-AHL).
Sound Tiger Alan Quine was re-signed by the Islanders to a two-year, one-way deal paying him $575K-$650K-NHL.
At the NHL level, Luke Glendenning, who played at Salisbury Prep, didn’t so bad either as he signed a four-year extension with Detroit starting next year at $2 million per year a jump from the last year of his current deal which pays him $675K.
Scooter Vaughan, another ex-Sound Tiger, signs again with the Chicago Wolves on an AHL deal.
Former Wolf Pack, Kyle Jean re-signs with Idaho (ECHL) on a one-year ECHL deal.
Ex-Pack Rory Rawlyk who split last year with Canadian senior league team Stony Plain (Chinook Senior Hockey League) and Orlando (ECHL) signs with ASC Corona Brasov (Romania-MOL).
Matt Hussey, born in New Haven and played at Avon Old Farms, continues his pro career In Europe after playing a handful of games last year with Evansville (ECHL) and HC Detva (Slovakia Division-2). Hussey signs with HE Rouen (French Magnus Elite League) as the league embarks on a 50-game schedule for the first time next year.
Ex-Sound Tiger Ty Wishart goes from ETC Crimmitschau (Germany DEL-2) to HC Banska Bystrica (Slovakia-SLEL).
Another ex-Sound Tiger Sean Bentivoglio departs AS Asiago (Italy-LIHG) for Cardiff (Wales-EIHL).
One time Sound Tiger Sergei Ogrodnikov leaves HK Ryzan (Russia-VHL) for HK Gomel (Belarus-BHL).
No surprise here, last Monday, the Montreal Canadiens received approval from the AHL BOG (Board of Governors) to relocate their AHL team from St. John’s, Newfoundland to Laval, Quebec, a North Shore suburb. The team will play in the brand new Place Bell Centre currently being built and expected to be completed by the summer of 2017 to be ready for the 2017-18 season.
In last week’s edition of Cantlon’s Corner, we showed the progress from just last summer to this summer after a recent vacation to Montreal.
It will be a very, very friendly venue to get to for Habs fans. The arena is located perfectly on the city’s subway Metro orange line.
It will be a great weekend spot for fans to enjoy the city. It has plenty of good restaurants, shops and nightlife in the friendly, bilingual (French/English) city.
A favorable exchange rate will make it even better to visit for Americans. Just a reminder, you do need a US passport to enter Canada and it’s a nice easy drive. It’s only a five-hour drive from Connecticut to the Canadian border in either New York or Vermont via I-87 or I-89 respectively.
Sadly, this means this likely the end of the road for the AHL in St. John’s for the second time, that is of course unless Quebec City gets a relocated NHL franchise sometime next year. The teams (Maple Leafs & IceCaps) there have been well supported, but the distance they are from the rest of the league as the late AHL President Jack Butterfield once said, “they’re closer to Ireland than Canada.”
If the Pack play St. John’s this season on a weekend for a pair of games book the trip because it will be your last chance to get there and would certainly be worth it. – Note – fly out of Montreal and save some money.
Wouldn’t a St. John’s – San Diego Calder Cup Final be something?
Read HERE to look at the St. John’s Telegram on the future of hockey on, “The Rock.”
The situation continues to boil in Binghamton about Ottawa moving the team to Belleville, which is closer to the Canadian capital city. It seems to be a fait accompli, but there are several hurdles needed to be crossed and finalized before they’ll receive the AHL’s BOG approval for the move. Read about it HERE.
STREET HOCKEY CLINIC
A very important hockey outreach program will be kicking off in the Bay State next month. There will be three dates in Springfield and Worcester among the six towns and cities bringing an introduction to hockey to the inner city. The program will be done in conjunction with DAJ Hockey and with assistance from the Boston Bruins Alumni Association.
Springfield is home to the newly christened AHL franchise, the Springfield Thunderbirds. Worcester, a former AHL city, will have a new ECHL franchise, the Railriders that will begin play following next season in 2017-18.
In an effort to broaden youth participation at state-managed facilities this summer, the Baker-Polito Administration announced the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) will join with DAJ Hockey, LLC and the Boston Bruins Alumni to conduct a series of street hockey events as part of its Urban Summer Street Hockey program.
“It is incredibly important that kids receive great access to recreational opportunities across the state, especially during the summer months, and I am very proud to be able to offer my support of the Urban Summer Street Hockey Program,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “When state government works in cooperation with private partners, such as DAJ Hockey, we are able to leave a long lasting impact that will directly benefit today’s youth.”
“We’re very excited to be launching this venture. It’s been a long process, but we’re happy we’re here and ready to go,” VP of Business Operation for DAJ Hockey, Mark Willand said. Willand is known to many for his work with the CT Whale management and the Hartford Whalers.
“It’s important that we got the message out through the public school systems, to be honest. The biggest challenge hockey has had in reaching high-risk communities is the cost. This provides a great vehicle and low cost to get kids to begin to understand the basics of hockey and learn about it and conversely the kids will have a positive place and environment to be in. It also helps parents with their scheduling priorities that this can fit in and we were aware of that need,” Willand said.
Each clinic will occur between 6:00 PM and 8:00 PM and will be held adjacent to DCR hockey rinks. Clinics will include basic skills instruction, structured games / play time, and discussions on subjects such as teamwork, nutrition, bullying, and more. The clinics will also feature food, beverages, and free hockey-related promotional items.
“I am thrilled that our Administration will be able to provide kids from Springfield to the South Coast, and many communities in between with yet another outdoor initiative that will offer an incredible summertime activity and learning experience,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “By creating a safe, exciting environment where children of all ages will grow and thrive through outdoor recreational opportunities, we are able to promote a healthy lifestyle for the next generation.”
“Throughout the summer, kids will learn the value and appreciation of outdoor recreation thanks to the creative thinking of this Administration and DAJ Hockey,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “The Baker-Polito Administration’s work to protect and preserve public spaces is showcased through the Urban Summer Street Hockey program, and we look forward to helping this innovative program move forward.”
The DCR’s Urban Summer Street Hockey program will begin on July 19, 2016, and conclude on August 25, 2016. The street hockey events are designed to provide youth with a high-quality athletic and educational experience delivered by some of the sport’s greatest legends, including Rick Middleton, Glen Featherstone (also a former Whaler) and Tom Songin, with more participants to be announced in the coming days.
“Guys like Rick, Tom Glen, and Terry O’Reilly are so good with the kids and their natural teachers for a sport we all love. We have high hopes for the program,” said Willand.
The events are free and open to youth from six to fifteen years of age.
“Broadening youth participation in urban communities requires the kind of forward-thinking mindset that the DCR has brought to this partnership, and I am glad to see its success beget a second year of summertime fun,” said DCR Commissioner Leo Roy. “We at the DCR must remain mindful of new ways to engage children inside our 450,000 acres of protected land across the Commonwealth, and I am proud to see our hockey rinks supporting a good sport and a great cause.”
“We created our ‘Hockey in the Streets’ program last year because we are committed to bringing the great game of hockey to all children regardless of their socio-economic background. It is very gratifying to be able to connect Boston Bruins legends with urban kids, who often don’t have access to the great sport of hockey,” said David A. Jensen, owner of DAJ Hockey, LLC, past US Olympian, and former NHL veteran.
Urban Summer Street Hockey clinics will occur at the following locations:
- Brockton (Asiaf Arena) on July 19 and 26 and August 2
- New Bedford (Hetland Arena) on July 20 and 27 and August 3
- Springfield (Smead Arena) on July 21 and 28 and August 4
- Lowell (Janas Arena) on August 9, 16 and 23
- Worcester (Buffone Arena) on August 10, 17 and 24
- Lawrence (Valley Forum) on August 11, 18 and 25.
Full program details, updates, and news are available at DAJ Hockey Twitter and Facebook pages and at dajhockey.com. Or Call Mark Willand at 617-701-7289
**Portions of a DAJ Hockey press release were used in this story.