BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
Hartford, CT – It was a very busy week for NHL executives and lots of it involved players with connections to Connecticut and the New York Rangers’ organization.
FREE AGENT WRAP
It was a wild and wooly week of player movement in both the NHL and AHL as some teams made some terrific moves to improve themselves and some real head-scratching moves in a hard salary cap era.
As we reported last week, it became official on Tuesday as both defenseman Mat Bodie and forward Nicklas Jensen were re-signed by the Rangers. According to generalfanager.com each player received a one- year/one-way NHL deal for $600K.
Expect an announcement in a few days to come on new deals for forward Marek Hrivik, and defenseman Tommy Hughes.
But getting back to the two signees, Bodie, who ended the year as the Hartford Wolf Pack’s team captain after Ryan Bourque was traded to the Hershey Bears, enters his third year in the Connecticut state capital.
Jensen came to Hartford from the Vancouver Canucks in a trade for Emerson Etem in January. It was the best deal by the Rangers all year as Jensen spearheaded a resurgent Wolf Pack. Unfortunately, that run came up short as the team missed out on the playoffs by four points. Jensen, a Denmark native, turned a lot of heads with a superb performance in the World Championship tournament following the conclusion of the Wolf Pack season.
THE WOLF PACK
Not having much in the way of salary cap room left The Rangers mostly sitting out of the ruckus of a crazed free agent marketplace. The team did make two deals and both were for new defensemen.
At the AHL level, the most active teams were the San Antonio Rampage, the Tucson Roadrunners, the Chicago Wolves, the Hershey Bears, the Albany Devils, the Syracuse Crunch, and the Iowa Wild. All of them handed out some hefty contracts.
TJ Brennan, two-time Eddie Shore winner left the Toronto Marlies and went to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Brennan received a two-year deal for $625K per season. That’s NHL money.
The Wolf Pack will see Westport, CT native, Mike Paliotta when the puck drops for the 2016-2017 season. Paliotta played high school prep hockey at Choate and is coming off a splendid season with the Calder Cup Champion, Lake Erie Monsters. Paliotta received a one-year, two-way deal paying $650K in the NHL and $70K in the AHL.
Adam Clendening, who split last season with the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Edmonton Oilers, and who had a brief stay in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton with the Penguins, signed a great deal. He has a one-year, two-way deal that pays $600K in the NHL and $300K at the AHL.
The Rangers now have fifteen defensemen in their organization.
The team is currently searching for a new Assistant Coach after Jeff Beukeboom was promoted to New York to replace the departed Ulf Samuelsson, who left to become the new Head Coach of the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers, the top farm team of the Carolina Hurricanes, which is run by his good friend and former teammate, Ron Francis.
SCHOENFELD WINS AHL EBRIGHT AWARD
Hartford GM Jim Schoenfeld earned the highest honor an AHL Executive can receive when it was announced that he’d won the Thomas Ebright Award.
Schoenfeld recently completed his 13th season as the Wolf Pack’s GM, and continues to play a key role in developing the organization’s prospects, and also served as the chairman of the AHL’s Competition Committee in 2015-16. Schoenfeld, who has also had stints in the AHL as a player (Cincinnati, 1973-74) and head coach (Rochester, 1984-85; Hartford, 2005-07), has provided invaluable leadership within the American Hockey League during his career, serving on the Competition Committee and Executive Committee and helping the league develop player safety initiatives.
“The American Hockey League is comprised of 30 teams, all with their own specific agendas. However, it has been refreshing over the years to see all involved put those agendas aside to come together in a decision-making process, that places the good of the League as the number one priority. Although in many ways I feel there are members of the League much more deserving of this award than I am, I must say it is a very good feeling to be well thought of by the group. Special thanks to (AHL President/CEO) Dave Andrews, (Syracuse Crunch President/CEO) Howard Dolgon, (St. John’s IceCaps COO) Glen Stanford and (recently retired long-time Hershey Bears GM) Doug Yingst.” Schoenfeld said via e-mail. The Pack GM is attending the birth of another grandchild and therefore was only available via an email.
During Schoenfeld’s tenure as Wolf Pack GM and during his time as head coach, he mentored the team’s all-time winningest coach, the former captain, Ken Gernander. He’s also taught now Charlotte Checkers head coach, Ulf Samuelsson and Montreal Canadiens assistant coach, J.J. Daigneault. Schoenfeld succeeded Don Maloney as Wolf Pack GM, who was relieved of his duties as GM of the Arizona Coyotes at the end of this past season.
The Thomas Ebright Award honors Tom Ebright, the former owner, and governor of the Baltimore Skipjacks and Portland Pirates who passed away in 1997.
AHL DIVISIONAL ALIGNMENT
The AHL has realigned the league once again.
The Wolf Pack will continue to play in the Atlantic Division though minus Portland, which was sold and relocated to Springfield to replace the departed Falcons who have moved to Tucson, Arizona. The new team moniker will be The Thunderbirds.
Charlotte will continue as part of the Western conference and play in the Central Division. The Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage stay in the Pacific Division but will play 76 games while the rest of the division continues to play just 68 with the dreadful percentage points system remaining in place.
Expect the divisions to be tweaked again next season with the addition of the newest NHL team operating in Las Vegas. Their AHL franchise will likely be out West while Vancouver’s AHL team shifts out West and Binghamton is being relocated. The landing spot of that team seems to look like it is going to be in Belleville.
Division Alignment (NHL affiliate in parentheses)
Bridgeport Sound Tigers (NYI)
Hartford Wolf Pack (NYR)
Hershey Bears (WSH)
Lehigh Valley Phantoms (PHI)
Providence Bruins (BOS)
Springfield Thunderbirds (FLA)
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (PIT)
Albany Devils (NJ)
Binghamton Senators (OTT)
Rochester Americans (BUF)
St. John’s IceCaps (MTL)
Syracuse Crunch (TB)
Toronto Marlies (TOR)
Utica Comets (VAN)
Charlotte Checkers (CAR)
Chicago Wolves (STL)
Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
Iowa Wild (MIN)
Lake Erie Monsters (CBJ)
Manitoba Moose (WPG)
Milwaukee Admirals (NSH)
Rockford IceHogs (CHI)
Bakersfield Condors (EDM)
Ontario Reign (LA)
San Antonio Rampage (COL)
San Diego Gulls (ANA)
San Jose Barracuda (SJ)
Stockton Heat (CGY)
Texas Stars (DAL)
Tucson Roadrunners (ARI)
RULE CHANGES COMING
There are several rule changes coming to the American Hockey League including a new rule on fighting. It will be under rule 46
Rule 82 (“Icing”)
The current rule on an icing call is that the offending team cannot make player substitutions. The revision to the rule is that the offending team on an icing violation cannot use a time-out to rest their players.
Rule 1.10 (“Ice Cleaning”)
The ice cleaning procedures that are used during promotional timeouts will now also be used prior to overtime during the regular season, replacing the “dry scrape.”
ON THE MOVE
Lots of players on the move who have various Connecticut connections.
Former Pack center Chad Nehring worked hard to grow from a fourth line penalty killer and faceoff specialist and borderline ECHL call-up to a successful AHL scorer who led the Pack in scoring last year, is on the move. At age 27, Nehring is viewed as old by hockey standards and no longer seen as a “prospect” earned himself a nice deal from the Ottawa Senators getting a deal paying $600K should he play in the NHL and $125K for play in the AHL at Binghamton next year.
Another ex-Pack, Jayson Megna, heads to the Vancouver Canucks and the Utica Comets with the same deal he had last season in Hartford, an NHL one-way for one year at a very cap friendly, $600K.
Now former Pack Defenseman, Kodie Curran, who split last year between Hartford and the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits heads to Denmark and Esbjerg, the defending champions of the Danish Hockey League.
Chris Mueller, a Pack alum, leaves the San Diego Gulls to sign with Arizona. Mueller’s deal is a two-way, one-year deal. He will likely play in Tucson on a contract that pays $600K in the NHL and $250K at the AHL level.
Christian Thomas, who played with two NHL and two AHL teams last season, including in Springfield, has signed with the Washington Capitals, and will likely play in Hershey with the Bears. He signed a one-year, two-way deal paying $575K in the NHL and $125K at the AHL.
Ex-Pack defenseman Mike Kostka got a $50K raise to stay in Binghamton signing a one-year, two-way deal ($800K-NHL/$325K-AHL).
Former Pack Dale Weise was a big winner in the NHL free-agency chase. The not-shy forward received a four-year $9.4 million deal from the Flyers starting at $2.75M next year.
Goalie Chad Johnson, who made lots of friends with the media while playing for the Pack, heads to his hometown of Calgary where he earned a one-year deal paying $1.7 million.
On his way back to the New York Islanders where he found his NHL game, is one-time Pack forward, PA Parenteau. While in Hartford, he and Weise were almost inseparable. Parenteau gets a one-year deal at $1.25 million.
Ex-CT Whale, Jonathan Audy-Marchessault landed himself a very nice two-year cap friendly, one-way NHL deal from the Florida Panthers at $750K per year.
Ex-CT Whale Brandon Mashinter was rewarded by the Chicago Blackhawks with a one-year, one-way deal paying $575K.
One-time Pack goalie, Al Montoya, will trade Florida shorts for Montreal winter jackets leaving the Panthers for Les Habs. Montoya picks up a one-year deal paying $950K.
Former Sound Tiger Matt Martin hit the jackpot. The Ontario boy heads back to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a four-year $10 million deal.
The biggest winners thus far in free agency were a pair of ex-Sound Tigers. Kyle Okposo gets a seven-year $42 million deal with the Buffalo Sabres while Franz Nielsen heads to Detroit for the next six years earning $5.25M per season.
One-time Sound Tiger goalie, Anders Nilsson, leaves the St. Louis Blues for Buffalo on a one-year NHL deal at $1 million.
Mac Bennett, the nephew of former Hartford Whaler Bill Bennett, got a one-year, two-way with Washington/Hershey (AHL) at $575K-NHL/$250K-AHL.
Brad Malone, nephew of former Whaler Greg Malone and cousin to former Wolf Pack Ryan Malone, signed a one-year, two-way deal with Washington/Hershey (AHL) as well. His deal pays $575K for play in the NHL and $250K in the AHL.
Philip Samuelsson, eldest son of former Ranger, Wolf Pack and Avon Old Farms assistant coach and Whalers great Ulf Samuelsson, who spent part of last year in Springfield and ending the year in Arizona, signed a one-year two-way deal with Montreal/St. John’s (AHL) at ($600K-NHL/$125K-AHL).
Cole Schneider, the former UConn player in their AHC years, signs with Buffalo who acquired him at the trade deadline. Schneider signed a one-year, two-way deal at ($600K-NHL/$300K-AHL)
After ex-Pack and ex-New York Ranger, Fedor Tyutin had the last two years of his contract bought out in Columbus, signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche at $2 million.
Ryan Bourque resigned an AHL deal with Hershey. The contract gives the younger Bourque another year playing with older brother Chris. The terms were not released.
Former Sound Tiger goalie and Avon Old Farms product, Parker Milner, signs with Hershey on an AHL deal.
Ken Agostino (Yale) get a one-year, two-way deal for Chicago/Rockford (AHL) at $625K-NHL/$125K-AHL.
Former Sound Tiger Joe Whitney won’t be torturing the Wolf Pack anymore. Last season his year was cut short by a broken leg, but Whitney signed a one-year, two-way with Colorado/San Antonio (AHL) at ($600K-NHL/$325K-AHL).
Ex-Pack and ex-Sound Tiger, Micheal Haley, will continue to play with San Jose after signing a one-year, two-way deal at ($625K-NHL/$275K-AHL).
Former Wolf Pack TJ Hensick signed a one-year, two-way deal with Los Angeles/Ontario (AHL) after splitting last year between Charlotte and Utica. Contract details not yet released.
Another former Bulldog, Andrew Miller, leaves Edmonton for Carolina/Charlotte (AHL) signing a one-year, two-way deal ($650K-NHL/$200K-AHL).
A third ex-Yalie, Sean Backman from Greenwich, CT, stays out West with LA/Ontario (AHL) after signing a one-year, two-way deal. Backman’s father is former Nighthawk, Mike Backman. He is brother-in-law to Hamden native and fellow Avon Old Farms graduate, Jonathan Quick. Contract details not yet available.
Former Sound Tiger center, Harry Zolniercyzk, leaves San Diego and signs a one-year, two-way with Nashville/Milwaukee (AHL) for $575K-NHL/$125K-AHL. His stock has gone down every year. He was making $300K in Bridgeport two years ago and last year in San Diego $250K.
Joining Zolniercyzk is another ex-Sound Tiger, Trevor Smith, who comes back from SC Bern (Switzerland-LNA) for a rare two-year, two-way deal at ($575k-$650K-NHL/ $175K-$150K-AHL) with Nashville.
Taylor Beck who played in Bridgeport last season before being traded to San Antonio is on the move again as he receives a one-year, two-way deal from Edmonton/Bakersfield (AHL) where he will earn $650K-NHL/$250K-AHL.
Simsbury native and Westminster Prep grad, Tommy Cross, re-signs with the Boston Bruins with a one-year, two-way deal paying $600K-NHL /$175K-AHL.
One time Quinnipiac Bobcat, Jeremy Langlois, signs an AHL deal with Rockford leaving San Jose (AHL).
Marc-Andre Cliché, who played just six games with the Sound Tigers after a trade with San Antonio, leaves Bridgeport to play for Toronto (AHL) on a one-year deal and contact details yet unavailable.
Former Sound Tiger defenseman, Victor Bartley, who also played games with two NHL and two AHL clubs last year signed with the Minnesota/Iowa (AHL) with a great deal $650K-NHL/$350K-AHL.
Wade Megan, who played at South Kent Prep, signed a one-year, two-way deal with St. Louis/Rockford (AHL) at ($575K-NHL-$85K-AHL) after a strong season in Portland.
The Sound Tigers signed former Quinnipiac Bobcat, Kellen Jones, who played mostly with Missouri (ECHL) last year and got a recall to Bakersfield. His brother, Connor, is expected to re-sign with the Sound Tigers bringing the twins back playing together. Both are the grandsons of former New Haven Blade, Terry Jones.
The Sound Tigers also signed out of Penn State (Big 10) defenseman, Luke Juha, and three others to one-year AHL deals. Besides Juha, another collegiate undergraduate signed in the AHL. Junior, Jamie Phillips of Michigan Tech (WCHA), signs with Manitoba (AHL). That makes 170 Division I players who signed pro deals since the collegiate season ended. That number includes 35 underclassmen.
Former UConn Husky Cody Sharib signed another one-year ECHL deal with the Indy Fuel. West Haven native Mike Peirara resigned an ECHL deal with Reading. Periara played his public school hockey at Notre Dame-West Haven and prep hockey at Avon Old Farms. Peirara’s brother Joe is an assistant coach with UConn.
One-time Sound Tiger, Chad Costello, whose team won a second consecutive ECHL Kelly Cup title, and was both the regular season and playoff MVP, has signed a new ECHL deal with Allen for next season. Joining him is ex-Sound Tiger goalie Riley Gill, who was part of both championship teams as well.
Ex-Pack, Carl Klingberg, leaves the Torpedo Novgorod (Russia-KHL) for EV Zug (Switzerland-LNA) joining ex-Pack and Ranger, Raphael Diaz.
Brendon Nash, an ex-Wolf Pack, goes from HC Kladno (Czech Republic-Division 2) to EC Graz (Austria-AEHL) next season.
Another ex-Pack, Jakub Petruzalek who split last year with Orebro HK (Sweden-SHL) and Dynamo Moscow (Russia-KHL), signs with HC Trinec (Czech Republic-CEL).
Four other AHL’ers join Kodie Curran in heading to Europe. A big catch is Alexander Khohklachev, who leaves Providence for SKA St, Petersburg (Russia-KHL). Ex-Pack Bobby Sanguinetti leaves Rochester for EHC Kloten (Switzerland-LNA). Danny Hobbs, who spent most of the year with Binghamton and some with Evansville (ECHL), is off SonderjyskE (Denmark-DHL). John Albert goes from Manitoba to Karpat (Finland-FEL).
That makes 39 AHL’ers who are going to Europe thus far.
Ex-Pack, Colby Genoway, returns next season to Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia-KHL). Defenseman, Jerry Pollastrone, who played prep hockey at Salisbury Prep, goes from HC Bolzano (Italy-AEHL) to Vienna (Austria-AEHL) next season.
Binghamton announces its new ECHL affiliate will be the Wichita Thunder.
Former Nighthawk, Eric Dubois, whose son, Pierre-Luc, was just selected third overall in the NHL Draft and signed an ELC with Columbus, is the new assistant coach with Manitoba (AHL). The Moose new head coach is Pascal Vincent, who, along with Dubois, have Mark Morrison, the ex-Nighthawk whose assistant coaching deal with the Moose was extended another year. Dubois was an assistant with Rimouski (QMJHL) last year.
Matt Carkner retires from playing to become the Sound Tigers assistant coach next season.
Quinnipiac University saw Daniel Fritz, who played at Canterbury Prep in New Milford, transfer to Canisius College (AHC).
Three AHL coaching adds/changes: Eric Veilleux is the new head coach for San Antonio after coaching in Norfolk (ECHL) last year. Ex-Whaler, Randy Ladouceur, remains an assistant with the Rampage.
One-time Whaler, mostly an Islander, Derek King, was named an assistant coach with Rockford (AHL) and Utica loses assistant coach Paul Jerrard to Vancouver to be an assistant with the Canucks.
Correction in Off Season Volume 10 we incorrectly stated the new Milwaukee Admirals arena as the Carver Arena. It will be at UWM (University Wisconsin-Milwaukee) Panther Arena. We regret the error.
*Contract info is courtesy of generalfanager.com
KHL IN BEIJING
Former Sound Tiger Tomas Marcinko was one of the first 10 players named to the roster of the new KHL team in Beijing. The team will be called the HC Kunlun Red Star. Marcinko, a Slovak played with HC Pardubice (Czech Republic-CEL) last year.
Joining him is goalie Andrei Markov, who left Rochester last week after signing with Spartak Moscow, but his contract was sold to the team this week.
The new team will play in the 18,000 LeSports Arena formerly called the Wukesong Arena used in the 2008 Summer games in Beijing for basketball and will be the largest arena in the KHL.
The 2022 Winter Games will be held in Beijing.
Kunlun has three meanings one is martial arts style term, the other refers to the mythical Mt. Kunlun home to mythical gods and creatures and the other refers to the area adjacent to the Gobi Desert near the Tibetan Plateau and is the longest chain of mountains encompassing 1,900 miles, the largest mountain chain in Asia.
Here is the team logo:
AHL ARENA IN LAVAL
The AHL will see more city changes after next season.
One expected move will be Montreal moving their team from St. John’s to a brand new building on the Montreal North Shore in a suburb of Laval. The building will be called, “The Place Bell Centre,’ and it will be run by Evenko Management, the same company running the Bell Centre.
Cantlon’s Corner j returned from a weekend in the city had a chance to check out the progress from last summer. (See pictures).
Much progress has been made with almost all the exterior work done by the fall so they can commence the interior work away from the harsh winters.
(Photos by Gerry Cantlon)
The construction is being done by Pomerlau Construction and the building sits on the corner of Claude Gagnon and Lucien Paiement Streets with de la Concorde West Boulevard and Cornbusier Boulevard that leads to the nearby major Highway 15.
Toss in the very friendly Metro stop at the Montmorency (Orange line) terminal 25 minutes from downtown Montreal and this building has the potential to be a major gold mine in addition to saving the Canadiens millions in recall finances.
Right across from the building are two empty lots for a surface parking area or small parking garage and space for team offices. The city government of Laval is kicking in $46.3 million (Canadian) for the project and the total cost will be $120 million for a 10,000 seat arena with two smaller public ice skating rinks to be attached.
Ottawa seems to be inching ever closer to announcing it will be moving its team from Binghamton to Belleville, Ontario after this upcoming season. That will place their affiliate 155 miles (249 kilometers) from the Canadian capital city rather than the present 265 miles (426 kilometers). Factor in the Canadian dollar exchange issue for Ottawa, Vancouver is likely joining them soon. Currently five of the seven Canadian NHL franchises having their farm teams in Canada. Read more about that HERE
Early talk on the location of the Las Vegas team’s AHL affiliate could be in California or Nevada too. Early rumors say it could be in Fresno or Sacramento or nearby Reno.
The last three teams for the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeon Chang, South Korea will be decided September 1-4 in Minsk, Belarus, Riga, Latvia and Oslo, Norway. The host country in each group is the running for the spots.
Nine of the twelve teams are already set while there are an additional twelve countries who will battle for the last three spots.
The groups involved are:
Belarus, Slovenia, Denmark, and Poland.
Latvia, Germany, Austria, and Japan
Norway, Kazakhstan, France and Italy.
Several current and ex-Wolf Pack players are likely to be involved such as Nicklas Jensen (Denmark), Mats Zuccarello (Norway) and Nigel Dawes (Kazakhstan).