BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
HARTFORD, CT – Heading towards the one quiet month of the hockey year in August, there have been quite a few moves occurring this off-season affecting Connecticut hockey.
Wolf Pack Signings
The New York Rangers re-signed center Oscar Lindberg to a new two-year, one-way deal that pays him $600K in this upcoming season and $700K the following year.
Lindberg, one of the Hartford Wolf Pack‘s top players last season, totaled 28 goals and 28 assists (56 points) in 75 games. Lindberg was an RFA (Restricted Free Agent) who was courted by several KHL teams during this off-season. Lindberg led the Wolf Pack with six game-winning goals, was the second-highest scoring European in the AHL with 16 points in the 15 playoff games.
“Lindy” played his first NHL game late last season at MSG. Lindberg was originally acquired from Arizona who drafted him in the 2nd round in 2010 for forward Ethan Werek in May 2011. Now that Martin St. Louis has retired and the Rangers haven’t re-sign James Sheppard a UFA there are two roster spots for him and Ryan Bourque to fill.
Defenseman Dylan McIlrath, a first round pick in 2010just completed his third AHL season signed a one-year, one-way NHL deal at $600K for the 2015-16 season. Big Mac had a strong campaign for the Wolf Pack playing in 73 games and compiling 17 points six of which were pucks shot into the back of the net. McIlrath also had a team-leading 165PIM and was a plus-five. You cannot discount how important the role he played in the playoffs was for the Rangers top development team. McIlrath used his 6’5, 230lb frame regularly against opponents during their 15 game run. He also knocked the Manchester Monarch’s Mike Mersch out of the conference final series with a strong, clean hit.
If McIlrath does start the year in Hartford, and considering the heavy contract presence on defense in New York, unless a trade occurs he could possibly wear the “C” on his jersey.
Mat Bodie was re-signed on Thursday to a one-year, two-way deal with a $10K increase on his AHL salary to $80K. Emerson Etem, who was acquired at the NHL draft for one time CT Whale Carl Hagelin, was signed to a one-year, two-way deal. Etem’s AHL salary is listed at $70,875.
Converted center Marek Hrivik signed a one-year deal earlier in the week. He saw a miniscule increase of $3,250 to $68,250 for next year.
Recently acquired RFA goaltender Magnus Hellberg, the lone representative for the Milwaukee Admirals at the AHL All-Star in Utica, agreed to a two-year deal. his AHL compensation was set at $73,500 which is just a $3,500 increase over his Admirals salary last year.
The only players left unsigned from the Pack roster last season are, Joey Crabb, who some sources indicate the Hershey Bears are pursuing; goaltender Jason Missiaen, a Group 6 UFA who struggled mightily the last two years, and who is extremely unlikely to be re-signed and forward Shawn O’Donnell. Sources indicate that several teams are seeking after O’Donnell.
The Bodie signing means 25 non-roster players have been signed by the Rangers and 47 in New York. The two key numbers to always to remember in the cap era under the current CBA rules are 23 players that can be on an NHL team and a total of 50 organizational contracts are permitted.
Up top, the Rangers last big contracts to be worked on were all big RFA’s in Derek Stepan, J.T. Miller and Jesper Fast. Fast signed up for two years at $950K on a one-way deal while Miller accepted his qualifying offer of $874,125 for a one-year, two-way contract preserving his arbitration rights under the CBA.
The tentative Wolf Pack roster for next season looks like this:
- Cederic Desjardins (last year of a two-year deal at $325K)
- Mackenzie Skapski (second year of three-year entry deal at $65K. Skapski is recovering from off-season arthroscopic hip surgery and will likely miss all of training camp).
- Possibly McIlrath
- Chris Summers (last year of a one-way NHL deal from Arizona $625K)
- Tommy Hughes (last year of his three-year entry deal at $65K)
- Samuel Noreau (last year of a three-year entry deal at $65K).
- Brady Skjei ($70K)
- Ryan Graves ($65K) each in first year of a three-year deal
- Troy Donnay (second year of a three-year deal at $70K).
- Petr Zamorsky (last year of a two-year deal at $70K)
- Calle Anderson (second year of a three-year deal $65K).
Both played all last season in Europe.
- Possibly Lindberg
- Chad Nehring (signed but deal has not yet been announced)
- Luke Adam (one year deal $150K)
- Chris McCarthy (last year of a two-year deal $70K)
- Michael St. Croix (last of a two year deal at $67,500).
- Adam Tambellini (first year of a three-year deal at $70K)
- Michael Kantor (last year of a three-year deal at $55K missed all of last season with concussion syndrome)
- Josh Nicholls (last year of a three year deal at $70K).
- Shawn O’Donnell (unsigned AHL free agent) and Joey Crabb (unsigned UFA).
- Possibly Ryan Bourque (last year of a two-year deal at $135K)
- Brian Gibbons ($350K for one year)
- Matt Lindblad (one year at $70K)
- Nick Tarnasky (last year of a two year deal at $150K).
*Contract info courtesy of www.generalfanager.com
Former Wolf Pack Pascal Rheaume was named new assistant coach with the Iowa Wild (AHL) after being head coach in Sherbrooke (QJHL) the last two years.
Former Wolf Pack defenseman Drew Bannister gets his first head coaching gig with Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) after three years as an assistant with Owen Sound (OHL). He is also the son-in-law to former Wolf Pack assistant coach Mike Busniuk.
Former Wolf Pack head coach Ryan McGill stepped down as head coach from Kootenay (WHL) in April as did assistant coach ex-Pack Jay Henderson.
Dave Farrish, a former Rangers player from the ‘80’s and a former New Haven Nighthawk, signs with Colorado (NHL) to be an assistant coach.
Another ex-Nighthawk, Scott Gordon, takes over the coaching duties with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) in the fall.
Former Quinnipiac Bobcat, Loren Barron, who played one game with Missouri (ECHL) and the rest of the year in Endinburgh, Scotland has retired to take an out of hockey opportunity.
In Endinburgh, ex-Sound Tiger, the 6’8 Riley Emmerson, was named playing Head coach of the EIHL team.
Ex-Sound Tiger from Year One Juraj Kolnik signs with Nottingham Panthers in England (EIHL).
Mike Souza, the ex-Sound Tiger, leaves as UCONN assistant coach job to become the associate head coach of fellow Hockey East member University of New Hampshire and is expected to become head coach when Dick Umile retires first reported by Mike Anthony of the Hartford Courant..
UCONN Huskies head coach Mike Cavanaugh names Brendan Buckley, who he coached at Boston College, as his new assistant along with West Haven native Joe Peirara.
The Sound Tigers signed two players from last season in defenseman Kevin Czuczman and foward Mike Halmo to one-year, two-way deals with an AHL salary of $70K each. They also signed former #1 draft pick of Montreal Louis Leblanc to a one year $67,500K deal announced on Friday.
Paul Bissonnette becomes the first player signed for the new Ontario Reign (AHL).
Phillip Samuelson, the eldest son of ex-Hartford Whaler, New York Ranger and Wolf Pack assistant coach, Ulf Samuelson, has signed to a one-year, one-way $600K deal with the Arizona Coyotes.
Former Yale defenseman Gus Young stays with the Sharks and signs an AHL deal with their new farm team San Jose Barracuda.
Former Quinnipiac player, Bryce Van Brabant, signs a one-year, two-way deal with the Calgary Flames at $73,500 as so does former Yale Bulldog, Ken Agostino who’ll earn $70,875. Both will likely be in Stockton to start the AHL season.
Former CT Whale Kelsey Tessier returns to Rogle BK in the Swedish in the SHL where he played two years ago when they were in the Allsvenskan league.
Old-time Wolf Pack still playing is Colby Genoway who goes from HC Lausanne (Switzerland-LNA) to KHL Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia-KHL).
Twelve more AHL’ers signed for Europe (playing 20 games or more) led by ex-Pack Jason Williams going from Oklahoma City to Cologne (Germany-DEL), high scoring winger Bobby Butler from San Antonio to MODO (Sweden-SHL), Albany’s Tim Sestito goes from Albany to Dynamo Riga (Latvia-KHL), Danill Tarasov goes from Worcester to Spartak Moscow (Russia-KHL), Mark Mancari from San Antonio to Augsburger (Germany-DEL), Jean-Philippe Cote Syracuse to Iserlohn (Germany-DEL) and David Wolf returns to his native Germany from Adirondack to play again for Hamburg Freezers (DEL).
Joacim Ericsson goes from Utica to Dynamo Riga to join Sestito, Drew Leblance Rockford to Augsburger (Germany-DEL), Terry Broadburst Chicago goes to Skelleftea AIK (Sweden-SHL), Oliver Lauridsen from Lehigh Valley to Frolunda HC (Sweden-SHL), Denny Urban Springfield goes to EHC Straubing (Germany-DEL), Corey Trivino Portland ended year Florida (ECHL) to HC Vladivostok (Russia-KHL) and Alex Aleardi who spent most of the year with Charlotte ending it with Florida (ECHL) heads over to Rogle BK joining Tessier.
That makes for 53 players so far and 24 of the 30 AHL teams have lost at least one player to play overseas.
Mike Marcou, who played briefly for the Wolf Pack, signs with KHL Medvescak Zagreb (Croatia-KHL).
Wallingford native and former Hartford Jr. Wolf Pack Mike Busillo signs with Adirondack (ECHL).
Kevin Quick, former Salisbury Prep player returns from Dundee (Scotland-EIHL) and signs with Indianapolis (ECHL).
Luke Stevens, son of the former Ranger Kevin Stevens, a Yale University committed athlete for 2016-17, has had his USHL rights traded to the Chicago Steel from Youngstown whose new head coach is Dan Muse, a former Yale assistant coach.
The new Milwaukee Admirals uniforms were unveiled on Wednesday. The angry pirate is in – no poofy shirts. See it HERE;
Former Ranger Martin Rucinsky retires from playing at age 43 after winning the Czech title this spring with HC Litvinov.
Former Yale assistant coach Kyle Wallack and former New Haven Senator Kevin Patrick both were elevated to associate head coach at the University Vermont Catamounts (HE).
NHL early Central Scouting Bureau list for prospects in 2015-16 feature the son of Wolf Pack Mathieu Sevigny, Pierre, born in Hartford who plays with Drummondville (QMJHL) and Pierre-Luc Dubois son of Nighthawk Eric Dubois is with Cape Breton (QMJHL) on the list.
Khristian Acosta of New Jersey (USPHL U-18) makes a commitment to Quinnipiac University (ECACHL) 2017-18.
Rangers 2015 draftee Robin Kovacs was selected by North Bay (OHL) in the CHL Import Draft.
Former Rangers, Hartford Whaler and Beast of New Haven Marek Malik starts his coaching career as an assistant coach with HC Frydek-Mitek in the Czech Republic Division-3 next season.
In Europe, a big change that will likely help AHL players looking for a new destination to play. The French Ice Hockey Federation announced it will be expanding its Magnus (Elite) League regular season schedule starting in 2016-17 to 50 games on par with Switzerland and Germany. Presently, the league has just a 26 game schedule. The number teams will be 12 or the current number of 14.
The Syracuse Crunch and Binghamton Senators will play an exhibition series against HC Lyon of the Magnus League at the start of training camp in September