BY: Gerry Cantlon, Howlings
HARTFORD, CT – The NHL Entry Draft produced a few surprises and there were some interesting trades some of which involved ex-Hartford Wolf Pack/CT Whale players.
The New York Rangers traded their speedy former CT Whale Carl Hagelin to the Anaheim Ducks for forward Emerson Etem. While they got some size (6’1 212) in Etem, to this point in his young career, at best, he’s been an in-between player. To this point, in Anaheim, Etem’s played 45 games and put up 5g-5a-10pts. With the Ducks’ AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, Etem potted 13 goals, had 8 assists for 21 points in 22 games. Etem was a first round pick, 29th overall by Anaheim in 2010. Etem played his years in junior at Medicine Hat (WHL).
Hagelin’s pending free agency next season, and with the Rangers already being so close to the NHL salary cap, and with so many other free agents to sign, it’s clear that was a decisive factor in the trade which the Ducks clearly got the better end of.
Etem’s one connection with Hartford comes when he contracted the mumps three days after Norfolk played Hartford in November. That appearance eventually sidelined Joey Crabb and even head coach Ken Gernander when the two had issues with it as well.
Then, as expected, ex-Pack/CT Whale goalie Cam Talbot was sent dealt to the Edmonton Oilers for three draft picks on Saturday. The Rangers received the 57th, 79th and 184th from the Oilers. With a very cap friendly cap contract and like Hagelin, Talbot was heading for UFA status next year and his contract per CBA rules couldn’t even be extended until January, so it was the best move for all concerned.
Talbot played at the University Alabama-Huntsville, went undrafted and then rose from obscurity. Talbot became a fixture in Hartford when he surpassed Chad Johnson as te team’s number one netminder. It’s hard to forget that memorable moment when Talbot received Jim Schoenfeld’s approval with a big slap on the back prior to the playoffs in 2011 and then delivered sweeping the Bridgeport Sound Tigers and then made a strong effort against the eventual Calder Cup champs that year Norfolk in a six game series.
This season with Henrik Lundqvist injury he stepped in over a two month period playing every game, but two in leading the Rangers to the Presidents Trophy with the best NHL regular season record, but didn’t start one game in the postseason.
The last Rangers deal affected Hartford directly. The Blueshirts went out and got a new backup for Henrik Lundqvist in Antii Raanta, who split last season with the Stanley Cup Champion Blackhawks (14 GP 7-4-1 1.89 GAA) and AHL Rockford (11 GP 8-1-1 2.39 GAA) and was listed as the team’s third goalie.
The Rangers traded winger Ryan Haggerty, a Stamford, CT native, who just turned 22 after just one pro season after being signed out of RPI last spring. Haggerty had 15 goals and 32 points in 76 games with the Wolf Pack.
Haggerty started off OK, had a soft middle of the season, and after a chat with Gernander on producing more A and B games rather than C games, Haggerty picked up his skating pace and got some scoring. Then, like several other players, he hit a major scoring slump at the end of the season and went into the playoffs. Haggerty went through 12 games without a goal before getting off the schneid with a goal in Game 4 of the Hershey series.
NHL-AHL free agency starts Wednesday and the Rangers have many roster decisions to make that will be announced.
One that Howlings can announce exclusively is that center Chad Nehring has been re-signed to a one-year AHL deal. The recently turned 28-year-old was a pivotal fourth line center who filled in on occasion on the first and second unit in part due to his strong faceoff skills. Nehring, who bounced around the ECHL for four years, along with Shawn O’Donnell, was a pesky thorn in the side of the Wolf Pack’s foes.
According to sources, Nehring was sought after by several other teams for an AHL deal, most noticeably the Hershey Bears, whom he burned with one of the best individual plays in the postseason in Game 5 in which he set up Chris Mueller’s game-winning OT goal. Nehring made a spectacular individual effort spanning from his own end of the ice to behind the Hershey net.
O’Donnell, who just turned 27 at the end of the playoffs, should re-sign with the Pack, but he could get an AHL deal elsewhere.
Several players have contracts that are up. Dylan McIlrath 22, coming to the end of his NHL three year entry level deal is expected to be qualified and may sign a new deal with the Rangers. It would be a wise move he was an important player in his third year with the Wolf Pack. Dylan McIlrath, 22, came to the end of his NHL three year entry level deal and according to several of the Rangers beat writers was among eight of the nine players offered qualifying offers.
Converted center Marek Hrivik becomes an RFA (restricted free agency) and at the end of the year said he wanted to return. Hrivik is one of the in between guys and performed well even while having several long scoring droughts and should earn a new Wolf Pack deal.
Danny Kristo, who was an RFA a year ago based on his old contract with Montreal, but signed to a one year deal last summer, will be a UFA (unrestricted free agent) because he just turned 25 two weeks ago was a second round pick and has played no NHL games by age 25.
He could be re-signed because the Rangers’ Russian prospect, forward Pavel Buchnevich, 20, has indicated he intends stay in Russia to play with Severstal Cherepovets in the KHL next season. He had a good Russian junior playoff with the Almaz Cherepovets (MHL) posting 20 points in 11 games.
Kristo may well sign with the Philadelphia Flyers where his old North Dakota coach, Dave Hakstol, is the Flyers new head coach.
Defenseman Mat Bodie, 25, signed a one year deal after winning the NCAA title with Union College (ECACHL) and played with a heart of lion, but he is the same boat as Kristo except was undrafted by age 25 and has no NHL games. Clearly, Bodie needs to gain upper body strength to keep playing at the AHL level. He was exploited several times in both the Hershey and Manchester series against those team’s bigger forwards.
There are several veterans the team will re-sign with several likely to find employment elsewhere in the AHL or Europe.
Ryan Potulny 30, to nobody’s surprise has already signed with Lahti (Finland-FEL) and very surprisingly RW Carl Klingberg 24, acquired from Winnipeg opted to return to Europe and signed with Torpedo Novgorod (Russia-KHL).
Goalie Yann Danis could be re-signed because of the injury and subsequent postseason surgery to the right hip of Mackenzie Skapski that will sideline him until at least October. Cederic Desjardins, who has one more year on his deal, is coming off ACL surgery on his right knee. That will be a factor. Danis, being 33, could head to Europe to wind up his career. Only time will tell.
Crabb, at age 32 and from Anchorage, AK, will likely either wind up on the AHL Pacific Division or Europe. Mike Kostka, 29 is likely to be in the same position.
The Bourque brothers remain a question marks because of the Rangers cap and contract status. Chris, 29, who will be entering his 12th pro season, commands a healthy six-figure deal while Ryan, 24, has played all four pro years in Hartford, shown great leadership and work ethics could become a fourth line NHL energy guy. Both will likely be re-signed by the Rangers.
Nick Tarnasky 30, could head back to Europe or maybe the Quebec LNAH league as the speed of the game has passed him by.
All of them are 18 years old (except one) and are a year or two from making the Wolf Pack roster.
Ryan Gropp, a 6’2 185 lb. LW was the 41st selection 2nd round had a good season with Seattle (WHL) 67-30-28-58-44
Robin Kovacs, of Skelleftea AIK (Sweden-Allsvenskan) a LW/RW was the first of the Oiler picks for Talbot 62nd overall 3rd round 52-17-11-28-63. Considered a major agitator, the last Swedish agitator was named Andreas Jamtin. He lasted all of five games in Hartford.
Kovacs was named to the Swedish National U-20 team on Monday that will play in Lake Placid in August in a tournament and could be eligible for their World Junior Championship team in December/January.
Sergei Zborovsky, a defenseman at 6’3, 200 lbs. is the tallest player selected from Regina (WHL) and was coached by ex-Wolf Pack head coach John Paddock 71-3-16-19-70.
Aleksi Saarela, C/LW 5’10 195 lbs the smallest player they drafted from Assat Pori (Finland-FEL) 89TH overall 3rd round 51-6-6-12-18.
Brad Morrison, C 113th overall 4th round Prince George (WHL) 67-23-26-49-30
Daniel Bernhardt, is the oldest at 19 a LW/RW was 119th overall 4th round (Djurgarden J-20) 44-26-35-61-22
Adam Huska, G 184th overall 7th round Team Slovakia U-18 team 25 GP and a 3.60 GAA and Green Bay (USHL) 5 GP 0-3-1 4.65 GAA. Huska played five games for Slovakia at the World Junior Championships with a 3.01 GAA.
The Rangers have no first round selection next year (to Arizona in the Keith Yandle trade) none the previous two years. The last was Brady Skjei (Shay) 2012 who was signed out the University of Minnesota and played with the Wolf Pack at the end of the season and in the playoffs.
DRAFTEES OF NOTE
Luke Stevens, a Yale University (ECACHL) commit 2016-17 son of ex-Ranger Kevin playing at a Noble & Greenough Prep school in Massachusetts was taken by Carolina 126th overall in the 5th round.
Adam Musil, nephew of former Whaler and Ranger Bobby Holik was selected by St. Louis 4th round 95th overall from Red Deer (WHL). His older brother David split this season with Bakersfield (ECHL) and Oklahoma City (AHL). Father Frantiske (Frank) is a former NHL player who is an amateur scout with Edmonton.
Callum Booth, former Salisbury Prep goalie was taken by Carolina 4th round 93rd overall from Quebec (QMJHL).
The highest drafted son of a ex-Wolf Pack player now belongs to Jake DeBrusk the left winger from Swift Current (WHL) by Boston 14th overall, Jake is the son of ex-Pack and Ranger Louie DeBrusk now a TV color commentator on Edmonton Oiler broadcasts.
Chris Wilkie, son of ex-Pack David Wilkie was taken by Florida 6th round 162nd overall from Tri-City (USHL). He is a University North Dakota Fighting Sioux (NCHC) commit for next year.
The other highest draftee son of ex-Wolf Pack (and ex-Sound Tiger) was also by Boston last year taking Ryan Donato son of Ted in the 2nd round 56th overall.
The Islanders drafted the first Chinese born player in Andong Song (72nd overall 6th round) a defenseman and forward.
Song was born in Beijing his parents moved to Canada and played bantam hockey in the GTA (greater Toronto area). He played prep school hockey in South Jersey at the prestigious Lawrenceville school the last three years. Song played and was captain on the Chinese U-18 team at the IIHF Division 2B level.
He will do a PG year at Phillips Andover Prep in Massachusetts this year before playing either junior hockey or collegiate hockey next year.
The first part of his first name is An which means peace in Chinese and dong means born in the East. Chinese first names are hybrids in part because of the different dialects such as Mandarin and Cantonese reflecting the many changes in Chinese history.
Last year the first Australian was taken in Nathan Walker by Washington.
Former Sound Tiger rookie defenseman Griffin Reinhart who played 59 games last year going 7-15-22 and had 64 PM and a minus 13 is a former #1 and 4th overall pick was traded to Edmonton for the 1st and 2nd round picks of Edmonton Saturday.
Sound Tiger head coach Brent Thompson was high on his development over the year, but I still think he needs seasoning should start next year in Bakersfield (AHL).
Former Wolf Pack goalie Chris Holt who split last season between Italy (SV Ritten/Renon) and the Czech Republic (HC Orli Znojmo) has a new hockey home next season with the Braehead Clan just outside of Glasgow, Scotland in the England based Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL).
Ryan Glenn, former Wolf Pack defenseman goes from Karpat Oulu (Finland-FEL) to HC Sparta Prague (Czech Republic-CEL).
Nigel Dawes has re-signed with Barys Astana (Kazakhstan-KHL) wonder if they threw in some Burger King coupons !!?
Marcello Ranallo, a UCONN (AHA) hockey grad re-signed with SG Cortina (Italy LIHG A-League).
Dallas Eakins who played for the Beast of New Haven was named the head coach for the maiden season of the AHL San Diego Gulls top affiliate for the Anaheim Ducks.
Former Beast of New Haven forward David Nemirovsky who has dual citizenship (Canada-Russia) has formally retired and will be the Sport Director for HC Vladivostok Admirals (Russia-KHL). The tri-lingual Nemirovsky will handle negotiations with North American and European based players for the team.
Three former Springfield Falcons have signed deals with their new Columbus affiliate in Lake Erie (nee Cleveland) in AHL vet Ryan Craig, forward Troy Vogelhuber and rookie Seth Ambroz out of the University of Minnesota. They also signed Russian Oleg Yevenko all 6’7 230 lbs. of him who played at UMASS-Amhersrt (HE) last year and four games with Adirondack.
Old pal PA Parenteau has been brought by Montreal and will make a cool $2.7 million the next two years concluding his $12 million dollar deal he signed originally with Colorado. PA may get picked up by another NHL team, but at 32 wouldn’t be surprised he heads to Europe.
Better yet Mike Richards who played a part of the year in Manchester will be getting a check for about $1.4 million per year from the LA Kings till 2024-25. No typo you read that right.
Ex-Pack/CT Whale Tim Erixon signed an extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Sam Gagner, son of former Nighthawk Dave Gagner the Director of Player Personnel in Vancouver was traded from Arizona to Philadelphia for Niklas Grossman and Chris Pronger. Yes, the retired former Whaler Chris Pronger had his contract transferred to the Coyotes so they could get their NHL payroll UP TO the NHL spending floor !!
He retired for concussion related reasons and will now also be paid by the NHL (in its Discipline department) and the Coyotes. Only in the NHL !
STRANGE BUT TRUE
The latest addition to the hockey playing community is—the Falkand Islands !!
No joke the tip comes from writer Steven Ellis of Hockey House.net whose story also appears courtesy of Eurohockey.com;
Here is the official website;
No truth to the rumor the Arizona Coyotes are looking to relocate there or the NHL is accepting an expansion bid.