JULY 1ST LIVE FREE-AGENCY BLOG

JULY 1ST LIVE FREE-AGENCY BLOG

HARTFORD | WOLF PACK LOAD UP
After finishing last in the AHL this past season, change is in the air for the Hartford Wolf Pack.

The New York Rangers affiliate has a new general manager in long-time NHL star Chris Drury to go with a new head coach in Keith McCambridge.

Next up for the Wolf Pack was bringing in high-end offensive talent, and they have secured two of the biggest stars in the AHL.

The Rangers signed Hershey Bears sniper Paul Carey and Cole Schneider from the Rochester Americans. The forwards each had 24 goals this past season.

Carey, 28, also had 31 assists to finish with 55 points in 55 games for the offensively skilled Bears.

Schneider is 26 years old. Despite playing for a non-playoff team in Rochester, he was sixth in the AHL in scoring with 63 points 24-39-63), a new AHL career high for him. His 39 assists also set a new career best at the AHL level.


CHICAGO | NEW CROP ARRIVES
The Vegas Golden Knights have made their first-ever foray into the world of AHL free-agency.

The Golden Knights signed top-pairing defenceman Brad Hunt and Cleveland Monsters forward T.J. Tynan to two-year contracts. Texas Stars goaltender Maxime Lagace, defenceman Chris Casto, plus forwards Stefan Matteau (St. John’s IceCaps) and Paul Thompson (Springfield Thunderbirds) also joined the organization on one-year deals.

The Golden Knights and Chicago Wolves have a new “partnership,” as it is being called by the Wolves. Additional players from the St. Louis Blues are also expected to land with the Wolves.

Hunt is 28 and had 9-20-29 in 23 games with the Wolves before departing for the NHL with St. Louis and eventually the Nashville Predators. He would give the Wolves a number-one defenceman.

Tynan is 25 and a skilled playmaker. He went 12-29-41 this past season in Cleveland.

Matteau is a 2012 first-round pick but has yet to establish himself at the NHL level. Now 23 years old, he had 12-13-25 with the IceCaps.

Thompson picked up 19 goals and 42 points for the Thunderbirds while also playing 21 games with the Florida Panthers.. The 28-year-old also has a 33-goal AHL season on his resume.

The 25-year-old Casto is a stay-at-home blue-liner.

Lagace, 24, played behind a porous Texas defence and struggled. He was 11-12-3-1 | 3.56 | .883.


TUCSON | ROADRUNNERS RESPOND
Hit hard earlier in the day by free-agent departures, help is on the way for the Tucson Roadrunners.

The Arizona Coyotes are bringing in a pair of veterans from the Toronto Marlies — defenceman Andrew Campbell and forward Mike Sislo.

Campbell, 29, returns to the organization after two seasons with Toronto, where he was 6-16-22 in 75 games for the Marlies this past season. He provides Tucson with instant leadership.

Sislo is also 29 years old and coming off a difficult season split between the Marlies and San Antonio Rampage last season. He was 14-23-37, but had a 27-goal season with the Albany Devils in 2015-16.

Arizona also agreed to terms with Providence Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo as well as defenceman Joel Hanley.

Rinaldo is attempting to remake his game from a crash-and-bang forward into a two-way player. Injury problems limited him to 29 games with Providence, as he was 5-2-7.

Hanley, 26, was 2-20-22 with the St. John’s IceCaps while also registering seven games with the Montreal Canadiens.


BAKERSFIELD | A MAKEOVER FOR THE CONDORS
The Edmonton Oilers are making over the Bakersfield Condors in a major way.

On their way to the organization are wingers Mitch Callahan and Ty Rattie, defenceman Ryan Stanton, and four others. Here are the details.


SAN ANTONIO| RAMPAGE PULL IN BIG HAUL
The San Antonio Rampage have struggled since the start of an affiliation with the Colorado Avalanche, but Rampage fans received some good news to start their offseason.

The Colorado Avalanche secured Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins defenceman David Warsofsky on two-year contract along with forward Andrew Agozzino from the Chicago Wolves.

Warsofsky, 27, hit career highs in goals (16), assists (31), and points (47) and was a Second-Team All-Star. He should receive a strong opportunity to win a job with the Avalanche, which could push talent down to San Antonio.

Agozzino returns to the Colorado organization for his second stint. Now 26, he played 266 AHL games for the organization before going to Chicago this past season. He had 54 points (18-36-54).

The Avalanche also re-signed goaltender Joe Cannata, who divided his season between the Hershey Bears and Rampage.


TORONTO | MARLIES RE-TOOL
Amid a run on high-end talent in the North Division, the Toronto Marlies have responded.

The Marlies signed forwards Chris Mueller and Colin Greening as well as defenceman Vincent LoVerde. Greening will play on a one-year deal while Mueller and LoVerde arrive from the Western Conference to skate on two-year contracts.

Greening and Mueller each are 31 years old. Mueller finished third in AHL scoring (19-48-67). Greening was 10-14-24 and also has 286 NHL games to his name.

LoVerde, 28, gives the Marlies a number-one defenceman that brings a solid offensive component to a heady game along with leadership. He captained the Ontario Reign and won a Calder Cup in the Los Angeles Kings system in 2015. He was 9-26-35 in 61 games for the Reign this past season.

Earlier in the week the Marlies retained forward Richard Clune on an AHL deal.


STOCKTON | HRIVIK GOES WEST
Hartford Wolf Pack forward Marek Hrivik is on his way to the Western Conference.

The 25-year-old signed with the Calgary Flames on a one-year, two-way contract after parts of six AHL seasons in the New York Rangers organization.

Hrivik was 16-24-40 in 56 games for the Wolf Pack this season while also dressing for 16 games with the Rangers.


WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON | PENGUINS SPRING INTO ACTION
The Pittsburgh Penguins stocking up on AHL depth is an annual rite of summer that continued this year.

Pittsburgh signed Hartford Wolf Pack defenceman Chris Summers as well as blue-liner Jarred Tinordi of the Tucson Roadrunners. They also added Zach Trotman, whose season with the Ontario Reign was limited to nine games because of injuries. Forward Greg McKegg arrived from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Summers received a two-year contract while the others joined the organization on one-year contracts.

Summers, 29, was 4-8-12 in 74 games for the Wolf Pack, who finished last overall. Tinordi brings pedigree (a 2010 first-round pick by the Montreal Canadiens) and size (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) to the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton blue line. The 25-year-old was 1-10-11 in 64 games for the Roadrunners while picking up 102 penalty minutes.

Trotman is 26 years old and has prior AHL experience with the Providence Bruins as well.

McKegg, 25, was 2-2-4 in seven AHL games with the Springfield Thunderbirds. He went 3-4-7 in 46 NHL games divided between the Florida Panthers and Tampa Bay as well.


SAN JOSE | BIBEAU FINDS A NEW HOME
Let go by the Toronto Maple Leafs earlier in the week, Antoine Bibeau has resurfaced with the San Jose Barracuda.

The parent San Jose Sharks gave Bibeau, 23, a one-year, two-way contract. The move should create a tandem with Troy Grosenick, the Baz Bastien Memorial Award winner as the AHL’s top goaltender this past season.

Bibeau was 13-14-5-1 | 3.08 | .894 in 32 games this past season for the Toronto Marlies.


CLEVELAND | HELP FOR THE BLUE LINE
The Cleveland Monsters fortified their defence corps, bringing in veteran Andre Benoit and Cameron Gaunce on contracts with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Gaunce, 27, signed a two-year, two-way contract and comes to Ohio from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He was 2-11-3 in 49 games while also getting into 12 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Benoit is 33 years old and returns to North America after one season in the Swedish Hockey League with Malmo (6-18-24). He has won two Calder Cup championships and also played 181 NHL games. His deal is for one season.


PROVIDENCE | MVP AGOSTINO, SZWARZ SIGN

AHL most valuable player Kenny Agostino has signed a one-year, one-way contract with the Boston Bruins.

The 25-year-old Agostino won the award after going 24-59-83 with the Chicago Wolves.

Expect Agostino to spend the season in Boston.

Boston also signed Providence Bruins leading scorer Jordan Szwarz to an NHL deal. Playing on an AHL contract, Szwarz, 26, had 54 points (22-32-54) for the P-Bruins and contributed 6-5-11 in 17 playoff games.


BINGHAMTON | DEVILS ADD TWO VETERANS
Two veterans are on their way to the Binghamton Devils.

The New Jersey Devils’ new AHL affiliate signed forward Bracken Kearns and defenceman Brian Strait. Each player received a one-year, two-way contract.

Kearns is 36 years old, but hit a new AHL career high with a team-leading 23 goals for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. His 51 points also led the team.

Strait spent this past season mainly with the Manitoba Moose. The 29-year-old was 2-12-14 for the Moose while also getting into five games with the Winnipeg Jets. He also has played 187 career NHL games.

Earlier in the day, defenceman Seth Helgeson departed the organization for the New York Islanders.


SYRACUSE | MORE CHANGE
The Calder Cup finalist Syracuse Crunch continue to see their roster change.

The parent Tampa Bay Lightning signed a pair of veteran defencemen in Jamie McBain and Mat Bodie to one-year, two-way contracts.

McBain, 29, brings 384 games of NHL experience and can compensate for the loss of Matt Taormina. He was 8-35-43 with the Tucson Roadrunners.

The 27-year-old Bodie has captained the Hartford Wolf Pack and finished this past season with the Rochester Americans. In all, he was 10-29-39 between Hartford and Rochester.

Tampa Bay also added AHL forward muscle with the addition of San Jose Barracuda forward Alex Gallant. The 24-year-old piled up 126 penalty minutes in 29 games. He signed a one-year, two-way contract.


TEXAS | STARS NAB MCKENNA
Veteran goaltender Mike McKenna has a new home.

After taking the Syracuse Crunch to the Calder Cup Final, the 34-year-old McKenna has landed with the Texas Stars on a one-year, two-way contract. Earlier in the day, the Tampa Bay Lightning had signed Michael Leighton, pushing McKenna out of a job with the Crunch.

McKenna arrived in Syracuse at the NHL Trade Deadline from the Springfield Falcons and went on to secure the number-one job. He finished 14-15-10-1 | 2.84 | .905 in 40 games. In the postseason he went 13-9 | 2.68 | .911.


LEHIGH VALLEY | PHANTOMS GAIN FORWARD HELP
The Lehigh Valley Phantoms are reloading for next season.

The parent Philadelphia Flyers are bringing in veteran playmaking centre Phil Varone on a two-year contract. The Flyers also gave centre Corbin Knight an NHL contract and retained forward Mike Vecchione. Knight and Vecchione will play on two-year deals.

Varone is 26 years old and coming off a 51-point season for the Binghamton Senators. He had 15 goals, a team-leading 36 assists, and finished tied for the Binghamton team lead in points.

Knight, 26, was 11-29-40 for the Phantoms this past season.

Vecchione is 24 and turning pro after four seasons at Union College.

The additions help compensate for the losses of forwards Andy Miele and Mark Zengerle to the Swedish Hockey League.


MANITOBA | HELP ARRIVES
After losing 97 regular-season games in the past two seasons, the Manitoba Moose are retooling.

The parent Winnipeg Jets brought in forward Buddy Robinson from the San Jose Barracuda and Ontario Reign defenceman Cameron Schilling on one-year, two-way contracts. Springfield Thunderbirds forward Michael Sgarbossa signed a one-year, one-way deal, but the Jets have shown a willingness in the past to send players on one-way contracts to the AHL.

Robinson is 25 years old and had 17 goals last season between the Barracuda and Binghamton Senators. He brings size to the Manitoba line-up at 6-foot-6 and 232 pounds.

Schilling is a reliable 28-year-old for the Manitoba blue line. He was 8-18-26 in a season split between the Reign and Rockford IceHogs.

Sgarbossa is 24 years old and was 5-8-13 in 16 AHL games between Springfield and the San Diego Gulls. He also played 38 NHL games, going 2-7-9.


BELLEVILLE | OTTAWA RETOOLS ROSTER
After a last-place finish in the North Division for their AHL affiliate, the Ottawa Senators have gotten down to work.

Ottawa signed forward Ben Sexton and defenceman Erik Burgdoerfer to two-year, two-way contracts. They also brought in goaltender Danny Taylor along with forward Max Reinhart and Tyler Randell on one-year, two-way contracts.

The players are expected to land with the Belleville Senators, Ottawa’s new affiliate.

Sexton, 26, was 19-12-31 with the Albany Devils. The 28-year-old Burgdoerfer had a goal and 16 assists with the Rochester Americans.

Taylor, 31, spent last season in the KHL, where he went 19-6-3 for Novosibirsk and Zagreb, and should solidify Belleville in net.

Reinhart spent this past season in Germany. He had 23 goals for the Milwaukee Admirals in 2015-16. Randell arrives from the Providence Bruins; the 26-year-old gives Belleville a bottom-six heavyweight.


SYRACUSE | CRUNCH RELOAD
Despite losing Byron Froese and Matt Taormina earlier in the day, the Syracuse Crunch are staying busy.

After Michael Leighton signed with the Tampa Bay Lightning, more help arrived.

Tampa Bay signed 29-year-old defender Jamie McBain to a one-year, two-way deal that should cushion the loss of Taormina. McBain was 8-35-43 in 64 games for the Tucson Roadrunners.


BRIDGEPORT | SOUND TIGERS POUNCE
The Bridgeport Sound Tigers could have Seth Helgeson on their blue line.

Helgeson, 26, signed with the New York Islanders. He played 48 games this past season with the Albany Devils (2-7-9). He also played nine games with the New Jersey Devils.

The Islanders also re-signed defenceman Kane LaFranchise, who was 5-16-21 in 67 games for Bridgeport this past season.


MORE FORWARDS MOVE
Several AHL forwards are changing addresses.

Turner Elson, 24, played 13 only games with the San Antonio Rampage because of injuries, going 1-2-3. But he had 14 goals in 2015-16 with the Stockton Heat.

Montreal Canadiens forward Brian Flynn signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Dallas Stars. He was 6-4-10 with the Canadiens this past season and has spent parts of two seasons in the AHL with the Rochester Americans.

San Jose Barracuda forward Buddy Robinson signed a two-way deal with the Winnipeg Jets. He had 17 goals in the AHL this past season.


CHARLOTTE | CHECKERS STRENGTHEN BLUE LINE
The Charlotte Checkers are getting to work on their blue line.

The parent Carolina Hurricanes re-signed defenceman Dennis Robertson to a one-year, two way contract. He will earn $100,000 in the AHL.

The 26-year-old Robertson was 6-10-16 in 65 games with Charlotte this past season.

The Checkers also will have Manitoba Moose defenceman Brenden Kichton on a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $235,000 in the AHL.

Kichton, 25, was 1-22-23 in 63 games this past season.


ROCHESTER | AMERKS STOCK UP
New Buffalo Sabres general manager Jason Botterill was not kidding when he said that rebuilding the Rochester Americans would be an organizational priority.

The Sabres signed Seth Griffith to a one-year contract. Forwards Kevin Porter and Kyle Criscuolo received two-year, two-way contracts. Defenceman Matt Tennyson signed a two-year deal that is two-way this coming season and one-way in 2018-19.

Goaltender Adam Wilcox also joined the organization on a one-year, two-way deal.

Porter, 31, was 11-35-46 with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. He also played two seasons in the Buffalo-Rochester organization earlier in his career.

Criscuolo is a heady 25-year-old from the Calder Cup champion Grand Rapids Griffins. H was 17-24-41 as a rookie.

Griffith, 24, is a proven AHL playmaker. He was 10-34-44 in 38 games with the Toronto Marlies.

Tennyson, 27, played 45 games with the Carolina Hurricanes thi past season and also has played 178 career AHL games with the Carolina and San Jose Sharks organizations.

Wilcox divided his season between the Syracuse Crunch and Springfield Thunderbirds, going 25-13-7 | 2.63 | .906 in 47 games.

Botterill has had a busy week with Rochester. He brought in Randy Sexton from the Pittsburgh Penguins to be his new Amerks general manager. On Friday Botterill hired Wilkes-Barre/Scranton assistant coach Chris Taylor as the Amerks’ new head coach.


CHARLOTTE | CHECKERS NET REPLACEMENT

With Michael Leighton gone, the Charlotte Checkers have his replacement in net.

The Carolina Hurricanes signed AHL veteran Jeremy Smith to a one-year, two-way contract that will pay him $225,000 with the Checkers.

Smith appeared in 10 games for the Colorado Avalanche (1-6-1 | 3.54 | .888)  and 17 games with the San Antonio Rampage (5-8-0-1 | 2.57 | .911).

The signing reunites Smith with new Checkers head coach Mike Vellucci. They were together in the Ontario Hockey League with the Plymouth Whalers.


SYRACUSE | LEIGHTON ARRIVES
The Syracuse Crunch will have veteran experience in net, but it will not be Mike McKenna.

The Tampa Bay Lightning instead turned to Michael Leighton, giving the 36-year-old a one-year, two-way contract.

Leighton will be asked to stabilize the Crunch in net while also mentoring top prospect Connor Ingram, who will turn pro.

Along with four games this past season with the Carolina Hurricanes, Leighton was 11-7-3 | 2.17 | .921 with the Charlotte Checkers.


MORE GOALTENDERS ON THE MOVE
Anders Lindback, Thomas McCollum, and Matt O’Connor will have new homes.

The Calgary Flames traded McCollum to the Detroit Red Wings for a conditional draft pick.

McCollum, 27, was a Detroit first-round pick in 2008. This past season he split time between the Stockton Heat and Charlotte Checkers, going 12-2-1 | 2.10 | .926. He spent seven seasons with the Grand Rapids Griffins earlier in his career.

The Nashville Predators signed Lindback and O’Connor, setting up a new goaltending tandem for the Milwaukee Admirals.

The 29-year-old Lindback returns to the Nashville organization, where he was a 2008 seventh-round pick and went on to play 38 NHL games. He divided this past season between the Ontario Reign and in the Swedish Hockey League with Rogle. He will make $100,000 in the AHL.

O’Connor, 24, struggled with the Binghamton Senators after turning pro as a highly touted NCAA free-agent. In 37 games, he was 14-18-1 | 3.23 | .895. He will earn $75,000 with Milwaukee.

Depending on what happens with the Red Wings’ three-goaltender logjam on the NHL roster, McCollum could be a starting option in Grand Rapids.


LAVAL | ROCKET LAND TAORMINA
Eddie Shore Award winner (AHL’s top defenceman) Matt Taormina is off to the Montreal Canadiens organization, providing the Laval Rocket with another big piece.

The Habs signed the 30-year-old to a two-year, two-year contract. He led all AHL defencemen in points (15-45-60) and added 20 points (5-15-20) in 22 playoff games in Syracuse’s run to the Calder Cup Final.


BRIDGEPORT-SYRACUSE | GUDLEVSKIS TRADED
Syracuse Crunch goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis is on his way to the New York Islanders.

The parent Tampa Bay Lightning traded the 24-year-old to the Islanders for forward Carter Verhaeghe.

Gudlevskis 15-10-7-4 | 2.65 |.897 lost his number-one job in Syracuse and saw only one game in the postseason.

Verhaeghe, 21, was 16-13-29 in 45 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers while also spending time in the ECHL.


IOWA | SIX SIGNED
The Iowa Wild have burst through the way into the first day of free-agency.

The parent Minnesota Wild have signed a pair of top-end AHL forwards in Landon Ferraro and Cal O’Reilly, top-tier defenceman Alex Grant, veteran goaltender Niklas Svedberg, and the still-young Ryan Murphy, another blue-liner.

Later in the afternoon, Minnesota added Springfield forward Kyle Rau.

O’Reilly, 30, split the season between Rochester and the Toronto Marlies, going 9-41-50 in 62 regular-season games.

Ferraro, 25, had an injury-plagued season with the Chicago Wolves and was 7-8-15 in 22 games. He twice has had 24 or more goals in a season at the AHL level.

Grant, 28, ranked second among AHL defencemen with 17 goals for the Providence. He finished with 49 points and brings strong leadership qualities.

Svedberg is 27 and has spent the past three seasons in the KHL with Ufa. Before that he had a three-season AHL run with Providence.

Murphy, 24, divided this past season between Carolina and Charlotte. The Hurricanes chose him 12th overall in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Rau, 24, was 10-14-24 in 48 games with the Thunderbirds while also dressing for 24 games with Florida.

Ferraro, Grant, and O’Reilly qualify as veterans under the AHL’s development rule.


LAVAL | FROESE, HOLLAND TO MONTREAL
The Laval Rocket are off to a fast start.

The new AHL home of the Montreal Canadiens could have high-end forwards in Byron Froese and Peter Holland. Each player is 26 years old signed a two-year deal that will be two-way this coming season.

Froese was 27-19-46 in 54 AHL games divided between the Toronto Marlies and Syracuse. He was 6-7-13 in 22 playoff games as the Crunch were a Calder Cup finalist.

Holland divided this season between Arizona and the Toronto Maple Leafs. He twice has had 19 or more goals in an AHL season.


ROCKFORD | ICEHOGS LAND BERUBE, OESTERLE
Help is on the way for the Rockford IceHogs.

After finishing 27th in the AHL this past season, the Chicago Blackhawks are getting to work on rebuilding their AHL affiliate.

Chicago signed Bakersfield Condors defenceman Jordan Oesterle and added veteran goaltender Jean-Francois Berube on two-year contracts. Each player is 25 years old.

Oesterle is a left-shot and was 7-25-32 with the Condors while also playing two games for Edmonton.

Berube has spent most of the past two seasons in the New York Islanders organization. In 2014-15 in the Los Angeles Kings organization, he was a Calder Cup champion and went 37-9-6 in the regular season and 13-3 in the playoffs. Last season with the Islanders he went 3-3-2 | 3.42 | .889.


WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON | WILSON RE-SIGNS
Forward Garrett Wilson re-signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins on a two-year, two-way contract.

The 26-year-old had to contend with injury problems this past season, but he still managed 11-20-31 in 59 regular-season games and a pair of assists in five playoff games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

He falls under the “exempt” category (320 or fewer professional games in the NHL, AHL, and/or top European leagues).


TORONTO | SPARKS STAYS
Toronto Marlies goaltender Garret Sparks will remain in the organization after signing a two-year contract.

The 24-year-old was 21-9-0 | 2.16 |. 922 in 31 regular-season games for the Marlies. He appeared in two playoff games before an injury ended his season.

Earlier this week the Maple Leafs did not qualify goaltender Antoine Bibeau.