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Hockey Update: 03/19/2020

It’s been a while, hockey’s still gone, but that isn’t stopping news from breaking around the sport. Here, I’ll do my best to cover news from around the hockey world. Here’s today’s Hockey Update.

Zaitsev Rumoured To Be Sens Player With COVID-19

Igor Eronko revealed that the belief in Russia is that Senators defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is the unknown Sens player with COVID-19. Right now, this appears to be pure speculation. Zaitsev and Artem Anisimov are the only Russian players on the Ottawa Senators, so it could be media from there speculating about a prominent player from the country.

This would be another unfortunate event in what’s been a rough year for Zaitsev. Earlier in the season, it was rumoured that he had kidnapped his own kids. He’d also been traded after requesting a move from the Toronto Maple Leafs, in part due to fans/media.

Canucks Land Top NCAA FA, Sign Prospect

The Vancouver Canucks announced that they had signed Marc Michaelis and Will Lockwood to ELCs.

Michaelis tied for 3rd in NCAA points scored league-wide this season and had the 2nd most points per game. The 24-year-old has been a star at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He earned the captaincy during his final two seasons there. The 2019-20 WCHA Offensive Player of the Year garnered high praise from GM Jim Benning, who said “He’s a good skater, buys time with the puck, has good vision on the ice, makes others around him better and he has good attention to detail. We think he can develop into a penalty-killer for us. I’m excited about him.” He signed his one-year ELC and will likely start the season with the Utica Comets of the AHL.

William Lockwood was Vancouver’s 64th overall pick in 2016. The 21-year-old has struggled with shoulder injuries throughout his career with the University of Michigan, but has put up great offense throughout his career, finishing second on his team for 3 out of 4 years played (the 4th greatly shortened by injury). Lockwood isn’t all scoring though, the winger is known to be a very solid two-way winger. He captained Michigan to tie for 3rd place in the Big 10. Lockwood will likely begin his two-year ELC with the Utica Comets, as he avoids becoming a free agent.

Benning also mentioned that they went hard after Michaelis and another player, who is expected to make their decision soon enough. Something to look out for.

CHL Playoffs Still Being Discussed

On Elliotte Friedman’s 31 Thoughts, he spoke with Sam Cosentino (SN Draft Analyst) about the Memorial Cup. Cosentino mentioned that it would have to happen BEFORE the NHL Draft. He also says it hangs on government regulations in Kelowna, where the Cup will take place.

If the NHL Draft gets postponed, then it gives the league a lot more time to organize the event. However, as it is right now, it seems unlikely that the Memorial Cup will take place as is.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Former Top NCAA Signing Will Stay In KHL

Former coveted NCAA signing Spencer Foo revealed in Friedman’s 31 Thoughts (I’m a fan okay!) that he plans on staying with the Kunlun Red Star of the KHL. Foo had two promising seasons with the Flames organization, where he had two 30 point seasons in the AHL and scored 2 goals in 4 games with the Flames. One of his main reasons for going to the KHL was to be able to play in the Olympics in 2022, and that’s still the plan. Calgary still holds his rights until his 27th birthday, which will be May 2021.

I think this shows two things. It’s an important message for teams currently in the hunt for NCAA FAs, but also, it shows one of the losses the NHL will suffer by not going to the Olympics.

Nashville Signs Smith

The Nashville Predators have signed Cole Smith out of the University of North Dakota. Yesterday it was reported that he was expected to sign his ELC soon enough, and he has. Here’s what I said about him yesterday.

“Cole Smith has been solid throughout his NCAA career as well. The forward has put up 10 points three times in four years and got to a career-high of 18 this year. Smith isn’t exactly known for his scoring, however. He won the Cliff “Fido” Purpur Award for showing hard work, determination and being a creator of excitement on the ice. He was named an alternate/co-captain this season and won UND’s “Iron Man competition” for the 3rd time in 4 years. The competition is based on fitness testing.”

Smith is known for being a tough player who also provides offense. He’ll begin his one-year ELC with the Milwaukee Admirals of the AHL. The 24-year-old is an interesting long-term project for the team.

Coyotes Sign McGregor

The Arizona Coyotes signed Ryan McGregor of the Sarnia Sting. McGregor was picked by the Toronto Maple Leafs as the 172nd overall pick in 2017. He impressed during his time in Sarnia. The late-bloomer impressed in his 4th season, first as captain, with 77 points in 68 games. His 4 game stint with the Marlies was scoreless, but he looked promising. The Leafs not signing McGregor came as a shock to some, but he went on to play his overage season as his second year as captain in Sarnia. McGregor is strong defensively. If he can translate his offense and defense to the pros, he’ll be a very good bottom-six option. He’ll likely start the season off with the Tuscon Roadrunners of the AHL.

Augsburger Panthers Release 4

The Augsburger Panthers of the DEL will not resign four players, including former NHLers Mitch Callahan and Scott Kosmachuk.

Mitch Callahan was drafted by the Red Wings in 2009, 180th overall. He spent 6 years with the organization, spending most of his time with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL. He also appeared in 5 scoreless games with the Wings. The two-time Calder Cup champion has been a productive AHLer, with 229 points in 471 games. That offense didn’t carry over to his first season in the DEL, where he scored 5 points in 25 games. The 28-year-old could look into a return to the AHL.

Scott Kosmachuk was drafted 70th overall in 2012 by the Winnipeg Jets. Kosmachuk spent three years in the Jets system, spending most of his time with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL. He appeared in 8 games with the Jets, scoring 3 points. The winger was productive in the AHL, scoring 157 points in 319 games before departing for the DEL Panthers. Kosmachuk was actually productive with the club, with 25 points in 35 games, good for 6th on the team.

The other two players released were Samir Gill and Daniel Schmölz. Gill spent time in the Penguins system between the AHL and ECHL, before breaking out with the Rochester Americans. He scored 39 points in 74 games. He’s spent the last two seasons with the Panthers, with point totals of 20 and 19 respectively. Daniel Schmölz has been a decent DELer for the last 8 seasons. He’s totalled up 114 points in 296 games. The 28-year-old German will likely sign with another DEL team.

Iserlohn Roosters Release 6

The DEL Iserlohn Roosters will not sign 6 players.

Anthony Peters was Tristan Jarry’s backup last year, with the AHL Penguins. He put up a .909 SV% as the Roosters’ 1B. Chris Rumble is another AHL alumni. The Former Binghamton Senator has been in Germany for three seasons. He placed 5th in points on the team and has put up 64 points in 144 DEL games so far. Jamie McQueen spent 62 games in the AHL, so you may know him better for his play in the DEL. After lighting up DEL2 hockey, he’s put up 127 points in 190 games. He wasn’t able to find the 19 points in 11 games offense he had in Schwenninger, but still put up 15 points in 24 games.

You might recognize the name Alex Petan. The older brother of the Leafs’ Nic Petan played parts of two seasons in the AHL/ECHL before signing in Italy. After two seasons in Bolzano, the 27-year-old joined Iserlohn. He might be the biggest loss for the Roosters here, as he finished the season tied for 2nd in team scoring.

They also lost DEL veterans Daniel Weiß and Alexei Dmitriev, who have 1000+ DEL games between them.

 Tony Ding/Icon SMI

HV71 Let Go Of 4

SHL club HV71 will not sign 4 players, including former NHLer Joakim Andersson.

The former Detroit Red Wings pick spent parts of 7 seasons with the organization. He spent 208 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins, where he was productive, scoring 106 points. He also played 205 games with the Red Wings, where he was used as more of a checking/penalty-killer centre. The 31-year-old has spent the last three seasons in the SHL, and put up 16 points in 49 games.

They also lost former AHLer Markus Lauridsen. Lauridsen finished 5th in points scored team-wise this season from the blue line. The 29-year-old took a huge step offensively this season, far from his 8 points scored last season. He’ll be a tough loss for the team.

They also lose alternate captain Christoffer Persson. The 34-year-old two-time SHL champion has over 350 games under his belt. The stay-at-home defenseman was loaned out to Liiga, the first time he’s played pro for a team outside of Sweden.

Nils Andersson will also sign elsewhere. The 28-year-old is a skilled offensive defenseman, but was unable to find his offensive touch from years past. He still did well in limited games played, with 14 points in 27 games.

Two EIHL Players Retire

Two EIHL players have announced their retirements.

Former NHLer Sean Bentivoglio announced his retirement after 9 seasons starring in Italy and the EIHL. Earlier in his career, he did very well in the AHL, with 123 points in 241 games. He also appeared in a game with the New York Islanders. The 34-year-old leaves the game with a trophy case full of awards from his time in Italy and Wales.

Linden Springer established himself as a fan-favourite in Manchester. The 25-year-old spent two seasons with the Storm before signing in Glasgow. He wowed with his tough, fight-filled performances. He totalled 437 PIM in three seasons.

I think that’s it for today! Let me know if I missed something!

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