College Hockey

Your Hockey Update: 05/18/2020

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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. After a long break, here’s today’s Hockey Update.

NHL Looking At Ways to Come Back

The NHL is still looking at ways to come back. One idea floated has been a 24-team format, but it looks like everything is just that, an idea, for now.

AHL Cancels Season

The American Hockey League has cancelled its season. This comes as no surprise, as the NHL and the AHL were the only major hockey leagues that had yet to cancel their season. There isn’t as much incentive for the league to return. The logistics of a potential return are likely too complex, they’re better off just moving on to next season. This decision doesn’t affect the NHL’s call, as they do have the incentive to keep working towards continuing their season.

NWHL Expands To Toronto

The NWHL has announced that it is expanding to Toronto. I penned a more detailed article about it here if you’re interested. The team name hasn’t been decided, and, currently, the venue hasn’t been announced. They’ve already announced 5 signings, all from the PWHPA, you can read more about them in the article linked above.

Canucks Sign Hoglander

The Vancouver Canucks have signed Nils Hoglander to an ELC. The 2019 40th overall pick dazzled at the WJC and during his SHL season with Rogle BK. Showcasing his world-class skill and offensive play, he was a human highlight reel and made a name for himself when his multiple lacrosse-style goals went viral.

Hoglander looks to make the Canucks roster, but if not, he’ll likely spend another season with Rogle BK.

Habs Sign Romanov

After much anticipation, the Montreal Canadiens have signed top prospect Alexander Romanov to an ELC. Romanov is known as a skilled, physical defenseman. He impressed in limited minutes in the KHL and helped Russia to silver at the WJC this year. Romanov will be a key piece in Montreal for years to come.

Leafs Land Lehtonen

After a weekend of heavy pursuit from suitors, the Toronto Maple Leafs landed Mikko Lehtonen out of the KHL. I wrote a more detailed article about it here, I recommend checking it out if you want to know more about him and what the move means for the Leafs.

Knights Land Dugan

The Las Vegas Golden Knights have landed top NCAA FA Jack Dugan out of Providence College. After a successful freshman campaign, Dugan absolutely lit up the NCAA, with 52 points in 34 games as a sophomore. He had the most points and assists in the NCAA and was named a Hobey Baker Finalist. The 22-year-old will look to carry his success over to the pros.

Flames Sign Pettersen

The Calgary Flames have signed their 2018 6th round pick, Mathias Emilio Pettersen, to an ELC. Pettersen, dubbed the “Norwegian Gretzky” as a highlight-reel child, has been described as a boom or bust prospect. Well, luckily for the Flames, it looks like he’s boomed. In two seasons with the University of Denver, he’s impressed. In his freshman year, he finished second in team scoring. This year, with 35 points in 36 games, he led the team in scoring. It’s not often you see a 20-year-old late-round pick get signed early, and, originally, the Flames planned on letting him stay for at least another year. However, it’s clear to both parties that he’s ready for the pros, and he’ll likely spend the season with the Stockton Heat of the AHL.

Ales Hemsky Retires

Ales Hemsky has officially announced his retirement after 15 NHL seasons. Hemsky played his best hockey with the Edmonton Oilers, scoring 477 points in 11 years with the team. He also spent time in Ottawa before joining the Dallas Stars. In Dallas, Hemsky was unable to find the offensive touch he once had and struggled with injury by his final season there. He attempted a return the next season with Montreal but played 7 scoreless games before being shut down due to concussion issues. Hemsky hasn’t played in about two years. He leaves the game with an All-Star appearance, World Championships Gold and Bronze, and Olympic Bronze, as well as continuing to be a household name for many in Edmonton.

Leafs Re-Sign Brooks

The Toronto Maple Leafs re-signed Adam Brooks to a two-year deal. I wrote an article about it here, taking a look at the move, what it means, and what’s next.

Oilers Ink Haas, Lennstrom

The Edmonton Oilers have re-signed Gaetan Haas and signed SHL FA Theodor Lennstrom.

Haas was signed out of Bern of the NLA last season. He impressed in a bottom-six role, putting up 10 points in 58 games. He’s a smart, two-way centre, who’s also been a steady playmaker. The Oilers are banking on the 28-year-old to get his offensive game used to the NHL level, as he tries improving on last year’s 10 points. His contract is for one year, one way, and carries a cap hit/salary of $915k

Theodor Lennstrom is a solid signing by the Oilers. The 25-year-old is known for being a steady offensive presence from the blue line. He’s scored 15 points or more in each of his last three SHL seasons, totalling 49 points in 151 SHL games. He won’t immediately make an impact with the big club, it’s likely that he at least starts out with the Bakersfield Condors of the AHL. His ELC is for $925k for one year, and he expires as an RFA.

Photo by Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty Images

Zub Leaves SKA St. Petersburg, Signs With Senators

SKA St. Petersburg has made it official, Artyom Zub will leave the club. Hailey Salvian of The Athletic, first reported that Zub has already verbally committed to the Ottawa Senators.

On May 1st, the Senators made it official, Zub has signed his one-year ELC with the team. It’s expected to be a $925k deal with a European Assignment Clause (if sent to the AHL he can opt to leave for Europe).

Zub is very solid on the defensive end, but he’s also been able to improve his offensive game, scoring 22 points in 57 games. The Senators’ heavy pursuit of him suggests that he’s likely to secure a full-time role on the Sens’ blue line.

Maccelli Signs ELC With Arizona

Matias Maccelli has signed his ELC with the Arizona Coyotes. The 2019 98th overall pick absolutely broke out this season, torching any expectations. In his first Liiga season, Maccelli led all U20 Liiga players with 30 points in 43 games, and he did this:

Maccelli is known for being a talented offensive winger, which is what got him Liiga’s Rookie of the Year. It’s clear that he can take the next step, and he’s expected to spend most of the season with the Tucson Roadrunners of the AHL.

Sharks Land Melnichuk

The San Jose Sharks signed highly-sought KHL FA Alexei Melnichuk to a two-year ELC. The 21-year-old absolutely broke out this season, putting up a .930 SV% in his rookie KHL season, playing 16 games. He was splitting time with Alexander Samsonov and Magnus Hellberg on one of the most stacked teams in the league in SKA St. Petersburg. He’ll likely start the season in the AHL with the San Jose Barracuda, but he isn’t far off from competing for a full-time NHL role.

Sharks Sign Händemark

The San Jose Sharks have signed Fredrik Händemark out of Malmo of the SHL. The 26-year-old impressed in the SHL this season, leading his team in points with 38 in 52 games. The 6’4 centre will likely compete for the 3rd or 4th line centre role. The Sharks have a number of young candidates set to compete for the spots, but San Jose brought Händemark in to play in the NHL, and he’ll likely give the prospects time to develop more in the AHL.

Rocket Sign Hawel

The Laval Rocket of the AHL have signed Liam Hawel out of Kitchener of the OHL. Hawel was drafted by the Dallas Stars in the 4th round in 2017 but failed to earn an ELC. He impressed during his D+2 season, with 78 points in 66 games. The 21-year-old followed that up with 71 points in 54 games. The 6’5 centre can skate well and has proven to be a solid scorer and playmaker. He’ll likely try and compete for a spot in the AHL but will likely see time in the ECHL.

Hockey Update
(AP Photo/Winslow Townson)

Rangers Sign Wall

The New York Rangers have signed their 2016 174th overall pick, Tyler Wall, to an ELC. Wall impressed with the University of Massachusetts – Lowell, taking a starting role for most of his 4-year NCAA career. During his senior year, he tied for 10th in SV% among NCAA goaltenders. The 22-year-old will look to compete for an AHL role and is another promising young goalie for the Rangers.

Habs Sign Hillis

The Montreal Canadiens have signed Cameron Hillis to an ELC. Hillis was the Habs’ 66th overall selection in 2018. After a disappointing, injury-riddled campaign in his D+1 year, Hillis went off for 83 points in 62 games. Hillis is known as a hard-working playmaker, and he’ll look to put it on display with Laval of the AHL.

Flyers Sign Sandin

The Philadelphia Flyers have signed Linus Sandin out of the SHL. Sandin has been described as a skilled, hard-working winger. He was a key offensive piece for HV71, leading the team in goals and finishing 2nd in points. The 23-year-old brother of Rasmus Sandin will likely start the season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. His ELC is for one year and he will be an RFA once it expires.

Detroit Inks Brome

The Detroit Red Wings have inked Mathias Brome out of the SHL. Paul McPherson wrote an article about it here, I recommend checking that out.

Joel Ward Retires

Joel Ward announced his retirement, penning an article for The Players’ Tribune. Ward beat all the odds just appearing in an NHL game, coming off of a solid 4-year career with the University of Prince Edward Island. Ward didn’t just appear in one game, as he details in the article he wrote, he played 726 of them. He scored 133 goals and 171 assists, giving him 304 points during his career, along with 209 AHL games. Ward made a name for himself as a physical presence who could chip in offensively. He appeared with the Minnesota Wild, Nashville Predators, Washington Capitals, and San Jose Sharks during his NHL career, and had a PTO towards the end of his career with the Montreal Canadiens.

Wings Sign Brattstrom

The Detroit Red Wings have signed their 2018 6th rounder, Victor Brattstrom, to an ELC. Brattstrom finished 3rd among U24 goalies in Allsvenskan, posting a .914 SV%

Brattstrom recently signed with KooKoo of Liiga and is expected to be loaned to the club. The 6’5 goaltender is looking to succeed after taking the next step.

Lightning Sign Semykin

The Tampa Bay Lightning have signed their 2018 3rd round selection, Dmitri Semykin, to an ELC. Semykin is known as a strong defensive defenseman. He’s able to use his 6’2 frame effectively and showed improvement in his offensive game in the MHL this season. The Lightning could loan him back to Russia, but it’s possible that he gets a look in the AHL sooner or later.

AHL Penguins Sign Sweezey

The Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins have signed Billy Sweezey out of Yale University. On the scoresheet, Sweezy doesn’t stand out. He had a total of 29 points during his 4-year NCAA career. However, he definitely stands out on the ice. The 6’2 defenseman is known for being a hard-hitting defensive defenseman. He’s also notably a great student, as he was Yale’s ECAC Hockey Student-Athlete of the Year candidate. The 24-year-old is a very solid signing by the Penguins, and he’ll likely split the season between the Wheeling Nailers of the ECHL and the AHL Pens.

Reign Sign Halloran

The Ontario Reign have signed Nicholas Halloran out of Colorado College. Halloran impressed during his time in Colorado. He broke out in his sophomore year, putting up 45 points in 39 games, leading the team in points. After a junior year that saw him undergo hip surgery, Halloran bounced back to score 30 points in 33 games in his senior year. Halloran is known as a speedy forward who uses his speed to create offense. He’ll likely reunite with former linemate Mason Bergh as he splits time between the AHL and ECHL.

Barracuda Sign Topping

The San Jose Barracuda have inked Kyle Topping out of Kelowna of the WHL. Topping is known as a smart two-way forward who is a great playmaker. He was projected by some to be drafted in 2018 but has kept up his solid production while undrafted. He’ll look to carry over his game to the pros next season.

Monsters Sign Struthers

The Cleveland Monsters have signed Matthew Struthers from Owen Sound of the OHL. The forward was projected to be drafted in 2018. After going undrafted, he went off for 81 points in 61 games, appearing on an ATO with the Laval Rocket after his season ended. His 59 points in 62 games may be alarming, but Cleveland is banking on Struthers to find the success he had in his D+1 year.

Franco Signs With Americans

The Rochester Americans have signed Dominic Franco out of the U.S. Military Academy. Franco has been a key player for the NCAA Army team, he led the team in points during his sophomore and senior seasons and led the team in goals during his junior season. The signing is also one of the first after an important rule change for the program. Before, players from USMA had to fulfil their military requirement after graduating, but the change allows for players like Franco to pursue a professional career first and then fulfil his requirement. Pretty interesting.

Hockey Update
(Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP)

Helewka Signs In Cleveland

Former Sharks draftee/prospect Adam Helewka will make his return to North America next season after a stint in Europe, with the Cleveland Monsters. After starring in junior, the 2015 fourth-round pick scored 118 points in 189 games over parts of 4 seasons, also appearing in two ECHL games. Then, he signed in the KHL with Barys Nur-Sultan. After scoring 3 points in 8 games, Helewka moved on to Sweden, with Linköping HC. He finished with 6 goals and 10 assists for 16 points in 38 games as a key producer. The 24-year-old, who turns 25 in July, uses his 6’2 frame effectively and thrives in the AHL. He won’t count against the AHL veteran limit for most of the season and is a nice addition for the Monsters.

Eagles Sign Jones

The Colorado Eagles have signed Peyton Jones out of Penn State University. The 24-year-old leaves the program as the leader in NCAA wins, games played, saves, assists, and shutouts. He’ll likely start the season with the Utah Grizzlies of the ECHL.

Nilsson Leaves Chicago

Chicago Blackhawks prospect Jacob Nilsson has signed in the SHL, with Färjestad BK. Nilsson was signed in 2018 as a 24-year-old after a solid debut season in the SHL with Mora IK. In his first season, Nilsson impressed, with the forward’s 32 points in 61 games earning him a call-up to Chicago, going scoreless in two games.

In his 2nd season, Nilsson had hopes of making the Blackhawks roster but didn’t appear in a game, scoring 21 points in 62 games. The speedy 26-year-old reunites with Victor Ejdsell, a former teammate that left for Farjestad last season.

Nilsson’s contract is for two seasons. The Blackhawks will lose his rights in October when he turns 27 years old.

Redmond Signs in Germany

EHC München of the DEL has announced that they’ve signed Zach Redmond from the Rochester Americans. Redmond excelled in the AHL. The 31-year-old defenseman is a two-time AHL All-Star, the 2019 recipient of the Eddie Shore Award for best AHL defenseman and was named to the 2019 AHL First All-Star Team and 2018 AHL Second All-Star Team. The former Atlanta Thrashers draftee has put up 227 points in 373 AHL games in parts of 9 seasons. He’s also put up 38 points in 133 NHL games, split between the Winnipeg Jets, Colorado Avalanche, Montreal Canadiens, and Buffalo Sabres. He’ll look to carry his AHL success to the DEL.

Three Leave Växjö Lakers HC

Växjö Lakers HC has announced that three players will leave the club.

Casey Bailey is a familiar name to many. Bailey was signed out of college by the Toronto Maple Leafs, impressing with the Marlies. Midway through his first season with the Marlies, he was traded to Ottawa in the Dion Phaneuf trade. Bailey impressed in the AHL with the Senators, and appeared in 7 games with the big club, going pointless. He spent the next season with Bridgeport of the AHL, scoring 41 points in 76 games. After a stint in the KHL that didn’t see his offensive prowess carry over, he started the season in the ECHL.

His 9 points in 11 games in South Carolina, as well as 3 points in 5 games on a PTO in Charlotte, landed him a role with the Lakers. Bailey was a key producer during his time in Vaxjo, tying for 7th in goals scored, scoring 11 points in 28 games. The former AHL All-Star could look at a return to the league, where he’s scored 120 points in 211 games.

Jacob Micflikier has been a productive journeyman throughout his career. The 35-year-old has played for 14 teams during his 14-year pro career. He starred in both the AHL and ECHL before moving on to Europe. He’s scored 153 points in 192 games in the NLA, 89 points in 124 games in the SHL, and has had a stint in the KHL. Unfortunately, his SHL success didn’t exactly carry over to his time in Vaxjo. The 5’8 winger scored 9 points in 18 games with the Lakers, but he looks to rebound where he lands next.

Niclas Lundgren was a mid-season acquisition for the Lakers. The 30-year-old made his return to the club after spending time there between 2012 and 2016. He’s known as a defensive defenseman and has done well in that role during his 388-game SHL career.

Ruzicka Leaves HC Sparta Praha

Czech league star Vladimir Ruzicka will leave HC Sparta Praha. The 31-year-old son of the former Bruins star of the same name was in his second stint with the club, playing there for most of the start of his career. The former Coyotes pick has totalled 281 points in 539 games in the Czech league and is a tough loss for the club.

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

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Spencer White is an Editor of Hockey at Overtime Heroics. He writes about hockey, covering the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Marlies, Newfoundland Growlers, and the Toronto Six. You can find him on Twitter at @FreeNylander, @MagicianMarner, and @LeafsMoves.