Your Hockey Update: 03/23/2020
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. After a day off, here’s today’s Hockey Update.
Memorial Cup CANCELLED
The CHL announced today that the Memorial Cup, as well as all CHL playoffs, have been cancelled.
Ultimately, there was no way to get the event to run smoothly and safely. This will officially end the CHL season, as all three leagues cancelled their regular season. It doesn’t appear that Kelowna, the would-be host of this year’s Memorial Cup, will be guaranteed that they’ll host the next time a WHL city hosts it, 2023.
This could potentially influence how the AHL, and maybe even the NHL, go about handling the rest of their seasons. The two leagues have not yet cancelled their season.
Wild Lock Down Two Prospects
The Minnesota Wild have signed Adam Beckman and Damien Giroux to ELCs.
Beckman, the Wild’s 3rd round pick last year, led the entire WHL in scoring during his D+1 year, with 107 points in 67 games. He’s still 18. Beckman will likely spend at least another year with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL before the Wild think about trying him in the NHL. It’ll be interesting to see how he improves during his D+2 year. His ELC spans three years.
Damien Giroux was the Wild’s 5th round pick in 2018. He’s taken a huge step since being drafted, taking on a leadership position as an alternate captain during his second year, and wearing the ‘C’ during his third and fourth. Giroux put up 75 points in 61 games during his final OHL season. He’s not just known for offense, however. He’s considered a two-way player. He’ll likely begin his three-year ELC with the Iowa Wild of the AHL.
Sabres Sign DiPietro
The Buffalo Sabres have signed Dawson DiPietro out of Western Michigan University. Although he only appeared in a single game during his freshman year, he excelled during his sophomore year. He led the team in scoring, with 35 points in 36 games. His offensive production has dipped since, however. He’s put up totals of 23 and 29 points in the seasons since, the latter landing him second on the team. DiPietro is known as a speedy, high energy player. The 24-year-old will likely begin his one-year ELC in Rochester, with the Americans.
Flyers Sign Laczynski
The Philadelphia Flyers have signed their 2016 6th round pick, Tanner Laczynski. The centre has had a very successful NCAA career, leaving OSU with 143 points. His best season was his sophomore season. His 47 points in 41 games landed him third among U21 NCAA players. The Ohio State University alternate captain also has a WJC U20 Gold Medal to his name. Signing his ELC means they avoid Laczynski hitting FA in August. He’ll likely try carrying his NCAA scoring to the AHL, in Lehigh Valley.
Griffins Sign Humitz, Dello
The Grand Rapids Griffins of the AHL have signed Max Humitz. Humitz enjoyed a successful NCAA career, capping his final season off as captain of Lake Superior State University, leading the team with 35 points in 41 games. The 24-year-old will try carrying his NCAA scoring to the AHL, and might see some time in the ECHL.
They also signed Tory Dello. Dello is familiar with the club, he joined the team on an ATO late this season, appearing in a game. The 23-year-old defenseman will likely split the season between the AHL and ECHL.
Predators Re-Sign Ingram
The Nashville Predators have re-signed prospect Connor Ingram to a three-year deal. The 22-year-old has been very promising in the AHL with the Admirals and could expect to appear in NHL games as the Preds’ 3rd stringer. He notably left Tampa due to internal issues, but that doesn’t appear to have followed him to the Predators organization.
Eagles Sign Burke
The Colorado Eagles have signed Callahan Burke from the University of Notre Dame. The 23-year-old finished his NCAA career as the captain of Notre Dame, a year removed from wearing the ‘A’. His offense took a dip during his final season, with his 21 points in 37 games being far off his 30 points in 36 games the year prior. The two-time Big Ten champion and former Big Ten Sportsmanship Award winner will look to bounce back in the AHL. He could also see some ECHL time.
Admirals Re-Sign Donovan
The Milwaukee Admirals have re-signed Matt Donovan for two seasons. The 29-year-old defenseman has been a key Admiral for the past two seasons and will stick around for more. The veteran of 69 NHL games was previously on an NHL deal with the Preds. He could earn a letter on his jersey soon enough.
HPK Signs Six
Finnish club HPK has announced that they’ve signed six players.
This includes Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Eemeli Rasanen. I’m really excited about this. Rasanen has spent the last two years getting minimal ice time against tough competition with Jokerit of the KHL. He found himself getting loaned out to Kiekko-Vantaa of the Finnish 2nd tier league and even spent time in Denmark. Rasanen had his KHL contract terminated earlier this month. He was expected to appear in action with the Toronto Marlies. However, Leafs fans will have to wait to see more of Rasanen in North America, likely until his Liiga season ends.
The 21-year-old will finally be able to show his skill and be able to develop in a league that’s not only close to home, but also right for him in terms of competition. His contract is listed as 1+1. While I’m not clear on what that means, I’m assuming it refers to 20/21 with an option for another year. The HPK site says (something along the lines of) this: “His goal is the NHL, and we want to provide an opportunity to pursue it by developing at HPK.” My thoughts? LET’S GO!
Ville Koistinen is a nice veteran addition to the team. After three full pro seasons in Liiga, Koistinen was signed by the Nashville Predators in 2006. The defenseman had a successful season with the AHL Admirals. He went on to appear as a depth defenseman in Nashville for the next two seasons, appearing in 86 games and scoring 28 points. He later signed in Florida, on a two-year, $2.4 million contract. His stay there was short, as summarized in this article. He was bought out and left for Europe. Since then, he’s played for seven clubs in 10 seasons, appearing in six different leagues. He’s known for his offensive prowess on the blue line and should be a solid veteran addition in his return to the Finnish league.
Jesse Mankinen is another great addition to the club. The 28-year-old is a Liiga veteran, with over 500 games under his belt. In that span, the forward has 250 points. Mankinen is expected to take a main role with the club. His contract spans two years, with an option in the second year to sign in another league.
Harri Kainulainen returns after a year away from the organization. The 24-year-old forward had struggled offensively during parts of four seasons in Liiga with HPK. He took a year off to light up Mestis (Finnish 2nd tier league) and finished 2nd league-wide in points, with 55. Kainulainen’s contract starts with a tryout, as he proves that his offense will translate to Liiga.
The club inked Daniel Mäkiaho to a three-year deal. Mäkiaho is an 18-year-old prospect who finished 16th in scoring in Finland’s top junior league. After his successful campaign, he’s likely to be loaned to HPK’s U20 team.
They also signed 17-year-old Aleksi Seppälä to a U20 contract.
Luleå HF Sign Three
SHL club Luleå HF have signed three players.
Linus Klasen brings veteran offense to the team. The 34-year-old has spent the last six seasons in the NLA, where he’s scored 251 points in 265 games. He’s also succeeded in the SHL, where he has 195 points in 257 games. He makes his return to the club after spending his last SHL season there. He led the team in points… by 24 points. He excelled in his only AHL season and played 4 scoreless games with the Nashville Predators. He’ll spend the next two seasons back with the club.
Eddie Larsson is known as a sound two-way defenseman, and he’s shown that in his 9 seasons in the SHL. He has 61 points in 347 SHL games. The former SHL Champion hasn’t played in a league based outside of Sweden yet. That doesn’t look like it’ll change during his two-year deal.
The club also signed Bruins prospect Victor Berglund. Berglund impressed during his time with MODO. He’ll look to make his SHL debut with Luleå HF. The 20-year-old has shown Bruins fans a glimpse in the AHL. He played four games on a PTO last season and was likely set to do the same this season, before the “pause”.
Jukurit Signs Six, Release Two
Liiga club Jukurit appear to be starting a youth movement, as they sign six players, most under the age of 25.
The veteran of the group is Anssi Löfman. The Liiga veteran has over 500 games under his belt in the league, scoring 227 points. The forward has been SaiPa’s alternate captain for 5 seasons (divided into two stints) and will likely bring a scoring and veteran presence to the club.
Mikael Saha has almost 200 Liiga games under his belt at 25. The two-way forward spent the last year playing in the Finnish 2nd tier league, as he looks to make his return to the main league. He’ll get that opportunity during his 2-year deal, with an option for a 3rd.
Atte Mäkinen is known as a stay-at-home defenseman. At 24, he has over 200 games between Liiga and Mestis. His offensive side showed during his time with Rouen, in France. His contract is 1 year with an option for another. He’ll look to show that those two seasons in France boosted his development.
Teemu Pulkkinen (not the NHLer) returns to Finland after 5 seasons in the US. The 25-year-old was an offensive star during his time in Finnish junior leagues, but has developed into a sound two-way player. He’ll look to translate that to the pros during his two-year deal.
Otto Mäkinen took a HUGE step offensively in his second year outside of Tappara. The 21-year-old took his production of 20 points in 48 Mestis games and absolutely destroyed it, scoring 48 in 48 games. He finished 7th league-wide in points, first among U22 players. Mäkinen, who played a game with the club on loan a few seasons ago, will try taking his game to the next level in Liiga.
Kristian Afanasyev struggled with offense a bit for the first few seasons of his pro career, but after a strong VHL showing, he joined IPK of Mestis and absolutely lit the lamp. He put up 13 points in 10 games, good for 8th in PPG league-wide. He’ll look to carry that momentum to his first year in a top pro league, during his 1+1 contract.
They also released two players.
Julius Rantaeskola wasn’t able to carry his offense from Mestis to the big league, scoring two points in 12 games.
Mikko Kuukka is a Liiga veteran, but carried his worst +/- (not a real stat) ever during his lone season with the club.
KooKoo Sign Five
KooKoo of Liiga has signed 5 players.
Aleksi Ainali is a strong signing for the team. The 24-year-old has 99 points in 189 games in Liiga, after a stellar Finnish junior career. He also spent time in North America, appearing in the USHL and NCAA. He had a down year offensively, and will look to bounce back with KooKoo during his two-year deal.
Ahti Oksanen made the jump to the KHL last season, but scored 15 points in 50 games. In Liiga, he did well offensively, with 57 points in 105 games. The 27-year-old was a star at Boston University. His offense carried over to the ECHL, but not the AHL. He’ll look to rediscover the Liiga success he had earlier in his pro career.
They also signed Detroit Red Wings’ prospect Victor Brattström. Brattström excelled in Allsvenskan with a .914 SV%. However, he wasn’t able to do the same in the SHL, with a .898 SV%. The 23-year-old will look to push his Allsvenskan success to Liiga, as he looks to take his game to the next level.
Samuli Ratinen is slowly finding success at the pro level. After a stellar junior career, the 21-year-old hit a career-high of 13 points in 58 games during his second Liiga season. He’ll look to carry his Junior and Mestis success during his two-year-deal.
Teemu Engberg is another prospect joining KooKoo’s pool. The 20-year-old has slowly been progressing and has already hit 87 games at the highest level. He’ll try taking it up a notch and continue his scoring success that he’s had at the junior level. He might not spend the whole season at the top level, but he’s on a two-year deal.
SaiPa Sign Five
Liiga club SaiPa sign five players, mostly consisting of younger players.
Joel Olkkonen is the oldest of the group. At 27, he hasn’t made it to Liiga get, but has excelled in Mestis. He has almost 200 Mestis games under his belt, and only 7 Liiga games. SaiPa are banking on him taking his game up to the next level.
Jaakko Lantta is another example of the club taking a chance on a player who has excelled in Mestis, but hasn’t made it to Liiga yet. The 23-year-old didn’t just excel in Mestis, he led the league in points and assists! He’ll try taking that to the next level during his one-year contract, with a club option for another year.
Jimi Jalonen is familiar with SaiPa. The 23-year-old played 20 games with them last year on loan. Although he hasn’t met his offensive prowess from prior levels, the defenseman has been a solid presence in over 100 Liiga games. He’ll join the team for two seasons.
Filip Krivosik is a stellar signing for the club. The 20-year-old took a huge step last season, finishing 7th in U21 Liiga scoring with 23 points in 57 games. Both parties expect him to take another step this season. He’s locked down for two years.
Ville Petman is a former SaiPa prospect who makes his return. The 20-year-old is yet to discover his scoring prowess from junior, but took a step during his second Liiga season, with 8 points in 40 games. He’ll be expected to take another step this season, and another by the end of his two-year deal.
SC Bern Sign Two
NLA club SC Bern has announced two signings.
One is Swedish centre Ted Brithén. I wrote about him three days ago, this is what I said:
“Ted Brithen is another tough loss for the club. The 29-year-old wrapped up the 3rd season of his 2nd stint with the club. He had played for the organization for his youth career and spent parts of 5 seasons with the big club before joining HV71, later becoming captain. Brithen missed some time this season, but put up 37 points in 33 games. He likely would’ve led the team in scoring, like he did the year prior. Swedish media has rumoured that he is expected to sign in the NLA, with Bern. He said “I have been given an opportunity that I cannot refuse. It fits me and my family perfectly to do this now.” (thank you Google Translate).”
Swedish media was right! He’ll be a great addition to the Swiss club. We’ll see how he adapts to the Swiss league.
Simon Sterchi is another interesting signing for the club. The 25-year-old has spent much of his pro career in the NLB, the Swiss 2nd tier league, where he’s excelled. The winger’s offense hasn’t translated to the NLA yet, however. The two-time NLB champion has 156 points in 298 games and only two assists in 26 NLA games. He hasn’t gotten a big shot in the big league in a while, so Bern will bank on his career-high 36 points in 36 games translating to the big leagues.
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