Manchester Monarchs

After deep Memorial Cup run, Ebert gets deal with Kings

By Jared Clinton (@JPDClinton)

The Los Angeles Kings announced they’ve signed 2012 seventh-round pick Nick Ebert to a three-year entry level contract.

Ebert, 20, spent last season split between the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires and Guelph Storm. With the Spitfires, where Ebert played most of his junior hockey, Ebert was a steady contributor, but he made his impact felt as a member of the Memorial Cup finalist Storm.

In 2010-11, Ebert was named to the OHL’s First All-Rookie Team, and got the nod to play in the Top Prospects Game in 2011-12.

In 38 games with the Storm in 2013-14, Ebert registered nine goals and 24 assists, and had a tremendous playoff, notching 16 points in 20 games. During the Memorial Cup tournament, Ebert added another five assists in four outings.

At 6’0″, 200-plus pounds, Ebert’s size and mobility make him a valuable asset, and he could turn into a late-round steal for the Kings down the line.

With four ECHL games with the Ontario Reign under his belt, Ebert has already seen the professional game, but it will be a while before he makes the jump the NHL. Expectations for Ebert are that he’ll line up with the Manchester Monarchs in 2014-15.

Lake Erie

With Olver gone, Avs sign Bourke

By Jared Clinton (@JPDClinton)

When news came that Mark Olver would be heading to the Kontinental Hockey League next season, a spot up the middle was open on the Colorado Avalanche depth chart. Earlier today, the Avalanche filled that gap.

Troy Bourke, who spent his last four seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Prince George Cougars, was signed to a three-year entry level deal. After his fourth, and final, junior season came to an end, Bourke joined the Lake Erie Monsters for fifteen games.

Bourke, 20, was a third round draft pick of the Avalanche in 2012, and is coming off of his best WHL performance. In 69 games this past season as an over-ager, Bourke scored 29 goals and added 56 helpers for 85 points. His previous career high was 56 points in 71 games.

In his brief stint with the Monsters, the Edmonton native notched three goals and four assists. Next season, it appears Bourke will be suiting up for the Monsters for more than just a handful of games.

Mike Hedden

As Stars battle Marlies in Western Final, Hedden rumour swirls

By Jared Clinton (@JPDClinton)

Mike Hedden is in the midst of his best professional season to date, but a rumour out of the KHL has Hedden connected to Medvescak Zangreb.

Hedden, 29, potted 23 goals this season and racked up 55 points in 74 games. Those 74 games were a career-high for the undrafted Hedden, who played his NCAA career with Division-III Neumann University. In 10 games in the Calder Cup playoffs, Hedden’s tallied five goals and four assists.

The report, which appeared on KHL.hr, says that Hedden moving to Zangreb is “almost a sure thing”.

For three consecutive seasons, the Dunville, Ont. native has signed one-year deals with Texas, but without an NHL deal, he could be on his way to Russia.

While nothing has been firmed up as of yet, the certainty with which Hedden’s deal in the KHL is being reported raises a few eyebrows.

Mark Olver

Olver leaving Lake Erie for Sochi

By Jared Clinton (@JPDClinton)

Following a career year in the American Hockey League, it appears that Lake Erie Monsters forward Mark Olver is heading to the KHL Sochi Leopards.

Darryl Wolski, an agent with 2112 Hockey Agency, tweeted this afternoon that Olver has signed a deal with the KHL’s expansion franchise for 2014-15.

Olver, 26, is coming off of the best AHL campaign of his career, tallying 15 goals and 49 points in 65 games in 2013-14. A point-per-game player in the NCAA with Northern Michigan, Olver came to the Avalanche organization in 2010-11. Drafted in the fifth round, 140th overall, in 2005, Olver has 74 games of NHL experience, but couldn’t stick with the club this season.

With a youth movement taking place in Colorado, and a glut of young forwards coming through the ranks, it became apparent this season that Olver would likely need to move on to get to the NHL. A restricted free agent this summer, it appears that, instead of trying to get another NHL deal, Olver will head to the KHL.

(Courtesy SomethingBruin.net)

AHL Today: Amerks win streak to five, Hoffman pots four

AHL Today is a roundup of the night that was, the day ahead, and anything you may have missed. Your quick look at what’s going on around the league.

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To Watch:

  • TORONTO at OKLAHOMA CITY: These two teams don’t play very often — they’ve only faced off six times in the last five years — so there’s not a long history here. However, of note, Will Acton will be facing off against his former team for the first time since leaving the Marlies to head to the Barons this past summer. Oklahoma is coming into the game having lost back-to-back games in regulation, and are hoping to avoid a slide that would put them ever further back in the West. Already near the basement, the Barons are on the verge of losing their season if they can’t right the shit. A loss to the Marlies would not help their cause.

Last Night:

  • ROCHESTER 4, CHICAGO 1: The Wolves struck just fifteen seconds into the game, but they wouldn’t pot another. After Adam Cracknell’s opening salvo, the Amerks held steadfast and came back in waves potting four unanswered. Goals for Rochester came from Kevin Porter, Brayden McNabb, Colton Gillies, Alex Hutchings. Johan Larsson contributed with a pair of helpers, and the Amerks have pushed their streak to five.
  • SAN ANTONIO 4, TEXAS 2: There are dominating, three-period shot-barrage type wins, and then there are what you could call goalie wins. For San Antonio, you could call the victory over Texas a goalie win, as Michael Houser stopped 44 of 46 shots sent his way. Jed Ortmeyer had two tallies for the Rampage, including the game-winner which came in the first frame. In the loss, Stars goaltender Josh Robinson allowed four goals on just 18 shots.
  • BINGHAMTON 6, WORCESTER 3: The Mike Hoffman show rolled into Worcester as the Binghamton forward potted his 19th, 20th, 21st, and 22nd goals of the year. A five point night for Hoffman — he added an assist, just for good measure — helped the Sens handily defeat Worcester. Forward Scott Fleming made his debut for the Sharks after getting the call to the ‘A’ from the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets.

(Moves, news, and notes after the jump.)

Continue reading

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Flames assign O’Brien, recall Breen

It hasn’t been the best season for Shane O’Brien, and now the seven-year NHL vet is heading back to the AHL where his professional career began.

O’Brien, drafted 250th overall in 2003 by the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, was dealt to the Flames in June by the Colorado Avalanche in a package with David Jones that brought Corey Sarich and Alex Tanguay back the other way.

At the beginning of his career, O’Brien spent three seasons with the Ducks’ affiliates — two with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks and one year in Portland with the Pirates.

To fill O’Brien’s spot, the Flames have recalled 24-year-old Chris Breen from Abbotsford. Breen, who has spent the last three seasons with the Heat, will get a chance to suit up for just his sixth NHL game in the recall.

Breen signed with the Flames at the culmination of his junior career, where he spent five seasons between the Peterborough Petes, Erie Otters, and Saginaw Spirit.

In 20 games with the Heat this season, Breen has tallied three assists.

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Samuelsson clears waivers, joins Griffins

When Mikael Samuelsson signed a two-year, $6-million contract with the Red Wings in the summer of 2012, you can bet he didn’t think he’d find himself heading back to Grand Rapids. Lo and behold, the 37-year-old Swedish winger is on his way to the AHL.

Samuelsson, who got a full no trade clause as part of his deal with the Wings, missed most of last season due to injury, suiting up for only four games in the 2012-13 season. In those four contests, Samuelsson failed to register a point, but be it far from the Wings to know that the former 20-plus goal man would fall from grace so hard.

This season, in 26 games with the Wings, Samuelsson has registerd only three points. His only goal this season came on Oct. 2 in a game against the Buffalo Sabres, and he has been held pointless for stretches of seven games (twice), and, most recently, the nine games leading to his demotion.

At 37, and in the final year of his deal, it seems unlikely that Samuelsson will be back with the Red Wings barring any further injuries — although, with the way the Wings season has gone, you never know.

A one-time 30-goal scorer, Samuelsson will need to have an incredible showing in the AHL if he intends on finding himself work in the NHL next season. However, after three consecutive seasons with significant amounts of games lost to injury, Samuelsson may be a risk.

Samuelsson will likely be in the lineup on Jan. 31, when the Griffins play host to the Chicago Wolves.

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Canucks ink vet Prospal to PTO, Utica bound

The Vancouver Canucks have inked 16-year NHL veteran Vinny Prospal to a pro tryout contract.

Dan Murphy broke the story late last night, saying the 38-year-old Prospal had been practicing with the Utica Comets earlier in the day. Prospal, who hasn’t suited up in an AHL contest since the 1996-97 season when he was a member of the Philadelphia Phantoms, had gone unsigned to this point.

Last season, as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Prospal appeared in 48 games and helped bolster the offensive attack with 30 points (12-18). At 38, any speed Prospal may have once had is all but gone, but the wily veteran should still be a contributor while getting back into game shape with the Comets.

Cancuks GM Mike Gillis commented on the possibility of Prospal making the move to the Canucks lineup after a brief stint in Utica, saying that, “with the injuries (the Canucks have), there may be an opportunity for him.” Gillis added that Prospal will likely need eight to ten games to get up to speed before the Canucks consider bringing him in.

An AHL first-team all-star back when he was a member of the Phantoms, Prospal has appeared in over 1100 games in the NHL, and is chasing down 800 career points, just 35 shy of the mark. If things work out for Prospal in Vancouver, and he parlays the shot with the Canucks to a deal in Vancouver or elsewhere at season’s end, he could have a shot at reaching the milestone before his career comes to a close.

The Comets currently sit at last in the Western Conference, just two points away from the league’s basement with a 13-20-2-3 record in 38 games this season. Utica will head to Abbotsford this weekend to take on the Heat.

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Wolves deal Locke to Abbotsford, get Cundari on loan

After spending last season split between Finland’s SM-Liiga and Germany’s DEL, Corey Locke is moving on to his fourth team in two seasons after a deal sent him from the Chicago Wolves to the Abbotsford Heat. In exchange, the Wolves were loaned Mark Cundari from the Calgary Flames.

Locke, a veteran of over 600 games in the AHL, had previously spent time in Binghamton, Hartford, Houston, and Hamilton. One of the more prolific career AHLers, Locke has been at nearly a point-per-game clip in the minor leagues. With 178 goals and 368 assists, the Heat are getting a prolific playmaker who can improve their already stellar offence.

EliteProspects describes Locke as a skilled offensive threat and a nice addition to any team’s PP, but knocks his skating ability, adding he’s weak on the dot.

Cundari, a 23-year-old defenceman from Toronto, signed with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent after finishing his junior career with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. With just over 200 games in the A, Cundari has established himself as a contributor on the PP, able to quarterback his team with the extra man. In 32 games this season, Cundari has tallied ten points (4-6).

The loan agreement allows Calgary to retain the rights to Cundari should they wish to bring him to the big club. However, it seems unlikely that Cundari will see the NHL this season and should spend the remainder of the year with the Wolves.

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Leafs, Kings make AHL swap

The Toronto Maple Leafs and Los Angeles Kings agreed to deal yesterday afternoon that shuffled the deck for their AHL squads.

Forward Brandon Kozun, a sixth-round pick by the Kings in 2009, was sent to the Leafs in exchange for forward Andrew Crescenzi, an unrestricted free agent who signed with Toronto back in September 2010.

Kozun, the more notable of the two names in the deal, is a product of the famed Shattuck St. Mary’s, where he played a single season before moving on to the Alberta Junior Hockey League and then to the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

Born in Los Angeles, but with Canadian nationality, Kozun now finds himself back in his home country. In 277 career games with the Monarchs, the 5’8″ forward has tallied 81 goals and 106 assists. This season, in 43 games, Kozun has potted 10 goals to go along with 19 helpers.

Crescenzi, in his first season as a full-time AHLer, had been little more than a role player for the Marlies. In 32 games this season, the Thorhill, Ont. native posted a goal and two assists. He spent parts of last season with the ECHL’s San Francisco Bulls, and suited up for 15 games with the Marlies.

Undrafted, Crescenzi made got to the AHL by way of the OHL’s Kitchener Rangers.