(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.


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.)

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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.

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Vandermeer leaves AHL for NLA

After over a decade in North America, Jim Vandermeer is heading to Switzerland to suit up with Kloten of the Swiss NLA.

Vandermeer, who made his name in the NHL with his size and rough style of play, came to the pros with the Philadelphia Flyers. An undrafted free agent, Vandermeer is probably best remembered for his 2005-06 season, post lockout, with the Chicago Blackhawks. As an alternate captain with the ‘Hawks, Vandermeer tallied 24 points (6-18) on a mediocre Blackhawks squad.

Vandermeer also went on to take on alternate captain duties with the Edmonton Oilers in 2011-12, but only spent one more season in the NHL with the Sharks after his one-year stint with the Oilers.

After spending last season with the Wolves, Vandermeer joins former AHLer Martin Gerber in Kloten.


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Zach O’Brien going to camp with St. John’s

Though he suited up in one game with the IceCaps last season, St. John’s native Zach O’Brien will be looking to become a familiar face in his hometown team’s lineup.

O’Brien, who spent last season with the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan, has been invited back to training camp with the IceCaps and is hoping to make an impression.

While O’Brien’s offensive skill is what makes him an intriguing prospect, the 21-year-old forward understands he has to round out his game in order to make his mark in the professional ranks. From the St. John’s Telegram:

My game is to bring some offensive skill, but I’m also willing to work hard and become more of a complete player because I know that’s what they want me to do. . . If I want to stick (at the AHL level), I know I have to prove I can play in the defensive end as well.

In 207 games in the QMJHL, O’Brien has tallied 132 goals and 145 assists, good for 277 points and 1.32 points per game.

At 21, O’Brien still has a ton of room to grow, and while he may not be able to stick in the AHL his offensive skill is hard to deny and you’d be hard pressed to find a team that couldn’t use that kind of production if he can carry it over to the AHL.

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McIntyre, Griffins reach one-year deal

David McIntyre has signed a one-year AHL deal with the Grand Rapids Griffins.

McIntyre, 26, is entering his fourth year in the AHL. A fifth round draft pick of the Dallas Stars in 2006, McIntyre had his rights traded twice before landing a contract with the New Jersey Devils, but was traded just over a year later to the Minnesota Wild.

With the Wild, McIntyre would suit up for seven NHL games, and spend the bulk of his time with the Houston Aeros. With Houston, McIntyre scored 31 goals and 35 assists in 131 regular season games, adding another two goals and one assist in 9 playoff contests.

Likely, McIntyre will suit up on the second or third line for the Griffins. Most useful in a two-way role, he won’t ‘wow’ with his offensive talent, but he has the work ethic that will make him become a fan favourite.

In 235 AHL games –playoff and regular season combined – McIntyre has tallied 49 goals and 57 assists.

Tremblay signs AHL deal with OKC

24-year-old centre Nicholas Tremblay has signed a one-year AHL deal with the Oklahoma City Barons.

Tremblay, drafted by the Boston Bruins in the sixth round of the 2008 draft, has only played in nine AHL games, but was a point per game player in the ECHL last season with the Bakersfield Condors.

In 29 games with the Condors, Tremblay posted 16 goals and 13 assists. The product of Clarkson University — Tremblay suited up in 143 games and tallied 88 points (33-55) — is entering his second full professional season.