Chris Drury has made one of his first signings as GM of the Hartford Wolf Pack, inking college free agent Brenden Kotyk to an AHL contract. The huge defender (6’6″ 240-lbs) spent the past three years with the University of Minnesota-Duluth where he continued to develop as a defender. It’s hard to project much for Kotyk as he is already 25 years old and will turn 26 before the season starts, but perhaps he’s turned a corner and can compete professionally.
At the very least he’ll offer a big body who won’t shy away from physical play and could add a presence to the Wolf Pack penalty kill. He’s obviously already big enough to compete at the next level, but whether his skating and decision making is good enough to keep up is still up for debate. In the National Championship game against Denver this spring, Kotyk was on the ice the second Pioneers goal, in which Troy Terry and Jarid Lukosevicius exposed his ability to defend the front of the net. Though it’s just one example, it points to the part of his game that he’ll need to improve and rely upon at the next level.
- The Calgary Flames have announced a new ECHL affiliation, partnering with the Kansas City Mavericks for the 2017-18 season. Previously known as the Missouri Mavericks, the franchise had been associated with the New York Islanders but will now work with the Flames on a year-to-year agreement. The Flames were affiliated with the Adirondack Thunder last season, who will announce a new affiliation in the coming days.
- Wojtek Wolski is back in hockey, signing a two-year deal with Kunlun of the KHL. The former NHL forward suffered a career-threatening injury last year when playing with Magnitogorsk, sliding head first into the boards with an opposing player on his back. He suffered spinal cord trauma, fractured vertebrae in his neck and a concussion on the play, and was at risk of never playing again. He’ll return less than a year later, and try to reinvigorate a career that had found new life in the KHL. After several unsuccessful stints with teams in the NHL since his departure from the Colorado Avalanche, Wolski went to the KHL in 2013 and has produced quite well ever since. At 31, there is a chance he could try a comeback to the NHL after this contract expires, but we likely have seen the last of the former first-round pick.