Former Dallas Stars defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk won’t wait until July 1st to decide on his future in free agency. The 29-year-old veteran will make his first foray into international play, as EHC Munchen of the German DEL have announced that he is set to join the team. Bodnarchuk has played in 42 games in the NHL over his career, but has largely played a regular role in the AHL with more than 600 games to his credit. Most recently, he spent the entirety of his two-year contract with Dallas as the alternate captain and defensive leader of the Texas Stars, who fought all the way to Game Seven of the Calder Cup Final this year. Bodnarchuk will now take that same leadership and ability on the back end to Munich, where he will join a talented team that already employs several former AHLers like Keith Aulie, Ryan Button, and Derek Joslin on the blue line.
- Also heading overseas is former top prospect Patrice Cormier. The 28-year-old forward and captain of the AHL’s Manitoba Moose has signed with Barys Astana, per a report from the local Kazakhstan sports news source Shaiba. Cormier is a major addition for Astana, a team that has struggled in recent years and recently watched top scorers Nigel Dawes and Linden Vey depart in free agency. Cormier, a second-round pick of the New Jersey Devils in 2008 and the star prospect in the return for Ilya Kovalchuk in 2010, has never quite reached his lofty expectations. However, in 49 NHL games and another 400+ AHL game, all with the Atlanta Thrashers/Winnipeg Jets organization, Cormier has proven to be a capable player in all three zones who can show finesse around the net as well as physicality along the boards. Cormier seems like a player primed to break out in the KHL.
- Cormier may also be joined by another impressive AHL forward in Curtis Valk. The Florida Panthers restricted free agent is also expected to sign with Barys Astana according to sources at Shaiba. Valk, 25, led the Springfield Thunderbirds with 62 points in 73 games this season and finished among the top ten in the AHL in scoring. Nevertheless, the undersized forward was only given one game at the NHL level to show himself. Perhaps upset with his lack of opportunity despite solid minor league results in his four-year pro career, Valk is eyeing a move of his own and could become a dynamic one-two punch with Cormier up front for Barys.
- The Calder Cup champion Toronto Marlies already lost captain Ben Smith to Europe and aren’t keen to lose any of the other contributors to their title any time soon. The team announced today that they have re-signed veteran forward Colin Greening to a one-year, AHL contract. Greening, 32, was previously acquired by the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of the return from the Ottawa Senators for defenseman Dion Phaneuf. Even on a relatively pricey NHL contract, Greening served almost exclusively in the AHL with the Marlies over the past three years. Although some speculated he could challenge for at least a two-way contract this summer, it is expected that on his new deal with Toronto that Greening could be named the new captain of the Marlies and is likely content to remain in Toronto for as long as he can to close out his career.
- On the other end of the spectrum, the Marlies announced the first AHL contracts for several college players who had joined the team on amateur tryout deals during the stretch run and postseason: Robert Morris’ Brady Ferguson, Holy Cross’ Scott Pooley, Alabama-Huntsville’s Josh Kestner, and Niagara’s Derian Plouffe. They also inked Matt Bradley, an unsigned free agent from the WHL’s Regina Pats, to a one-year AHL deal as well.