While many fringe NHL players and veteran minor leaguers have already begun to look overseas for their next contract, others are lucky enough to have found a reliable workplace here in North America. Journeyman goalie Richard Bachman is one of that fortunate group. Sportsnet’s Rick Dhaliwal reports that the Vancouver Canucks are engaged in extension talks with Bachman and it appears likely that the two sides will come to an agreement on a new contract. Although Bachman did not make an NHL appearance last season and has not been a regular at the NHL level since 2012-13, he has nonetheless carved out a nice role for himself as a mentor for the Canucks with their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets. Undersized and on the wrong side of 30, Bachman is no longer a legitimate threat to make a difference in Vancouver, but is a good locker room presence, a teacher for the likes of Thatcher Demko and soon Michael DiPietro, and if necessary an experienced backup option. He also comes cheap; Bachman’s $650K salary at the NHL level last season was the league minimum and it was also the highest salary of his seven-year pro career. The Canucks clearly appreciate the role that Bachman plays for the organization and may be willing to re-sign him to one-year deals in perpetuity until he himself calls it quits.
- The captain of the Lehigh Valley Phantoms is staying put. However, Colin McDonald had to take an AHL contract to do so. With his contract with the Philadelphia Flyers about to expire, McDonald has chosen familiarity over possibility and has opted to skip free agency and simply re-sign with Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms announced a one-year contract for the 33-year-old forward earlier today. McDonald did not see any NHL action with the Flyers this season and lost some minor league games and production to injury, but looked strong in the postseason and ready to continue leading the Phantoms. The Flyers have had a plethora of draft picks over the past two years and have used a large proportion on forwards. They also have another nine picks this year to keep adding on. With an onslaught of young forward soon entering the system, having an experienced and well-rounded veteran in the AHL ranks to help their prospects along is a good move for Philadelphia.
- Rich Clune may not be the captain of the Toronto Marlies yet, but he will certainly be in consideration next year. The 31-year-old forward emphatically announced his return for next season at the celebration for the Calder Cup champions. Clune has played for the Marlies for the past three years, the last two on AHL contracts while also still collecting on his buyout from the Nashville Predators. Clune is not one to contribute much offense, but plays a heart-and-soul, bottom-six energy role for the Marlies and it is clear that he means a lot to the team. With captain Ben Smith moving to Europe, Clune is one of several leaders on the defending champs who could fill his shoes next year.
The value a veteran mentor has on young players cannot go overlooked. Anyone who has played sports with someone older, wiser, and more experience can identify with that.
This is a good move for Dipietro development.