The notable transactions around the NHL today have been anything but “minor”, as the start of training camp has led to some major moves of late. However, many decisions of a much smaller magnitude continue to be made by teams preparing for the preseason, as well as players still looking for a contract this season:
- Much has been made of the Calgary Flames’ training camp roster, as the team has employed a number of high-profile tryout players as they send a portion of their squad to China to face off with the Boston Bruins. However, upon releasing their camp roster today, the Flames also revealed that two veteran defensemen have been signed to AHL contracts with their affiliate, the Stockton Heat. Although not previously announced, the Heat have inked Andrew O’Brien and Michael Paliotta to contracts. O’Brien, 25, is signing his first AHL contract, as the big stay-at-home defender has been under contract with an NHL in each of his five pro seasons. Following a three-year entry-level deal with the Anaheim Ducks, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013, O’Brien has bounced around from Anaheim, to the Nashville Predators, to the Dallas Stars over the past two seasons. In all three stops, O’Brien was not given a shot to play at the NHL level, making a minor league contract an unsurprising development. Paliotta, 25, was a teammate of O’Brien’s with the AHL’s Texas Stars last year, as the former third-round pick was unable to find a two-way contract last year after two pro seasons under contract with the Chicago Blackhawks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and New York Rangers. Unlike O’Brien, Paliotta does have a pair of NHL appearances to his credit. The roster also served as notice that defenseman Adam Ollas Mattsson has re-signed with the Heat. The former Flames draft pick was limited by injuries to just fourteen games in his first pro season and there was some question as to what was in store for his playing future. It seems that Ollas Mattson is content to stay in Stockton and prove he can play at the AHL level.
- After being invited to Vancouver Canucks training camp, former Edmonton Oilers prospect Ben Betker has nevertheless signed with the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings. The team announced today that Betker and forward Wade Murphy has signed one-year contracts. It seems that Betker’s invite was likely a preemptive move to the defenseman signing with their “AA” affiliate. Fresh off his entry-level contract, the big rearguard still has plenty of work to do on his game before he can think about the NHL level. However, a strong camp experience in Vancouver could be a good start.
- Several teams have already sent some of their rookie camp participants back to their junior clubs. The Montreal Canadiens have seen enough of many of their 2018 draft picks, as the team announced that they have returned forwards Cam Hillis, Allan McShane, Cole Fonstad, and Samuel Houde to their respective CHL teams. The Buffalo Sabres did the same with 2017 third-round defenseman Oskari Laaksonen, although he is set to return to his pro team, Ilves, of the Liiga in his native Finland. As did the Minnesota Wild with recent sixth-rounder Shawn Boudrias, who heads back to the QMJHL. These are just the beginning of the camp cuts which will dominate the news cycle of the next few weeks.