Forward Marcus Vela has signed on with San Jose, but not the NHL team that drafted him, instead their AHL affiliate. The San Jose Barracuda announced a deal with the University of New Hampshire standout today, who has seemingly passed up the opportunity to become a free agent later this summer in favor of a minor league contract within his drafted organization. Vela was a seventh-round draft pick of the Sharks back in 2015 out of the BCHL and went on to play four seasons with the UNH Wildcats. While he improved in each collegiate season and eventually became the team captain, he maxed out at 18 points in his best season and never really showed next-level offensive ability. The 6’2″ center is still a strong, smart, two-way player, but it seems that both he and the Sharks were unsure if he was ready for an NHL contract. Rather than wait for his rights to expire in August and hope for an NHL contract elsewhere, Vela seems content to prove himself in the AHL and potentially earn his entry-level deal later on.
- Another drafted forward joining his organization’s farm team is Steven Spinner. Spinner, drafted all the way back in 2014 by the Washington Capitals, signed an amateur tryout offer with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, the team announced. Spinner, 23, just wrapped up a four-year career at the University of Nebraska-Omaha that likely fell short of the Capitals’ expectations for the sixth-round pick. The right winger accumulated only 56 points in 136 NCAA games, capped off by a mere four-point senior campaign. Such production doesn’t really warrant an NHL contract, but Spinner will get a shot to show he can do better at the pro level down the stretch and may yet earn a shot in Washington. It seems more likely that this is a precursor to an AHL contract next season, though.
- Colorado College’s leading scorer this season, Trey Bradley, is one of the few notable hockey players who hails from Tampa, Florida, so naturally the undrafted free agent has signed with… the Toronto Marlies? Bradley won’t be joining the pipeline of his hometown team, but instead that of one of their divisional rivals. The Marlies announced that Bradley has joined the team on an ATO for the remainder of this season, but has signed on for the 2019-20 campaign as well. Bradley is fresh off of a season in which he scored 34 points in 41 games, his second straight season with 30+ points for Colorado College. He should be able to translate his success in the NCHC to the AHL relatively well.