Juuso Ikonen’s time in North America did not last very long. Ikonen signed a three-year entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals last year after establishing himself as a budding young star at the pro level in Finland and Sweden. Yet, he was placed on unconditional waivers and had his contract terminated in May, only twelve months after the deal was signed. Ikonen had struggled in the AHL, posting only 14 points in 54 games, but it was his first season in the league and some setbacks were expected. His release from the Capitals prompted some speculation that perhaps there was more to it than just poor results in year one. However, it appears that either no other NHL team was willing to give Ikonen a second chance or he simply didn’t look for one. The Swedish Hockey League’s HV71 announced that they have signed Ikonen to a two-year deal, bringing him back across the Atlantic. Ikonen recorded 26 points in 49 games when last he played in the SHL, so it’s clearly a more comfortable fit for a player who seemingly wasn’t enamored with the pursuit of an NHL career.
- Brandon Bochenski has called it a career at 37 years old. Although many may not remember Bochenski’s efforts in North America, he has been one of the more decorated foreign players in the KHL over the last decade and has been the face of hockey in Kazakhstan. After a dominant stint in the NCAA at the University of North Dakota, Bochenski entered the pro ranks with high expectations in 2004. However, while he showed flashes of brilliance at times, Bochenski failed to stick with any team for more than two seasons, making stops in Ottawa, Chicago, Boston, Anaheim, Nashville, and Tampa Bay. Only when he moved to the KHL, signing with Barys Astana in 2010, did Bochenski find some consistency in his scoring ability. The winger proceeded to record seven straight seasons of at least 40 points, including a career high 61 points just a few short years ago in 2015-16. Bochenski was a multi-time KHL All-Star, the captain of Barys Astana for several seasons, and eventually earned his Kazakhstan citizenship and was a force on the international stage as well. In what proved to be his final season this year, Bochenski recorded 34 points in 44 games for Barys Astana and four points in four games for Kazakhstan at the Division 1A World Championships. Brad E. Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herland now reports that Bochenski will hang up his skates and has plans to return to where it all began in Grand Forks, home of the University of North Dakota.
- Maxim Lapierre is not quite ready to end his playing career just yet. The 34-year-old has not played in the NHL since 2015, spending much of the last few years with HC Lugano of the Swiss NLA. However, with his production slipping slightly last season, Lapierre was sent searching for a new opportunity and has found it with Eisbaren Berlin of the German DEL. The Polar Bears announced a two-year deal with Lapierre and are excited to add the veteran leader who still has a scoring touch. The long time Montreal Canadien is not done yet.