We’re now into September, but little has changed on the free agent front. Many prominent players, RFA’s and UFA’s alike, remain unsigned, but the NHL markets remain silent. However, minor league teams, foreign clubs, and college programs continue to make make moves in preparation for the coming season. With quite a few to report this morning, keep up with further moves throughout the day:
- Teemu Pulkkinen won’t be making an NHL comeback attempt this year. And he won’t be playing in Switzerland either. The 27-year-old forward, a Detroit Red Wings draft pick who played in 83 NHL games over five seasons in North America, signed with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL last summer on a one-year deal. After leading the team in scoring, Pulkkinen shopped himself to all of the major league and ended up signing with Lausanne of the Swiss NLA. However, the Finnish winger has opted to stay in Russia instead. Dinamo Minsk have announced a one-year extension with their top forward, saving what little offense they had from last season after finishing 20th in scoring out of 25 teams. A very effective AHL player, as well as KHL player now, another year abroad does not rule out Pulkkinen eyeing a return to the NHL ranks in the future.
- Patrick McGrath has played exclusively in the AHL over the past three seasons, but this fall he will have to earn his spot at that level. The 26-year-old undersized energy forward has made a living as a role player with his hometown Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in recent years, but failed to record a single point last season in 24 games. With a lacking market as a free agent this summer, McGrath has settled for an ECHL contract with the Utah Grizzlies, the team announced. However, McGrath will also get the chance to try out for their AHL affiliate, the Colorado Eagles. If the Eagles need a role player of McGrath’s ability, he would at least provide considerable experience to the team after six seasons of minor league hockey.
- Goaltender Jake Paterson won’t be afforded the same opportunity. A third-round pick of the Detroit Red Wings in 2012, Paterson has struggled throughout his pro career. Through four seasons, the 25-year-old has player the majority of his games in the ECHL in each campaign. Now, it appears he may be at the “AA” level permanently. After his NHL entry-level contract expired two years ago, Paterson managed to find AHL contracts in each of the past two seasons, but now he has signed with the ECHL’s Allen Americans, the team announced. At least he won’t be alone though; Allen has also added fellow AHL vet Shawn O’Donnell. O’Donnell, 31, actually played in 53 games with the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack last season, but age and inefficient scoring has him settling in the ECHL.