The pressure is on for NHL teams to fill out their rosters, with training camp and preseason action underway. Yet, many prominent RFA’s remain unsigned while a few UFA’s also continue to search for an opportunity. Down in the AHL, teams share that same mindset. With minor league camps about to open, affiliates are also focused on strengthening their depth ahead of the coming season. Keep up with all of those minor moves here:
- The Charlotte Checkers will soon begin their title defense as the reigning Calder Cup champs and continue to add to their roster in anticipation of the challenge. The team has brought in another nice piece, announcing a one-year deal with forward Dave Gust. Gust, 25, was a standout at Ohio State University and his ability has translated well through two pro seasons with the Bakersfield Condors. In fact, Gust’s 33 points last season were most among all AHL-contract players in Bakersfield. He hopes that another strong season will finally earn him some consideration for his first NHL contract.
- David Drake is also still searching for his first NHL deal, but continues to play for the organization that drafted him. Drake, 24, was a seventh-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers back in 2013. He spent four years at the University of Connecticut and signed with the Flyers’ affiliate, the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, out of school in 2018. Today, the Phantoms renewed that relationship, extending Drake for another season. Drake spent almost all of last season with the ECHL’s Reading Royals, but will look to push for more of a role in Lehigh this year.
- The Belleville Senators have inked a two-year deal with an intriguing prospect, giving Ottawa a chance to evaluate a potential target further. Jonathan Aspirot, who captained the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats this season, will begin his pro career with Belleville, reports Martin Leclerc of Radio Canada. Aspriot, 20, was a highly versatile and valuable junior player, lining up at both forward and defense and creating both offense and chaos wherever he went. The hard-working skater could be a nice find by the Senators if they can figure out how best to use him.
- Former NHL forward Rob Klinkhammer took his time this summer to decide on his playing future, but has opted to remain in the KHL. Klinkhammer, 33, has played in Europe since 2016, but is moving on to his third team in perennial contender Avangard Omsk. The team announced a one-year deal with Klinkhammer and raved about his experience and two-way prowess. The big power forward was a near point-per-game player in his first KHL season, but has settled into more of a moderate scoring pace over the past two years with more of a focus on responsible defensive play. That should fit in nicely for an Avangard team that already has plenty of firepower in Sven Andrighetto, Nikita Scherbak, Taylor Beck, Sergei Shirokov and more up front.