The NHL off-season may not be starting until October this year, but AHL free agency is alive and well. While the league has not yet shared their plans for the 2020-21 season, that hasn’t stopped teams from extending players, signing new ones, and even importing players from overseas. Here are some recent notable minor league deals:
- Defenseman Keaton Middleton has signed a one-year deal with the Colorado Eagles, the team announced, but the Avalanche and GM Joe Sakic definitely had a hand in this signing. A former captain of the Saginaw Spirit and OHL All-Star, Middleton has the makings of a future NHLer. At 6’5” and 234 lbs., Middleton is a true shutdown defenseman who plays a strong defensive game. His size and strength earned him a fourth-round selection by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2016, but the club opted not to sign him. However, his past two seasons with the San Jose Barracuda has shown that he has pro chops. Middleton was a +18 and added 26 points in 102 AHL games. The 22-year-old now moves to Colorado where he can continue to refine his two-way game in hopes of landing an NHL contract next summer.
- Nathanael Halbert is getting another go with the Laval Rocket. The former QMJHL defenseman who spent the past four years at McGill University played in five games at the end of the season with Laval and apparently did enough to impress the club into extending him for one year, according to a team release. The 24-year-old has never been known for his regular season production, but his playoff numbers at the college and junior level show that he has that valuable clutch gene. A native of Nottingham, England, Halbert hopes to be an unlikely hero for Laval this season and possibly beyond.
- Making his way back to North America is journeyman forward Jesse Mychan. The 28-year-old winger has signed a one-year deal with the Iowa Wild, as reported by his agency. Mychan is no stranger to the AHL, having suited up for ten games over three separate stints and nearly 200 more games in the ECHL. However, he has spent time in Wales, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, and most recently Denmark over the past few years. An experienced pro who has found great success in the ECHL in the past and starred for Denmark’s Esbjerg Energy for the past two year, Mychan hopes he is finally ready for an extended AHL stay in 2020-21.