As the NHL off-season rolls on, the minor league and European transactions get more interesting as NHL opportunities begin to dry up and notable names look elsewhere. Here are some of the more “major” minor transactions from today:
- After taking a year off to deal with the repercussions of a history of concussions, Rourke Chartier is back. The 24-year-old forward has signed a one-year AHL deal with the Toronto Marlies, the team announced. Chartier played in 13 games with the San Jose Sharks in 2018-19 and another 26 with the AHL Barracuda. However, after he failed to show consistent results over the course of his entry-level contract, the Sharks opted not to extend a qualifying offer. It turned out that Chartier needed the time off anyhow to continue recovering from his numerous concussions. Now feeling healthier, perhaps Chartier can return to the form he showed in the 2017-18 AHL season – playing at nearly a point-per-game pace in an injury-shortened season – but instead stay off the injury list for a time.
- With brother Dylan Sikura traded away by the Chicago Blackhawks, Tyler Sikura has decided to leave the organization as well. A former Blackhawk himself (contractually), Sikura played this past season on an AHL deal with the affiliated Rockford Ice Hogs, where he skated alongside his brother for much of the year. Now that Dylan is in Las Vegas, Tyler has taken his talents to Cleveland. The AHL’s Cleveland Monsters announced that they have signed Sikura to a one-year contract. Sikura is a productive minor league forward, with two 30+ point seasons out of the past three, and plays a responsible two-way game as well. He should be a regular contributor for the Monsters this season.
- The Ice Hogs have made an addition of their own, albeit still unconfirmed, in goaltender Cale Morris. The Notre Dame product announced himself that he has signed his first pro contract with Rockford, though no details have been disclosed. Morris started three seasons for the Fighting Irish and if his senior year had gone like his sophomore and junior, this would likely be an NHL contract that he’s signing. Morris was stellar in his first season as the Notre Dame starter in 2018-19. He posted a .944 save percentage and 1.94 GAA in 37 appearances, which was good enough to win him the Mike Richter Award as the NCAA’s top goalie and to make him a top-ten finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. In hindsight, he likely should have capitalized on his sophomore success and turned pro. As a junior, his numbers slipped slightly, but Morris was still one of the NCAA’s best. This past season was more noticeable drop-off; he recorded a .916 save percentage and 2.44 GAA – good numbers by most standards but not among the NCAA’s best and a far cry from his first two seasons. With Rockford, Morris will look to prove that he is still an elite goalie prospect by returning to the form he showed earlier in college. If he succeeds, the Blackhawks may already have a sneaky contender in the organization to fill the currently vacant role of goalie of the future.