The NHL free agent market may have slowed a bit – despite a considerable amount of talent still available – but other leagues are still busy. AHL clubs are cleaning up the fringes of the NHL market, as are European leagues, and NCAA programs are finalizing transfers as they prepare for a hopeful start to the season next month. Here are some of the notable minor moves from today:
- It was a busy day for the Stockton Heat. The Calgary Flames’ affiliate announced four signings, adding two forwards and two defensemen on one-year deals. Three of the contracts are extensions, as defenders Zac Leslie and Rob Hamilton and grinder Alex Gallant return to Stockton. Leslie, 26, is a former L.A. Kings prospect who led all Heat defensemen in points last season. Hamilton, 26, was also a top-four defenseman last year and led the team in plus/minus. Gallant, 27, is an interesting story. He played hardly any high-level hockey as a prospect, but made a career of his aggressive style, working his way up from the SPHL to the ECHL and then the AHL, logging hundreds of penalty minutes each year. He set a career high in scoring as well last year with five goals and eight points.
- The other addition to the Heat was Mark Simpson, a hulking forward out of the University of New Brunswick. Simpson, 25, stands 6’5″ and has a more pro-ready build than many players out of the USports system. That might explain why Simpson, who finished outside the top ten in scoring for the Reds this past season, has earned an AHL contract while the program’s other top scorers have not. However, Simpson is likely destined for the ECHL while he continues to develop.
- After the Florida Panthers opted not to extend him a qualifying offer, defenseman Thomas Schemitsch has decided to take his talents to Cleveland. The AHL’s Cleveland Monsters have announced a one-year contract with Schemitsch, who has spent nearly all of the past four seasons with the AHL’s Springfield Falcons. Schemitsch is a big, two-way blue liner who was a consistent contributor in the minors. He earned an extension from Florida last summer, but it did not yield any top level opportunities. He hopes to prove to the Columbus Blue Jackets’ brass that he is still an NHL-caliber prospect with his play in Cleveland.