The NHL season is still less than two weeks old with teams continuing to work out the kinks and find the right balance in their lineups. Down in the AHL, training camps are underway and the league is quickly approaching the start of the regular season. At the junior level, plans are still being made to get seasons re-started, and in the QMJHL in particular the trade deadline arrived all the same. Overseas, most leagues have been playing for quite some time and teams are already making preparations for the postseason, some of which begin as early as March. Everyone is currently making moves and several are notable to NHL fans without falling neatly into “taxi squad management”. Keep up with those transactions here:
- The Bakersfield Condors, AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers, have finalized their training camp roster ahead of their season opener next Friday, February 5. In announcing the group, the team revealed a pair of late veteran additions. Defenseman Kevin Gravel, who played for the Oilers and did a brief stint in Bakersfield in 2018-19, has signed a one-year AHL contract. Gravel brings over 100 NHL games, including at least three in each of the past five season, to the Condors. Goaltender Angus Redmond, who did not receive a qualifying offer from the Anaheim Ducks this off-season, will join the team in camp on a PTO. Redmond’s performance through his first three pro seasons, spent almost exclusively in the ECHL, has been unspectacular, but he is a former NCAA standout that had his best season to date last year.
- The Hartford Wolf Pack’s training camp roster also included some surprise names. In addition to the usual names – New York Rangers prospects, signed and unsigned, and AHL contract holdovers from last season – Hartford will also take a look at forward Nolan Vesey and defenseman Jordan Sambrook. Vesey, the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jimmy Vesey, became a UFA this off-season when the Edmonton Oilers declined to extend a qualifying offer. Vesey has split the past two seasons between the AHL and ECHL and is still looking to find his footing in the pros after a successful collegiate career. Sambrook, a former Detroit Red Wings prospect and OHL standout, spent last season in the USports ranks at Brock University but is now trying to get back on track and break into the pros.
- The QMJHL’s Val d’Ors Foreurs continue to pile up talent this season. After trading for reigning Defenseman of the Year Jordan Spence earlier this month, the team has now added a pair of prominent NHL prospects in a deal with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. Forward Samuel Poulin, a 2019 first-round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Sherbrooke captain, and defenseman Xavier Bernard, a 2018 New Jersey Devils selection, are headed to the Foreurs. In return, the Phoenix net a first-, second-, two third-, and sixth-round picks, including two 2021 selections.
- Sherbrooke also added an exciting young piece to replace their outgoing veterans. The Phoenix traded first-round picks in 2021, 2022, and 2023 as well as a 2022 second-rounder to the Saint John Sea Dogs for forward Joshua Roy. Roy, a first-round hopeful in the 2021 NHL Draft, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 QMJHL Draft and recorded 17 points in his first 15 games earlier this season.
- Colorado Avalanche prospect Alex Beaucage has also been traded in the “Q”, dealt by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to the Victoriaville Tigres. The 2019 third-round pick of the Avs had 14 goals and 20 points through 14 games to begin this season. The Huskies land a 2022 first-round pick and 2021 seventh-round pick in exchange for the talented scorer.
- Helge Grans, a second-round pick of the Los Angeles Kings last year, will take at least one more season to develop at home in Sweden. The SHL’s Malmo Redhawks have announced a one-year contract extension with Grans to keep him with the club through 2021-22, featuring an interview with the young defenseman who appreciates how he has developed with the team. A valuable combination of size and skill on the blue line, Grans is yet another prospect that Kings fans have to look forward to.
- After playing on a temporary contract to begin his tenure with the team, NHL veteran Vladimir Sobotka has officially earned a full-year contract with Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga. The deal was well-earned, too; Sobotka’s 24 points in 25 games makes him the second-best per-game scorer on the team, behind only captain and former Florida Panther Michal Repik. While Sobotka, 33, clearly has plenty of game left in him, it remains to be seen if he will attempt a return to the NHL next season.