With the NHL season now fully underway and many AHL training camp rosters now finalized, options are running out for remaining free agents. Fortunately, opportunities seem to always be available in Europe and in the ECHL, even with most of those league well through their current campaigns. This keeps minor moves flowing, even on a relatively quiet day for NHL transactions:
- Scouring the recently released AHL rosters, one will find Paul Bittner suspiciously absent. The 24-year-old forward, a second round pick of the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2015, has been a solid contributor for the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters over the past few years. However, when his entry-level contract expired this off-season, Columbus did not extend him a qualifying offer. Unable to find another NHL deal and apparently unable or unwilling to sign in the AHL as well, Bittner is off to Sweden. Vasby IK of the second-tier Allsvenskan has announced a deal with Bittner for the remainder of the season. The 6’4″ power forward should be quite the disruptive force in the Swedish minor league.
- Another former Blue Jackets prospect is also on the move. Defenseman Michael Prapavessis, an NCAA free agent out of RPI, did not receive a qualifying offer this off-season either following the completion of his two-year ELC. Prapavessis was less of a surprise than Bittner, having seen limited action in the AHL as well as some time in the ECHL. Seemingly unable to land an AHL contract, Prapavessis is now in the ECHL on a permanent basis, at least for now, inking a deal with the Orlando Solar Bears for the rest of the season.
- The Anaheim Ducks have reassigned forward Jack Badini from the ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers to the AHL’s San Diego Gulls. The first-year pro, who was expected back at Harvard for his senior season this year, instead signed with the Ducks after the Ivy League cancelled all winter sports. The Ducks won’t rush his development this season, especially after a quiet start in the ECHL, but they want to see what he can do against AHL competition.
- As noted yesterday, former Yale forward Curtis Hall has signed with the Bruins, but for this season it is an AHL deal with Providence rather than an entry-level contract with Boston. The Bruins expected the 2018 fourth-round pick to spend at least one more year developing in the NCAA, but that became an impossibility due to the Ivy League’s suspension of winter sports. The Bruins clearly felt that Hall, who already has pro size and was a dangerous goal scorer last season, was better off in the AHL than back in junior this season. However, they will wait to burn the first season of his ELC.