Perhaps the American Thanksgiving break spurred some action in players and teams alike, as there has been a flurry of intriguing moves of late – and not just in the NHL. Keep up with the action in the minors, Europe, and more right here:
- After clearing unconditional waivers on Thursday and seeing his contract terminated by the Nashville Predators, Patrick Harper has found a new home. HPK of Finland’s Liiga has announced a deal with the former Boston University standout for the remainder of the season. While Harper recorded 115 points in 128 NCAA games, that scoring touch has all but disappeared in the pros. He recorded only two points in 15 AHL games last season, which earned him a demotion to the ECHL, and was held scoreless through nine AHL games this game as well. Harper seemingly feels a fresh start in a new league could be the answer to this development hiccup – and at just 23 years old he could be right – but a move to Europe via contract termination isn’t a strong signal of a long career to come in North America.
- Another college star at a crossroads is defenseman Will Cullen. After an excellent 2020-21 season with Bowling Green State University, Cullen was on NHL radars this off-season and could have signed an AHL contract. Instead, Cullen decided to extend his NCAA career as a graduate transfer at Miami University, likely hoping to earn an entry-level contract this spring. However, this lasted just seven games, as Cullen has departed the RedHawks early to sign an AHL deal with the Bridgeport Islanders. While this could be seen as just a delayed inevitability, Cullen’s late transition means that he will head to the ECHL to begin his pro career. He now has to climb a couple of pro ranks if he wants to make his way to the NHL. A puck-moving defenseman who logged 25 points and a +20 rating in 28 games last season, Cullen has the ability but needs to make the most of an unusual midseason transition.
- NHL veteran David Booth is not quite done. After taking last season off, Booth is back in the game, signing in Norway where he last suited up in 2019-20. The 37-year-old has inked a one-year deal with Valerenga, the team announced. Booth last played in the NHL in 2017-18 with the Detroit Red Wings, but has spent five of his past six seasons in Europe after nine years in the NHL to begin his pro career. With over 500 games and 230 points in the NHL to his credit, Booth is still a major addition for Valerenga – or any roster in Norway – despite his age.
- The WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes are potentially buying low on a 2022 NHL Draft prospect, hoping he can help turn their season around or at least become a core piece down the road. Forward Tristan Zandee has been acquired from the Calgary Hitmen at the meager price of a 2022 fifth-round pick, the Hurricanes announced. Zandee has desirable size at 6’3″ and 200 lbs. but has struggled to score in the WHL with nine points in 21 games in last year’s shortened campaign and only three points through 15 games so far this year. However, that hasn’t stopped some NHL Draft sources from eyeing Zandee as an intriguing prospect given his stature and previous production in the AJHL. Getting a fresh start in Lethbridge, Zandee could find himself with more scoring opportunity and a chance to boost both his development and his draft stock.