Veteran minor leaguer Sean Malone is set to miss an extended period of time following recent surgery, reports Bill Hoppe of the Olean Times Herald. Malone is a familiar name to Buffalo Sabres fans; the Harvard product has spent four of five pro seasons with the AHL’s Rochester Americans and three of those under contract with the Sabres. After leaving last season to sign with the Nashville Predators, Malone returned to Buffalo this off-season and has been enjoying the best season of his career with nine goals and 22 points in 23 games with Rochester. However, Hoppe writes that an undisclosed lower-body injury that has plagued the 26-year-old throughout much of his career finally caught up with him, forcing him to opt for surgery. The decision will keep Malone out at least six weeks, according to Americans head coach Seth Appert. Though Malone has only two NHL games to his credit, one with Buffalo and one with Nashville, the veteran is a trusted member of the Sabres’ organizational depth chart and one whose absence in the minors will be noticed. Appert states that Malone is a leader and “go-to guy” who has been instrumental in the development of top Sabres prospects like Jack Quinn and J.J. Peterka. Though Malone is expected to be out until at least March, hopefully the veteran can return to action at full strength and hit the ground running at his current career scoring pace, perhaps even earning another chance in Buffalo.
- The Arizona Coyotes and Carolina Hurricanes completed an AHL trade on Friday, with forward Stephen Harper moving from the Chicago Wolves to the Tucson Roadrunners in exchange for future considerations. Harper was the hero of the ECHL’s Kelly Cup Playoffs last season, earning postseason MVP honors for leading the Fort Wayne Komets to a title behind 13 points in 12 playoff games – all as a rookie no less. He has continued to excel at the “AA” level this year too, with 18 points in 15 games. However, the power forward hasn’t earned much more opportunity this year as a result of those efforts. Harper has played in just six AHL games this season in a limited role, which is likely what prompted a trade. The 26-year-old USports product is not exactly an NHL prospect, but has earned a chance to show what he can do at the next level and the Roadrunners appear willing to give him that opportunity.
- Is a Daniel Briere pipeline forming between the ECHL’s Maine Mariners and the AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms? The Mariners may be affiliated with the Boston Bruins, but they share an owner with the Philadelphia Flyers in Comcast Spectacor and GM and President Briere is a former long-time Flyer himself. For the third time already this season, a Mariner has signed an AHL contract with the Flyers’ affiliate in Lehigh Valley. The Phantoms announced that they have signed forward Alex Kile to a contract for the remainder of the season. Kile was the first ever signing by the Mariners when they joined the ECHL back in 2018 and the University of Michigan product has 162 points in 201 ECHL games ever since, with some AHL loans mixed in as well. With five goals and 12 points in seven games with Maine so far this year, the Phantoms decided that the 27-year-old Kile was worthy of a more permanent AHL stay.
- The Washington Capitals have seen enough from USports forward Derek Gentile this season to put an end to his collegiate season with a pro contract. The Dalhousie University standout signed a contract with the AHL’s Hershey Bears, though he will begin his pro career in the ECHL with the South Carolina Stingrays. Gentile, the captain of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in 2019-20, missed his first collegiate season in 2020-21 but you wouldn’t know it by his play this season. Gentile recorded 15 goals and 27 points in 18 games for Dalhousie prior to his departure. And he stayed hot in his pro debut on Friday, posting two goals and an assist in his pro debut. Gentile could be in Hersey very shortly if that keeps up.