College free agency has come and gone and the focus has since shifted to CHL free agency. Across the three Canadian leagues, there are quite a few players looking to turn a strong season into a professional contract that are no longer eligible to be drafted. Some have already signed but here is a look at some that are still looking to land deals that could garner some interest in the weeks ahead.
G Brett Brochu, London (OHL): He’s the only player on this list with AHL experience as the 20-year-old got into a game on a tryout with Pittsburgh’s AHL team in 2020-21. Brochu has been a three-year starter with the Knights, typically one of the strongest major junior programs while he made Canada’s World Junior roster for the summer tournament last year. Teams looking to add pro-ready depth could look his way.
D Aidan De La Gorgendiere, Saskatoon (WHL): Across his first three major junior seasons, the 21-year-old wasn’t much of an offensive producer, collecting 45 points total. He matched that total in 2021-22 and then this season, found another gear entirely, notching 65 points in as many games, good for a tie for seventh league-wide amongst defensemen which should get him on the radar.
D Logan Dowhaniuk, Moose Jaw (WHL): Mobility matters in the pros and while skating is an issue for some of the players on this list, it isn’t for Dowhaniuk. The 20-year-old doesn’t have high-end offensive stats but is a steady two-way defender and fared relatively well in the playoffs for the second straight year which should boost his profile.
F James Hardie, Mississauga (OHL): The 21-year-old has played in three seasons, averaging more than a point per game in each of them and had an impressive showing in the playoffs this year. He has a strong offensive skill set but he’s a bit on the smaller side at 5’11. It’s possible that he gets an entry-level deal but teams will also be offering up AHL contracts to Hardie as well. He signed a tryout agreement in the ECHL with Buffalo’s affiliate but remains a free agent.
F Ivan Ivan (Cape Breton, QMJHL): Ivan didn’t have a great start to his year with an underwhelming summer World Junior performance but the 20-year-old took a big step forward offensively this season, finishing tenth in the league in scoring. A capable defensive forward, the offensive improvement should help him generate some NHL interest.
F Connor McClennon, Winnipeg (WHL): A former Flyers prospect, the 20-year-old had his second straight 40-plus-goal season in the Western league, an impressive accomplishment. It was also his fourth straight season of over a point per game while he plays with a bit of an edge. The catch? He stands 5’8 which will scare some teams off but it’s hard to argue with that type of consistent production.
F Owen Pederson, Winnipeg (WHL): Last year, Pederson had a standout playoff performance and he was able to carry that over into a strong overage season that saw him reach the 30-goal mark for the first time. At 6’3, he has pro size and has shown an ability to score around the net. That type of profile tends to draw interest from teams and that should be the case here as well.
D Ben Zloty, Winnipeg (WHL): Last season, Zloty was tied for fifth in scoring among WHL blueliners, averaging just over a point per game. This year, the 21-year-old found new gears, eventually leading all rearguards in scoring with 81 points in 64 contests. He’s a bit on the smaller side for a defender at 6’0 but that type of production from the back end should have some teams inquiring about an AHL deal at a minimum.
There will also be more players entering free agency on June 1st as CHL-drafted players from 2021 that don’t sign with the team that picked them and are too old to re-enter the draft will also hit the open market at that time. We’ll find out in less than two weeks who those players will be.