With the Stanley Cup Final set to start tomorrow, we are getting increasingly close to the start of the NHL offseason and the period of the summer where every club across the hockey world is in between seasons. Even as some teams vie for some of hockey’s highest honors, such as the Stanley Cup and Memorial Cup, most clubs are getting to work on building their teams for next season. We’ll keep track of any notable transactions overseas or minor league clubs make here:
- Curtis McKenzie, the captain of the AHL’s Texas Stars, has signed a two-year contract extension to remain in Texas. McKenzie is on his second tour of duty with AHL Texas and has 99 NHL games on his resume, all with the Dallas Stars. A beloved part of the Stars’ 2014 Calder Cup-winning squad, McKenzie has scored 104 points in 142 games over the last two AHL campaigns. He is valued for both his on-ice contributions and also his off-ice leadership, and will now be able to help shepherd the next generation of Stars prospects on their way from Cedar Park to Dallas.
- Former Ottawa Senator Filip Chlapik is returning to HC Sparta Praha in his native Czechia after spending last season with Switzerland’s HC Ambri-Piotta, per a team announcement. The move is a massive one for Prague as Chlapik, 25, was a dominant force during his one season in the Czech capital. In 2021-22 Chlapik scored 70 points in 53 games, leading the Czech Extraliga in all major offensive categories and winning Extraliga Player of the Year. Ambri-Piotta have already secured Chlapik’s replacement, Laurent Dauphin, but will surely miss having the 2015 second-rounder as he scored 24 goals and 37 points in 50 games in his debut season in the Swiss League.
- Longtime AHL and ECHL netminder Joe Cannata is leaving the SHL’s IK Oskarshamn after three seasons spent with the club. The 33-year-old goalie arrived in the SHL after he was named Goalie of the Year of the second-division HockeyAllsvenskan in 2019-20, having posted a .938 save percentage in 41 games for IF Bjorkloven. Cannata, who last played in North America in 2019 with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, served as Oskarshamn’s number-one goalie in 2020-21 before transitioning to more of a tandem role the last two years, ceding starts to 28-year-old Tim Juel. Now with Cannata departed and Juel signing a three-year deal with Timra, Oskarshamn will turn to Liiga star and former Arizona Coyote Marek Langhammer to man their crease.
- Ryan Lasch, a well-traveled star in multiple major European pro leagues, is returning to Liiga’s Lahti Pelicans, the club he played for in both 2011-12 and 2020-21. The 36-year-old American has been a difference-maker at each stop of his pro career, perhaps most notably at Frolunda in the SHL where he has won the Champions Hockey League three times and the SHL title twice. Lasch has led the SHL in points three times and Liiga once, and is likely to be a key contributor for a Pelicans team hoping to win a championship after falling just short against Tappara Tampere in the finals this past season.
- In advance of their first season in the SHL since winning promotion in April, MoDo Hockey Ornskoldsvik have signed Mikael Ruohomaa from rival SHL side Leksands IF. While Ruohomaa had a difficult 2022-23, scoring just four goals in 41 games, he is an established, productive player in Liiga, the KHL, and SHL, and should bring some reliability and scoring ability to MoDo’s lineup. As MoDo are looking to avoid relegation back to HockeyAllsvenskan next season, signings that bring in quality players such as Ruohomaa will be crucial.
- While they’ll lose Ruohomaa to MoDo, Leksands IF have made a signing of their own, bringing in defenseman Eddie Larsson from Liiga’s HIFK Helsinki. Larsson, 32, won an SHL title with Vaxjo in 2014-15 and has nearly 500 games of SHL experience on his resume. He’ll help bolster a solid Leksands blueline that surrendered the fifth-fewest goals in the SHL last season.
- Samuel Bucek, a star of the Slovakian league, is headed back to Slovakian side HK Nitra after a difficult campaign split between Russia and Czechia. The 24-year-old is headed home to Nitra, the club where he scored 41 goals in 50 games in 2021-22 and won the league’s MVP award. Nitra lost in the finals to HC Slovan Bratislava that season and then this season fell to 10th place in the league standings, meaning Bucek’s return to their lineup serves as a significant boost to Nitra’s hopes of returning to title contention.
- After starring in the ECHL for the past three seasons, former Miami University (Ohio) captain Gordie Green is headed overseas to continue his pro career. The 26-year-old has signed with HC Innsbruck of the ICEHL, and will likely be counted on as a possible top scorer. Green scored 71 points in 62 games for the Toledo Walleye this past season but failed to register on the scoresheet in the six AHL games he received with the Grand Rapids Griffins and Miluwakee Admirals. Now, he’ll get a chance to impress in Austria and potentially begin the process of moving up the European pro hockey ladder.