We’re in the heart of the NHL offseason now, with free agency set to open tomorrow. As NHL clubs ready for the free agent frenzy tomorrow, numerous clubs in minor and foreign leagues are signing players and completing transactions. We’ll keep track of those here.
- Four-time NHL 15-goal scorer Brett Connolly has signed with SC Rapperswil-Jona Lakers, leaving his former club HC Lugano after one season. The 31-year-old 2010 sixth-overall pick scored 12 goals and 38 points in 45 games for Lugano, and now joins former NHLer Victor Rask on a club set to play in the Champions Hockey League next season.
- Zaccharya Wisdom, a prospect who was drafted by the Seattle Kraken 212th overall yesterday, has committed to Colorado College to play NCAA hockey. He’ll join NHL draft picks such as Noah Laba of the New York Rangers, and will hope to carry over the success of his final USHL season (28 goals, 48 points) to his collegiate career.
- Washington Capitals 2021 fifth-round pick Haakon Hanelt has signed a contract with the German DEL’s Cologne Sharks. The Capitals have the exclusive rights to sign Hanelt until June 1st, 2025, and will now track his development in a men’s pro league. Hanelt spent the last two seasons with the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL, and this past year scored 18 points in 34 games.
- Veteran Liiga defenseman Mikko Niemela has signed with the Lahti Pelicans, a club he played six games with in 2014-15. Niemela is a three-time Liiga champion who has played over 500 games in Finland’s top league, meaning he’ll bring a wealth of experience to the blueline of Liiga’s runner-ups. Niemela split last season between Karpat in Liiga and Brynas in the SHL, and although he played well he could not save Brynas from relegation to the HockeyAllsvenskan, and now he heads back to Liiga.
- ECHL All-Star forward Mathew Santos has signed a deal to play in Slovakia next season, per a social media post from his new team HK Dukla Michalovce. Santos is a 28-year-old Canadian winger who has been an electric scorer in two seasons with the ECHL’s Maine Mariners. He’s scored 103 points in 91 games for Maine, earning AHL call-ups for three teams, including 17 games with the AHL’s Milwaukee Admirals. He only scored one point in that 17-game span, though, and now with his chances at climbing the North American pro hockey ladder potentially drying up, he’ll head to an overseas club for the first time.
- Former Chicago Blackhawks prospect David Gilbert will not be returning to EIHL Champions Belfast Giants for next season, according to the team. The 32-year-old forward signed with Belfast a year ago after a high-scoring year with Rouen in France’s Ligue Magnus. Gilbert is a former high-scoring ECHLer who has 54 games of AHL action on his resume, and career highlights that include a championship in Belfast as well as a three-year stint in Czechia that included winning his club promotion to the country’s top league.
This page will be updated throughout the day.