While activity on the NHL free agent market has slowed to a crawl, as most notable free agents have found their team for next season, there’s still quite a bit of player movement outside the world’s top league. As always, we’ll keep track of notable transactions made by teams in minor and foreign professional leagues here.
- 2010 Florida Panthers first-round pick Quinton Howden is set to play for Vasterviks IK in HockeyAllsvenskan, according to a report from Expressen’s Johan Svensson. The 31-year-old has had quite the journey since leaving the North American pro circuit for the 2017-18 season. He’s played in Belarus, Russia, Germany, Finland, France, and now returns to Sweden to play there for a second time. He finished last season with Grenoble in France’s Ligue Magnus, managing just three points in 12 playoff games for the club. Now he’ll look to help Vasterviks compete in a highly competitive league full of clubs vying for promotion to the SHL.
- Liam Finlay, an ECHL All-Star as a rookie, has signed a contract extension to remain with the Allen Americans. Finlay, 26, is an undersized forward who has had a successful pro career since leaving the University of Denver. Finlay has been a productive contributor in the DEL2, Slovak league, and Finnish Mestis, and scored 33 goals and 70 points in his 54-game ECHL rookie season. Now, he’ll remain with the Americans and will look to take home a Kelly Cup championship next season.
- The DEL2’s leading scorer, former Toronto Maple Leaf Marcel Muller, has signed a contract with the DEL’s Straubing Tigers. He’ll return to Germany’s top division after scoring 70 points in 50 games for the Krefeld Pinguine in the second division. While he couldn’t lead his club to promotion he himself made his way back to the league where he’s scored 352 points in 541 career games.
- Former Tucson Roadrunner Trevor Cheek has left HockeyAllvenskan after two seasons to join the ICEHL’s Vienna Capitals. The 30-year-old Canadian forward racked up the most penalty minutes in HockeyAllsvenskan in 2021-22 and scored 59 points in 85 games across two seasons. Cheek was a productive player at the ECHL level and now heads to the Austrian capital looking to bring some grit and scoring ability to the ICEHL semifinalists.
- After a productive ECHL rookie season, longtime Ohio State Buckeye Quinn Preston has made the choice to cross the Atlantic and sign with the EIHL’s Belfast Giants. Preston, 25, heads to Northern Ireland after his first full season as a professional. He scored 23 goals and 61 points in just 62 games for the Wichita Thunder, and he brings leadership value having served as an alternate captain for his final two seasons as a Buckeye. He’ll bring those positive qualities to the reigning EIHL champions with the hope of helping them defend their title next season.
- Two-time NCAA Men’s Hockey national champion Louie Roehl has signed a one-year contract extension with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers. 2022-23 was Roehl’s first campaign as a professional hockey player, and he got into 60 games for the Nailers and scored 24 points. The five-foot-ten right-shot blueliner was a steady presence on head coach Derek Army’s blueline and his quality play has secured him another year on the squad.
- The ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets have signed two players to one-year ECHL contracts: forwards Parker Saretsky and Kamerin Nault. For Saretsky, 24, this deal is his first professional contract and finalizes where he’ll be beginning his career as a professional hockey player. Saretsky just concluded a four-year NCAA career at Michigan Tech, setting a career-high with 20 points in 39 games as a senior. As for Nault, 27, he’s already got 108 ECHL games under his belt and arrives with the Comets after finishing last season in Scotland with the EIHL’s Fife Flyers.
- Former Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Andrew Nielsen has signed with the ECHL’s Trois-Rivieres Lions. The 65th overall pick at the 2015 NHL draft, Nielsen never quite lived up to the hype he generated after his rookie season in the AHL. The hefty six-foot-four, 230 pound Western Canadian blueliner scored 14 goals and 39 points in 74 games as an AHL rookie, and added 82 penalty minutes on top of that. Although he won a Calder Cup the following season Nielsen has gone from promising young AHLer to ECHLer and AHL call-up option. Nielsen did have a strong season last year with the Utah Grizzlies, though, reaching the ECHL All-Star Game and registering 41 points and 166 PIMs in 47 games. He earned three AHL call-ups and 10 AHL games last season and will look to lead the blueline in Trois-Rivieres next season.
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