Although NHL news has predictably slowed at this point in the offseason, there is still quite a bit of player movement activity in the wider world of professional hockey. As always, we’ll keep track of the notable moves from minor leagues and foreign professional leagues across the world.
- On July 19th, it was announced that former San Jose Sharks prospect Marcus Vela would be leaving MoDo Hockey Ornskoldsvik rather than remain with the team for its first season back in the SHL. Today we learned where Vela’s next stop will be: Slovakia. The 26-year-old has signed with HC Banska Bystrica of the Slovak Tipos Extraliga. He’s the third forward native to British Columbia that the club have added this summer, joining Swiss second-division point-per-game scorer Matt Wilkins and former UConn Huskies captain Carter Turnbull. Vela split last season between two HockeyAllsvenskan clubs, MoDo and Vasterviks IK, acquitting himself well in his first season in Europe scoring 29 points in 46 games.
- Former Carolina Hurricanes prospect Max Zimmer will not return to the ICEHL’s Vienna Capitals after an extremely successful first season with the club. The 25-year-old 2016 fourth-round pick scored 28 goals and 53 points in 48 regular-season games in the Austrian capital, as well as nine points in seven playoff games. The year before, Zimmer had scored 19 goals and 40 points in 48 games for the ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits, and earned his most meaningful AHL experience yet: 14 games with the Charlotte Checkers. Despite the Capitals’ best efforts to secure an agreement on a contract extension, the four-season Wisconsin Badger could now be headed back to North America or perhaps another ICEHL club for his next campaign.
- 20-year-old Swedish defenseman Fred Nilsson has signed a try-out contract with the SHL’s Leksands IF, earning a chance to compete for a regular role with the club. 2022-23 was Nilsson’s first as a full-time pro hockey player, and he played a total of 48 games for Kristianstads IK, a club that ended their season relegated to third-tier HockeyEttan. Nilsson was the number-six defenseman for Kristianstads last season, averaging 14:48 time on ice per game. That usage doesn’t exactly suggest he’s ready for a full-time role in Sweden’s top division with Leksands, though he’ll nonetheless receive the opportunity to prove himself in the lead-up to the start of the club’s regular season.
- 2018 Winnipeg Jets draft pick Austin Wong has signed a three-year contract with the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star. The 22-year-old pivot played a total of 83 games across three seasons for Harvard University, registering 15 points. Wong’s most recent season was his most challenging yet, at least offensively speaking, as he only generated one point in 30 games. Wong has shown some flashes of offense before, such as when he scored 15 goals for the Fargo Force in the USHL in 2020-21, but the offense has failed to materialize at the college level. According to CapFriendly, the Jets retain the exclusive rights to sign Wong, who was ranked 174th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting in his draft year, until August 2024. Given Wong’s lack of development in college and this three-year KHL deal, there is effectively zero chance the Jets will sign Wong, though.
- 25-year-old former Michigan Tech forward Tommy Parrottino had a strong first season as a professional hockey player in the ECHL, scoring 23 goals and 39 points in 66 games for the Iowa Heartlanders. Rather than continue in the North American third-tier league, Parrottino has made the choice to instead head overseas and sign with the EIHL’s Dundee Stars. Parrottino, the second-overall pick in the 2016 USHL Entry Draft, is the second quality ECHL scorer the Stars have imported in the past few days, as the team also signed Carter Johnson from the Maine Mariners on the 21st. Dundee won just 13 of 54 games last season and were the worst team in the EIHL standings, meaning they’ll hope the additions of Parrottino, Johnson, and other quality ECHL players can make them a more competitive outfit for 2023-24.
- Niklas Würschl played full-time in the ICEHL for the first time this past season, skating in a total of 48 games for the Vienna Capitals across regular-season and playoff play. The 23-year-old blueliner didn’t exactly produce much, scoring three points in a limited role, but did show himself to be capable of handling the rigors of ICEHL action. Now, he’s changed teams, signing with Austrian rivals Black Wings Linz. Former ECHL All-Star Matt Murphy left Linz to sign in Slovakia while blueline regular Ramón Schnetzer signed in Switzerland, leaving Linz with a need to add to their back end. They’ve added a quality ICEHL prospect in Würschl, who has a chance to see regular minutes for the team next season and further establish himself in his native Austria’s top pro league.
- Although 27-year-old netminder Claes Endre has struggled quite a bit since his stellar 2020-21 campaign as the number-one goalie for HockeyAllsvenskan side AIK, he’s earned another contract in Sweden’s second division. He’s signed with Södertälje SK, a team needing to add a goalie as star starter Nikita Tolopilo departed via a contract with the Vancouver Canucks. Endre will form a tandem with 28-year-old American Tomas Sholl, a former ECHL Goalie of the Year with the Idaho Steelheads who posted a 68-20-9 record and .930 save percentage across 99 career games in North America’s third-tier league. Sholl presumably has the upper hand given the success he’s found not only in the ECHL but also in the ICEHL over the past two seasons, (.923 save percentage in 84 total games for Italy’s HC Pustertal) though Endre does have the advantage of having prior experience in the Allsvenskan. Although Endre’s return to AIK did not yield the same results as he had in 2020-21 (he posted a .915 save percentage in 41 games that year, but a .891 this past season) Södertälje are likely hoping his competition with Sholl for starts will provide a strong environment for Endre to succeed.
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