Italian club HC Bolzano of the Austrian ICEHL has signed former Vancouver Canucks defenseman Josh Teves to a one-year contract, according to a team press release. The move fills out Bolzano’s roster for the 2023-24 campaign, which also includes former Montreal Canadien and Phoenix Coyote Lucas Lessio.
This is Teves’ third European team in the last two seasons after he failed to secure an NHL or AHL contract in the 2022 off-season. After signing with Liiga club JYP, he struggled in a top-four role to start the year and slowly slid down the depth chart, totaling ten points in 48 games and a -16 rating. With just weeks left in the season, JYP and Teves mutually terminated their contract, and he immediately signed with Swiss club SC Bern, where he had two points and a +3 rating in 13 combined regular-season and playoff games to close out 2022-23.
Without much to prove he can be a serviceable top-four defender at the top flight of European pro hockey, he drops down to a slightly less competitive league in the ICEHL. While still a solid European network that sends teams to the Champions Hockey League, it’s not a league that routinely produces NHL draftees or even free agents.
It’s been a tough few seasons for Teves after signing with the Canucks as an undrafted free agent out of Princeton University in 2019 when he looked like a rather promising depth add. He made his NHL debut with Vancouver to end that season, although it would end up being the only appearance of his career to date (and, likely, ever). Unfortunately, injuries limited his playing time the following season, and his development never recovered. He would score just one goal and six points in 52 games with the AHL’s Utica Comets while a member of the Canucks organization over the next two years and Vancouver didn’t issue him a qualifying offer when his entry-level contract expired in 2021. He then signed an AHL deal with the Rochester Americans for 2021-22, the Buffalo Sabres’ affiliate, although he failed to capture much attention despite playing a full 72-game season. There, he recorded a career-high six goals, 15 assists, 21 points, and a -8 rating.
In Bolzano, the 28-year-old Teves will look to prove that he can still shoulder heavy minutes at the pro level and hope to rebuild some career stock, even if just to return to a higher-level European pro league next season.