It’s another busy day for player movement in the world of hockey. Not only are more reductions to the size of NHL training camp rosters expected, but numerous teams in both top European leagues and North American minor leagues are expected to add and/or subtract players for the 2023-24 campaign. As always, we’ll keep track of those moves here.
- Former NHLer and original Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft choice Teemu Pulkkinen signed a one-year contract to return to the KHL, landing with the Kunlun Red Star. The 31-year-old has an exceptional track record outside the NHL, honored as an AHL All-Star twice and named the Liiga rookie of the year. He’s been solid in the KHL as well, with 159 career points in 258 games. Pulkkinen spent last season with Traktor Chelyabinsk, scoring 15 goals and 27 points in 63 games. Kunlun have gotten off to a decent 6-6 start so far in KHL play, and are likely hoping Pulkkinen’s scoring can give their offense the boost it needs to help the club reach the playoffs for just the second time in franchise history.
- After impressing with the Ottawa Senators’ prospect tournament team, 22-year-old undrafted free agent Tarun Fizer has signed a one-year, one-way AHL contract with the Belleville Senators. The signing is a big opportunity for the former Victoria Royals center, as it’s a chance for him to become a full-time AHLer after spending most of his pro career thus far in the ECHL. Fizer scored 27 goals and 50 points in 62 games for the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies last season, and has now earned a spot in one of the best leagues in the world.
- Former OHL star Shawn Lalonde made his NHL debut in 2012-13, capping off three consecutive years of hard work and development in the AHL. That offseason, though, rather than stay another year in North America Lalonde made the choice to continue his career overseas, and since that point he’s become an accomplished, well-traveled veteran of the European pro circuit. Two days ago, HC Slovan Bratislava of the Slovak top league terminated its contract with defender Matt Murphy with just one game played, and today the club has announced the addition of Lalonde as his replacement. In Lalonde, Slovan is receiving a player who was once a top offensive defenseman in the DEL and a stable offensive contributor in the KHL. After spending all of last season with the KHL’s Dynamo Minsk (scoring 14 points in 48 games) Lalonde should be able to make a positive impact at a bit of a lower level of competition with Slovan.
- Yesterday, former ECHL MVP Shawn Szydlowski returned to his old stomping grounds, signing a contract with the Fort Wayne Komets. The former Erie Otters star, 33, has had an exceptional ECHL career, taking home numerous awards (such as an MVP and multiple All-Star honors) as well as a Kelly Cup championship. He has scored 519 points in 528 career ECHL games, which ranks him inside the all-time top-40 of players with the most career points in North America’s third-tier league. Szydlowski took home a Kelly Cup with Fort Wayne in 2021, and now after a season away in Orlando he’s returned with the goal of taking home another one.
- Defenseman Rinat Valiev, who once played for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, has reached a contract termination agreement with his club Neftyanik Almetievsk of Russia’s second-tier VHL. Valiev, 28, has struggled in recent seasons, bouncing between three clubs across the top two levels of Russian pro hockey. Last season, he played in 18 KHL games with Dinamo Minsk, and now he will look for another opportunity after playing in four games for Neftyanik.
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