Less than a week away from the opening night of the 2023-24 NHL season, teams continue to make roster cuts in an effort to finalize their official roster heading into the year. As always, we’ll track roster moves here.
Anaheim Ducks (via team release)
Boston Bruins (via team release)
G Brandon Bussi (to Providence, AHL)
Carolina Hurricanes (via team release)
F Zach Aston-Reese (released from PTO)
F Kieffer Bellows (released from PTO)
F Cory Conacher (released from PTO)
F Brendan Perlini (released from PTO)
F Nick Shore (released from PTO)
D Nathan Beaulieu (released from PTO)
F Noel Gunler (to Norfolk, ECHL)
F Blake Murray (to Norfolk, ECHL)
F Justin Robidas (to Norfolk, ECHL)
D Anttoni Honka (to Norfolk, ECHL)
D Griffin Mendel (to Norfolk, ECHL)
D Ronan Seeley (to Norfolk, ECHL)
F Jamieson Rees (to Springfield, AHL)
D Aleksi Heimosalmi (to Pori, Liiga)
Columbus Blue Jackets (via team release)
G Jet Greaves (to Cleveland, AHL)
F James Malatesta (to Cleveland, AHL)
F Hunter McKown (to Cleveland, AHL)
F Justin Pearson (released from PTO)
F Stefan Matteau (released from PTO, expected to join AHL Cleveland via tryout)
Detroit Red Wings (via team release)
F Alexandre Doucet (to Grand Rapids, AHL)
F Marco Kasper (to Grand Rapids, AHL)
F Amadeus Lombardi (to Grand Rapids, AHL)
D Albert Johansson (to Grand Rapids, AHL)
D Antti Tuomisto (to Grand Rapids, AHL)
D Eemil Viro (to Grand Rapids, AHL)
D William Wallinder (to Grand Rapids, AHL)
G Sebastian Cossa (to Grand Rapids, AHL)
F Joel L’Esperance (released from PTO)
F Riley Sawchuk (released from PTO)
F Dominik Shine (released from PTO)
F Tyler Spezia (released from PTO)
D Josiah Didier (released from PTO)
G Michael Hutchinson (released from PTO)
Florida Panthers (via team release)
G Spencer Knight (to Charlotte, AHL)
Los Angeles Kings (via team release)
New York Islanders (via team release)
F William Dufour (to Bridgeport, AHL)
D Aidan Fulp (to Bridgeport, AHL)
F Ruslan Iskhakov (to Bridgeport, AHL)
F Eetu Liukas (to Bridgeport, AHL)
F Kyle MacLean (to Bridgeport, AHL)
F Matt Maggio (to Bridgeport, AHL)
D Travis Mitchell (to Bridgeport, AHL)
F Reece Newkirk (to Bridgeport, AHL)
D Calle Odelius (to Bridgeport, AHL)
New York Rangers (via team release)
F Brennan Othmann (to Hartford, AHL)
Vegas Golden Knights (via the Las Vegas Sun’s Danny Webster)
F Brendan Brisson (to Henderson, AHL)
Washington Capitals (via team release)
Winnipeg Jets (via team release)
F Parker Ford (to Manitoba, AHL)
It’s relatively big news coming out of Florida today, as Knight’s reassignment to Charlotte means veteran Anthony Stolarz will begin the season as the backup goalie behind Sergei Bobrovsky in Sunrise. Stolarz struggled last season to the tune of an .899 save percentage in 19 games, though he was playing in difficult circumstances as a member of the Anaheim Ducks. Stolarz does have a track record of quality play from as recently as 2021-22, when he posted a strong .917 save percentage in 28 games, and it’s likely the Panthers believe Stolarz will perform closer to how he did in 2021-22 than 2022-23.
As for Knight, he’ll get to build himself back to the NHL by getting some lower-pressure game action under his belt in the AHL. Knight has been away from the ice for the better part of a year as he’s participated in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program, so it’s understandable that the Panthers would want to ease him back into the rigors of being an NHL goalie rather than begin the season with him in the NHL and potentially risk losing Stolarz on waivers.
In New York, it’s no real surprise to see Othmann sent to Hartford. While there was an outside chance that the Rangers would take advantage of one of their top prospects’ affordable cap hit for their opening-night roster, Othmann has not yet made his professional debut and thrusting a rookie into a win-now environment with a demanding veteran head coach in Peter Laviolette may not have been the best place for Othmann to develop.
In Hartford, Othmann is likely to play a major all-situations role for head coach Kris Knoblauch and he’s likely to be near the front of the line for a call-up should the Rangers have forward injuries. Assuming he can hit the ground running for the Wolf Pack and put together a productive rookie AHL campaign, he’ll likely be a full-time NHL player a year from now.
A few notable prospects were sent down elsewhere, including on Long Island where a trio of talented wingers were sent to the AHL. Maggio is looking to have a strong first season as a professional hockey player while Iskhakov and Dufour each posted solid numbers in Bridgeport last season, but just missed the cut in terms of making the NHL roster.
In the American capital, Lapierre finished his debut AHL campaign well but his poor start did cause some concern. As a result, it seems as though Washington will look to see him put together a more consistently productive campaign at the pro level before testing him in the NHL. The Golden Knights likely sent down their own 2020 first-round pick, Brisson, for the same reasons after he scored a decent but not overwhelming 18 goals and 37 points in the AHL last season.
There’s a bit of a curious player development decision made in Carolina, where a slate of prospects have been sent to the ECHL. Certain names, such as Honka, who scored 34 points in the AHL last season, are clearly players capable of playing in the AHL and will have to instead play 2023-24 in the ECHL due to the Hurricanes’ lack of an AHL affiliate.
While the lower level of competition does set the stage for players such as Honka, Robidas, and Gunler to have highly productive seasons, one wonders if playing third-tier hockey rather than in the AHL, widely regarded as one of the world’s best leagues outside the NHL, is going to end up the best choice for those players’ development.
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