With the month of January nearly concluded, we are getting ever closer to the NHL trade deadline. Numerous teams will have to make franchise-altering choices that could chart their competitive courses for years to come. Rumblings about players such as Timo Meier, Vladimir Tarasenko, and Cam Talbot, to name a few, are making headlines. As NHL fans enjoy all the best that the upcoming trade season has to offer, teams in minor and foreign leagues are making tweaks to their rosters. We’ll keep track of all those moves here.
- The Edmonton Oilers have signed University of Alberta netminder Matt Berlin to an ATO agreement. Berlin’s services are needed due to the fact that goaltender Stuart Skinner is out with an illness. The 25-year-old will back up Jack Campbell for tonight’s game, and then in all likelihood return to the Golden Bears, where he has an .892 save percentage in five games this season.
- Former Carolina Hurricanes prospect Callum Booth has been released from his standard player contract by the AHL’s Coachella Valley Firebirds. The 25-year-old netminder was signed by the Firebirds in September but has largely spent time in the ECHL as Firebirds head coach Dan Bylsma has preferred a tandem of Christopher Gibson and Joey Daccord. As 28-year-old Shane Starrett has seized the crease in ECHL Kansas City, where Booth was playing, Booth now receives a release and will look for better opportunities elsewhere. Booth has struggled so far with the Mavericks, posting an .871 save percentage in nine games played. He’s fared better in his limited AHL action this year, though, winning both games to go along with a .950 save percentage.
- Jamie Fraser, a former member of the New York Islanders organization, has come out of retirement to return to his former club, the ICEHL’s Villacher SV. Fraser had served as Villacher’s captain for three seasons and was an ICEHL All-Star last season. His addition should help the Austrian side as they make a push for the playoffs.
- Patrik Bartosak, a former star WHL goaltender, has made his arrangements for next season. The current Lahti Pelicans netminder has signed a contract for next season with HK Mountfield, a club in his native Czechia’s Extraliga. A former Los Angeles Kings prospect, Bartosak is a highly accomplished goalie. He’s led the Extraliga in save percentage twice (and has a career .931 mark through six seasons there) and was named the 2012-13 CHL Goalie of the Year.
- After being released by the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star yesterday, forward Ethan Werek has found a new team, HK Mountfield. Werek actually has experience in the Czech Extraliga, having played for four-time league champions HC Ocelari Trinec during the 2018-19 season, his first outside of North America. He’ll now head back to that league to help Mountfield as they attempt to reach the postseason.
- Yesterday, Vasterviks IK, a club in Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan, signed ECHL star Josh Winquist. Today, additional context may have been added to that transaction. According to a team announcement, veteran forward Alexander Hilmerson has ended his season and left Vasterviks due to a knee injury. Hilmerson scored 18 points in 39 games last season, but hadn’t managed to get onto the ice this year. The club getting some clarity on Hilmerson’s status could have paved the way for Winquist’s signing. Nonetheless, this is an unfortunate setback for the veteran Swede.
- Montreal native Jonathan Desbiens has left the top professional league of France, Ligue Magnus, to sign with a club in the United Kingdom’s top league, the EIHL. Per a team announcement, the Manchester Storm have inked a deal with Desbiens. Desbiens is a former BCHL second-team all-star who was a quality four-year scoring forward at Bentley University. He made his professional debut last season, splitting time between two ECHL clubs before moving to France. He had a successful debut for Mulhouse in France, scoring 23 points in 22 games, but had struggled to adjust to his new team, Amiens. With just seven points in 23 games this season, he’s now made the choice to leave the French league to seek a new opportunity in Manchester. If he can replicate the success he found last season, this could be a great addition to the Storm.
- ECHL forward Brandon Yeamans was released by his club, the Florida Everblades, today. The 24-year-old was traded by the Cincinnati Cyclones earlier this month and has apparently failed to latch on with the Everblades. Yeamans made his professional debut last year after two years playing at the Canadian University level and another several playing junior hockey in Ontario. He played well enough to earn an extension for this season in September but now will seek new opportunities to continue playing professionally. Yeamans has registered 10 points and 93 penalty minutes in his 47-game ECHL career.