Today’s been quite a busy day for player movement around the world of pro hockey, as numerous teams in the many pro leagues are looking to secure quality players for next season. As always, we’ll keep track of the notable moves made in those minor and foreign leagues.
- Minor-league goalie Dylan Ferguson got his first real shot in the NHL last season, starting two games for the Ottawa Senators in March and posting a .940 save percentage. But despite that significant career achievement, Ferguson only played in a total of 15 games in 2022-23, and now he’s headed overseas likely with the hope of seeing more consistent time in the crease. He’s signed a contract with Dynamo Minsk in the KHL, where he will likely battle Philadelphia Flyers prospect Alexei Kolosov for starts next season.
- Former AHL netminder Jussi Olkinoura has collected quite a few team accomplishments in his playing career such as a Champions Hockey League title, an Olympic gold medal, and two World Championship golds. 2022-23 wasn’t his best year, though, as his club team, Brynäs IF, were relegated from the SHL to Sweden’s second-tier HockeyAllsvenskan. Olkinoura, 32, won’t remain with Brynäs as they seek promotion, as he’s signed a contract with the Lahti Pelicans of the Finnish Liiga. Olkinoura has played with the Pelicans before, posting a .910 save percentage in 39 games as their number-one starter in 2018-19. Despite making it all the way to Liiga’s finals the Pelicans were in need of a new starting goalie as their previous one, Patrik Bartošák, signed a two-year deal in Czechia. Now Olkinoura will join 23-year-old Jasper Patrikainen (.905 save percentage in 30 games in 2022-23) to form the Pelicans’ goalie tandem.
- 2008 second-round pick and former Hobey Baker Award finalist Danny Kristo has signed with the EIHL’s Coventry Blaze. The contract completes a transfer from the Sheffield Steelers, an EIHL rival of the Blaze for whom Kristo played the 2022-23 campaign. Although the 33-year-old Minnesota native translated his scoring as a college hockey star at the University of North Dakota to the AHL level (he hit 20 goals in the AHL in three consecutive seasons from 2013-14 to 2015-16) he couldn’t quite do enough to break into the NHL, and he left to play overseas in late 2017. Kristo has since played in Latvia, Sweden, Switzerland, China, Germany, Czechia, and Slovakia, and has now settled in as a quality scorer in the United Kingdom’s top pro league. Kristo scored 12 goals and 30 points for the Steelers last season and will now head to Coventry hoping to help them make a more convincing run in the league’s playoffs.
- Longtime minor league veteran Colton Saucerman’s return to North America proved to be short-lived, as the 31-year-old right-shot defenseman has signed a contract in England with Sheffield. After featuring in the ECHL since late 2016 and earning 41 total AHL games, Saucerman left for Europe in 2020 to sign with Austria’s HC Innsbruck of the ICEHL. He played well in Austria and earned a deal with HC Kosice in Slovakia, where he would also put together a strong campaign. That got him an ECHL contract with the Allen Americans for 2022-23, and he led their blueliners in scoring with 38 points in 63 games. Now, Saucerman is headed to England for the first time in his career to likely play a significant role on the Steelers’ defense.
- Former San Jose Sharks netminder Alexei Melnichuk has signed a one-year contract with the KHL’s Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod, the club he was traded to a little over a week ago. Melnichuk, 25, is an undrafted netminder who signed with the Sharks in 2020 and ended up playing nearly 50 games in the AHL for the San Jose Barracuda. He could only manage a .867 save percentage across that sample size in the AHL, meaning he eventually was sent down to the ECHL before heading back to Russia for 2022-23. Melnichuk played bounced between three KHL clubs last season and with this signing he’ll get the chance to fight for some stability, as he’ll battle with former New York Rangers netminder Adam Huska and incumbent starter Ivan Kulbakov (.926 save percentage in 42 KHL games in 2022-23) for time in the crease for Torpedo.
- Former Quinnipac University blueliner and Sharks 2015 fifth-round pick Kārlis Čukste has signed a one-year contract to play in HockeyAllsvenskan with Brynäs IF. Čukste is fresh off of representing his home country of Latvia at the 2023 IIHF Men’s World Championships, helping them on a historic run that earned the hockey-mad country their best-ever performance. The six-foot-three 26-year-old stay-at-home defenseman is entering the fourth season of his professional career, and spent last year earning regular minutes for HC Oceláři Třinec in the Czech Extraliga. Čukste also brings experience from Liiga, the KHL, AHL, and ECHL to the table and will hope to help Brynäs fend off other top HockeyAllsvenskan clubs such as Djurgårdens IF to earn instant promotion back to the SHL.
- Danish international Niklas Andersen, who has represented his home country at two IIHF Men’s World Championships, has left the Fischtown Pinguins to sign with a rival DEL club, the Augsburg Panthers. The 25-year-old forward was a high scorer in two consecutive seasons in the Danish league for Esbjerg before earning his first shot in the DEL with Fischtown. Andersen’s debut season in Germany was exceptional, as he scored 14 goals and 27 points in just 34 games. He’s not matched that total in the past two seasons, though, scoring 11 goals and 22 points in 52 games in 2021-22 and 11 goals and 20 points in 41 games last season. With this signing, he joins an Augsburg team in need of competent veteran talent, as they only narrowly avoided relegation in 2022-23.
- Recently-promoted Slovak Extraliga side HC 19 Humenne have signed former Colorado Avalanche prospect and four-time KHL All-Star Denis Parshin to a deal for the 2022-23 season. Parshin, 37, brings 658 games of KHL experience to the table as well as experience representing Russia in international play. He’s played 82 total games in the Slovak league across three different seasons, all for HC Kosice, including 2022-23 when he scored 28 points in 34 games.
- Physical center James Phelan racked up over 100 penalty minutes in 62 ECHL games for the Trois-Rivières Lions last season, and now he’s headed to Scotland to continue his pro career. He’s signed with the Dundee Stars in the EIHL, bringing nearly 100 games of ECHL experience as well as 47 career AHL games. Phelan hasn’t been much of a scorer at the pro level, but the 26-year-old plays with an edge and has some history of scoring from his days playing major junior hockey in the QMJHL.
- Liiga’s KalPa Kuopio have re-signed two regulars from 2022-23 to their 2023-24 roster: Matyáš Kantner and Anton Karlsson. Karlsson, 30, is a former AHLer with the Cleveland Monsters who logged 49 games for KalPa last season. He’s a former everyday SHLer who ranked eighth among KalPa blueliners averaging 13:41 TOI per game last season. Kantner, 25, is a big winger who transferred mid-season from the Czech Extraliga and scored nine points in 17 regular-season games and three points in KalPa’s playoff series loss to the Pelicans.
- A three-player trade was completed in the ECHL today, with the Tulsa Oilers acquiring Max Kaufman and Tristan Thompson from the Savannah Ghost Pirates in exchange for Alex Gilmour. Gilmour, 27, is a six-foot-five power forward who scored 16 goals and 40 points for Tulsa as an ECHL rookie in 2021-22 but struggled as a sophomore and only scored 18 points in 56 games. The hope for Savannah will be that a change of scenery will unlock the potential Gilmour flashed as a rookie, while in exchange for him Tulsa is adding Kaufman, 27, a former Boston University Terrier who scored 20 points in 57 games last season, and Thompson, 26, an undersized offensive defenseman who led Ghost Pirates defensemen in scoring as a sophomore player with 42 points in 72 games.
This page may be updated throughout the day.