With NHL action ramping up as the trade deadline approaches in just over a month and the Olympic tournament ongoing, it would seem to be an odd time for much other notable news around hockey. Yet, there has actually been a flurry of recent action surrounding players and teams familiar to NHL fans:
- A busy year for veteran defenseman Eric Gelinas continues. Gelinas initially signed with the Carolina Hurricanes this past offseason following an outstanding 2020-21 campaign in Sweden with Rogle BK. However, when it became clear that he was buried on the ’Canes depth chart and would be stuck with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves for the year, Gelinas’ contract was terminated in late November and he returned to Rogle. However, this was only a short-term pact and Gelinas signed a new contract for the remainder of the SHL season with Djurgardens IF last week. Now he’s on the move again – at least in a future sense. A quirk of the European league structures, Gelinas has in fact signed a two-year deal with SC Bern of the Swiss National League, but one that does not start until next season. Gelinas will finish the season in Sweden before making the jump to Switzerland. The 30-year-old defenseman has nearly 200 games of NHL experience and has found success in a number of European leagues, making him a highly-desirable asset that both Djurgardens and Bern are extremely excited to have under contract.
- Matt Quercia has finally had enough of the college game. The senior forward has decided to leave Michigan Tech in the middle of the season to sign his first pro contract, inking a deal with the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers according to the league’s transactions register. Quercia was in his first season at Michigan Tech after transferring from Boston University. Overshadowed with the Terriers, Quercia hoped he might find a bigger role with the Huskies. Instead, he had just four points in 14 games and Michigan Tech, one of the surprises of the season with a current national rank of No. 14, has found success without much help from the transfer. Quercia hopes things will be different in the pro ranks.
- Quebec native Charles-David Beaudoin is moving on from the AHL’s Laval Rocket. The 28-year-old defenseman has played in just five games with the team this season versus 28 with the ECHL’s Trois-Rivieres Lions and has decided to chase more opportunity elsewhere. Beaudoin has signed with IF Bjorkloven of Sweden’s second tier Allsvenskan for the rest of the season, the team announced. The AHL veteran could return to North America this summer, but likely has a better chance of playing an impact role in Europe, especially if he is not content spending time in the ECHL.
- A pair of former Calgary Flames teammates are on the move in Europe, going their separate ways after briefly reuniting in the KHL. Emile Poirier, a first-round pick of the Flames in 2013, is joining the aforementioned Gelinas in Djurgardens for the remainder of the season, the team announced. Since leaving North America after the 2019-20 season, Poirier has played in Slovakia and then in the KHL with Latvia’s Dinamo Riga to this point this season, finding success in both places. He now joins a Djurgardens club loading up for the SHL postseason. Hunter Shinkaruk, a 2013 first-rounder himself – selected two spots after Poirier by the Vancouver Canucks, is leaving Dinamo Riga for Sweden as well. He has signed with HV71 of the Allsvenskan, the club announced. Shinkaruk wound up in Calgary in a swap for Markus Granlund and appeared to be on his way to a regular role, but like Poirier ended up stuck in the AHL and left North America during the 2019-20 season. In Poirier and Shinkaruk, Riga has lost two of its top six scorers, but fortunately still has former San Jose Shark Lukas Radil leading the team.
- The Providence Bruins are bringing back a power forward for another season. The team has announced that former OHL star Justin Brazeau has signed a one-year extension. Brazeau, 24, has mammoth size and the on-ice presence to match in his net front presence and checking ability, but is still a project due to his skating ability. Nevertheless, Brazeau has six goals and two assists in 19 games with Providence this season and ten goals and 20 points in 18 ECHL games, showing that he is still capable of scoring despite some shortcomings in his game. That makes him a worthwhile investment for at least one more season for the Bruins.