The NHL Trade Deadline has passed, but key transactions continue to occur. The college free agent market is still going strong with NCAA standouts landing NHL and AHL contracts, while many leagues in Europe are already deep into the postseason with eliminated teams signing extensions and conversely allowing some notable names to become free agents. So while it may seem like the deadline puts an end to all important transactions until the offseason, there are still plenty of “minor” moves worth paying attention to:
- The Boston Bruins have been busy in the college free agent market, signing Boston College captain Marc McLaughlin to an entry-level contract (he scored in his NHL debut on Thursday), as well as Western Michigan goaltender Brandon Bussi and inking Ohio State defenseman Grant Gabriele to an AHL contract. They are back at it again, announcing a one-year AHL contract for 2022-23 and interim PTO for Omaha forward Joseph Abate. Abate, 23, is leaving college a year early to pursue his pro career. A defensive specialist, Abate only produced 32 points in 85 NCAA games but plays a physical checking game, excelled at the faceoff dot this season, and brings deceptive speed. A project for the Bruins, Abate will be groomed in Providence to potentially play a fourth line role down the road. Interestingly, Abate played junior hockey with the USHL’s Youngstown Phantoms with fellow Bruins prospects Curtis Hall, Trevor Kuntar, and Riley Duran.
- The Vegas Golden Knights have dipped into the college free agent pool, as their Silver counterparts in AHL Henderson announced a PTO and 2022-23 AHL contract for North Dakota forward Connor Ford. A highly sought-after graduate transfer out of Bowling Green, where he played with fellow Knights prospect Brandon Kruse, Ford joined the Fighting Hawks this season and continued to produce. An incredibly consistent scorer through five NCAA season, the 24-year-old Ford appears to have the mature game that will translate to the pros. Ford finished second in scoring for North Dakota behind only Riese Gaber. Vegas certainly won’t mind if signing Ford help to convince the undrafted sophomore sensation Gaber to turn pro and sign with the Knights this year or even down the road.
- Another NCAA addition is arriving in Lehigh Valley, as the Philadelphia Flyers’ affiliate announced a PTO and 2022-23 AHL contract with Notre Dame captain Adam Karashik. Karashik, 24, actually played in his first season with the Fighting Irish this season as a graduate transfer, but was named captain based on his veteran leadership and experience and the ability he displayed in four years at UConn. Karashik had always played a sound defensive game on the blue line, but took his offensive game to new heights this season with 16 points, matching his previous three seasons combined. A two-way, right-handed defenseman with a well-developed game, Karashik is a nice piece for the Flyers’ pipeline.
- Moving overseas, NHL veteran Joakim Ryan isn’t rushing back to the NHL after a year away in Sweden. Instead, the 28-year-old has signed a one-year extension with the SHL’s Malmo Redhawks, the team announced. While Ryan was on an NHL contract for all six of his first pro seasons, including playing 41+ NHL games twice, his value had tailed off before he departed for his native Sweden this past offseason. While he could likely still find a depth role in the NHL, no one will blame him for sticking with Malmo for another year after he emerged as a star for the team in 2021-22. Ryan recorded 31 points in 52 games, second on the team and a top-five mark among SHL defensemen.
More to come…