With the trade deadline long past us, playoff races are heating up across the NHL. The Buffalo Sabres are looking to end the league’s longest playoff drought, and their uphill climb to clinch a spot continues tonight as they take on the Washington Capitals. Meanwhile, the Toronto Maple Leafs will get the chance to test themselves against the defending Stanley Cup champions. While hockey fans across the globe take in tonight’s games, teams in minor and foreign leagues are making tweaks to their rosters. We’ll keep track of those transactions here.
- Former Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Juuso Riikola could be headed to Switzerland for next season, according to a report from Swiss outlet Watson. After playing four seasons in the Penguins organization, Riikola returned to Europe this summer, signing with the SHL’s IK Oskarshamn. He’s done well for himself in Sweden, scoring 19 points in 42 games as an alternate captain, and is now rumored to be heading to the SCL Tigers, a team in the top tier of Swiss hockey.
- The San Jose Sharks’ AHL affiliate, the San Jose Barracuda, have signed University of Connecticut captain Roman Kinal, a six-foot-two 24-year-old defenseman, to an ATO agreement. This deal will allow him to be with the Barracuda as they grapple for position in the AHL’s Pacific Division, giving him his first professional experience. As their recent trade for Harvard Blueliner Henry Thrun suggested, the Sharks organization is expected to look to mine talent from the NCAA ranks, so adding an experienced college player furthers that strategy.
- Former Washington Capitals prospect Colby Williams has signed a one-year extension with his current club, KHL side Admiral Vladivostok. The former Regina Pats captain played his first season away from North America this year, after he signed with Vladivostok over the summer. After six seasons patrolling the blueline in the AHL, Williams scored 18 points in 67 games in Russia, a performance that earned him a one-year contract extension.
- After nine seasons and 441 games with the DEL’s Augsburger Panthers, including the last three as their captain, Calgary native Brady Lamb will be playing elsewhere. The team has announced they and Lamb have parted ways. Lamb, who led the DEL in assists by a defenseman in 2017-18, has been a the face of the Panthers in recent years, helping them reach the playoffs twice in his tenure there. Augsburg endured a difficult 2022-23 season, and now they’ll look for a fresh face of their franchise moving forward.
- Former New York Islander Johan Sundstrom is headed to Finland to continue his career, per a report from SportExpressen’s Johan Svensson. The 30-year-old got 11 games with the Islanders in 2013-14 and has since played in Sweden, Russia, and China. After scoring 13 goals and 31 points for Frolunda in his first year back from the KHL, his effectiveness and role have declined, and he did not get into games for the club this season despite remaining on their payroll. Now, according to this report, he’ll be headed to Liiga’s Vaasan Sport to continue his pro career.
- Former Columbus Blue Jackets forward Markus Hannikainen will leave his current club, the SHL’s HC Linkoping, according to a team announcement. The 29-year-old, who has 91 career NHL games on his resume, was unable to come to an agreement on a contract extension with the club. Since leaving North America in the summer of 2020, Hannikainen played two years for Jokerit Helsinki in the KHL before spending last season playing for Mannheim in Germany. He scored eight goals and 19 points in the SHL this season and will now look to find the next stop in his career.
- Canadian Craig Schira, former captain of SHL side Rogle BK, will also not be returning to Linkoping for next season. He scored eight points in 76 games across two seasons for Linkoping and leaves after a difficult season that ended with Linkoping just outside the SHL’s relegation zone. He’s played in Europe since 2011-12 since leaving the Belleville Senators and has been an important defenseman for quite a few teams.
- Defenseman Eric Martinsson, who played in 13 games for the Minnesota Wild organization in 2018-19, is leaving the SHL’s HV71. The two-time SHL champion has spent two of the last three seasons at HV71, save for last year, which he spent playing in the KHL in Kazakhstan. He scored 37 points in 51 games for HV71 in 2020-21, but registered only 12 points this season, a decline that possibly prompted this parting of ways.
- The ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies have released defenseman Joey Colatarci, per the ECHL’s official transactions report. Colatarci, 28, has been a regular for the Grizzlies for the past two seasons but hasn’t registered a single point in 30 games this season. Now, the six-foot-two blueliner will look to find another club to continue his career in North America’s third-tier league.
- 23-year-old defenseman Jacob Semik, an alternate captain for Arizona State University, has signed with the Grizzlies. His arrival could be seen as taking the place of the released Colatarci, who plays a similar style to him. By adding Semik, the Grizzlies give a college player a chance to make his professional debut and the opportunity to begin the process of climbing North America’s pro hockey ladder.
This page will be updated throughout the day