The playoff chase is heating up in the NHL, but elsewhere most leagues are winding down. The KHL season came to an end today with Avangard Omsk hoisting their first Gagarin Cup. The SHL, the Swiss NLA, and the German DEL are all down to just four teams apiece following the conclusion of their quarterfinal playoff rounds, while the Finnish Liiga is halfway through their quarterfinals with just six teams still alive. Even the AHL season is coming to a close, with no Calder Cup up for grabs and the regular season schedule over for some North Division teams and ending early next month for all others. As the leagues come to a close and players turn toward the future, it can cause some notable ripples in the NHL market. Here are some of those minor, but meaningful moves:
- After a dozen pro seasons, former NHL defenseman Victor Bartley has called it a career. The 33-year-old made the announcement in the most subtle way possible, changing his personal Twitter account to description to “retired professional hockey player” following the conclusion of his brief season with Unia Oswiecim in Poland. Bartley has spent the past four season in Europe, two with the KHL’s Kunlund Red Star and another with the SHL’s Orebrok HK. However, he spent the previous six seasons under contract in the NHL. Bartley spent parts of five seasons with the Nashville Predators, including skating in 50 games with the team in 2013-14. He also spent time with the Montreal Canadiens and Minnesota Wild, totaling 121 NHL games between the three clubs.
- The Boston Bruins won’t be reuniting with Linus Arnesson next season. The 26-year-old defenseman, a 2013 second-round pick, recently became a free agent at the conclusion of his SHL season. A solid stay-at-home defender who played well in a few AHL seasons, there was some belief that Arnesson might look at an NHL return following several strong seasons overseas. However, he has decided to stay at home in Sweden rather than try his luck again in North America, at least for one more year. Djurgardens IF, the program that Arnesson played his developmental hockey with, has welcomed their product home on a one-year deal, the team announced. Perhaps Arnesson will try to re-connect with the Bruins next summer, but his value seemingly decreases with each passing year.
- The Ottawa Senators are hoping that they can finally bring over one of their own second-round picks, 2017 selection Marcus Davidsson. The 22-year-old two-way forward has had somewhat of an up-and-down stretch over the past few years in the Swedish ranks, with 2020-21 as more of a low point, but was once a highly-regarded prospect and has shown flashes of NHL ability. Davidsson finished the season on a strong note though, joining Sodertalje SK of the Allsvenskan for 14 games and recording 8 points and a +5 rating along the way. However, the team announced today that Davidsson will not be remaining with Sodertalje moving forward. This frees Davidsson up to make the jump to North America if he chooses, perhaps getting back on his development track with some time in the AHL for the Senators. Ottawa risks never getting anything out of the high pick if he remains in Sweden and keeps bouncing around and not taking the next step forward in his career.
- EHC Munich wrapped up their DEL season recently and today confirmed the departures of a number of player. The list reads as a who’s who of former NHLers, including Derek Roy, Chris Bourque, Andrew Ebbett, and Keith Aulie. None of the four are realistic candidates to return to the NHL at this late point in their respective careers, but could still be off to make a difference elsewhere in Europe and potentially to guide current and future NHL prospects.