The NHL second round continues today with Game Two between the New Jersey Devils and Carolina Hurricanes. After a disheartening 5-1 loss in Game One, tonight is an important opportunity for the Devils to tie the series and head back to New Jersey on stable ground, while the Hurricanes will look to take a convincing 2-0 series lead into their set of away games in Newark.
The AHL playoffs are also underway, and their slate of games is highlighted by an all-important fifth game between Seattle Kraken affiliate Coachella Valley Firebirds and the Colorado Eagles, the Colorado Avalanche’s affiliate. Elsewhere in the hockey world, Great Britain earned promotion to the 2024 IIHF World Championships via a gold medal-winning victory over Italy in the IIHF Division 1A World Championships.
As these North American playoffs continue, many teams across the hockey world have begun their offseason work. We’ll keep track of those moves here.
- Former Vancouver Canuck Linden Vey, a two-time KHL All-Star and champion in both Russia and Switzerland, is moving on to Germany to continue his professional career. Adler Mannheim have signed the 31-year-old forward to a one-year contract. Vey hasn’t played in North America since 2016-17 but has firmly established himself as a star in the Euro hockey circuit. He led the KHL’s Kazakh club Barys Astana in scoring with 41 points in 57 games this season and will now join other former NHLers in Jyrki Jokipakka, John Gilmour, and Tom Kuhnhackl as a new Mannheim signing.
- Ottawa Senators prospect Viktor Lodin is reportedly headed back to Sweden, according to SportExpressen’s Johan Svensson. Svensson reports that the SHL’s IK Oskarshamn will sign Lodin to a two-year contract, completing his return to Sweden after a little over one season in North America. Lodin, a 2019 fourth-round pick, signed an entry-level deal with the Senators in 2021. Lodin was a key piece helping Timra IK earn promotion to the SHL that year, so following his entry-level contract signing the Senators loaned Lodin back to Timra, where he would help them avoid relegation back to HockeyAllsvenskan. He then crossed the Atlantic and had a blistering hot start to his North American career, potting eight points in 10 AHL games and earning his first NHL game. But now he’s headed back to his home country after enduring a difficult campaign this year, a season that ended in February and included enduring a hard hit from Arber Xhekaj in a rookie tournament preseason game.
- IK Oskarshamn also officially signed a player today, acquiring former Vancouver Canucks prospect Lukas Jasek. The 25-year-old Czech winger is fresh off of a strong two-year run with Liiga’s Lahti Pelicans, including these past Liiga playoffs where his 13 points in 17 games helped the Pelicans reach the Liiga finals. Jasek spent parts of four seasons playing in the AHL with the Utica Comets but ultimately made the choice to return to Europe after failing to gain traction in the American league. Now, he’s headed to the SHL where he could be counted on as one of his team’s top scorers.
- Recently-promoted SHL side MoDo Hockey Ornskoldsvik have made a significant signing to support their efforts next season to avoid relegation back down to HockeyAllsvenskan. They have added former NHL top prospect David Rundblad on a two-year contract. The 32-year-old blueliner spent this past season playing for Karpat in the Finnish Liiga, where he scored 26 points in 60 games. Rundblad is a former Salming Trophy winner, which is the award given to the SHL’s defenseman of the year, and will be one of the top defensemen in MoDo’s lineup next season. The 2014-15 Stanley Cup Champion has scored 73 points in 153 career games at Sweden’s top level and before 2022-23 had spent six consecutive seasons in the KHL.
- After failing to carve out a consistent role in a crowded crease with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh Penguins goalie prospect Filip Lindberg has made the choice to head overseas. The 24-year-old starred in the UMass Minutemen’s NCAA championship season in 2020-21 but struggled this season after a strong start to his AHL career last year. He posted a .896 save percentage in 20 games this season, the worst of the Penguins’ three main AHL goalies. He’s now made the choice to sign in a top European league, inking a two-year deal with TPS Turku in Finland’s Liiga. A strong performance in Turku could help him return to North America on stronger footing, should he still want to chase down eventually becoming an NHL goaltender.
- Former QMJHL star netminder Samuel Harvey has signed with Lukko of the Finnish Liiga, finalizing a significant step up for his career after he led HC Bolzano on a run to the ICEHL finals this past season. It’s a significant opportunity for Harvey, as the competition level in Liiga is higher than what he faced in Italy. Harvey’s campaign in Bolzano was his first as a European pro, having split 2021-22 between the ECHL’s Fort Wayne Komets and AHL’s San Jose Barracuda.
- Lukko has made another signing, inking twin brothers Pathrik Westerholm and Ponthus Westerholm to contracts for next season. The pair have a sort of Sedin-like chemistry that has established them as quality contributors in the SHL, where they have spent the last three seasons playing for the Malmo Redhawks. The pair has played for Lukko before, a strong 2019-20 campaign that saw them rank second and third in team scoring behind current Columbus Blue Jacket Justin Danforth. Now, they’ll head back to Liiga hoping to help Lukko win a league title.
- Grizzlys Wolfsburg have made an aggressive push to improve their team after losing in Game Seven of the DEL Semifinals to the league’s eventual champions. The team has announced that they have signed two-time DEL champion and Eisbaren Berlin star Matt White to a one-year contract. White, 33, has scored at a point-per-game rate in Berlin for the last three seasons and has extensive professional experience. He’s a former Nashville Predators farmhand who was a solid scorer in the AHL and has brought offensive production nearly everywhere he’s played. While a return to North America for the former USA Hockey Junior Player of the Year is likely off the table at this stage of his career, this signing gives White the chance to add some more hardware to his trophy cabinet in Germany’s top pro league.
- Liiga’s Assat Pori have signed former Quebec Rampart Martin Lefebvre to a one-year contract. Lefebvre is coming off of an extremely successful season, a year where he won a Norwegian Championship with the Stavanger Oilers and also was named the league’s Player of the Year. The 30-year-old blueliner’s highest-level professional experience came in 2018-19 when he played for Krefeld Pinguine in the DEL, and now his run of success in one of Europe’s lower-level pro leagues has earned him a chance in one of the continent’s top competitions.