The start of the NHL regular season has finally come, with three games on the schedule including the highly anticipated NHL debut of generational prospect Connor Bedard. But while the NHL season is just beginning, top leagues across the hockey world are already several weeks into their regular season. As a result, player movement remains active and as always we’ll keep track of notable transactions here.
- Russian center Marat Khusnutdinov, the 37th overall pick in 2020 and the number-six prospect in the Minnesota Wild system per EP Rinkside was traded in the KHL today. (subscription link) He was sent to HK Sochi alongside monetary compensation, with his former club receiving Croatian forward Borna Rendulic in return. It’s a major swing for Sochi, who are trading their leading scorer to SKA in order to acquire Khusnutdinov. The 21-year-old center had an extremely impressive 2022-23, scoring 41 points in 63 games in a league notoriously difficult for young players to succeed in. He’s gone scoreless through six games this season, though, and has been receiving below 10 minutes of ice time in some games. Now, he’ll have the chance to potentially play with superstar prospect Matvei Michkov, a player who also began this season with SKA, and who has scored 12 points in 11 games to start the season.
- In a somewhat surprising move, Ottawa Senators goalie prospect Leevi Merilainen, 22, was assigned to the ECHL’s Allen Americans. This is likely a result of Mads Søgaard and Kevin Mandolese earning the right to serve as the Belleville Senators’ AHL tandem, though it could also be that the Senators would prefer Merilainen get some ECHL experience under his belt before he’s exposed to the rigors of the AHL full-time. Merilainen is one of the Senators’ best goalie prospects, and he spent 2022-23 mostly with Kärpät in Liiga, posting a .917 save percentage and 2.05 goals-against-average in 42 games played.
- According to a report from SportExpressen’s Johan Svensson, Carolina Hurricanes prospect Noel Gunler will return to Sweden for the 2023-24 season. Gunler was loaned to the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals earlier this week, but could end up instead loaned overseas where he has played most of his pro career. Seeing as Gunler scored eight goals and 18 points in just 31 AHL games last season, there has been some belief that his development would not be best served by playing in the ECHL. Since the Hurricanes do not have an AHL affiliate of their own, the only option for Gunler to play in the AHL would be on loan to another AHL franchise. Since premium offensive roles in the AHL are typically reserved for proven AHL veterans or prized prospects of a team’s NHL affiliate, it would be no surprise if the Hurricanes struggled to find a suitable landing spot for Gunler. As a result, if this report out of Sweden is to be believed, Gunler will end up playing 2023-24 in the SHL rather than the ECHL.
- AHL enforcer Brandon Baddock has found a new team, signing a one-year AHL contract with the Rockford IceHogs. The 28-year-old spent last season with the Iowa Wild, scoring seven points in 67 games to go along with 130 penalty minutes. Baddock brings grit and physicality to the table, something the IceHogs might have prioritized due to the number of young prospects still relatively new to pro hockey slated to play on their roster.
- Montreal Canadiens 2022 seventh-round pick Miguël Tourigny is slated to make his North American pro debut with the ECHL’s Trois-Rivières Lions. The five-foot-eight blueliner was assigned to Montreal’s ECHL affiliate today. Tourigny’s development has been somewhat unconventional thus far, as the 21-year-old spent his first professional season in Slovakia, where he scored 26 points in 44 games. Tourigny does not yet have an entry-level contract with the Canadiens but did sign a one-year, one-way AHL contract with the Laval Rocket this summer.
- Goalie prospect Tomáš Suchánek, 20, has signed a one-year AHL contract with the San Diego Gulls, according to a team announcement. Suchánek made a name for himself at the 2023 World Juniors, leading the tournament in save percentage (.939) and earning a silver medal for Czechia. He was a WHL Second-Team All-Star as the starter for the Tri-City Americans as he posted a .912 save percentage in 46 games played. Now, he has a definite landing spot in pro hockey after a successful tryout with the Ducks organization.
- 23-year-old Swiss defenseman David Aebischer (not to be confused with the former NHL netminder) will be changing clubs this summer, as he’s signed a five-year contract with HC Lugano. Aebischer is currently in his third season as a regular blueliner with SC Rapperswil-Jona Lakers, another National League team. Aebischer routinely plays over 20 minutes per night with the Lakers is off to a fast start with the club, scoring eight points in 10 games. He’s slated to become a long-term anchor for Lugano, and if he can keep up something close to his current scoring pace he may even draw NHL interest down the line, though being undersized (he’s five-foot-ten) by NHL standards will work against him.
- Columbus Blue Jackets prospect goalie Nolan Lalonde was traded to the OHL’s Sarnia Sting today alongside three draft picks, with former San Jose Sharks prospect Benjamin Gaudreau headed to the Erie Otters in return. Lalonde, 19, posted a grisly .868 save percentage with the Otters last season and has struggled to the tune of a .837 mark in four games this season. Perhaps a fresh start with the Sting will help reverse his OHL fortunes.
- Former ECHL star Brady Ferguson has carved out a solid career for himself in the SHL as a middle-six forward with Rögle BK, and he even earned the honor of wearing an “A” on his jersey starting last season. He won the 2021-22 Champions Hockey League with the club, and has now decided to extend his contract with the club by another season. As has teammate Michael Kapla, a defenseman who also played with Ferguson in the ECHL. Kapla, 29, is the former captain of UMass-Lowell and actually has five NHL games on his resume. He scored 28 points in 44 games last season for Rögle.
- Former Norwegian rookie of the year Eskil Wold impressed by playing 49 games in the Finnish Liiga at the age of 20. But he only scored one goal and two points for HPK Hämeenlinna, and this season he has decided to transfer to a lower level of competition. He’s signed with the Nybro Vikings of HockeyAllsvenskan, the second tier of Swedish pro hockey, and will likely have a chance to be more productive there than he was able to be in Liiga.
This page may be updated throughout the day.