Today’s been quite a busy day for player movement around the world of pro hockey, as numerous teams in the many pro leagues are looking to secure quality players for next season. As always, we’ll keep track of the notable moves made in those minor and foreign leagues.
- Michael Frolík, the 2006 10th overall pick and a veteran of over 850 NHL games has signed with Rytíři Kladno, his hometown team in the Czech Extraliga. This is the second longtime NHL player who has secured his place in Kladno for next season this week, as captain Tomáš Plekanec re-signed with the club on July 24th. Frolík, now 35, last played in North America on a PTO with the St. Louis Blues, though he ultimately failed to make the team in St. Louis and chose to sign with Lausanne in the Swiss National League. This past season Frolík made the move to his home country in Czechia, and ended up scoring 24 points in 48 games for Bílí Tygři Liberec. Now, he’ll join Plekanec as an expected top player for his hometown team in Kladno.
- 182-game NHL veteran Michael Chaput, a longtime NHL-AHL tweener, has had his contract terminated with his KHL club, Kazakhstan’s Barys Astana. Chaput wasn’t available for most of 2022-23, meaning he only played in 10 games in the KHL, scoring three goals. It was his first campaign overseas after a long pro career in the NHL and AHL, and as recently as 2021-22 Chaput was a productive AHLer. He scored 33 points in 57 games for the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins that year and could potentially return to the AHL now that he’s a free agent.
- Yesterday, the defending Calder Cup champion Hershey Bears signed a top-scoring ECHL rookie to a one-year AHL contract. The team signed 25-year-old former Yale University and UConn center Kevin O’Neil, rewarding him with an AHL contract after he scored 50 points in 53 games for their ECHL affiliate, the South Carolina Stingrays. The five-foot-eleven center was never all that productive playing college hockey (he scored 60 points in 130 career games) but ever since making his pro debut he’s been on a roll. He got a ten-game cameo late last season with the Stingrays and scored 10 points, and now has scored at a near point-per-game rate his rookie year while also earning two AHL call-ups. The real test for this fall will be seeing if he can push for a more regular spot in the AHL with Hershey, and now with this contract he’ll have the chance to do just that.
- The AHL’s Lehigh Valley Phantoms, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, signed former UConn and Notre Dame captain Adam Karashik to a one-year AHL contract extension, securing his place with the team for 2023-24. 2022-23 was Karashik’s first full season as a professional hockey player, and although he began in the ECHL by the time he was called up to Lehigh Valley in early January he didn’t look back. Karashik was a regular in the Phantoms’ lineup for both February and March, and ended his season with 23 games played in the AHL. This extension gives Karashik the chance to continue establishing himself as a regular at the AHL level.
- The Rochester Americans, AHL affiliate of the Buffalo Sabres, have signed ECHL defenseman Brandon Fortunato to a one-year AHL contract. Fortunato, 27, spent last season with the ECHL’s Jacksonville IceMen, scoring 23 points in 48 games. Fortunato in total has played in over 130 ECHL games and has played in 23 AHL games, though the most recent were in 2021-22.
- 28-year-old winger Jimmy Soper successfully worked his way from the fourth-tier SPHL to the ECHL in 2021-22, going from 22 points in 47 games with the SPHL’s Macon Mayhem to an impressive 43 points in 69 games with the ECHL’s Tulsa Oilers. Although Soper’s time in Tulsa ended last season via a trade to the Rapid City Rush, Soper played well enough to secure his spot in the ECHL for next season. He’s signed a one-year contract extension with the Rush after scoring 19 points in 28 games there, and now based on how productive he’s been in the ECHL over the past two seasons it seems he may have put the SPHL firmly in the past of his career.
- St. Cloud State defenseman Ondřej Trejbal is turning pro, having finished his four-year career in college hockey. The 24-year-old Czech blueliner will bring some size (six-foot-three) and nearly 130 games of NCAA experience to his first pro destination: Liiga’s SaiPa. The club announced a one-year contract for Trejbal containing a trial period until September 2023 as well as a club option to extend the contract through next season as well. It’ll be a major step up in competition level for Trejbal to go from playing college hockey against his peers to Liiga hockey against seasoned professionals, though it’ll also be a major opportunity for him to start his pro career in an exceptional league. The team also announced that Finnish defenseman Atso Lehtinen, who finished 2022-23 with SaiPa but spent most of the season in second-tier Mestis, would not see his tryout period result in a full-time contract.
- 22-year-old former Erie Otters star Maxim Golod finished his third season as a full-time pro player on a low note, scoring just one point in his final five games. He couldn’t quite build up momentum with the ECHL’s Indy Fuel the same way he did with the Tulsa Oilers, where he scored 43 points in 42 games, and now he’s made the decision to sign in Sweden’s HockeyAllsvenskan rather than return to the ECHL. He’s signed with the Nybro Vikings and the hope will be for him to be a top offensive player just as he was at times in the OHL and ECHL.
- 29-year-old former ECHL First-Team All-Star Patrick Watling is transferring from Slovakia to the United Kingdom. The center has signed a one-year deal with the EIHL’s Sheffield Steelers, and according to the team release will pursue an MBA degree at a local university while also playing for the Steelers. Watling hasn’t yet played in the EIHL, and 2022-23 was his first as an overseas pro player, but given the fact that he was relatively productive in Slovakia (30 points in 34 games across two teams) and scored a whopping 77 points in 55 games for the Wheeling Nailers in his most recent AHL season, he’ll be a likely candidate to compete for the scoring lead for the Steelers.
This page may be updated throughout the day.