Today’s schedule is absolutely overflowing with hockey, including 10 games in the NHL. Highlights from the game’s highest level include matchups between the New York Rangers and Detroit Red Wings as well as the New Jersey Devils and Colorado Avalanche, games that will be nationally televised in the United States. In addition, there is a 2021 Stanley Cup Final rematch on the docket, with head coach Martin St. Louis’ Montreal Canadiens taking on the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Although the schedule outside the NHL is quite a bit lighter today, overseas professional leagues have kept busy adding and subtracting players. As always, we’ll keep track of notable player movement here.
- Ottawa Senators offseason signing Jiří Smejkal has been linked to a move back overseas, where he would play for IK Oskarshamn of the SHL. The report originates from TSN’s Shawn Simpson, who wrote that Smejkal “didn’t come over to play in the minors.” Smejkal, 27, signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Senators that carries an $82.5k AHL salary. There was some hope that Smejkal could make the NHL roster after scoring 23 goals and 43 points in 49 SHL games last season, but he only registered one point in five preseason games. The hope was that Smejkal’s size and ability to play physical could lend himself to a fourth-line role, but that hasn’t happened as he’s played exclusively at AHL Belleville. If Smejkal doesn’t view there to be a viable path to the NHL with Ottawa then it appears he could very well return to Oskarshamn, where he would not only be better lined up to represent Czecha at the IIHF World Championships, but could also potentially take home more money.
- Former Edmonton Oilers netminder Mikko Koskinen won’t be extending his time with the Swiss National League’s HC Lugano beyond this season, according to a team announcement. The team has instead decided to bring in former Red Wings prospect Joren Van Pottelberghe on a three-year deal beginning next season. Van Pottelberghe was the starter for NL rival EHC Biel-Beinne from 2020-2022, but he has been relegated to backup duty due to the arrival of Harri Säteri. He’ll get another shot to be a starter with Lugano, while Koskinen will have to continue his career elsewhere. Since arriving in Switzerland from Edmonton, Koskinen has posted an .895 save percentage in 44 games for Lugano.
- 2009 New York Rangers second-round pick Ethan Werek has signed with Slovakia’s HC Slovan Bratislava, a club in Slovakia’s capital. Werek, 32, split last season between the KHL’s Kunlun Red Star and Czechia’s Mountfield HK. He’s scored decently well in spurts in both the KHL and Czech Extraliga, and could end up a productive forward in the Slovak league. Werek also brings some international experience to Slovan, having represented China at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
- A bit of a rare occurrence happened in European hockey yesterday, as a team in the Finnish Liiga and the Czech Extraliga made a “trade” of sorts. Liiga’s SaiPa reached a mutual contract termination with Jan Lukáš, while Czechia’s HK Mountfield did the same with netminder Henri Kiviaho. Then, Lukáš signed with Mountfield to replace Kiviaho while Kiviaho did the same at SaiPa. Lukáš, 30, is an experienced netminder who was a quality tandem goalie in the Extraliga last season, but struggled immensely to start the year for SaiPa. He moves to more favorable surroundings in his home country. Kiviaho is, like Lukáš, a veteran goalie with some Champions Hockey League experience. According to Mountfield’s announcement, Kiviaho had been (via his agent) pushing for a greater workload than the club was able to provide, so they’ve opted to transfer him to SaiPa instead.
- Former NHL depth defenseman Cameron Schilling has agreed to a mutual contract termination with his club of the last two seasons, Djurgårdens IF. The 35-year-old one-time AHL All-Star has a total of 10 NHL games on his resume, though he left North America midway through 2021-22 to sign in Djurgården. The club had an immediate need for reinforcements at the time as they were trending towards relegation, a fate they did eventually suffer. Schilling played a minutes-eating role for the team last season as they fell just short of promotion back to the SHL, and now he won’t be with the team as they look to make the jump this year.
- Philadelphia Flyers fans might remember Russian forward Roman Lyubimov from the 2016-17 season, when he played in 47 games for the club, registering eight points. Lyubimov returned to the KHL after that season, the league where he would remain a regular forward until now. After a season where he posted just three points in 43 games for Spartak Moscow, Lyubimov has left the KHL and signed in France’s Ligue Magnus, with Grenoble. Grenoble is looking to re-claim the French league title and Champions Hockey League spot from Rouen, so they’ve added a forward with experience in two of the world’s top leagues in order to do so.
- Former college hockey star Julian Napravnik is rumored to be headed for the DEL via a report from Germany, specifically with the league’s Frankfurt Lions in mind. The 26-year-old German forward was a two-time First-Team Conference All-Star at Minnesota State Mankato, and his 49 points in 40 games helped the team reach the NCAA Men’s Hockey National Championship game. Since that point, Napravnik has struggled to get on he ice and has played in a total of 22 career AHL games, scoring a total of seven points. A move to Germany might be better suited for him, though it may come as a bit of a disappointment that he couldn’t make more of a push towards consideration for an NHL contract.
- Justin Allen, the former captain of NCAA Division-III Utica College, has been traded from the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals to the Allen Americans in exchange for future considerations. Allen, 26, signed with the Admirals at the conclusion of his NCAA career and made an instant impact, registering seven assists in 10 games. As the Admirals this season have taken on quite a few NHL prospects, such as 2019 third-round pick Domenick Fensore, he’s been squeezed out of a spot in the ECHL this season, and hasn’t been able to skate in a game yet this season. He’ll get a better chance to do so in Allen, a team in dire need of defensive reinforcements as they currently average over five goals against per game.
- Canadian netminder Cody Porter has signed with HockeyAllsvenskan’s Västerviks IK, according to a team announcement. The 26-year-old former Calgary Hitmen starter has had a bit of a winding hockey journey. He suited up for five different teams in his first professional season in 2018-19, playing for clubs from everywhere including Huntsville, Alabama and Elmira, New York. He then transferred to Poland, before spending 2021-22 as the backup goalie for IPK in Finland’s Mestis, their second division. Last season, Porter played the highest-level hockey of his career, skating in five total games in Liiga. He’ll get a chance now to compete for starts with Västerviks, a club whose incumbent goalies have each posted unconvincing performances so far this season.
This page may be updated throughout the day.