In the first hour of NHL Free Agency Friday, names were flying across the National Hockey League and some of those moves may have a direct affect on the American Hockey League affiliate in the near future.
Breaking the moves down as they affect the AHL’s Atlantic Division as things stand as of about 8 p.m. Friday…
Pittsburgh / Wilkes-Barre / Scranton
Perhaps the biggest movers on Day 1, the Penguins announced the re-signings of Tom Sestito and Steve Oleksy before noon. Sestito brings much needed toughness in a pinch for the NHL team and Oleksy did hint on exit day that he would be open to returning.
Then the signings started.
First signing was Stuart Percy, a former first round pick from the Toronto Maple Leafs who was not tendered a qualifying offer by the Leafs. Best described as a two-way defenseman. Has battled injuries. 64 points (10-54-64) in 177 games with the Marlies.
Then Pittsburgh re-signed David Warsofsky. You will remember Warsofsky starting the season in Wilkes-Barre, getting called up and concussed in a freak accident with referee Tim Peel in an NHL game, his recovery and exposure to waivers where the New Jersey Devils claimed him and kept him on their NHL roster.
Third signing was Cameron Gaunce. I had Gaunce as 58 on my AHL Big Board. Gaunce was named a replacement to Derrick Pouliot in the AHL All-Star Classic in Syracuse. Gaunce led the Portland Pirates defenders in points last season.
Gaunce played with Percy for a season in the Ontario Hockey League.
The fourth signing was yet another defender (!!!) in Chad Ruhwedel. I didn’t have Ruhwedel ranked in the Top 100 on the Board but he is at least a half a point a game player for Rochester last year. A bit undersized, he will likely see a good majority of time with Wilkes-Barre. Back to back 10 goal seasons for Ruhwedel.
So the Penguins defense is stacked for next season:
Washington / Hershey
The Caps lost more than they gained today depending on who you talk to. They signed Christian Thomas, Joe Cannata and Darren Dietz. A forward, goaltender and defender, respectively. Thomas was a non-qualified Arizona piece that is a good skater. He had 10 goals between St. John’s and Springfield last season. Joe Cannata, the fourth best goaltender o by Big Board, is a calm, cool goaltender that had 20 wins in a split role with the Utica Comets. There are only a handful of goaltenders that won 20 games last year in the AHL. Solid signing by Hershey in my opinion. The other signing, Darren Dietz, is a two-way defender that saw some NHL action last year with Montreal. He, too, was not qualified by Montreal.
Hershey lost Justin Peters to Arizona and Carter Camper to New Jersey. No linking there, just trust me on those.
Boston / Providence
Signed Anton Khudobin, a goaltender that was with them a few years ago. He won 19 games in 31 games for a stacked San Diego Gulls team. Khudobin will replace Jeremy Smith, who signed with Colorado.
Tommy Cross re-signed and the Bruins also signed Tim Schaller. I had both in the 60 range on the Big Board.
New York Rangers / Hartford Wolf Pack
Adam Clendening came over from Calgary. Clendening had a few games with Wilkes-Barre during a conditioning stint. When he was called up to Pittsburgh and then exposed to waivers, he was claimed. It will be interesting to see if Clendening finds his way to Hartford this season.
Michael Paliotta was a non-qualified defender from Columbus. I didn’t have him ranked in the Top 100.
Philadelphia / Lehigh Valley
The Flyers made the biggest noise with some of the biggest signings this afternoon. They signed Andy Miele, Will O’Neill and Greg Carey, all Top 50 names on the AHL Big Board. Miele was the best forward available and O’Neill was the second best defenseman available. Carey was in the Top 50 and second in points on a terrible Springfield team.
Miele is a one way contract. That just means that he makes the same no matter where he plays. If he doesn’t get picked up on waivers should the Flyers expose him to them, he should bolster a Phantoms team that really disappointed last season.
The Florida Panthers and New York Islanders were silent on Day 1 as far as signings go for their AHL teams in Springfield and Bridgeport, respectively.
Some other out the door stuff…
Jim Rutherford signed a three year extension as General Manager of the Pittsburgh Penguins. Winning the Stanley Cup is like the fountain of youth.
Jonathan had a blog post on the guys that Pittsburgh signed today. Seth too.
Patrick Williams had a roundup of all the moves today affecting all 30 AHL teams worth a look.
My 2016 Offseason Moves List will be updated.
I am off to New York City for the weekend. Not to see my beloved Mets, but to visit my brother and his wife and see a Brooklyn Cyclones game on Sunday. The Cyclones are the proud Short-A affiliate of the New York Mets though and will be wearing these jerseys Sunday.
Look at that hat!
I’ll be around tomorrow on Twitter and will update Day 2 from New York City tomorrow as signings occur and affect the AHL’s Atlantic Division.