Friday, May 31, 2013

Lamarche, Raffl signed

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. — Michael Raffl and Ian Lamarche have signed free-agent contracts with the Philadelphia Flyers, and may be headed to the Adirondack Phantoms during the 2013-14 season.

Raffl, a 24-year-old left wing, has played for Leskands IF in Sweden for two years. He led the club with 24 goals and 46 points this past season and helped lead the squad to a regular season championship in the HockeyAllsvenskan, Sweden’s second-highest professional hockey league.

Meanwhile, Lamarche is a 20-year-old defenseman who last played for Baie-Comeau of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He finished with 43 points in 55 games during the 2012-13 season, and also boasted an impressive plus-31 plus/minus rating.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

QMJHL defenseman says he signs with Flyers 5/30

One item of note to pass along from this evening. Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) defenseman Maxim Lamarche Tweeted on Thursday that he has signed his first pro contract with the Philadelphia Flyers.

The Flyers have yet to formally announce the signing. In fact, CSN Philly reported they denied it. But Mikael Lalancette of TVA Sports reported that Lamarche agreed to a two-way deal with the Flyers. 

If Lamarche did sign with the Flyers, he could be headed to the Phantoms. Undrafted, the 20-year-old Lamarche produced 9-34-43 in 55 games  and was a plus-30 with the Drakkar in his overage season. All of those were career highs, but that isn't unheard of when you're talking about overage players.

He was also teammates with Petr Straka, the high-scoring Czech winger who the Flyers signed in April. The former Blue Jackets second-round pick netted 41-41-82 in 55 games with Baie-Comeau.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Around the league 4/14

There are a lot of people who are keenly interested in what will happen to minor league hockey in Glens Falls after the Phantoms leave after next season, so here's something to keep an eye on: The Vancouver Canucks have formally told the Peoria Civic Center that they won't be keeping their AHL team there next season, according to a report from Dave Eminian of the Peoria Journal-Star.

The Journal-Star report notes that the Canucks, who bought the Peoria Riverman franchise from the St. Louis Blues earlier this year, wants to move its AHL team to Abbotsford, British Columbia, a city that's about an hour inland from Vancouver. However, the Calgary Flames have six years remaining on a lease in Abbotsford and are unwilling to relocate their franchise, according to the Journal-Star.

The Journal-Star reported Monday was the deadline for National Hockey League teams to inform the AHL where they plan to locate their farm teams next season, and the Vancouver Sun reported that the AHL gave the Canucks a 30-day extension to decide what to do with the Rivermen franchise. An AHL spokesman did not immediately return a request for confirmation on either of those points.

However, sources told Eminian that the Canucks were likely to keep the Rivermen franchise dormant next season and simply loan its prospects to another AHL team. The loaning option, while not ideal for prospect development, was relatively common when the AHL had fewer than 30 active teams.

That whole situation is still murky, but another item of note is a certainty: The Hartford Wolf Pack will be returning to the AHL for the 2013-14 season. The team that calls the XL Center home had been named the Connecticut Whale for a little more than two seasons, but will be reverting to its original name now that Global Spectrum will be running the building and non-hockey operations of the team.

The team changed its name after Howard Baldwin, who was instrumental in bringing the World Hockey Association's New England Whalers to the NHL, where they became the Hartford Whalers, assumed control of the AHL team in 2010 as part of his plan to bring the NHL back to Connecticut.

The Rangers have since severed their relationship with Baldwin.

Peoria is poised to join the SPHL next season, the Journal-Star reported.

Finally, former Phantoms coach Greg Gilbert has signed a three-year extension to remain coach of the OHL's Saginaw Spirit. He was the Canadian junior hockey league's coach of the year in 2011-12.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Reports: Phantoms sign Hobey Baker finalist Chubak 5/5

The Adirondack Phantoms added one Hobey Baker finalist when they signed Canton native Kyle Flanagan to an amateur try-out contract, which will officially become an NHL contract this summer.

Now, it sure looks like they're adding another.

Niagara University goaltender Carsen Chubak has signed an American Hockey League contract with the Phantoms, according to multiple reports. The Western College Hockey Blog, citing anonymous sources, reported Chubak will forego his senior season at Niagara, which he led to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2008. Flyers Director of Hockey Operations Chris Pryor confirmed to Bill Meltzer that the deal is AHL-only. He would have to sign an NHL contract to be called up.

The Phantoms have yet to formally announce the signing, but Chubak wrote on his Twitter account the hashtag "goPhantoms," among other things. Seems like it will only be a matter of time on that.

Chubak, a 24-year-old Saskatchewan native, went 23-7-5 for the Purple Eagles this season, posting a 1.91 goals-against average and .930 save percentage. I take this to mean that Scott Munroe, who missed the final few weeks of the season after he got a nagging knee injury fixed, may not be brought back. The 31-year-old played the role of veteran goaltender excellently, even when the Flyers traded for Brian Boucher in mid-January and he was briefly unceremoniously thrust into the press box.

Boucher brings some added value to the Philadelphia Flyers in that he has played hundreds of NHL games, and is a valuable insurance for the parent club, though he will also be an UFA this summer.

Cal Heeter, who wound up being Adirondack's most-played goalie as a rookie, will be in his final year of his entry-level contract next fall. He figures to exceed the 32 games he played this season.

He and Chubak appear poised to split time, unless the Flyers or Phantoms make another move.

With this year's Stanley Cup Playoffs not even concluded yet, there is still plenty of time for that.

Until next time,