Monday, July 15, 2013

Roe to Austria 7/15

Another Adirondack Phantom is headed overseas.

Forward Garrett Roe, who spent the first two seasons of his professional career in Glens Falls, has signed with EC Red Bull Salzburg in the Austrian Hockey League, the team announced Monday.

"Excited for new opportunity!! Thanks to @NHLFlyers and @PhantomsHockey for the past 2 years," Roe wrote on his Twitter page Monday morning. "Unbelievable fans but time for new chapter."

Of Adirondack's 12 unrestricted free agents, five have already signed overseas. Only one, center Rob Bordson, re-signed with the Phantoms. Center Ian Slater went to the ECHL. Five are still unsigned.

Roe was an eighth-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Kings in 2004, but never signed with the club. After a four-year collegiate career at St. Cloud State, he inked one-year American Hockey League deals with the Phantoms for the 2011-12 and 2012-13, netting 20 goals and 66 points in 129 games.

Roe had 26 points in 57 games last season, battling with injuries after the lockout ended. By signing in the top hockey league in Austria, the 25-year-old becomes the latest Phantom to cross the pond.

Defenseman Andreas Lilja and goaltender Scott Munroe have signed to play in Sweden, goalie Brian Boucher is headed to Switzerland and defenseman Jeff Dimmen has signed a deal to play in Asia.

The new contract comes about two weeks after Roe got married.

Updated contract statuses are below.

Player Name 2012-13 Contract Type 2013-14 Contract Status
Jason Akeson (RW) NHL SIGNED
Brandon Alderson (W) ATO SIGNED - NHL
Rob Bordson (LW/C) AHL SIGNED - AHL
Marc-Andre Bourdon (D) NHL SIGNED
Tyler Brown (LW) NHL SIGNED
Nick Cousins (C) NHL SIGNED
Jeff Dimmen (D) AHL ASIA
Cullen Eddy (D) NHL SIGNED
Zack FitzGerald (LW/D) AHL UFA
Kyle Flanagan (C) ATO SIGNED - NHL
Erik Gustafsson (D) NHL SIGNED
Shane Harper (RW) NHL TRADED - NYI
Cal Heeter (G) NHL SIGNED
Ben Holmstrom (RW) NHL SIGNED
Tyler Hostetter (D) NHL SIGNED
Andrew Johnston (F) NHL SIGNED
Blake Kessel (D) NHL NOW UFA
Matt Konan (D) NHL SIGNED
David Laliberte (LW) AHL UFA
Oliver Lauridsen (D) NHL SIGNED
Andreas Lilja (D) NHL SWEDEN
Brandon Manning (D) NHL QUALIFIED RFA
Matt Mangene (F) NHL SIGNED
Derek Mathers (RW) NHL SIGNED
Scott Munroe (G) AHL SWEDEN
Marcel Noebels (LW/C) NHL SIGNED
Garrett Roe (C) AHL AUSTRIA
Danny Syvret (D) NHL TRADED - NYR
Mitch Wahl (C) NHL NOW UFA

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Boucher, Ford moving on 7/13

Two players who spent time with the Adirondack Phantoms last season appear to have found new homes, according to postings on Twitter.

Winger Matthew Ford Tweeted that he was “(e)xcited to be on board with the” AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, while Nicola Berger, a reporter for Swiss newspaper Neue Luzerner, wrote goalie Brian Boucher will be heading overseas and joining EV Zug in the Swiss National League A.

Both Ford and Boucher had been unrestricted free agents.

Boucher, 36, finished the year with the Phantoms after the Philadelphia Flyers acquired him in a post-lockout trade. He went 6-8-1 in 16 games for Adirondack, but the Phantoms already have three goaltenders – Yann Danis, Cal Heeter and rookie Carsen Chubak – under contract for 2013-14.

Ford, 28, struggled to score in what was supposed to be his first full season with Adirondack. He had just four goals and 13 points in 35 games before the Flyers traded him to the Columbus Blue Jackets. With their AHL affiliate, the Springfield Falcons, he posted five goals and 11 points in 18 games.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Lauridsen, Gustafsson re-signed 7/10

The Philadelphia Flyers re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Oliver Lauridsen to a two-year contract extension, it was announced Wednesday.

Lauridsen finished his second professional season with a 15-game call up to Philadelphia, which included his March 30 NHL debut, after playing 59 games with the Adirondack Phantoms.

The stay-at-home defenseman, a fixture on Adirondack’s penalty kill, scored one goal and assisted five others with the Phantoms. The 24-year-old had two goals and one assist with the Flyers.

The $1.2-million contract is a two-way deal in the first year, meaning Lauridsen will make less money if he plays in the AHL, and a one-way contract in the second year, according to Flyers insider Anthony SanFilippo. In that year, he will earn the same amount of money no matter where he plays.

The Lauridsen signing came one day after the Flyers announced they re-signed fellow restricted free agent defenseman Erik Gustafsson to a one-year, one-way contract.

Gustafsson, who had 22 points in 39 games with the Phantoms last season, will earn $1 million regardless of where he plays.

The numbers suggest Gustafsson, 24, probably won’t be back in Glens Falls this year. A portion of his salary would count against Philadelphia’s NHL salary cap, even if he was in the AHL.

Gustafsson is also no longer exempt from waivers, which means any other NHL team would have the chance to claim his contract before he got sent to the minor leagues.

Lauridsen is still not subject to waivers, since he turned pro one year later than Gustafsson, which makes him more likely to return to Glens Falls this season.

Eric Wellwood and Brandon Manning are Philadelphia's other two restricted free agents. They have been given qualifying offers, an indicator the Flyers want them back, but have yet to sign new contracts.

Here's an updated look at Adirondack's contract statuses:

Player Name 2012-13 Contract Type 2013-14 Contract Status
Jason Akeson (RW) NHL SIGNED
Brandon Alderson (W) ATO SIGNED - NHL
Rob Bordson (LW/C) AHL SIGNED - AHL
Brian Boucher (G) NHL UFA
Marc-Andre Bourdon (D) NHL SIGNED
Tyler Brown (LW) NHL SIGNED
Nick Cousins (C) NHL SIGNED
Jeff Dimmen (D) AHL SIGNED - ASIA
Cullen Eddy (D) NHL SIGNED
Zack FitzGerald (LW/D) AHL UFA
Kyle Flanagan (C) ATO SIGNED - NHL
Erik Gustafsson (D) NHL SIGNED
Shane Harper (RW) NHL TRADED - NYI
Cal Heeter (G) NHL SIGNED
Ben Holmstrom (RW) NHL SIGNED
Tyler Hostetter (D) NHL SIGNED
Andrew Johnston (F) NHL SIGNED
Blake Kessel (D) NHL NOW UFA
Matt Konan (D) NHL SIGNED
David Laliberte (LW) AHL UFA
Oliver Lauridsen (D) NHL SIGNED
Andreas Lilja (D) NHL SIGNED - SWEDEN
Brandon Manning (D) NHL QUALIFIED RFA
Matt Mangene (F) NHL SIGNED
Derek Mathers (RW) NHL SIGNED
Scott Munroe (G) AHL SIGNED - SWEDEN
Marcel Noebels (LW/C) NHL SIGNED
Garrett Roe (C) AHL UFA
Danny Syvret (D) NHL TRADED - NYR
Mitch Wahl (C) NHL NOW UFA

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ian Slater signs with ECHL's Orlando Solar Bears 7/8

Center Ian Slater, who played 32 games for the Adirondack Phantoms last season as a rookie out of Western Michigan University, has signed an ECHL contract with the Orlando Solar Bears. Orlando announced the deal Monday.

Slater, a 25-year-old Florida native, recorded one assist and 73 penalty minutes with the Phantoms, who used him primarily on the fourth line. He also netted 7-3-10 and 77 penalty minutes in 31 ECHL games with Trenton.

Signing the contract does not necessarily guarantee Slater, who was an unrestricted free agent, will spend the season in Orlando. He is hopeful he might still secure an AHL or NHL contract before the season begins.

Minor-league contracts generally have out clauses, which allow contracted players to join higher-level professional teams if one should offer them a contract.

In a telephone interview Monday evening, Slater discussed the chance of playing in his home state.

"It’s definitely the first time in a long time if I am there," he said. "Getting the opportunity to play in Florida in front of family, in kind of my old stomping ground, would be a nice opportunity. Obviously I’d love to be at the next level as long as possible and compete at the highest level, but at the same time you have to be able to play and you have to put yourself in the best situation to be successful."

Signing an ECHL contract rather than an AHL contract has some benefits. Players who play well could get called up on a try-out basis to any AHL team, rather than just the one they signed with.

Phantoms center Rob Bordson, for example, signed an ECHL contract with the Trenton Titans in 2011-12 after he was traded to Los Angeles and became an free agent. Bordson got an eight-game call-up to the Rochester Americans before signing an AHL deal with the Phantoms later that season.

Last season, Jeff Dimmen had signed an ECHL contract with the Florida Everblades before he was invited to Adirondack's training camp. After an impressive showing, he signed with the Phantoms.

Slater, who underwent hip surgery shortly after the 2012-13 season ended, said he had not yet heard from the Phantoms regarding a new contract offer. He still has to go back and get cleared by the team's medical staff, he said. But he is still welcome to receiving offers from any AHL or NHL team.

"Obviously I’d love to be in Adirondack," Slater said in the brief telephone interview. "But you have to keep your options open and explore your possibilities."

Slater is not the first Phantoms player to sign with another team this summer.

Dimmen signed a contract with a team in Asia, while Scott Munroe signed with a team in Sweden.

At this point, Slater said he is still waiting to determine exactly what his possibilities are.

"You want to give yourself the best opportunity to be successful and prolong your career as long as you can," he said.

New start for Newbury 7/8

Kris Newbury (CT Whale / Chris Rutsch)

GLENS FALLS – In his three-plus seasons in the New York Rangers organization, Kris Newbury
established himself as one of the premier scoring threats in the entire American Hockey League.

He put up a point per game after New York acquired him at the 2010 trade deadline, then went on to become one of just two players to hit 60 or more points in each of the next three AHL seasons.

Now that he’s been traded to the Philadelphia Flyers organization, though, Newbury is looking to establish himself as something else. He wants to prove that he’s a National Hockey League player.

Acquired last week by the Flyers in the trade that sent former Adirondack Phantoms defenseman Danny Syvret to New York, the center wants to earn a spot on Philadelphia’s NHL roster this fall.

“I’m training really hard right now,” Newbury, 31, said in a telephone interview Monday. “Looking forward for the season to start. The summers are shorter as you go along here. I was able to play in a couple games in the playoffs with the Rangers. I think that helped my confidence a lot. I’m just looking to bring energy, show my skills and bring a tough style of play in training camp.”

Newbury has done that quite often over the past three AHL seasons.

In 222 AHL games since joining the Rangers organization, the scrappy forward amassed 66 goals and 205 points – slightly less than half of his AHL career totals – along with 457 penalty minutes.

But the more he produced in New York’s system, the less NHL time he got.

Newbury had an 11-game call-up during his first full campaign with the Rangers, 2010-11, but saw that dip to seven games the following season and just six games last year. Meanwhile, others who played the same position as him – but produced far fewer points – got much lengthier NHL looks.

“That’s why I was a little frustrated here,” Newbury said. “I was putting up decent numbers in the American League and didn’t feel like I was getting the shot that I deserved. I think change is good at this point. I go in with a fresh, clean slate into Philadelphia. I’m really looking forward to it.”

A possible explanation for Newbury’s lack of prolonged NHL stints with the Rangers can be found in the stark differences between his AHL and NHL numbers, a microcosm of his career at large.

For all of the offense he produced with the Rangers’ affiliate – first the Hartford Wolf Pack, then the rebranded Connecticut Whale – he had just two assists in his 24 NHL games with New York.

In his career, he has scored 439 points in 599 AHL games, but just nine points in 72 NHL games.

Part of that is because he generally plays a very different role when he gets called up to the NHL. In the AHL, he’ll get top-line minutes and power play time. In the NHL, he’s a fourth-line grinder.

A much larger part of the equation comes down to confidence.

Newbury said he felt more comfortable playing in the AHL, which helped his statistics markedly.

“I definitely play with a lot of confidence,” he said. “It’s weird to me that I still go up – when I’m up in the NHL – and get pretty nervous. I think if I can block that out, I’ll have a better shot, obviously. Down in the American League, I play with a ton of confidence, for some reason. That helps me show my skill. I’ve had some great teammates along the way, so that helps out a lot.”

The three Stanley Cup playoff games in which he appeared last season – including some in which he was inserted into the line-up for 2004 Conn Smythe Trophy winner Brad Richards – was a huge boon for his confidence. But he still entered the offseason expecting a change of scenery.

That finally arrived a week ago, when the Rangers dealt him to the Flyers. He’ll spend the final year of a two-year contract in an organization whose rough-and-tumble reputation precedes it.

“I think it suits my game, which is great,” Newbury said in the telephone interview. “Rough, tough style of play. Hopefully (I can) bring that energy into training camp and earn myself a job.”

If he doesn’t, he’ll probably be placed on waivers. If he clears, he’ll likely be sent to Adirondack.

Newbury (28) fights Tye McGinn (AP)
Newbury did not know much about his new teammates, but said he had a couple of run-ins with former Phantoms agitator Zac Rinaldo. He also fought Tye McGinn in an NHL game in January.

“That’s what I play,” Newbury said in the telephone interview. “I play rough and tough. If I need to stick up for a teammate, I’ll do it. Sometimes you have to fight those guys to show your teammates that you care and that you have their back. That’s just part of the business. Once the game’s over, you can go out and have a beer. Talk about what happened to whoever it is.”

One thing that might hinder Newbury’s chances of sticking with the Flyers is the team’s depth at forward. They already have 10 players on one-way NHL contracts, plus locks Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, and 2012 first-rounder Scott Laughton also has a shot at making the NHL roster.

He ran into a similar logjam in the Rangers system.

Last season, for example, the team signed four potential bottom-six NHL forwards in free agency. Three wound up sticking in the NHL, while Newbury and another were sent back to the minors.

“When you see that as a player and you’re looking to make the hockey club, obviously it’s disappointing,” Newbury said in the telephone interview. “But I think I could have had better training camps when I was there. I don’t feel that I earned myself a (NHL) job at those camps.”

This fall, however, he’s hoping things are different.

“I think if I come to camp, play my heart out and show the organization what I can do, I’ll have a good shot,” Newbury said.

The cost of doing business 7/8

When the Philadelphia Flyers acquired goaltender Yann Danis via free agency and center Kris Newbury via trade last week, they did so to shore up their organizational depth at those two positions.

But organizational depth can be pretty expensive.

CapGeek keeps a list of the highest American Hockey League salaries here, and Danis and Newbury are both right near the top of the board. Danis actually ranks No. 2 at the time of this writing -- his $325,000 trails only sniper Andrew Gordon -- and Newbury is tied for third with a $300,000 salary.

Phantoms captain Ben Holmstrom is a little further down the list. He ranks No. 8 at $285,000.

If none of those three play a single National Hockey League game this season, Ed Snider will write them all checks for $910,000. The total cost may even wind up being a little bit higher, since there's a good chance one or two of them might get called up as injury replacements. It might top $1 million.

To be fair, the Flyers didn't sign Newbury to that contract. He signed a two-year contract with the Rangers last summer, but they traded him to the Flyers for Danny Syvret. However, the Flyers signed Syvret to a pretty similar contract, one that paid him $275,000 in the AHL last year and this year too.

One thing that immediately comes to mind is the fact that the NHL's new collective bargaining agreement eliminated re-entry waivers, so the old de facto AHL salary cap of $105,000 no longer exists. Before, players who earned above that total had to clear re-entry waivers to be called up to the NHL. Some players accepted less money so they would be exempt from re-entry waivers, hoping it would improve their chances of a call-up to the NHL. Since they don't have to worry about that anymore, they can demand more AHL money. And right now, teams are giving that money to them.

As Jonathan Bombulie of The (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Citizens Voice notes, there are 14 other players who are set to make at least $250,000 on the AHL portion of their two-way contracts this season.

Holmstrom, for example, made $105,000 last season. He got a $180,000 raise. That's significant. I think it's not unreasonable to expect other free agents to start seeing more money on their AHL deals.

One other Phantoms item of note: I spoke to Newbury on the phone this afternoon. He said he's looking to make the Flyers out of training camp. Look for his comments on the blog later today.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Danis to the Flyers 7/5

Touched on this in the live blog (entering hour four and still going strong), but the Philadelphia Flyers made a big splash in the AHL free agency scene by signing goalie Yann Danis to a one-year contract.

This is unquestionably one of the biggest Phantoms signings the Flyers have made since the team moved to Glens Falls. He's a veteran goaltender who will be entering his 10th professional season and is one year removed from a career season in which he won the AHL's outstanding goaltender award.

One of the sticking points from this deal is that Danis is a veteran who has got some legitimate playoff experience under his belt. He has backstopped the Oklahoma City Barons to the Western Conference Finals in each of the past two seasons, including to within a win of the Calder Cup Finals last year. We had him ranked on the big board as the No. 2 AHL goalie available this summer.

There is not a lot of playoff experience on the Adirondack roster, which will inevitably happen when you return a bunch of players from a team that hasn't made the playoffs since moving to Glens Falls. But this signing -- plus the trade for top-line AHL forward Kris Newbury -- sends a pretty strong message that the Flyers are serious about icing a winning team in the minor leagues this season.

You've now got a center who has scored 60 points in three straight seasons and a pretty good AHL goaltender who could fill in at the NHL level if there was an injury. They didn't have either of those last season. The team started to turn a corner from their old development philosophy by adding some veteran forwards in Jon Sim and David Laliberte, but that wasn't until halfway through the season.

If Newbury and Danis both clear waivers, they'll have two established AHL veterans on the roster from Day One. Plus a lot of returning players from a team that started to play well down the stretch.

Free Agency Liveblog (Day One) 7/5

This feature may take a moment to load.

NE Division Free Agent Tracker 7/5

Good morning, everybody.

With the dawn of free agency now upon us, there are sure to be some signings that will impact the Adirondack Phantoms and the rest of the American Hockey League's Northeast Division. I thought it might be convenient to create a Twitter list with all the relevant team, media and broadcaster accounts for all of those teams -- Adirondack, Albany, Bridgeport, Hartford and Springfield -- that will auto-update. If you're so inclined, you can sit here all day and watch the transactions come in live.

Friend of the blog Jason Iacona has another one for the East Division over at Chirps from Center Ice. The widget is below (it might take a few moments to load). I'll also have a liveblog up in a little bit.

In case you missed it, here's a list of some of the best players on the market today.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Top 300 AHL Free Agents 7/3

Friend of the blog Jonathan Bombulie of The (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Citizens' Voice and I have spent the past few weeks compiling a list of the Top 300 available American Hockey League free agents. With the free agency period set to begin Friday, this is as good a time as any to publish the final product. 

Most fans, I figured, probably aren't going to want to look through all 300 of them. So the first 50 are in the table below, then numbers 51-300 are after the jump. There's a best of the rest listed there too.

This is the fourth draft of the big board. We've removed a lot of players from the original drafts who have signed elsewhere, but we might have missed a couple announcements. If you see someone here who has already signed somewhere or is not a free agent, please alert me in the comment section.

You could also Tweet me your comments and corrections @MCSaratogian. And be sure to follow Jonathan at @CVBombulie. He's the absolute authority on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.

I plan to keep this updated all summer, so I'll be removing people as they sign with teams. A handful of the listed players signed with teams this afternoon, so this is now actually a list of only 293 or so.

(You have to scroll down a bit. The advertisement on the right screwed up the formatting).

1 KEITH AUCOIN C TOR Signed with St. Louis
2 DARREN HAYDAR RW CHI One of the greatest scorers in AHL history; now 33
3 JAMIE TARDIF RW PRO Career-high 30 goals in seventh pro season
4 JEROME SAMSON RW CHA Signed with Winnipeg
5 RYAN HAMILTON LW TOR Signed with Edmonton
6 MARK MANCARI RW RCH Signed with St. Louis
7 ANDRE BENOIT D BNG Signed with Colorado
8 TREVOR SMITH C WBS Signed with Toronto
9 ALEXANDRE BOLDUC C POR Signed with St. Louis
10 DAVID LEGGIO G RCH Signed with Washington
11 YANN DANIS G OKC Signed with Philadelphia
12 ANDREW GORDON RW CHI Signed with Winnipeg
13 JON DISALVATORE RW HER First time in 10 AHL seasons he didn't score 20 goals; still got 18
15 MARTIN ST. PIERRE C RCK Signed with Montreal
16 CHRIS MUELLER RW MIL Signed with Dallas
17 ROSTISLAV OLESZ C RCK Signed with New Jersey
18 MICHAEL LEIGHTON G ADK Journeyman has been outstanding in AHL his whole career
19 ANDREAS NODL LW CHA One-time Flyers prospect has slumped since 11-goal NHL season in 10-11
20 BRAD THIESSEN G WBS Signed with HIFK (Finland)
21 NATE GUENIN D NOR Signed with Colorado
22 JOEY CRABB RW HER Signed with Florida
23 CHRISTIAN HANSON C PRO Glens Falls native is big body who can score
24 NICK DRAZENOVIC C SPR Signed with Pittsburgh
25 CEDRICK DESJARDINS G SYR Re-signed with Tampa Bay
26 ANDREW EBBETT C CHI Signed with Pittsburgh
27 NICK HOLDEN D SPR Signed with Colorado
28 KYLE WILSON C NOR Signed with Dinamo Riga (KHL)
29 TIM KENNEDY LW WOR Signed with Phoenix
30 PATRICK MCNEILL D HER Signed with Columbus
31 STEVE PINIZZOTTO RW CHI Premier agitator, hitter hasn't really been healthy since leaving Hershey
32 FRANCIS PARE C GR Signed in Finland
33 DEREK MEECH D STJ Signed with Dinamo Minsk (KHL)
34 CHRIS CONNER RW POR Signed with Pittsburgh
35 BRENDAN MIKKELSON D SYR Capable depth defenseman; solid in the AHL, can fill in at NHL level
36 BARRY BRUST G ABB Signed with Medvescak Zagreb (KHL)
37 PHILIPPE CORNET LW OKC Scored 24 goals two years ago, was on pace to match that after call-up this year
38 DEREK NESBITT RW WBS Signed with Oklahoma City
39 GREG RALLO C SAN Re-signed with Florida
40 JIM VANDERMEER D CHI Veteran physical defender spent most of season in AHL
41 ANDRE DEVEAUX C SAN Before down year, had 40 points and 150 PIM in three straight seaons
42 RYAN CRAIG C SPR Signed with Columbus
43 BRETT CARSON D ABB NHL depth guy is 6-4, 225, right-handed and can put up numbers in AHL
44 NICK TARNASKY C RCH Signed with Montreal
45 NATHAN PAETSCH D GR Re-signed with Grand Rapids
46 KRYS KOLANOS RW ABB 101 points in 100 games in Abbotsford last two seasons
47 BRACKEN KEARNS C WOR 32-year-old has posted 43-plus points in four straight seasons, 20-plus goals in three
48 MATT TAORMINA D SYR Re-signed with Tampa Bay
49 AARON PALUSHAJ RW LE Signed with Carolina
50 MIKE ZIGOMANIS C TOR Signed with Rochester

Read more »

Updated Contract Statuses, Depth Chart 7/3

With Monday's acquisition of center Kris Newbury, plus the news that four Adirondack Phantoms players received qualifying offers and two more didn't, this seems like as good a time as any to update the contract chart. Here's how everything stands at this hour, days shy of NHL free agency:

Player Name 2012-13 Contract Type 2013-14 Contract Status
Jason Akeson (RW) NHL SIGNED
Brandon Alderson (W) ATO SIGNED - NHL
Rob Bordson (LW/C) AHL SIGNED - AHL
Brian Boucher (G) NHL UFA
Marc-Andre Bourdon (D) NHL SIGNED
Tyler Brown (LW) NHL SIGNED
Nick Cousins (C) NHL SIGNED
Jeff Dimmen (D) AHL SIGNED - ASIA*
Cullen Eddy (D) NHL SIGNED
Zack FitzGerald (LW/D) AHL UFA
Kyle Flanagan (C) ATO SIGNED - NHL
Erik Gustafsson (D) NHL QUALIFIED RFA
Shane Harper (RW) NHL TRADED - NYI
Cal Heeter (G) NHL SIGNED
Ben Holmstrom (RW) NHL SIGNED
Tyler Hostetter (D) NHL SIGNED
Andrew Johnston (F) NHL SIGNED
Blake Kessel (D) NHL NOW UFA
Matt Konan (D) NHL SIGNED
David Laliberte (LW) AHL UFA
Oliver Lauridsen (D) NHL QUALIFIED RFA
Andreas Lilja (D) NHL SIGNED - SWEDEN
Brandon Manning (D) NHL QUALIFIED RFA
Matt Mangene (F) NHL SIGNED
Derek Mathers (RW) NHL SIGNED
Scott Munroe (G) AHL SIGNED - SWEDEN
Marcel Noebels (LW/C) NHL SIGNED
Garrett Roe (C) AHL UFA
Ian Slater (LW/C) AHL UFA
Danny Syvret (D) NHL TRADED - NYR
Mitch Wahl (C) NHL NOW UFA

*Thanks to @JoshJanet for the tip. This went through a couple weeks ago, but I missed it.

One thing that immediately jumps off the page from that chart is that there's a pretty solid core of Phantoms who are under contract for next season. There are 18 players who have played for the team before already signed to contracts, plus an additional four players who received qualifying offers.

The Phantoms also have goalie Carsen Chubak under contract for next season, while the Flyers have signed defenseman Maxim Lamarche and forwards Michael Raffl and Peter Straka. Add in Newbury and you're now looking at some 28 players who are candidates for positions in Glens Falls. Here's another few tables, which include everyone the Flyers or Phantoms have under contract for next year.










Qualified, but needs to be formally signed.

A couple of things. The wings are fluid, since the Flyers have a lot of centers that are also capable of playing on the wings. Take that as you will. Right away, though, you realize that there aren't that many spots up for grabs in Philadelphia's training camp this year. I'd say that eight of their top nine forward spots are set, and you're probably looking for two additional forwards to make the big club. That's where the NHL bubble table comes into play. I'd like to think that McGinn will take one of the spots, based on how well he played when he was down here, but the team said some pretty glowing things about Raffl when they signed him. They think he could be NHL ready. We'll just have to see.

Laughton is an impressive kid who the Flyers like a lot. I think he gets another spot up top. Then you could take the rest of those players from the bubble table and add them to the Phantoms. The exception is Laughton, who is either going to the NHL or juniors this season. But if Akeson, Newbury and Holmstrom all come down, I think that doesn't look like a bad group of forwards. Still a little bit on the younger side, but it's clear that's been the Flyers preference over the past few seasons.

UPDATES: The Flyers re-signed Adam Hall Thursday, he's been added to the "NHL Locks" table. That's a good signing for the bottom six, and it now makes securing a spot out of training camp much more difficult for the bubble players. They're now competing for one roster spot, maybe two. They also added one-time Phantom (literally, he played one game here) Ray Emery to play goaltender. Later Friday, they signed former Oklahoma City Baron Yann Danis to a contract. That's a big deal.

What does that say about the free agency prospects? Well, if the Flyers are in the market for a couple of depth players to round out their AHL roster, that will take away ice time from some of their younger prospects. And there are a lot of kids -- as you can see from the tables -- that they're trying to develop this year. There are benefits to signing some veterans, though, and you can see that the Flyers turned a bit of a corner when they brought aboard Jon Sim and David Laliberte in the second half of the season. I think that they could really stand to benefit from another veteran winger come Friday.

The reality is, though, there aren't a lot of roster spots available within the organization at forward.

I still think Erik Gustafsson, who is eligible for waivers, has probably played his last game in Glens Falls, unless you account for a conditioning assignment. But Manning and Lauridsen are exempt from waivers, so they've got a pretty good chance to return. Wellwood will have some work to do to get back into game shape once he returns from that Achillies injury, estimated to be in January. He's also eligible for waivers, according to CapGeek, but his situation is a little different given that injury.

They're also probably going to have to trade one of Braydon Coburn or Andrej Meszaros up top to give themselves some salary cap relief, which would increase Gustafsson's chances of sticking in the NHL. Defensive depth really isn't this organization's strength. They could really benefit from picking up one or two guys through free agency when that opens. Some of the best available at the AHL level are Andre Benoit, Bobby Sanguinetti and Nate Guenin, a former Flyers prospect who had a career season with Norfolk. Nick Holden also had a really good season with the Springfield Falcons.

They're still sort of young at goalie, too. They need to sign an NHL back-up, but it probably wouldn't hurt to have another Scott Munroe in the fold. A guy who wouldn't mind being the back-up to Heeter, but would be able to make a spot start or two in the NHL if the Flyers absolutely needed him to. EDIT: Danis fits that bill. But if you include Laughton, and the four qualifying offers, they're already at 49 contracts. (Updated to include Thursday afternoon's Hall signing and Friday afternoon's addition of Ray Emery from Chicago and Danis). They don't have a lot of room to spare. If Laughton goes back to juniors, his contract doesn't count. They also have goalie Anthony Stolarz under contract, but he'll probably go back to juniors as well. Accordingly, I haven't included him in the 50-contract calculations.

Jonathan Bombulie of The (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Citizens' Voice and myself hope to have the list of the top AHL free agents live online later this afternoon, or tomorrow at the latest. We ranked the top 300 and did a brief bio on the rest of them. I'll be sure to Tweet out a link to that when it's live online.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Syvret speaks 7/2


GLENS FALLS -- Adirondack Phantoms defenseman Danny Syvret wasn’t too surprised to hear the news that he’d been traded to the New York Rangers, but he did think that his destination was somewhat ironic.

Not because the two Atlantic Division rivals had not been trading partners since March 2004, when the then-moribund Rangers had a fire sale, but for something that happened later that summer.

Syvret, then 19, had just gone unselected in his second National Hockey League entry draft when the Rangers extended him an invitation to their prospect evaluation camp in western Canada.

That wound up being a pretty good move for Syvret’s professional hockey career. The veteran blueliner said that experience prepared him for Team Canada’s World Junior camp, held days later.

“It was a month-long thing in Calgary,” Syvret said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “From there, I literally just walked next door to the summer camp for the World Junior team for Team Canada.”

Syvret made that team and went on to have a career season, winning Ontario Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League Defenseman of the Year honors as his London Knights captured the Memorial Cup. The Edmonton Oilers drafted him as a 20-year-old in the third round of the 2005 draft, and he began an eight-year professional career that’s taken him on a tour of North America.

His latest stop? Hopefully Broadway.

The Philadelphia Flyers traded the 28-year-old Syvret to the Rangers Monday for veteran forward Kris Newbury, an elite AHL scorer and a viable option as a bottom-six NHL call-up.

Syvret, one of the premier puck-moving defenseman in the AHL, is poised to either spend the upcoming season with the Rangers or their AHL affiliate, the Hartford (Conn.) Wolf Pack.

“It wasn’t a huge surprise,” Syvret said of the trade in the telephone interview. “I wasn’t really expecting a trade, but I obviously know near the draft that anything can really happen. Seeing how things ended with the Flyers and bringing up a lot of prospects, I think, for me, it’s sort of a good move.

“At the end of the day, your goal is to play at the highest level you can possibly play. Obviously, everybody dreams of playing in the NHL and I still obviously want to play in the NHL.”

It became increasingly clear that that’s something that wasn’t in the cards with the Flyers.

Syvret signed a two-year, two-way contract with Philadelphia before the start of last season. The contract paid him $275,000 in the AHL, according to That made him eligible for re-entry waivers under the terms of the old collective bargaining agreement, so the Flyers risked losing him and having 50 percent of his deal count against their salary cap if they called him up.

Once the NHL lockout was settled, however, re-entry waivers were eliminated. There was nothing preventing the Flyers from calling him up. But even as their blue line was decimated by injuries later in the season, the Flyers kept him in Glens Falls. The coveted NHL call-ups went to younger prospects like Erik Gustafsson, Oliver Lauridsen, Brandon Manning and rookie Matt Konan.

“They wanted their younger guys to be playing, which is the right thing to do,” Syvret said. “Obviously, me moving to a different team is hopefully better for me, for my personal status.”

The Rangers, who fired coach John Tortorella and replaced him with former Canucks boss Alain Vigneault, are in the midst of retooling their defensive corps. At Sunday’s draft, they dealt Benn Ferriero and a draft pick to the Minnesota Wild for Justin Falk. They now have Syvret, who is the lone defenseman to record 40 or more points in each of the past three AHL seasons, in the fold.

He became the first Flyers player traded to the Rangers since Philadelphia dealt Rick Kozak and a draft pick to the Rangers for Russian blueliner Vladimir Malakhov at the 2004 trade deadline.

“I know a bunch of guys on the Rangers that I have either played with or played against growing up,” Syvret said in the phone interview. “It was ironic. A bunch of them actually texted me, which was a pretty nice feeling. I’m not sure what to expect. … Maybe it’s good for me to have a fresh start with a new coach that’s coming in. I just have to give myself the best chance possible to make the team out of training camp, and if not just keep playing hard and hopefully my time will come.”

Syvret was junior hockey teammates with Dan Girardi and played against Rangers captain Ryan Callahan. He played with winger Darroll Powe in the Flyers organization. He said he did not know too many players on the Wolf Pack roster, joking that he’s a little older than them, but welcomed the chance to be a veteran mentor to the younger defensive prospects if he is assigned to the AHL.

“I like having that role on a team,” Syvret said. “If guys look up to you, I try to carry myself pretty professionally and hopefully that sheds off onto other players. If they gain any sort of experience, skills or knowledge from me, I’m grateful. I enjoy watching young guys succeed, that’s for sure.”

He said Newbury, who he has played against in both the OHL and AHL, would be a good fit for the Phantoms. The center is one of just two players to record 60 or more points in each of the past three AHL seasons, but he’s also a 31-year-old veteran who can show younger players the ropes.

Newbury still has to clear waivers before he can be assigned to the Phantoms, however.

“He’s a gritty player, but in the AHL he utilizes his skills a lot more on puck possession than he does in the NHL,” Syvret said in the telephone interview. “He plays more of a third-line or fourth-line role (in the NHL). Obviously, he has the skill to produce at the AHL level. Playing against him, he’s a hard player to play against because he’s pretty poised with the puck and has good vision. I think he’s going to work very well with a bunch of young players coming in there.”

Though he’s leaving the Flyers organization, Syvret wished the Phantoms nothing but the best.

“I had a lot of fun there, met a lot of good people,” Syvret said. “It was sort of disappointing that when we were with the Phantoms in Adirondack, we never really made the playoffs. Hopefully this year for them and for the fans, because they’re pretty supportive despite the type of teams we’ve had.

“They’re deserving of a pretty good team. Hopefully the young kids play well next year and make the playoffs and give the fans something to be excited about.”

Monday, July 1, 2013

Reported qualifying offers 7/1

Four players who saw time with the Adirondack Phantoms last season have reportedly received qualifying offers, a procedural move that allows the Philadelphia Flyers to retain their exclusive rights before the National Hockey League’s free agency period opens Friday.

The Camden (N.J.) Courier-Post newspaper reported on Monday the Flyers issued the offers to winger Eric Wellwood and defensemen Erik Gustafsson, Oliver Lauridsen and Brandon Manning. The newspaper also reported the Flyers did not issue the offers to Phantoms defenseman Blake Kessel and center Mitch Wahl, which will make the two of them unrestricted free agents effective July 5.

Accordingly, Kessel and Wahl will be free to sign with any team. Wellwood, Gustafsson, Lauridsen and Manning could theoretically do the same, but Philadelphia’s reported action Monday means that another NHL team would have to first sign one of those four players to an offer sheet. The Flyers could then either match that offer, or decide to let the player walk and receive some form of compensation from the other team. However, signing AHL-level players to an offer sheet is a rarity.

The qualifying offers are based on what the players earned last season, but players do not automatically have to accept that. They could reject them and take the team to arbitration.

Gustafsson, Lauridsen, Manning and Wellwood all saw time with the Flyers last season. Gustafsson had eight points in 27 games, while Lauridsen and Manning played well filling in for injured players. Wellwood is not scheduled to return until at least January while he recovers from his Achilles injury.

Kessel spent most of his sophomore season in the ECHL, where he ranked second among all defenders with 41 points, but he had fallen deeply down the Flyers’ depth chart since last year. He was basically only ranked above Tyler Hostetter, who did not get into any AHL games this season.

Wahl was acquired in the trade that sent Mike Testwuide to Calgary in late February. There was hope that the center might be able to channel some of the prolific numbers he put up in junior hockey, but he only recorded four points in 15 games. The Flyers subsequently assigned him back to the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, where he had spent much of the past two seasons, for that team's playoff run.

Not bringing them back gives the Flyers some room heading into free agency, which begins July 5. Teams are allowed to sign 50 players to NHL contracts. By my count, the Flyers are currently at 44. That includes the four players who were tendered qualifying offers, but have not yet signed them. It also includes Scott Laughton, whose contract would not count if he is sent back to juniors. It does not include Anthony Stolarz, whose contract would only count if he plays professionally this year. It also includes Chris Pronger, who is expected to spend this entire season on long-term injured reserve.

They still need to sign a goalie to complement Steve Mason, which would give them 45 contracts. They may look to add another three or four players, likely non-goaltenders, in free agency to round out their NHL and AHL rosters. Teams like to have some wiggle room against the 50-contract limit.

The Flyers had one other player who was due to be a restricted free agent, winger Shane Harper, but they traded him to the Islanders in the Mark Streit deal. Harper did not receive a qualifying offer, Newsday reported, and will accordingly become an unrestricted free agent like Kessel and Wahl.

Stay tuned this week for the revelation of the AHL Big Board, a list of the best available free agents at this level, a joint production between Jonathan Bombulie of The (Wilkes-Barre, Pa.) Citizens' Voice and myself. Look for that to go live tomorrow or Wednesday. Ill also have another rundown of the Adirondack and Philadelphia depth charts at some point before free agency opens on Friday.

Newbury acquired 7/1

The Adirondack Phantoms lost an elite puck-moving American Hockey League defenseman on Monday, but are poised to receive something they desperately needed in return.

A bona fide AHL scorer.

The Philadelphia Flyers traded Danny Syvret to the New York Rangers in exchange for center Kris Newbury, a top-line AHL power forward who has netted 60-plus points in three straight seasons.

The straight-up exchange was announced by the Flyers on Monday evening.

Newbury, 31, has amassed 142 goals, 439 points and 1,332 penalty minutes in a 599-game AHL career. The 5-foot-11, 205-pounder is one of just two AHL players to net 60 or more points in each of the past three AHL seasons. The other, T.J. Hensick, has signed a contract to play the upcoming season in Sweden.

The Phantoms haven’t had a 60-point scorer on their roster since Jon Matsumoto netted 62 points in 2009-10. They only scored 182 goals last season, the lowest total in the 17-year history of the franchise.

The trade doesn’t necessarily guarantee Newbury will spend the coming season in Glens Falls.

He still has to clear waivers before he can be assigned to the AHL, but he projects as a bottom-six forward in the NHL. An NHL club would want to keep him on its roster at the start of the season. He has recorded just four goals, nine points and 132 penalty minutes in his 72-game NHL career.

However, Newbury didn’t come to the Flyers organization cheap.

Syvret, 28, is the only defenseman to record 40-plus points in each of the past three AHL seasons. An alternate captain with Adirondack, he was a fixture on the team’s power play, on which he recorded a team-best 25 points. He had 27 total points in the 43 games after the NHL lockout ended.

There was nothing blocking Syvret from a call-up to the NHL once the new collective bargaining agreement was approved in January and re-entry waivers, which were based on a player’s salary, were eliminated.

But the Flyers never called the veteran up, even as their blue line was decimated by injuries at the tail end of the season. They instead went with younger options in Erik Gustafsson, Brandon Manning, Oliver Lauridsen and even rookie Matt Konan, who all filled in admirably in the NHL.

The Rangers, therefore, might offer Syvret a better chance to play some additional NHL games. He has three goals and seven points in 59 career NHL appearances, compared to 46 goals and 252 points in 483 AHL contests.

Both Syvret and Newbury will play the final year of their two-year contracts this season.