Undrafted 10th year center Warren Peters(43) is the type of veteran skater you want on your team come playoff time for his on ice determination and game leadership he brings.
An unrestricted free agent after two seasons in the Minnesota Wild system, he signed a one-year two-way contract with Pittsburgh Penguins that’s seen him contribute with all the aforementioned qualities during the regular season, but in the postseason with AHL affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins it’s on a whole other level. It’s also good reason for him to wear an assistant captain “A” on his sweater.
The 6’1″ 209 lbs. forward has made it to Calder Cup Finals in two of the last three seasons, first with Texas Stars and followed it up with Houston Aeros.
He’s appeared in 96 NHL with 3 different teams in each of the last four seasons (4 goals, 4 assists) and only likely didn’t receive a recall this season due to the shortened campaign.
As a player that started his career in the ECHL and even spent his entire sophomore season in the league during the other most recent lockout, we can appreciate the fact that he’s worked his way up to the show with lots of hard play and persistence.
The 30-year old is back on the market this summer but chances are the Penguins will offer him a one-year extension.
3rd year, undrafted defenseman Peter Merth(4) has seemed to enjoy his playing time in the pros with Wheeling Nailers. He signed three successive one-year deals to stay with the club.
He’s also received AHL call-ups for the past couple of seasons and training camp invites from Adirondack Phantoms and Abbotsford Heat.
The sturdy 6’3″ 225 lbs. d-man had season bests in 2012/2013 for assists (16) and points (17) but surprisingly only received one pto deal with Hamilton Bulldogs for 7 games. He fared better the previous year appearing in 11 contests with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, connecting for a pair of helpers and was with them through a winning streak.
With 167 ECHL games to his credit, he has scored 5 goals and 36 assists with a mammoth +24 rating and not a lot of unnecessary time in the sin bin.
The 26-year old was recently brought back up to rejoin WBS Penguins’ Calder Cup run as their defense corps became depleted with injuries.
He was inserted into the lineup at exactly the right time, as the team was down 3-0 in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals but made a comeback charge to tie the series at 3 apiece going into a decisive game 7.
He has one assist and a +2 plus/minus in the three contests he’s suited up for.
Seems likely that he’ll make a more permanent jump to the higher league in 2013/2014.
3rd year right wing Alex Berry(29) is stepping up the effort for Reading Royals in the 2013 Kelly Cup Playoffs, his second postseason run with the team. He was part of the disastrous meltdown that bounced them out of the Eastern Conference Finals after going up 3-0 in the series.
In 18 games, he has struck for 7 goals and 4 assists, including the game-winner that has the Royals up 2-0 in the Finals. But even more than marking up the score sheet nicely he’s looked to for leadership in the locker room and on the ice and plays exactly that kind of style.
Signed to a one-year contract with Hershey Bears, he was recalled and reassigned 7 times during 2012/2013.
In 19 AHL games he had a pair of goals and 2 assists; and 6 tallies and 10 helpers in 29 ECHL games.
He also spent 21 games on the injured reserved late in the campaign but that was nothing compared to breaking his arm so badly in Portland Pirates‘ training camp in 2011 that it required two seperate surgeries in order for him to make a comeback.
Originally a Toronto Maple Leafs‘ 5th round pick in the 2005 draft (#153 overall), he signed a two-year entry level deal that saw him play in 55 games with minor league affiliate Toronto Marlies before being traded before his sophomore season to Tampa Bay Lightning.
The big 6’3″ 209 lbs. forward did fairly well for their affiliate Norfolk Admirals but was not retained for another campaign by the parent club and became an unrestricted free agent heading into 2011/2012.
He’s has 157 AHL games to his credit and looks to be making a good argument for a one-year extension.
Undrafted 2nd year defenseman Vincent LoVerde(5) had an unassumingly terrific sophomore season playing most of the campaign on a pair of pto’s with Manchester Monarchs.
He started 2012/2013 with Ontario Reign, the team he’d spent his entire rookie season playing for in the ECHL.
After an invite to Chicago Wolves‘ training camp he returned to the Reign roster, where he re-signed in the summer and was quick to produce, resulting in his first recall.
Through 51 AHL games he scored a pair of goals and added 11 assists, while posting a monster +17 on a team that fought tooth and nail for a Calder Cup playoff berth.
Look for him to score another invite to a triple A camp, if not sign a deal in the offseason to join a team for the entirety of 2013/2014.
2nd year Hershey Bears‘ goalies Philipp Grubauer(31) congratulates opposing Providence Bruins‘ rookie net minder Niklas Svedberg(1) on their 3 games to 2 come from behind AHL Calder Cup Eastern Conference Quarterfinals‘ victory.
Both backstops were coming off great AHL seasons with Svedberg taking home the 2012/2013 Baz Bastien Outstanding Goaltender Award, while Grubauer had the rare distinction of tending net in three different leagues throughout the season, also suiting up for a pair of NHL games with the parent club Washington Capitals and 26 for ECHL affiliate Reading Royals.
8th year undrafted right wing Derek Nesbitt(16) is one of those players that has consistently worked hard for every break he’s ever received playing pro hockey.
He joined his ninth team, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to help them with their AHL Calder Cup playoffs push. He was traded from Peoria Rivermen, who was out of postseason contention.
The 6′ 185 lbs. forward started his career in the ECHL for a couple of seasons and won a Kelly Cup Championship in his sophomore campaign with Idaho Steelheads. He also put up 81 points in 66 games and another 6 goals and 12 assists in 22 playoff contests that breakout year.
It also set him up to move up to the higher league on a more permanent basis. In 211 ECHL games he has 86 goals and 154 assists.
He signed his only NHL deal with Phoenix Coyotes, a one-year two-way deal, a couple of seasons later.
He has spent most of his playing time in the AHL for the past 6 seasons, where he also has some pretty impressive numbers with 92 goals and 111 assists in 320 games.
The 31-year old is an unrestricted free agent pretty much like he’s always been, heading in 2013/2014 and is coming off his third straight 40+ point year and one where he tallied a career best 26 goals.
A pair of number 30 goaltenders meet at center ice for the traditional handshake at the end of the AHL Eastern Conference Quarterfinals best-of-five.
Portland Pirates‘ Chad Johnson(30) congratulates Syracuse Crunch Cedrick Desjardins(30) 0n the 3-0 series victory.
Both net minders will be unrestricted free agents as of July 1.
Chances have to be highly likely 4th year, 26-year old Johnson signs a one-year extension to stay in Phoenix Coyotes‘ system. He appeared in 4 NHL games this lockout shortened season and had a 1.21 GAA and .954 SV%.
He could easily score the back up job in 2013/2014.
27-year old Desjardins was reacquired by Tampa Bay Lightning on Valentine’s Day in a goalie swap with Montreal Canadiens. It’s his second time with the only team he’s played NHL games with, 5 total including three this past season.
He’s basically won everything at the junior and ECHL levels and is still waiting for a real opportunity in the show but for now will be concentrating on climbing that next rung with an AHL Championship.
Hershey Bears‘ third year center Peter LeBlanc(18) had an assist hat trick to help his team with the 5-4 overtime win giving them a 2-0 series lead in the best of five AHL Eastern Conference Semi-Finals. This effort followed up a pair of helpers effort he had in game 1 and the points currently tie him for the league lead.
He was originally a Chicago Blackhawks‘ 7th round pick in the 2006 draft (#186 overall) but only signed an NHL contract, a one-year entry level deal, at the start of his third pro season and is set to become a restricted free agent at the end of this campaign.
He spent all of his time with their minor league affiliate Rockford IceHogs putting up a little more than a point in every other appearance for 40 goals and 56 assists in 164 games. He was signed consecutive AHL deals and even started his rookie season in the ECHL with Toledo Walleye for 22 games until permanently recalled.
The 5’11″ forward may be not be the biggest guy on the ice but has power forward weight at 200 lbs.
With his breakout early playoff performance (his first time in the postseason), chances are good Washington Capitals will re-up with him for another year and who knows he may even get a look for a few games in the show.
Undrafted, 3rd year giant-sized center Brayden Irwin(29) was released from his pto with Norfolk Admirals and returned to Florida Everblades to help them with another Kelly Cup run.
The 6’5″ 219 lbs. forward has seen action in 20 AHL games in 2012/2013 scoring 4 goals and adding 4 assists.
In 38 ECHL games, he’s struck for 14 goals and 15 assists. He also won last year’s championship with the team, registering 6 goals and 7 assists in 17 postseasons contests on the way to victory.
Originally signed to a 2-year entry level deal with Toronto Maple Leafs, he played his only pair of NHL games directly after wrapping up his collegiate career at University Of Vermont.
From there he skated 45 games with their minor league affiliate Toronto Marlies before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
The 26-year attended St. John’s IceCaps‘ training camp but was released and rejoined Florida for another campaign.
Undrafted, 2nd year left wing Hunter Bishop(11) signed with South Carolina Stingrays to begin 2012/2013 after an injury put him on the sidelines for all of the previous season.
It just so happened to be the final year of his 2-year entry level deal with Montreal Canadiens. He became an unrestricted free agent at the end of the contract.
He put up great numbers: 2 goals and 3 assists in 9 games with minor league affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs, when he joined the team after leaving his college career at Ohio State University on the shelf. Come Calder Cup Playoff time though, he was unable to duplicate the success scoring only one assist in 12 contests.
The 6′ 196 lbs. forward started his rookie season on the injured reserve list and was reassigned to Wheeling Nailers, when he was ready to return and duplicated his output on an ato in higher league just six months earlier.
He was recalled and stuck in the AHL through the entire campaign but was limited to only 4 goals and 4 assists in 34 games.
The 25-year old struck stats gold again in the ECHL with the Stingrays hitting the back of the net on 24 occasions and offering up 25 helpers in 48 games. He finished the season as their leading scorer with a +13 rating.
He received a brief pair of call-ups to Lake Erie Monsters and Rochester Americans but was held scoreless.
It wasn’t until a couple of months ago that he found another home in the AHL with Manchester Monarchs. He has been with the club for 21 games on a pto putting up 3 goals and 2 assists (another 5 point mark).
He meshes well with team chemistry and will likely play out the regular season, or return home to Alaska as his lower league team was bounced from the playoff picture in the first round.
He is likely to be on an AHL roster out of training camp in 2013/2014.