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.
Anaheim Ducks‘ 2nd round pick in the 2o11 draft (#39 overall) goaltender John Gibson(43) got the ultimate call-up in his young career when he was chosen to be the starting net minder for Team USA at the IIHF World Championships. He helped backstop the team to a bronze medal, their first ranking in almost ten years at the competition.
He’s participated in two NHL training camps including the shortened 2013 camp, but the still only 19-year old was sent back to rejoin his junior hockey club Kitchener Rangers. He signed a three-year entry level deal at the end of the 2012 season but the parent club elected to wait and use a first year slide based on his age.
The sizable 6’3″ 209 lbs. backstop is highly touted in a Ducks‘ system that is already very deep at the goalie position but does look to be capable to stealing a job in his first year with the team.
If that doesn’t happen, he could shoulder a lot of the playing time with their AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals, a team he joined briefly, appearing in one game before their season was over.
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.
Undrafted defenseman Karl Stollery(6) gets rewarded with a Colorado Avalanche one-year two-way NHL entry level deal after putting up solid numbers in his rookie season with minor league affiliate Lake Erie Monsters.
In 72 AHL games he had 5 goals and 29 assists, first on the team in points and helpers, while maintaining a +11 rating with an active 119 shots of net.
He originally signed an ato with the team upon finishing up four years of college hockey at Merrimack and got right to the business of marking up the score sheet with a pair of goals and 5 assists in 9 games to finish out the regular season. He led his Hockey East team in all sorts of categories, while holding down the captain’s spot for the team in his final two years.
At 5’11″ 180 lbs., the 25-year old could still use some added weight and muscle to his game but is already pretty impressive out there at his current size.
Boston Bruins‘ undrafted, rookie defenseman Torey Krug(47) has gotten his breaks early with games in the NHL straight out of college play last season and got an assist, played in one contest this season and got an assist and adds first appearance in a Stanley Cup Playoff game and gets himself the game-tying goal on the way to an overtime victory in his debut, which happened to be game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals vs. New York Rangers.
He’s had an outstanding first season in the AHL with Providence Bruins.
He was first on the team in goals, assists and points for d-men; and second in the league in goals and tied for third overall in points and third overall for rookies in assists.
See related: 9/10-12
The two-year Washington Capitals‘ experiment to bring over dynamic Swedish center Mattias Sjogren(26) is over as he signs a 2-year deal to return to his home country and play for Linkoping in Elitserien.
He will be entering his 9th season, having played in the pro ranks since he was 17-years old.
In 2011/2012, he started the season in Hershey but ask to return to Sweden and signed on with Färjestad, when things weren’t adding up.
Although the now 25-year old recorded AHL highs in games played, goals, assists and points with affiliate Hershey Bears, he went out with a concussion and at other times was able to crack the lineup on a more regular basis.
He’s listed at 6’3″ 219 lbs. but seemed to play more of a European skating style game over digging deep in the corners or fighting for position in front of the net with his power forward size.
Chances of him returning to North America with another nice contract are slim but easily life has to be pretty good for the still young player to be skating in Sweden’s elite league (SEL).
6th year defenseman Dylan Reese(2) had a homecoming with his offseason signing on the first day of free agency, when he was picked up by team he watched growing up, Pittsburgh Penguins.
Signed to a one-year two-way deal, he had to wait for the NHL lockout to thaw until he got his chance to play in front of the hometown crowd, suiting up for 3 games with the parent club but registering no points.
He has been on reassignment with their minor league affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins since the start of the 2012/2013 season and a career high 8 goals.
The 6’1″ 205 lbs. d-man is currently skating in the Calder Cup playoffs for as long as that lasts and if they are exited will likely be brought up as one of the “black aces” practice squad.
It seems like an easy fit to bring the 28-year old back into the fold for another season but he could also have other suitors out there wanting to bring him up to the show on a more regular basis.
He’s played 77 NHL games with 3 goals and 14 assists to his credit. He was originally a New York Rangers‘ 7th round pick in the 2003 draft (#209 overall) but only played as part of their system with Hartford Wolf Pack for four games when his college career at Harvard University was finished.
He signed his first contract with San Antonio Rampage and spent his first two pro seasons with the team. He’s appeared in 326 AHL games scoring 21 goals with 100 assists to his credit.
See related: 1/30-11, 9/24-11, 12/4-11
Ottawa Senators‘ 2nd round pick in the 2011 draft (#61 overall), rookie left wing Shane Prince(18) had himself a good first pro season, 18 goals and 17 assists in 65 AHL games for minor league affiliate Binghamton Senators and added another marker in three playoff contests.
He absolutely exploded in his last two seasons in juniors with Ottawa 67′s notching basically a point and a half per game.
At 5’11″ 189 lbs., he’s not exactly small but never really plays a big game and more than anything seems to slip almost unnoticed into the open areas to come up with scoring opportunities.
He has a three year entry level deal that keeps him in the system through 2015.
The 20-year is currently on recall with the parent club serving as one of the “black aces” playoffs’ practice squad.
He’s likely due an NHL look in his sophomore season.
Washington Capitals‘ undrafted defenseman Nate Schmidt(5) recently signed a 2-year entry level deal leaving his final year at University Of Minnesota behind and was reassigned to minor league affiliate Hershey Bears to start his pro career and hopefully help them into the Calder Cup Playoffs.
Objective achieved, as he jumped right in playing through virtually every situation, contributing a goal and 3 assists in 8 AHL regular season games. He added another pair of helpers in 5 postseason games before his team was eliminated in a fifth and decisive game of the Quarterfinals.
He was a heck of a set-up player through his last two seasons in college hockey, so no doubt the parent club will look for him to continue that trend.
The very solid 5’11″ 199 lbs. blue liner was recalled to join the “black aces” practice squad as the Capitals begin their quest for the Stanley Cup.
At only 21-years old, he still has time and room to further fill out his frame and may get a long look in upcoming training camps.
His contract already kicked in for 2012/2013, so his official rookie campaign will actually be the second of his deal and he’ll become a restricted free agent at the end of next season.