T.J. Brennan(3) Toronto Marlies

TJ Brennan

Toronto Maple Leafs‘ 5th year defenseman T.J. Brennan(3) is continuing his career year in the minors with affiliate Toronto Marlies.

He played in a season high 75 AHL regular season games scoring a new best 25 goals and 47 assists for 72 points, which basically doubled his previous yearly totals in the three scoring categories. His 2013/2014 totals were also good enough for lead on the team in tallies and overall. He was also 3rd in the league for points.

The 6’1″ 213 lbs. blue liner recently won the Eddie Shore Award for best d-man this year.

He only has 40 NHL games to his credit, despite being a Buffalo Sabres‘ 2nd round high selection pick.

The irony to those numbers is his best numbers with on a short, freshly traded 19-game stint with Florida Panthers, where he put up a pair of goals and 7 assists in 19 games.

He was picked up for a draft pick and then sent in an off-season trade to Nashville Predators, who decided not to qualify the pending restricted free agent.

Picked up by the Leafs, they, as the story goes never recalled him because they didn’t need him long-term and feared potentially losing him on waivers. It is so much easier to just call up an entry level player.

Now marching the Marlies through the Calder Cup Playoffs he has 4 goals and 4 assists in 9 games without a loss going into the Western Conference Finals.

The 25-year old is set to become a free and in the clear unrestricted free agent this summer. He received one-way contract money but will someone step up for 2014/2015 to try his experience for a full campaign? We’d sign him.

See related: 4/7-11, 11/24-11

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Brian Gibbons(9) WBS Penguins

Brian Gibbons2

Pittsburgh Penguins‘ 3rd year, undrafted center Brian Gibbons(9) is coming off a career year and once this incredible 2013/2014 season ride is complete he’s set to become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his thus far brief pro career.

The super-small 5’8″ 170 lbs. forward played his first NHL games this year. He skated 41 contests, putting up a respectable 5 goals and 12 assists with a +5 rating; and then added another tally and pair of helpers in 8 Stanley Cup Playoff games before being eliminated.

He was able to be returned to the farm club Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins to help their postseason quest.

Already paying dividends, in 6 Calder Cup Playoff tilts he’s scored one highlight reel goal and two assists, while bringing increased energy and speed to an already fast, high scoring team.

He has a pedigree for winning as he won two NCAA Championships in 2008 and 2010 with Boston College Eagles.

He was already having a pretty amazing minor league campaign in his third season of play. In his first two years, he scored an equal 30 points over the course of 70 games. Then in the current run he equaled his rookie scoring numbers (9-11-30) in just 28 match-ups, which easily got him noticed for his first recall.

The parent club would be smart to put this one to bed quickly and offer him a tw0-year, potentially one-way contract extension to stay.

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Harri Sateri(35) Vityaz Podolsk

Harri Sateri

San Jose Sharks‘ 6th year Finnish-born goaltender Harri Sateri(35) heading into his second restricted free agency decides it’s time to leave and signs a 1-year deal in the KHL with Vityaz Podolsk for 2014/2015.

It comes after 4 seasons tending net for minor league affiliate Worcester Sharks.

He played a regular season high 45 AHL games last season, winning a career best 18 but also losing a worst 24. His goals against average and save percentages also started slipping on a team that has struggled more often than not.

The 6’1″ 205 lbs. goalie played two seasons pro in his home country’s top league Liiga for Tappara before joining the Sharks‘ prospect system.

He’ll likely be qualified for another year to keep his North American playing rights but it seems likely that the 24-year old won’t be returning to these shores again.

See related: 3/30-11, 10/18-11

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Alexandre Grenier(28) Utica Comets

Alexandre Grenier

Vancouver Canucks‘ 3rd round pick in the 2011 draft (#90 overall), rookie right wing Alexandre Grenier(28) had a good first year under a two-year entry level deal signed to start in the 2013/2014 season.

Playing on reassignment with their expansion affiliate Utica Comets, he managed to connect for a team third high ranking in goals, assists and points (17-22-39).

This was actually the hulking 6’4″ 200 lbs. forward second season as a pro.

After only a year and a half in the QMJHL, he decided it was time to take his game to the next level.

Signing with EC Salzburg of the Austria Elite League as players waited for the lockout to thaw, he gained some solid playing experience in 25 games overseas and joined Kalamazoo Wings to begin his quest to get make it to the NHL.

Wasting no time, he contributed 10 goals and 11 assists in 37 games before being recalled late in the season to Chicago Wolves.

Impressed by his skating, he would ink a contract at the conclusion of the regular season.

With a bit more muscle and weight on his full-sized frame, the 22-year old should compete for a spot on the parent’s club roster to start his sophomore campaign.

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Josh Archibald(42) WBS Penguins

Josh Archibald

Pittsburgh Penguins‘ 6th round pick in the 2013 draft right wing Josh Archibald(42) leaves his final year at University Of Nebraska-Ohama, turning pro with a freshly inked 3-year entry level deal.

He was a Hobey Baker Award finalist in 2012/2013 hitting the back of the net 29 times in 37 NCAA games.

The undersized 5’10” 170 lbs. forward joined minor league affiliate Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins for the remainder of 2013/2014 and pocketed his first pro goal.

He plays a fairly tenacious style game to open up scoring opportunities and it certainly paid off with his first tally of the 2014 Calder Cup Playoffs in his AHL postseason debut.

The 21-year old will be in the parents’ club training camp once again, competing for a roster spot but most likely will be spending the majority of his rookie season with the farm team to see if he can produce on a regular basis.

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Dane Byers(38) Hershey Bears

Dane Byers

Hershey Bears‘ 9th year veteran Dane Byers(38) needs not worry where he’ll play next season as the team captain been invited back to continue his role in Chocolatetown.

Maybe a bit of a less than surprise move, as the 28-year old left wing signed his first minor league deal to join the much-storied AHL team last season.

The solid 6’3″ 203 lbs. forward has appeared in only 14 NHL games, 6 with New York Rangers (drafted 2nd round, 46th overall in 2004) and 8 with Columbus Blue Jackets. He was able to pot one goal.

A proven leader on and off the ice, he plays a gutsy style that never shies away from delivering a crushing hit or fisticuffs if called upon to drop the gloves. He had the most penalty minutes last season, 211 since his rookie campaign in 2006/2007.

No doubt what will be foremost on his mind will be returning the club to a postseason berth, which they missed for the first time in 8 straight years of appearances.

See related: 11/14-10, 12/25-10, 9/8-11, 9/6-12

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Andre Petersson(20) Norfolk Admirals

Andre Petersson

Anaheim Ducks‘ Swedish-born right wing Andre Petersson(20) is at the end of his 3-year entry level deal he signed with draft team Ottawa Senators (2008 4th round #109 overall).

He was involved in a minor trade on the deadline date that sent him from one AHL affiliate, Binghamton Senators to Norfolk Admirals.

In the meantime though, the small but shifty 5’9″ 177 lbs. was managing to put up some career highs with 33 assists and 56 points, while his 23 goals tied a rookie campaign marker he put up quickly.

Having already played two seasons in the SHL before putting his hat in the ring for a shot at the NHL, he’s played only one game in 2011/2012.

The 23-year old is set to become a restricted free agent and will almost certainly be qualified, especially after a nice 2014 Calder Cup Playoff debut appearance with 3 goals and 3 assists in 10 games to get the underdog team to the second round.

The question might just be, will he still want to stick around to go after the North American hockey dream.

See related: 1/24-12

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Pascal Pelletier(23) Utica Comets

Pascal Pelletier

Undrafted 10th year center Pascal Pelletier(23) returned to North American hockey signing a one-year two-way deal with Vancouver Canucks for 2013/2014.

He spent the last three seasons in the Swiss elite league NLA, skating games for Langnau, putting up close to point-per-game numbers.

The strong skating, stocky 5’11” 196 lbs. forward was reassigned to expansion team Utica Comets and set a new career high assists with 40 in 69 AHL games.

His 62 points were also second highest of his pro career.

He appeared in 3 games with the parent club but failed to hit the score sheet. He’s played 16 total NHL games but has yet to register a point.

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Brock Montpetit(72) Västerås

Brock Montpetit2

Undrafted center Brock Montpetit(72) has decided to start his pro career overseas with Vasteras in Sweden’s tier two league Allsvenskan.

After four productive seasons at University Of Nebraska-Omaha, which followed three years of equally great play in US junior hockey with Waterloo Black Hawks, he signed an ato joining Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the end of 2013/2014.

He only appeared in a pair of AHL games scoring no points.

It will be interesting to see how the 5’10” 195 lbs. forward develops and if he can find his scoring touch on the next level.

At 24-years old, he’s getting a bit of a late start but could find big success playing on the bigger ice surfaces across the pond.

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Josh Morrissey(6) St. John’s IceCaps

Josh Morrissey

Winnipeg Jets‘ 1st round pick in the 2013 draft (#13 overall) defenseman Josh Morrissey(6) is impressing up to expectations skating his first pro games with minor league affiliate St. John’s IceCaps.

He joined the farm club on an ato after his third season with Prince Albert Raiders. where he served as team captain.

The seemingly kind of small and skinny 6′ 185 lbs. d-man played in 8 regular season AHL games notching a single assist and has really come out swinging in the postseason with 2 goals and 4 helpers with a +5 rating in 9 Calder Cup contests.

Signed to a 3-year entry level deal before the start of the 2013/2014 season, he was on a slide due to his young age and reassigned to his WHL club.

He was a huge point-getter in three campaigns and won a pair of gold medals in recent junior competitions.

The 19-year old should compete in the upcoming training camp for an NHL job on the parent club’s roster in his official rookie year, but for now is enjoying the ride in a bid for a league championship.

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