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.
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.
He signed a pto with minor league affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack at the beginning of the season to return to North American hockey after winning the 2013 Italian Cup Championship with Valpellice Bulldogs.
The fairly large-looking 6’2″ 210 lbs. power forward was averaging 40 points per season in his first three years.
Appearing in only 26 games on a veteran heavy roster, he managed a goal and 5 assists with a -9 rating, when he decided to accept an offer from Iserlohn Roosters of DEL to head back across the pond to skate the remainder of 2014.
The move seemed to work as he got some of his mojo back, putting up 2 goals and 6 assists in 13 contests and another pair of tallies and helpers in the playoffs.
Impressed enough with his performance, the 27-year old re-signed to return for a full season.
In his third year with minor league affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack he’s more than doubled his goals scored and is equal in points from his first two campaigns with the team. He’s also closely behind his 2-year assist total.
All good to see from an under-sized 5’9″ 178 lbs. forward who is in the final season of his entry level contract.
He started with a couple seasons of US junior hockey before moving on for another pair of years in the QMJHL with Quebec Remparts, where he proved in both developmental leagues that he could put up numbers.
The 23-year may be small but he’s a speedy skater and plays a tenacious, in-your-face style.
He’s set to become a restricted free agent at the end of the current campaign and is likely to be given a qualifying offer to stay in the Blueshirts‘ prospect system.
See related: 12/1-11
New York Rangers‘ 4th round pick in the 2011 draft (#106 overall) rookie right wing Michael St. Croix(37) has been a point-per-game guy at every level of hockey heading into a pair of recalls from where he is scoring 10 goals and a team leading 25 assists in 33 ECHL games with affiliate Greenville Road Warriors up to the AHL.
He has yet to mark in 9 appearances with direct farm club Hartford Wolf Pack playing limited minutes ice time.
The seemingly sort of small-looking 5’11” 183 lbs. forward won a WHL Championship with Edmonton Oil Kings and averaged 1.14 points per game and concluded four seasons with a +78 rating. He is also the team’s all-time leading scorer in their less than ten-year existence.
He’s signed through 2016 on a 3-year entry level deal and he’s pretty much a lock to find himself playing full-time in Connecticut but the 20-year old definitely still has some work to do before that NHL recall happens.
New York Rangers‘ 6th round pick in the 2010 draft (#157 overall) fourth year, Swedish-born right wing Jesper Fast(27) had a career campaign in 2012/2013 on loan from the parent club back to HV71 of the SHL. He scored 18 goals and 17 assists in 46 games and added another tally and 4 helpers in the playoffs, while skating a combined +17 rating. It was his third year playing in the league.
The smart, speedy 6′ 185 lbs. forward started his rookie season in the NHL but was reassigned after 8 games with no points and a -5 plus/minus on a squad that was very slow out of the gate.
Reassigned to minor league affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack he’s contributing in a big way in all situations on another team that has been struggling to win.
In 24 AHL games he has 9 goals and 9 assists with a +5.
The recently turned 22-year old is signed to a three-year entry level deal through 2015 and will no doubt get another opportunity to show his stuff in the show.
He was a healthy scratch for most of the start of the season but injuries to their top six d-men brought him into the lineup, where he’s been since late December.
Originally a Columbus Blue Jackets‘ 4th round pick in the 2008 draft (#104 overall), he spent the first campaign of his 3-year entry level deal on the sidelines with a recurring shoulder injury.
Almost ironically he found a bit of a scoring touch for Greenville Road Warriors, where he put up career highs with 4 goals, 16 assists, 20 points and was an outstanding +23 plus/minus in 61 games. He was allowed to stay with them despite the transaction.
Given the opportunity and maybe a little more offensive-minded coaching the 23-year old could definitely be a key contributor to whatever team he signs with next.
In 31 AHL games he already has a new best 6 goals to go along with 6 helpers, which is only 4 off the mark and only two points away from tying the 14 he put up in 2012/2013.
This will be his first full season in the top development league after stint reassignments to Greenville Road Warriors in his rookie and sophomore campaigns and a pair of ECHL contests last year with Trenton Titans.
The 6’1″ 190 lbs. forward has also been invited to NHL training camps three of his four pro seasons. He was in two with New York Rangers before being sent back to Connecticut Whale and started his second run with Albany after an invite to join New Jersey Devils in their camp.
At 28-years old he may just starting to find his game late.
New York Rangers‘ undrafted rookie defenseman Conor Allen(4) had an impressive run in prospect then training camp and was one of the final blue liner cuts to be reassigned to minor league affiliate Hartford Wolf Pack.
Starting his pro career in the AHL he was there to continue the learning curve and develop. He did appear in one game with the team at the end of last season after concluding his third year of college hockey at UMass (Amherst) and signing a deal as an unrestricted free agent.
He’s been in the farm club’s lineup for all 29 games scoring 5 goals and 8 assists.
Hampered by injuries the Blueshirts rewarded him with his first recall and in his NHL debut the 6’2″ 210 lbs. d-man skated 22 shifts for 15:47 of total ice time, had two shots on net and ended the evening’s 4-3 win a -1 rating.
The 23-year old may get reassigned down again soon as the parent club’s roster gets healthy but no doubt this is just a brief look and there will be more to come.
He has a two-year entry level contract through 2015.
Chicago Blackhawks‘ 1st round pick in the 2008 draft (#11 overall), 4th year right wing Kyle Beach(14) finally saw his time expire in the team’s prospect system.
Unable to secure an NHL recall while playing with minor league affiliate Rockford IceHogs, he was still qualified for another season after his three-year entry deal was up.
The fairly big 6’3″ 210 lbs. player definitely has power forward size but seems to have a bit of unwillingness to use it where he is for anything more than getting it skirmishes with opponents.
In 175 AHL games he has 41 goals and 36 assists with 4 of those tallies coming in 7 contests in the current campaign.
He was a point-per-game guy though four WHL seasons, while always putting up close to 200 penalty minutes each year. He also concluded his junior hockey career with a +51 rating.
Traded to New York Rangers‘ organization and reassigned to their farm club, Hartford Wolf Pack, he has only notched one assist in 7 contests.
The still super-young 23-year old is only under contract through the end of the season and it’s possible his game will pick up to where it needs to be with the change of scenery, but he’s going to have to connect soon or his ice time may dry up.