Trevor Gillies inks deal with Heat

It seems Brian Burke’s directive — you know the one? It goes something, something, truculence? — has trickled down to the AHL.

The Abbotsford Heat announced today they have signed pugilist Trevor Gillies to an AHL contract. Gillies, you may recall, was part of the infamous brawl between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the New York Islanders. You may remember him as the guy shouting from off-ice at a downed Penguin. Yes, it’s that Trevor Gillies.

Depending on your definition of impressive, Gillies has some impressive numbers. In 676 games split between the NHL, AHL, and ECHL, Gillies has racked up 2,866 PIM. Before inking his deal with the Heat, Gillies spent three games with SM-Liigas HIFK (54 PIM), and five games with Orlando of the ECHL (21 PIM).

But I am sure Gillies is being brought in for his scoring prowess. In those 676 games, Gillies has contributed to the tune of 11 goals and 32 assists.

The one-time Anaheim Duck — Gillies was there during the Burke years — will be available to the Heat for the weekends games when they host the Hamilton Bulldogs.



Flames assign O’Brien, recall Breen

It hasn’t been the best season for Shane O’Brien, and now the seven-year NHL vet is heading back to the AHL where his professional career began.

O’Brien, drafted 250th overall in 2003 by the then Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, was dealt to the Flames in June by the Colorado Avalanche in a package with David Jones that brought Corey Sarich and Alex Tanguay back the other way.

At the beginning of his career, O’Brien spent three seasons with the Ducks’ affiliates — two with the Cincinnati Mighty Ducks and one year in Portland with the Pirates.

To fill O’Brien’s spot, the Flames have recalled 24-year-old Chris Breen from Abbotsford. Breen, who has spent the last three seasons with the Heat, will get a chance to suit up for just his sixth NHL game in the recall.

Breen signed with the Flames at the culmination of his junior career, where he spent five seasons between the Peterborough Petes, Erie Otters, and Saginaw Spirit.

In 20 games with the Heat this season, Breen has tallied three assists.

Canucks ink vet Prospal to PTO, Utica bound

The Vancouver Canucks have inked 16-year NHL veteran Vinny Prospal to a pro tryout contract.

Dan Murphy broke the story late last night, saying the 38-year-old Prospal had been practicing with the Utica Comets earlier in the day. Prospal, who hasn’t suited up in an AHL contest since the 1996-97 season when he was a member of the Philadelphia Phantoms, had gone unsigned to this point.

Last season, as a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets, Prospal appeared in 48 games and helped bolster the offensive attack with 30 points (12-18). At 38, any speed Prospal may have once had is all but gone, but the wily veteran should still be a contributor while getting back into game shape with the Comets.

Cancuks GM Mike Gillis commented on the possibility of Prospal making the move to the Canucks lineup after a brief stint in Utica, saying that, “with the injuries (the Canucks have), there may be an opportunity for him.” Gillis added that Prospal will likely need eight to ten games to get up to speed before the Canucks consider bringing him in.

An AHL first-team all-star back when he was a member of the Phantoms, Prospal has appeared in over 1100 games in the NHL, and is chasing down 800 career points, just 35 shy of the mark. If things work out for Prospal in Vancouver, and he parlays the shot with the Canucks to a deal in Vancouver or elsewhere at season’s end, he could have a shot at reaching the milestone before his career comes to a close.

The Comets currently sit at last in the Western Conference, just two points away from the league’s basement with a 13-20-2-3 record in 38 games this season. Utica will head to Abbotsford this weekend to take on the Heat.

Wolves deal Locke to Abbotsford, get Cundari on loan

After spending last season split between Finland’s SM-Liiga and Germany’s DEL, Corey Locke is moving on to his fourth team in two seasons after a deal sent him from the Chicago Wolves to the Abbotsford Heat. In exchange, the Wolves were loaned Mark Cundari from the Calgary Flames.

Locke, a veteran of over 600 games in the AHL, had previously spent time in Binghamton, Hartford, Houston, and Hamilton. One of the more prolific career AHLers, Locke has been at nearly a point-per-game clip in the minor leagues. With 178 goals and 368 assists, the Heat are getting a prolific playmaker who can improve their already stellar offence.

EliteProspects describes Locke as a skilled offensive threat and a nice addition to any team’s PP, but knocks his skating ability, adding he’s weak on the dot.

Cundari, a 23-year-old defenceman from Toronto, signed with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent after finishing his junior career with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires. With just over 200 games in the A, Cundari has established himself as a contributor on the PP, able to quarterback his team with the extra man. In 32 games this season, Cundari has tallied ten points (4-6).

The loan agreement allows Calgary to retain the rights to Cundari should they wish to bring him to the big club. However, it seems unlikely that Cundari will see the NHL this season and should spend the remainder of the year with the Wolves.

Bouma, Byron, and Sieloff sign with Flames

Lance Bouma and Paul Byron have re-signed with the Calgary Flames, and Cowtown has inked Patrick Sieloff to his first professional deal.

Bouma, 23, was a third round pick of the Flames in 2008, and has spent the last three seasons in the Flames organization. In 2012-13, Bouma had his season shortened due to injury and only suited up for three games. In his three appearances — “all” with Abbotsford — Bouma potted one goal.

In 95 career AHL games, the forward has potted 16 goals and registered 11 assists to go along with 108 PIM. In addition, Bouma registered a goal in five playoff games. A two-way forward, Bouma is most useful in a second or third line role, and will likely see time in both Calgary and Abbotsford next season.

Byron, a diminutive forward, was drafted by the Sabres in the sixth round of the 2007 draft and has spent almost his entire professional career in the AHL. In 201 regular season AHL games, Byron has posted 53 goals and 69 assists. The 24-year-old Ottawa, Ont., native has spent the last two seasons with the Heat, and will be back for a third on a one-year deal.

Sieloff, a defenceman who spent last season with the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, was drafted by the Flames in the second round of the 2012 draft, and joins the team on an entry level deal. At only 19, Sieloff will have to make the Flames or he’ll be headed back to the OHL, but he could see time in Abbotsford — or wherever the Flames affiliation is by that time — when Sieloff hits his overage seasons.

Flames ink giant D Breen

The Calgary Flames announced today that they have re-signed defenceman Chris Breen to a one-year, two-way contract.

The mammoth defenceman — he stands at 6’7″ and weighs 223 lbs. — will be back with the Abbotsford Heat next season. Breen, who landed with the Heat after signing with the club as a free agent on an amateur tryout in 2010, has been a regular for the squad over the last three seasons. In those 211 games, the 24-year-old blue liner has put up nine goals and 18 assists.

While he doesn’t quite have the frame of Zdeno Chara, Breen is a giant on the blue line and can punish opponents with his size, and utilize his long reach to keep attackers at bay. Though he signed an NHL deal with the Flames just two months after inking his ATO with the Heat, Breen hasn’t been able to crack the big club’s lineup, and it’s unlikely he will anytime soon.

The financial terms of the deal have not been released.

Heat sign Nemisz, Knight

The Abbotsford Heat, by way of the Calgary Flames, have added two forwards to their roster.

Knight, 22, is coming off of four years with the NCAA’s University of North Dakota. At UND, Knight averaged almost a point per game, with 52 goals and 94 assists in 161 games. Standing at 6’2″ and 188 pounds, the 2009 fifth round draft pick has good size and the offensive talent to make an impact.

The Flames acquired Knight from the Florida Panthers in exchange for a fourth round draft pick.

Nemisz, who was a restricted free-agent, signed on for one more year with the Flames/Heat. Though Nemisz saw some NHL action in both 2010-11 and 2011-12, he spent his entire season in Abbotsford in 2012-13. Over 55 games in the AHL last year, the 23 -year-old has 10 points (3-7) in 55 games.


Goaltenders Brust, Sabourin head overseas

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 1.36.41 PM

Barry Brust will be back in a European jersey in 2013-14.

Two veteran AHL netminders are heading to Europe, freeing up spots in their former organizations.

Barry Brust has reportedly signed a deal with the KHL’s Medvescak Zagreb after spending the last season in Abbotsford. Brust playing in 35 games last season, with a 2.50 GAA and .911 SV%. A Calder Cup champion in 2010-11 with the Binghamton Senators, Brust will be on his second stint in Europe after spending a year in Germany with DEL’s Straubing Tigers.

At 29, Brust hasn’t spent a ton of time in the NHL. His only taste of the big leagues was an 11 game stint in 2006-07 with the Los Angeles Kings. In his 11 games in the NHL, he posted a dismal 3.70 GAA and .878 SV%.

In addition to Brust, journeyman goaltender Dany Sabourin is also heading across the pond.

Screen Shot 2013-07-02 at 1.35.49 PM

Dany Sabourin will get a shot at a full-time starting role in Austria next season.

Sabourin, 32, has been a serviceable backup at every level. Over the last 11 years, the 6’4″ netminder has played in Johnstown (ECHL), Saint John, Calgary, Las Vegas (ECHL), Lowell, Wheeling (ECHL), Wilkes-Barre, Pittsburgh, Vancouver, Manitoba, Springfield, Providence, and Hershey.

After his three year tenure in Hershey — where he played in 78 games — Sabourin is headed to the Graz 99ers of the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga.