With Olver gone, Avs sign Bourke

By Jared Clinton (@JPDClinton)

When news came that Mark Olver would be heading to the Kontinental Hockey League next season, a spot up the middle was open on the Colorado Avalanche depth chart. Earlier today, the Avalanche filled that gap.

Troy Bourke, who spent his last four seasons with the Western Hockey League’s Prince George Cougars, was signed to a three-year entry level deal. After his fourth, and final, junior season came to an end, Bourke joined the Lake Erie Monsters for fifteen games.

Bourke, 20, was a third round draft pick of the Avalanche in 2012, and is coming off of his best WHL performance. In 69 games this past season as an over-ager, Bourke scored 29 goals and added 56 helpers for 85 points. His previous career high was 56 points in 71 games.

In his brief stint with the Monsters, the Edmonton native notched three goals and four assists. Next season, it appears Bourke will be suiting up for the Monsters for more than just a handful of games.


Olver leaving Lake Erie for Sochi

By Jared Clinton (@JPDClinton)

Following a career year in the American Hockey League, it appears that Lake Erie Monsters forward Mark Olver is heading to the KHL Sochi Leopards.

Darryl Wolski, an agent with 2112 Hockey Agency, tweeted this afternoon that Olver has signed a deal with the KHL’s expansion franchise for 2014-15.

Olver, 26, is coming off of the best AHL campaign of his career, tallying 15 goals and 49 points in 65 games in 2013-14. A point-per-game player in the NCAA with Northern Michigan, Olver came to the Avalanche organization in 2010-11. Drafted in the fifth round, 140th overall, in 2005, Olver has 74 games of NHL experience, but couldn’t stick with the club this season.

With a youth movement taking place in Colorado, and a glut of young forwards coming through the ranks, it became apparent this season that Olver would likely need to move on to get to the NHL. A restricted free agent this summer, it appears that, instead of trying to get another NHL deal, Olver will head to the KHL.

Brad Malone and Avalanche reach deal

The Colorado Avalanche and 2007 fourth round pick Brad Malone have come to terms on a one-year deal.

Malone, who has spent the last two seasons primarily with the AHL’s Lake Erie Monsters, got a taste of the NHL last season when he suited up for 13 games with the Avs. In his stint with the big club, Malone was able to notch one goal and one assist, as well as recording 16 PIM.

A former member of the University of North Dakota, Malone has appeared in 130 games for the Monsters over the past two years, registering 21 goals and 39 assists.

Malone’s deal will pay him $65,000 in the minors and $735,000 when he’s up with the Avalanche.

Desjardins signs with Monsters

Undrafted free agent Gabriel Desjardins has signed a deal with the Lake Erie Monsters.

Desjardins, who played in 66 games with the QMJHL’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, comes to Colorado’s top affiliate after finishing his eligibility in the CHL. In four seasons in the ‘Q’, Desjardins spent time in Halifax with the Mooseheads(the team which drafted him in the second round of the QMJHL draft), 26 games with the Quebec Remparts, and finished his career with the Huskies.

In his days in the ‘Q’, Desjardins suited up for 297 contests, registering 85 goals and 100 assists to go along with 194 PIM. In the playoffs, Desjardins brought a new level to his game, totalling 17 goals and 11 assists for 28 points in 26 post-season games.

Terms and length of the contract have yet to be released, but the contract will see Desjardins begin, and likely spend the entire season, in Lake Erie.

Canes bring back Jordan and Murphy, add Palushaj

The Carolina Hurricanes announced today they have come to terms on deals with defenceman Michal Jordan, goaltender Mike Murphy, and forward Aaron Palushaj.

Drafted in the fourth round of the 2008 draft, Jordan comes back to the ‘Canes for another season after spending the last three years with the organization. In his three seasons, the 22-year-old has played in 197 AHL games and five with the big club.

A native of Czech Republic, Jordan came to the Charlotte Checkers in 2010 and suited up for 67 games that season. In his rookie campaign, the young blueliner had four goals and 18 assists, and had improved on those totals each season. Back with the Checkers in the 2011-12 campaign, Jordan was able to muster another four goals and added 18 assists in 76 games. He didn’t appear in the NHL until last year when, after the lockout came to an end, he appeared in five games with the Hurricanes. Over 54 games in the ‘A’ last year, Jordan set a career high with six goals, and added an assist in the only playoff game he suited up for.

Murphy, 24, is four years removed from winning his second straight OHL Goaltender of the Year award. During his tenure in the with the Belleville Bulls — spanning from 2005-06 to 2008-09 — Murphy dominated. In back-to-back seasons, Murphy lead the league in SV%, GAA, and was named a first-team all-star in 2008-09.

In the AHL, Murphy has backstopped the Checkers for 47 games, including 39 contests in 2010-11 where the keeper posted a regular season GAA  of 2.53 and .919 SV%. In 14 playoff games, Murphy continued his stellar play with a 2.57 GAA and .919 SV%. Those totals, the best of his career, came two years before he left the team for a stint in the KHL with Spartak Moscow. Used sparingly in Moscow, Murphy left the KHL and came back to Charlotte, and has now re-signed with the organization for 2013-14.

Palushaj, who most will recognize from his days with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Montreal Canadiens, played 25 games in the NHL last season with Colorado. Claimed by the Avalanche in February of the 2012-13 season, Palushaj recorded two goals and seven assists with the team before his contract expired this off-season. Not tendered a qualifying offer, Palushaj hit free agency and, in turn, signed on with the Hurricanes.

At 23, Palushaj has been tremendous at the AHL level, putting up 54 goals and 82 assists for 136 points over 190 career games in the league.

All three contracts are one-year, two-way deals.


Avalanche ink Desbiens, Holden, Wyman

The Colorado Avalanche inked a trio of AHL regulars that will help bolster their AHL roster for the 2013-14 season.

The Avs added Guillaume Desbiens and JT Wyman — both of whom will provide a bit of offensive spark — along with defenceman Nick Holden, who will help round out the Lake Erie Monsters D corps.

Desbiens, the most veteran of the of the three, was originally drafted in 2003 by the Atlanta Thrashers organization, but hasn’t been able to find an NHL fit. As such, the bulky winger has spent most of his career around the AHL, most recently with the Chicago Wolves. Prior to his 52 games with the Wolves last season, where the 28-year-old has 8 points and 118 PIM, Desbiens spent time in the ‘A’ with Abbotsford and the Manitoba Moose.

While Desbiens offensive production has fallen off at a steady rate since his 2008-09 season in which he has 47 points (21-26) for the Moose, he still brings size to an AHL bottom-six and can slot in higher than that and still give a team some much needed punch on their top lines.

Wyman, 27, is only coming into his sixth pro season, but is a steady presence on a second or third line. After an extended stint with the NHL’s Lightning in 2011-12 — Wyman saw action in 40 games, adding 9 points (2-9) — Wyman has failed to get back to the bigs for anything more than a single game.

Last season, as a member of the Syracuse Crunch, Wyman set a career high with 38 points (13-25) while suiting up in 76 contests. Wyman has potential to make the jump to the bigs for a handful of games, especially in a Colorado organization that isn’t exactly the picture of depth.

While being the only blueliner of the three, Holden could be the most offensively impactful of all three. Coming from the Columbus Blue Jackets organization, the undrafted Holden has been a force from the back end. In 73 games last season, the 26-year-old had 39 points (9-30), and added another three assists in eight playoff games.

Producing a point almost every other game from the blue line, Holden will be a good third or fourth option for the Monsters, and likely see a lot of minutes on the teams powerplay.