Trio of AHLers head overseas

Alex Plante, Steven Zalewski, and Mike Connolly — all AHL regulars in 2012-13 — have all inked deals in Europe.

Plante, who was an alternate captain for the Oklahoma City Barons last season, is heading to Austria’s Dornbirner EC on a one-year deal after he and the Edmonton Oilers organization parted ways. Drafted in the first round, fifteenth overall, in 2007 by the Oil, Plante was never able to convert his potential to a job in the NHL.

A defensive defenceman, Plante’s got NHL size but could never quite piece together the other parts of his game. Through his AHL career, which spanned 233 games, Plante registered six goals and 38 assists.

Zalewski, who suited up in 73 games with the Devils affiliate in Albany last season, has signed a one-year deal with Lukko of SM-Liiga. Zalewski, 26, split his AHL career between the Worcester Sharks and Albany, but never got anything more than a brief look in the NHL.

A versatile forward that can play both centre and the wing, Zalewski is an AHL veteran of 406 games, tallying 83 goals and racking up 157 assists. In his 10 NHL games, Zalewski failed to register a point. He was a fourth round draft pick of the San Jose Sharks in 2004.

Connolly, a 24-year-old centre who suited up in 65 games with Lake Erie last season, has inked a one-year contract with Augsburger Panther of the DEL. In 65 games with the Monsters last season, Connolly scored nine goals and added 14 assists.

A member of the 2010-11 WCHA First All-Star Team, Connolly was also an alternate captain with the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs that season, helping to lead the team to the Frozen Four Championship. In 118 AHL games — after coming to the league as an undrafted free agent — Connolly registered 22 goals and 38 assists.

All three will be eligible to come back to the AHL next season.


KHL club adds another from AHL with Cheechoo

2005-06 Maurice Richard Trophy winner and  AHL journeyman Jonathan Cheechoo has signed on to join Medvescak Zagreb in a move that makes the team continue to look more and more like the Island of ex-AHLers.

Cheechoo, who will join goaltender Barry Brust, forward Boyd Kane, and former Hershey coach Mark French, spent last season with the Oklahoma City Barons. In 35 games with the Barons, the one-time NHL goal scoring champion had 13 goals and 19 assists. Since his massive season in the bigs, Cheechoo has failed to recapture that form, but has made a fine career in the AHL as a top line player and key contributor. He spent his past three seasons in the AHL, with seasons in Worcester, Peoria, and, most recently, OKC.

In 342 career AHL contests, Cheechoo has tallied 123 goals and 157 assists. A second round pick of the San Jose Sharks in 1998, Cheechoo has not suited up for an NHL contest since 2009-10, when he played 61 games with the Ottawa Senators.

Oilers add another to AHL ranks in Hunt

The Edmonton Oilers announced today that they’ve signed AHL defenceman Brad Hunt to a two-year, two-way deal.

Hunt, who spent last season with the AHL’s Chicago Wolves, was signed to an AHL deal by the Wolves after completing his career with the NCAA’s Bemidji State University. In his NCAA career, the blueliner showed the ability to provide some points from the back end. In 150 NCAA games, Hunt had 112 points (24-88).

Hunt got his first taste of AHL action in 2011-12 when Bemidji’s season came to a close, and in 14 games that season, Hunt posted a goal and four assists. It was last season that Hunt had his coming out party, putting up 33 points (4-29) in 65 games for the Wolves.

His new deal will give Hunt the opportunity to make his way into the NHL if the opportunity so arises, but Hunt will likely spend the entire season in Oklahoma City with the Barons.


Bachman lands with the Oilers

Richard Bachman, who saw action in 31 games with the Dallas Stars over the last two seasons, has been signed give the Oklahoma City Barons  some help in goal.

Bachman, who was drafted by the Stars in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, has spent his entire pro career in the Stars organization.

In Texas, Bachman has the starting role with the AHL’s Stars during the 2010-11 season, backstopping the team in 55 games and posting a 2.20 GAA and .927 SV%. The following year, Bachman got the call to backup Kari Lehtonen and make spot starts in relief of the oft injured Stars starting goaltender.

Though his NHL numbers leave something to be desired — he had a dismal 3.25 GAA and .885 SV% last season in 13 games — Bachman’s been able to show signs that he could be something more than just an AHL starter. In Texas, over four seasons, Bachman has had a steady GAA that often floats around 2.50 and a save percentage around .910. At only 25, Bachman still has room to develop, and will get that change in OKC.