AHL Today: IceCaps, Bears extend streaks, Barberio making mark in Tampa

AHL Today is a roundup of the night that was, the day ahead, and anything you may have missed. Your quick look at what’s going on around the league.


To Watch:

  • Empty schedule tonight. Falcons fans can watch Tim Erixon, who has been recalled from the Springfield Falcons, and will suit up tonight for the Columbus Blue Jackets as they take on the Carolina Hurricanes.

Last Night:

  • ST. JOHN’S 3, PROVIDENCE 1: For the fourth game in a row, Michael Hutchinson got the call between the pipes. His third start in three nights, the 23-year-old Barrie, Ont. native stopped 34 shots, the only chink in his armour being a Matt Lindblad goal halfway through the first period. With the win, Hutchinson and the IceCaps extended their winning streak to four games, and will put the streak on the line on Friday when they take visit Lewiston to take on the Portland Pirates.
  • HERSHEY 2, WILKES-BARRE/SCRANTON 0: The Bears, without head coach Mike Haviland, pushed their win streak to five. Before the game, Scott Stuccio tweeted that Haviland would be unavailable due to a medical issue, but we’ve yet to discover what exactly kept Haviland away from the team. Here’s hoping it’s nothing serious. As for the game, let’s turn it over to Chirps From Center Ice:
    The Penguins lose 2-0 to the Hershey Bears in a game which, if a power play goal here or there go in, then maybe the result is a little different. The Pens were 0-for-7 on the power play tonight, 0-for-15 for the weekend.”


Alex Petrovic (D) From: Florida Panthers To: San Antonio Rampage
Tim Erixon (D) From: Springfield Falcons To: Columbus Blue Jackets

News & Notes:

  • A positive story from Haviland being unavailable: Bears defenceman Patrick Wellar, who was sidelined after taking a shot from Syracuse’s Eric Neilson during a fight on Saturday, was patrolling the bench as an assistant. [PennLive.com]
  • Former Crunch defenceman Mark Barberio is making his mark with the big club, and it’s turning some heads, including Jon Cooper, Tampa’s head coach, who wants the young defenceman in the lineup. [Syracuse.com]
  • Heat fans shouldn’t expect to see Michael Ferland back in the lineup. [FAN960]



Joudrey re-signs with Springfield

29-year-old AHL veteran Andrew Joudrey has signed a one-year AHL deal with the Springfield Falcons.

Joudrey, who was drafted in the eighth round of the 2008 draft by the Washington Capitals, is entering his seventh year in the pros, and his third with the Falcons. In his previous two seasons as a member of the Blue Jackets top affiliate, Joudrey has registered 24 goals and 26 assists in 152 games. The Falcons alternate captain since joining the team in 2011-12, Joudrey has proven he’s a leader on and off the ice, getting the nod to captain the legendary Hershey Bears in the 2010-11 season, and wearing a letter in his final two seasons with the University of Wisconsin.

A two-time Calder Cup champion with the Bears and NCAA Champion with the Badgers, Joudrey isn’t a breathtaking player or one to do anything fancy, but he’s the kind of player teams need in order to win titles. A contributor when it matters most, Joudrey’s AHL totals are a respectable 68 goals and 96 assists in 495 games.

(Cover image by Bridget Samuels)

Deschamps stays, DiSalvatore goes

The Washington Capitals have re-signed Nicolas Deschamps to a one-year deal, while the Hershey Bears have parted ways with Jon DiSalvatore.

Deschamps, who has been somewhat of an AHL journeyman over the past four seasons, will suit up for the Bears again next season after playing 21 games in Chocolatetown last year. In those 21 appearances, Deschamps scored four goals and six assists. Acquired from the Toronto Maple Leafs organization for defenceman Kevin Marshall, the 23-year-old Deschamps has appeared in 243 AHL games and has scored 41 goals and 81 assists.

DiSalvatore, who has spent the last decade in the AHL, says farewell to the league on his way to the DEL. An impact player in the AHL over his ten seasons, DiSalvatore has scored 236 goals and 323 assists over 797 games. However, no matter his production in the AHL, DiSalvatore has only suited up in six NHL games — five with St. Louis and one with Minnesota.

DiSalvatore, 32, will suit up with Germany’s EHC Munchen next year.

Loose Pucks: AHL Headlines

After a busy beginning to the month, the frantic signings that were happening through the first two weeks of free agency have slowed down. You may want to check out some of these stories to see what you’ve missed in the past month:

  • Bob Hartley spoke to Tim Leone about his five most memorable Hershey Bears moments.  [PennLive]
  • John Buccigross wrote this outstanding piece about Blake Geoffrion and his retirement. [ESPN]
  • Some Notes From Paul Fenton, via Ryan at Admirals Roundtable [Ads Roundtable]
  • Lindsay Kramer over at Syracuse.com spoke with newly re-signed Crunch defenceman Mark Barberio [Syracuse.com]
  • Marlies.ca is giving an overview of the prospects. [Marlies]

Leblanc back in Chocolatetown

Peter Leblanc made an impression on the Washington Capitals organization, and because of it, he’s sticking around.

Leblanc, who split time last season between the Rockford IceHogs and Hershey Bears, has been re-signed on a one-year, two-way deal with the Capitals.

After being drafted in the seventh round of the 2006 NHL entry draft by the Chicago Blackhawks, Leblanc went unsigned until Rockford inked him to a deal that would allow him to split time between the Hogs and the Toledo Walleye, their ECHL affiliate. In his first 22 games in the ECHL, Leblanc had 22 points (8-14), and he hasn’t been back down since.

In his first season in the pros, Leblanc had 30 points (12-18) in 57 games, and it earned him an extension in Rockford. During the 2012-13 season, Leblanc set career highs with 24 goals and 20 assists in 72 games with Chicago’s top affiliate. It would also earn him an NHL contract, as the Blackhawks signed him to a one-year, two-way deal.

However, less than a year after inking the deal, the Blackhawks dealt Leblanc to the Capitals in exchange for future considerations. Leblanc would play the remainder of the season with the Hershey Bears, and help out to the tune of eight goals and ten assists. In the playoffs, Leblanc shone in Hershey’s first round exit, tallying eight assists in five playoff contests.

Leblanc’s contract will pay him $72,000 in the AHL and $550,000 in the NHL.

Bears continue to bolster roster

It’s beginning to feel like an arms race between the Syracuse Crunch and Hershey Bears.

After the Crunch opened up free agency with a barrage of signings, the Washington Capitals have gone out and inked three players that will help the Hershey Bears compete in the tough Eastern Conference.

It was announced today that the Caps had come to terms with goaltender David Leggio, defenceman Tyson Strachan, and forward Matt Watkins. All three players are expected to start the season in Hershey, and will spend most of 2012-13 with the Capitals farm club.

Leggio, 28, was one of the best goaltenders available to help bolster an AHL roster. The AHL free agency big board had Leggio ranked in the top ten, and he was the top goaltender available. By signing with Washington, it signals the end of a two year stay in Rochester where he played 123 games with the Amerks. It was in Rochester last season that Leggio put up career numbers, with a 2.56 GAA and .924 SV%.

Prior to landing with Rochester, Leggio had stays with the Portland Pirates and the ECHL’s Florida Everblades. In 2009-10, after he failed to make it out of the ECHL and up to the ‘A’, Leggio signed on in SM-Liiga with TPS, where he would help guide the team to an SM-Liiga championship, posting an insane 1.57 GAA and .942 SV% in 7 playoff appearances. The Buffalo, NY., native will battle for the starting position in Hershey, a spot that is likely his to lose.

Strachan, 6’3″, 225 lbs. native of Melfort, Sask., will come to the Bears after a stint in Florida last season. During the lockout, Strachan had the alternate captaincy for the Panthers farm club San Antonio Rampage, but when the NHL season began, Strachan found himself in the NHL. In 38 games with the Panthers last season, the 28-year-old had 4 assists and 40 PIM.

At the AHL level, Strachan is an intimidating force on the blue line that can move the puck and fill a top-three role for the Rampage defence. While he may see a few games in the NHL, Bears fans should look to see Strachan in the lineup for somewhere between 50-65 games this season.

Maybe the most unheralded of all three signings, Watkins, a 26-year-old from Aylesbury, Sask., is the kind of player that can help a team get to the next level. Last season, while a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, Watkins took over the captaincy and added 11 goals and 19 assists. He may not be the most offensively gifted, but Watkins will still be good for a point or two every couple contests. Over his AHL career, the University of North Dakota product has amassed 49 goals and 74 assists in 253 games.


Bears sign Whitmore to AHL deal

After a season with Augsburg of the DEL, Derek Whitmore is back in the AHL with the Hersey Bears.

Whitmore, 28, began last season with the AHL’s St. John’s Ice Caps before heading to Germany. After only seven games with St. John’s, Whitmore was released from his tryout deal, and left for Germany. In his stint with St. John’s, the forward had one goal and three assists.

In order to come back to the AHL, it was reported that Whitmore exercised an opt-out clause in his DEL contract extension, which was signed after he put up nine goals and 14 assists in 26 games.

Prior to signing on with St. John’s and, now, Hershey, Whitmore had spent several seasons between the Rochester Americans and Portland Pirates. In 325 career AHL games, Whitmore has scored 86 goals and 66 assists, as well as adding seven goals and six assists in 24 playoff contests.

The deal with Hershey is for one season.

Blue Jackets sign AHL veteran, Calder Cup Champion McNeill

After six years in Chocolatetown, Patrick McNeill is heading to Springfield.

The Columbus Blue Jackets announced they had signed the 26-year-old McNeill yesterday, and it will signal the end of the defenceman’s run in Hershey.

In 356 games with the Bears, McNeill put up 38 goals and 128 assists, and won a Calder Cup in 2009-10. In their run to the Calder Cup, McNeill had three goals and three assists in 11 games. Though McNeill spent significant time on the sidelines last year with injuries, he was still able to put up 17 points (4-13) in 47 games.

A fourth round selection in 2005 by the Capitals, McNeill is an offensive defenceman, and will see minutes on the Barons PP. With Justin Schultz up in the NHL, the Barons will need someone to quarterback their powerplay, and McNeill could be just that man.

McNeill’s contract is a one-year, two-way deal that will pay him $600,000 in both the NHL and AHL, according to CapGeek.

Caps add long-time Monarch Kolomatis

After spending nearly his entire professional career with the AHL’s Manchester Monarches, David Kolomatis is going to be suiting up for the Hershey Bears.

Kolomatis, who joined the Monarchs as a 20-year-old in 2009-10, had been a fixture on the clubs blue line, but is moving on to a new opportunity. In 300 games with the Monarchs — which includes his 46 playoff appearances — Kolomatis has put up great numbers, proving his status as a playmaking defenceman. Over that span with Kings affiliate, Kolomatis had 29 goals to go along with 81 assists, and brought the Kings organization great value for a fifth round pick in 2009.

In just 46 games last season, Kolomatis tied a career high with 8 goals and fell one shy of a career high in points with 28. Previously, the blueliner had put up 29 points (8-21) over a span of 76 games with the Monarchs.

Though Kolomatis has dealt with injuries over the past two seasons, he’s been coming into his own on the back end, with 54 points in 112 games over the past two seasons.

Signed to a one-year, two-way deal, Kolomatis will likely see minutes in the top-four of the Bears D.

UPDATED: Bears land Jamie Johnson

The madness of free agency opening isn’t restricted to the NHL, and the Hershey Bears are the first team to make a splash.

The Bears signed 31-year-old centerman Jamie Johnson to a one-year deal only half an hour after the free agency period opened.

Johnson, who spent last season with the Kontinental Hockey League’s Dinamo Riga, will almost immediately slot into a top-six role for the Bears next season, and will fill a void left by the departure of Boyd Kane. In Riga last season, Johnson has 8 goals and 14 assists in 52 games.

Not a stranger to the AHL, Johnson played with the Iowa Stars, Albany River Rats, Rochester Americans, and will now suit up in Hershey.

In 423 career games, Johnson has tallied 96 goals and 186 assists for 282 points.

UPDATE: Scott Stuccio, the Bears play by play voice, spoke with Johnson: