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.

AHL Today: A look at the PPL Center, Utica goes for five

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:

  • LAKE ERIE at UTICA: As Lake Erie heads into Utica, this isn’t just a battle of some basement dwellers, it’s a battle of teams heading in very different directions. Winless in their last eight games, Lake Erie has dropped seven games in regulation as the Comets have snapped their most recent skid, rattling off four straight wins. Joacim Erikkson, fresh off being named Player of the Week, will likely get the call for the Comets. Lake Erie will get goaltender Sami Aittokallio back from his recall with the Colorado Avalanche. Only nine points out of a playoff spot, it’s a bit too early to really write off the Comets, but they’re going to need to extend this win streak and have many more like it to get back in the race.
  • CHARLOTTE at NORFOLK: The Admirals have points in six straight heading into their game with the visiting Checkers. Charlotte has won the last three meetings between the two clubs, but needed overtime and shootout to do so. On a four game winning streak themselves, the Checkers are going to be without leading scorer Aaron Palsuhaj, who just earned himself a call to the NHL’s Carolina Hurricanes. The Ads’ best bet is to keep the Checkers off the powerplay, as the team is moving along at nearly a 25% clip.


Sami Aittokallio (G) From: Colorado Avalanche To: Lake Erie Monsters
Aaron Palushaj (F)
 From: Charlotte Checkers To: Carolina Hurricanes
Petr Mrázek (G) From: Detroit Red Wings To: Grand Rapids Griffins
Cody Beach (F) From: Kalamazoo Wings To: Chicago Wolves
Colton Sissons (F) From: Milwaukee Admirals To: Nashville Predators
Danny Hobbs (F) From: Elmira Jackals To: Binghamton Senators
Thomas Heemskerk (G) From: Worcester Sharks To: Quad City Mallards
Jordan Szwarz (F) From: Phoenix Coyotes To: Portland Pirates
Connor Murphy (D) From: Portland Pirates To: Phoenix Coyotes
Olivier Roy (G) From: Alaska Aces To: Abbotsford Heat
Drew MacKenzie (D) From: Alaska Aces To: Abbotsford Heat
Zach McKelvie (D) From: Abbotsford Heat To: Alaska Aces
Jordan Kremyr (F) From: Abbotsford Heat To: Alaska Aces
Jordan Schroeder (F) From: Utica Comets To: Vancouver Canucks
Nicholas Rioux (D) From: Iowa Wild To: Quad City Mallards
Brandon Pirri (F) From: Rockford IceHogs To: Chicago Blackhawks
Anders Nilsson (G) From: New York Islanders To: Bridgeport Sound Tigers
Matt Donovan (D) From: New York Islanders To: Bridgeport Sound Tigers

News & Notes:

  • Really nice work by 100DegreeHockey’s Stephen Meserve on the Texas Stars league leading powerplay. [100DegreeHockey]
  • The AHL Power Rankings for Week 17 have gone live on Chirps From Center Ice. Jason has been doing a great job with these, so go take a look. [ChirpsFromCenterIce]
  • After nearly a month on the road, the Rochester Americans are back on home ice. [WHEC]
  • The Milwaukee Admirals are hosting a, get this, Jamaican Vortex Night. Three fans will get a trip to Jamaica, and there will be a Bob Marley tribute band. You think you’d see this in the NHL? C’mon. [Milwaukee Admirals]
  • The brand new PPL Center is on its way to completion. (s/t @breakground, @Ike_Richman)
    Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 11.44.26 AM
    (Click to enlarge)

Tyler McNeely heads to Germany

The second division DEL team Starbulls Rosenheim have announced they’ve come to terms with Tyler McNeely.

McNeely, 26, split last season between the ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays and the AHL. In 31 games in the AHL — four with Providence, 27 with Lake Erie — McNeely potted one goal and eight assists, scoring another 44 points (13-31) while in the ‘E’.

The former Northeastern University captain came to the AHL after finishing his four year tenure in the NCAA. McNeely’s career high AHL totals came in 2011-12 while a member of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. That season, McNeely tallied nine goals and 12 assists in 66 games.


Negrin signs with Comets

The Utica Comets have announced they’ve come to terms with defenceman John Negrin on a one-year AHL deal.

Negrin, 24, was a third round draft pick of the Calgary Flames in 2007, and appeared in three games with the Flames in 2008-09. Following a four year stint in the WHL with both the Kootenay Ice and Swift Current Broncos — Negrin posted 16 goals, 111 assists, and 252 PIM in 265 games in the ‘Dub — Negrin spent the majority of the next three seasons with the Flames top affiliate in Abbotsford.

While a member of the Heat, Negrin appeared in 95 games, scored five goals, and added 17 assists, but was traded near the end of his third season to the Winnipeg Jets. Negrin would suit up for the remainder of the 2011-12 season with the IceCaps, and registered three assists in 14 games.

When his NHL entry-level deal ran out, Negrin was inked to an AHL deal with the Chicago Wolves, but struggled to stay with the club and spent 44 games in the ECHL with Kalamazoo in 2012-13. However, after a trade sent him to Lake Erie, Negrin played the remainder of the season as a member of the Monsters.

His AHL deal with the Comets is for one season, as Negrin will look to get back to being an everyday AHL player.

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.

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.

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.