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.


Stuart back in North America with Canucks

After spending a season with the DEL’s Iserlohn Roosters, Colin Stuart has signed a one-year deal with the Vancouver Canucks.

Stuart, 31, has plenty of AHL experience and he will bring that to the Utica Comets when he suits up for them next season. Since being drafted in the fifth round of the 2001 draft by the Atlanta Thrashers, Stuart has spent nearly his entire pro career in the ‘A’, suiting up with the Chicago Wolves, Abbotsford Heat, Portland Pirates, and Rochester Americans.

In his nine AHL seasons, Stuart has played in 531 games, tallying 105 goals and 119 assists. The 6-foot-2, Rochester, Minn. native came to the AHL after spending four seasons at the NCAA’s Colorado College, where he put up 38 goals and 39 assists.

A member of the 2007-08 Chicago Wolves, Stuart contributed six points (3-3) on that run.

His contract with the Canucks is a one-year, two-way deal.

Sauve, Canucks reach extension

Yann Sauve has come to terms with the Vancouver Canucks, and will suit up for the AHL’s newest franchise next season.

Sauve, 23, spent last season split between the ECHL’s Kalamazoo Wings and AHL’s Chicago Wolves — the Canucks affiliate during the 2012-13 campaign. A second round pick of the Canucks in 2008, Sauve came to the organization after a stellar junior career with the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. While with the Sea Dogs, Sauve suited up in 290 games, and tallied 26 goals and 96 assists.

At 6-foot-3 and 212 pounds, the young defenceman has NHL size, but has yet to be able to make an impact in the big leagues. In his first professional season, Sauve was given a cup of coffee with the Canucks, but failed to turn it into anything consistent, failing to register a point in five games with the club. Since 2010-11, Sauve has spent the bulk of his time in the AHL, suiting up in 102 AHL games, and tallying three goals and 10 assists.

The Canucks seemingly have interest in watching how Sauve develops, but so far the second rounder doesn’t look like he’s lived up to the expectations the organization had.

Ferriero finds home in Vancouver

After being shipped to Minnesota from New York, Benn Ferriero was told he wouldn’t be tendered a qualifying offer. Now he’s found himself a place to play.

At 26, Ferriero has spent the bulk of his career in the San Jose Sharks organization, but is now onto his fourth team in two years.

The forward, who can play both up the middle and on the wing, was signed to a one-year, two-way deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2012, but didn’t play a single NHL game with the team last season. Instead, Ferriero was dealt to the Rangers in exchange for Chad Kolarik, and suited up in four games with the Rangers.

Ferriero played the majority of last season in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, suiting up in 34 games with the WBS Penguins and tallying 18 points (4-14). When he was dealt to the Rangers, he suited up in another 23 AHL contests with the Connecticut Whale, adding another four goals and eight assists. There’s a strong possibility that Ferriero will end up playing a large chunk of time in Utica next season, bringing his stellar .75 point per AHL game pace to the Comets.

A former member of the ECAC All-Rookie team, Ferriero will look to stick with the Canucks, or he could be looking for his fifth home in just three years.


Green appointed Comets head coach

Almost a month to the day after unveiling the team in Utica, the AHL’s Comets have found their bench boss.

Travis Green, a former NHL centre, has been named the head coach of the AHL’s newest franchise.

Green, who spent last season at the helm of the WHL’s Portland Winter Hawks, joins the Comets after coaching the team to an Ed Chynoweth Cup as league champions. After Winter Hawks head coach and GM Mike Johnston was suspended due to sanctions against the team for undisclosed player benefits, Green took the reins.

Though the team lost in the Memorial Cup Final to 2013 first-overall pick Nathan MacKinnon and partner in crime Jonathan Drouin, Green’s ability to take the team from turmoil to league champions is a testament to his ability to lead a young hockey club.

Selected 23rd overall in the 1989 NHL entry draft, Green played 1,206 NHL games, racking up 203 goals and 273 assists.


Sweatt declines offer, heads to Sweden

Bill Sweatt has packed his bags and is off for a European adventure.

The 24-year-old for Elburn, Ill., has signed a one-year deal with Brynas of the Swedish Hockey League, putting a hold on his career in North America.

In the four years since leaving the NCAA, where Sweatt was a standout with Colorado College, the Chicago Blackhawks second-round pick in 2007 hasn’t been able to crack a deep Vancouver Canucks roster. When his college career came to a close, the speedy winger ended up with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. In his first season in the ‘A’ with the Moose, Sweatt put up 46 points (19-27) in 80 games, and helped out with another six points (1-5) in the playoffs.

When the Canucks shifted their affiliation to Chicago, Sweatt took a small step back in production, only posted 34 points (16-18) in 71 games with the Wolves. However, in 2011-12, Sweatt was able to make his NHL debut when he suited up in two games with the Canucks. In his brief stint with the Canucks, Sweatt was held off the scoresheet.

Last season, again with the Wolves, Sweatt increased his production and points per game, tallying 15 goals and 21 assists in 66 games.

Over 217 regular season AHL contests, Sweatt has scored 50 goals and added 66 assists.

Pelletier returns to AHL with Comets

The Vancouver Canucks have signed forward Pascal Pelletier to a two-year, two-way deal that will see the forward suit up with the AHL’s newest franchise.

Pelletier is on his way back to the AHL after a three year stint in the Swiss NLA, where he helped captain Langau. During his time in the NLA, Pelletier scored 109 points (50-59) in 136 games.

Before Pelletier, now 30, headed to the NLA, he spent several seasons in the AHL, including stops in Providence, Rockford, Syracuse, and, most recently, Peoria. Throughout his AHL career, Pelletier was a gifted playmaker and scored nearly a point per game player.

In 2007-08, while a member of the Providence Bruins, Pelletier posted 37 goals and 38 assists on way to being named an AHL all-star. During his stay overseas, Pelletier suited up in the Spengler Cup, helping Canada win the tournament last season.