With all the excitement of the playoff stretch drive in the NHL, the CHL playoffs and the Frozen Four the news of all the free agent and entry level signings during the last month or so. If you're wondering who recently picked up NCAA free agents or signed their drafted CHL prospects I've tried to piece together a team-by-team list.
There are way too many players to go into depth on each guy but I'll give you a bit of info along the way.
There are probably a few names that I missed while compiling this rather long list so if you notice who I omitted, please let me know in the comments section.
The Ducks inked a pair of NCAA players in Rob Bordson (Duluth) and Nick Bonino (Boston University) to 2-year deals. Bordson had 40 points in 40 games with Minnesota-Duluth while Bonino, originally a San Jose 6th round pick, had 38 points in 33 games for the Terriers. Bonino played 9 games for the Ducks to close out the schedule and picked up a couple of points. (Photo: associated press)
Anaheim also signed their 2009 1st round pick in Guelph Storm forward Peter Holland. The 19-year-old scored 30 goals and 79 points this past season and also added 8 points in 5 playoff games. Brampton defenceman Matt Clark, selected in the 2nd round of 2009, signed his entry level deal and reported to Vancouver's farm team. The Ducks do not have their own AHL affiliate this year so they found a place for Clark with the Manitoba Moose.
The Bruins signed a pair of 1st round draftees starting with Joe Colborne who had just completed his sophomore season at the University of Denver. The former Camrose Kodiak had 41 points with the Pioneers and has contributed a pair of assists so far with the AHL's Prividence Bruins. He was Boston's top pick in 2008.
Jordan Caron was Boston's 1st round selection in 2009, 25th overall, and signed his entry level deal a couple of weeks ago. Caron was leading the QMJHL playoff scoring race with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies after compiling 33 points in 23 games since joining the team via trade from the Rimouski Oceanic.
Boston also inked Michigan Wolverines forward Steven Kampfer and the Ann Arbour native has 3 points in 6 games. Kampfer was originally drafted by Anaheim but was acquired by the Bruins at the deadline. Goalie Michael Hutchinson, a 3rd round pick in 2008, signed his entry level deal but is still playing in the CHL playoffs with London.
The lone addition that I've noticed for the Sabres is the signing of Cape Breton forward Luke Adam. The big power forward had a huge season for the Screaming Eagles posting 49 goals and 90 points in 56 games.
The 'Canes signed a duo of talented collegians that they had previously drafted. For Penticton Vees forward Zac Dalpe came to terms after completing his sophomore year with the Ohio State Buckeyes. Since joining the Albany River Rats the sniper has scored 6 goals and has 7 points in 9 games. (Photo: OhioStateBuckeyes.com)
Notre Dame defender Kyle Lawson, a 7th round pick in 2005, completed his NCAA eligibility with the Fighting Irish and has now played 10 games with the River Rats.
Two UFA deals by the Hawks have landed them St.Lawrence Saints sophomore Brandon Bollig. The Missouri product notched 25 points in his second go around with St. Lawrence and so far has 2 points in 3 games with the IceHogs.
Moose Jaw Warriors defenceman Ryan Stanton signed up with Chicago before the WHL playoffs were done but after his club was beaten by Calgary, the St. Albert kid moved to the AHL. Stanton has one assist after two games in Rockford.
The Avalanche have gone to the dogs lately. Terriers to be more precise. Colorado has signed three members of the Boston University Terriers including Zach and Colby Cohen as well as captain Kevin Shattenkirk. Colby Cohen was a 2007 2nd round pick, Shattenkirk a 1st rounder the same year while Zach Cohen was a UFA who completed his four years of NCAA eligibility. All three former Terriers have hit the score sheet since being added to the Lake Erie Monsters. (Photo: Matthew West)
Colorado signed two other NCAA guys including talented Mark Olver who led Northern Michigan in scoring in all three years he played for the Wildcats. Olver has scored twice for Lake Erie since joining the AHL club. The other collegian turning pro is Golden Gopher Michael Carman, a 3rd round pick back in 2006. Carman had 18 points with Minnesota this year, a career high.
Former Edmonton Oil King and current Vancouver Giant Tomas Vincour has signed on with the Stars. Although his production is basically the same rate as it was in Edmonton, one team source told me that the Giants are extremely happy with the Czech import and consider him one of the best Europeans they've had on their team in their decade-long existence.
Yale Bulldog senior Sean Backman signed on with the Stars but was injured at the end of the NCAA playoffs so has not yet appeared in a professional game. Former Spokane Chiefs forward Ondrej Roman finally signed on with the Stars as well.
Detroit Red Wings
Willie Coetzee signed on with the Wings last fall but made his professional debut recently after the Red Deer Rebels were swept aside by Saskatoon. Coetzee has two games under his belt with Grand Rapids in the AHL.
The Oilers came to terms with a few college players including 2006 2nd rounder Jeff Petry who completed his junior year with Michigan State and Chris Vande Velde played four full seasons at North Dakota. Both have been in Springfield for the last couple of weeks and both have recorded their first professional points. (Photo: Springfield Falcons/Jim Syner)
Edmonton also signed collegians Blair Riley (Ferris State), Matt Beca (Clarkson) and Eddie Delgrosso (Nebraska-Omaha).
Swede Linus Omark was inked by Edmonton to a new 2-year deal and has 5 professional seasons under his belt already including 4 in the SEL and one in the KHL.
Guelph Storm defenceman Adam Comrie put up 40 points this year and the Virginia born prospect might be done with the OHL after this season. Denver goalie Marc Cheverie, from Cole Harbour Nova Scotia, was the best puck stopper in the NCAA this past year. "Chevy" leaves the Pioneers program after his junior year and was a 7th round pick by the cats in 2006.
Los Angeles Kings
The Kings signed WHL scoring champ Brandon Kozun of the Calgary Hitmen to an entry level contract a couple of weeks ago. The diminutive junior star has compiled 72 goals and 215 points in the last two regular seasons and played for Team Canada at the 2010 World Juniors. (Photo: Matt Manor/IIHF-HHOF Images)
L.A. also signed Northern Michigan senior Ray Kaunisto. The un-drafted 6'4 forward earned 32 points with the Wildcats this past year.
The Wild made one of the first big NCAA UFA signings when they came to terms with Casey Wellman. The Massachusetts sophomore finished second on his team in scoring and went on to notch 4 points in 12 NHL games with the Wild.
Plymouth Whalers goalie Matt Hackett signed on during the OHL playoffs. He was a 3rd round pick by Minnesota last year and he responded by posting a career best .925 SV% and 2.62 GAA this season.
Another Ohio State player to jump ship early is Hunter Bishop who decided to sign on with the Habs instead of head back to college for another season. Bishop played for The Buckeyes, 4 games in North Dakota and with the BCHL's Vernon Vipers before and in between them.
Brendon Nash is the older brother of Edmonton prospect Riley Nash. Brendon completed his 4-year stint at Cornell and signed with Montréal but he has yet to play for them or their AHL Affiliate in Hamilton.
The Predators have signed two NCAA players thus far but a third might be on the way. Notre Dame forward Ryan Thang signed a 2-year entry level deal after his four seasons with the Fighting Irish. He's already having success with the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals as well; 6 points in 12 games. Thang was a 3rd round pick by the Preds in 2007.
Ryan Flynn was drafted in 2006 and then he played four years at the Minnesota with the Golden Gophers. The power forward never cracked 20 points so he's probably a depth player at best.
The guy Predator fans probably want to see sign and maybe contribute in the NHL playoffs is Blake Geoffrion, the 2010 Hobey Baker winner who helped the Wisconsin Badgers reach the National Championship game last weekend. The captain of the Badgers had finished the year with 50 points in 40 games.
New York Islanders
The Islanders signed one of their top NCAA prospects when the got Rhett Rakhshani under contract. Rakhshani had 50 points this year in 41 games, tops for all Denver players, and he's picked up a pair of assists so far in Bridgeport Sound with the AHL affiliate. Rakhshani was a 4th round pick by the Islanders in 2006.
New York Rangers
Lee Baldwin left the Alaska-Anchorage Seawolves after his freshman year to join the Rangers. So far the Victoria, BC native has a goal in 7 games with the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack.
Netminder Cameron Talbot was one of the main reasons why upstart Alabama-Huntsville won the CHA Conference and claimed an automatic bid into the NCAA National Tournament. The Chargers were bounced by Miami in round one but the 2-1 score was indicative of how Talbot kept his team in the game. He's only appeared in one period of action so far as a pro giving up 3 goals on 11 shots.
The Sens have been a busy team lately. They signed Hobey Baker finalist Bobby Butler from the New Hampshire Wildcats to a 2-year deal, and the new recruit has played in two NHL contests already.
Denver standout Patrick Wiercioch and Eric Gryba from Boston University join 2009 1st rounder Jared Cowen as new additions to the defensive corps. Cowen has appeared in a Senators uniform already and Gryba has played 6 games for the Binghampton Senators in the AHL.
Swedish netminder Robin Lehner played for the Soo Greyhounds in the OHL this year and has appeared in two AHL games with Binghampton as well. Lehner was drafted in the 2nd round last June. (Photo: OHL Images)
The signing of David Dziurzynski is an interesting one. A former AJHL player with the Lloydminster bobcats, Dziuzynski was traded to Alberni of the BCHL and he led the to the playoffs. He was never drafted.
The Flyers signed a hot commodity overage player out of the OHL named Luke Pither who has become one of the leading offensive weapons of the powerful Barrie Colts. Pither will probably be playing longer than the Flyers this year so he might not be able to help the organization in the short term.
Shane Harper of the Everett Silvertips has already reported to Adirondack where he has played 5 games for the AHL Phantoms.
Collegians Mark Testwuide (Colorado College) signed but hasn't played yet. A pair of Wildcats in Erik Gustafsson and Brian Stewart (Northern Michigan) are also in Adirondack. Gustafsson has 7 points in 5 games and Stewart has appeared in 3 games.
Will they be called the Arizona Coyotes next year? Don't know but Michael Stone will come to camp with a contract in his pocket and hope to play the Desert Dogs regardless of name. The WHL anchor of the Calgary Hitmen had a career best 65 points this past season.
Another towering blueliner is Mathieu Brodeur of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles who checks in at 6'6 and 205 lbs. Brodeur had 29 points this year in the QMJHL.
Chris Summers was a 1st round pick back in 2006 but is now done his college career at Michigan. He has already played 6 games in San Antonio.
San Jose Sharks
The Sharks were busy signing college free agents as well as one they drafted back in 2005. Tony Lucia of the Minnesota Golden Gophers is now in Worcester, the 6th round pick has played 4 games for the AHL Sharks.
James Marcou and Matt Irwin both join the organization from the Massachusetts Minutemen. I've mentioned Marcou a few times here this season and after speaking with a San Jose scout recently I know they been following him ever since the 2006 Viking Cup where I first saw him as well. Marco led the Minutemen in scoring this year, while Irwin is a former BCHL player leaving college after 2 years. (Photo: Don Treeger/The Republican)
Nick Schaus was a senior at UMass-Lowell this past year and signed with the Sharks as an un-drafted UFA.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues added a couple of key defencemen to the mix in Notre Dame Fighting Irish rearguard Ian Cole and Portland Winterhawks stalwart Brett Ponich (Portland). Cole has 5 points in 9 games with Peoria while 6'7, 225 lb Ponich is trying to get Portland to the next round of the WHL playoffs.
Tampa Bay Lightning
The Bolts have inked Swedish forward Johan Harju who played alongside Edmonton's Linus Omark in Russia this past year and in their SEL days. Harju hasn't put up the same numbers as Omark but he's 6'3 and over 200 lbs so he might adapt to the NHL quicker and better than his much smaller buddy.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Jamie Devane is a forward with Plymouth of the OHL that the Leafs selected in the 3rd round of 2009. The Mississauga product is a 6'4, 212 lb power forward but managed just 14 points this past year in 51 games.
The Canucks made a splash getting Jordan Schroeder out of Minnesota where he'd struggled badly for the first half of the season. The 2010 World Junior Championship seemed to reawaken his offence and Schroeder finished the year with 28 points. However, with Manitoba in the AHL he has already chalked up 9 points in 11 games.
Gritty hear and soul forward Prab Rai of the Seattle Thunderbirds was also signed at the conclusion of the WHL campaign. Talk about consistent, Rai's last three season ending point totals are 65, 65 and 69 but one big difference this year is that the Surrey product scored 41 times.
Russian Dmitri Kugryshev played with the Quebec Remparts this year and has signed on with the Capitals. The 2nd round pick in 2008 has yet to play a professional game in Hershey or anywhere else yet.
Here's a really interesting one... Dustin Stevenson has spent the last four seasons with the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the SJHL. Most in that situation would be looking to get a NCAA scholarship of head to the CIS. However, this 6'5 220 lb rearguard who had 134 PIM in 56 games has been signed by Washington instead. Talk about winning the lottery - Stevenson goes from remote, northern Saskatchewan to the NHL's top franchise.
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