Archive for September, 2012

5FW Originals: Smyth Brings Veteran Leadership To Expansion Cutthroats

September 30, 2012

Long-time NHL and AHL forward Brad Smyth has returned from Europe to join the expansion CHL Denver Cutthroats. (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Welcome back, Brad Smyth.

After spending the past five seasons in Europe, the 39-year-old forward has returned to North America and will play for the Denver Cutthroats, a CHL expansion team.

“It’s been good to travel to different countries and improve as a hockey player, playing on a bigger ice surface,” said Smyth in a telephone interview.

“It was a very good transition over there, I enjoyed it. It just seems like if I was going to play in North America, I wanted to play somewhere where it would be starting from the ground up and an enjoyable experience. Hopefully we get off to a good start and go from there.”

While Smyth will be playing under friend and former teammate Derek Armstrong, he also will be taking on an assistant coach role as well, which is something he enjoyed while playing in the French mountains.

“My primary role is as a player,” Smyth said. “But I am a player/assistant, so I expect I’ll be doing a few things in practice and work with special teams. Hopefully, it’s a combination. But I fully expect to play, and I’ve been training to play, so we’ll see where it goes from there.”

With his career winding down — Smyth joked that his career is on the “back nine” while many of his new teammates are on the “front nine” — the NHL and AHL veteran is eventually looking to make a transition to a full-time coach.

“I’d like to give it a shot down the line and try to build something,” he said. At the same time, that’s why it’s a good fit because I still feel like I want to play for a couple more years and learn the other side of the game, which is important too. In Denver, there’s a good opportunity for that. You want to try to help the young guys as much as you can and see if they can become the best players they can be.”

Surely, the relatively inexperienced group the Cutthroats will be icing this year could stand to learn a lot from Smyth, who is entering his 19th professional season. The Ottawa native has scored over 500 goals while playing in the ECHL, IHL, AHL and NHL in addition to his experience overseas.

But while he reached the game’s highest level with the Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Nashville Predators and Ottawa Senators and is a two-time 50 goal scorer at the AHL level, he has no thoughts of a return to the top two rungs of the hockey ladder.

“I don’t have any aspirations towards that at this point, I’m 39 and that’s not realistic anymore,” he said. “What’s realistic is playing good hockey at a high level in the Central Hockey League and just becoming a very good player that helps our team succeed right off the bat.”

What is realistic, however, is for Smyth to put up some big numbers at the CHL level, which is a notch below the AHL. Smyth himself, however, stayed humble when asked about the kind of production he’s capable of.

“At this point, I just wanted to be able to contribute,” he said.

“Usually my contribution comes in forms of offensive numbers, so I’ll be looking to do some of that. But I think it’s more of a situation of trying to get guys playing competitively each and every night. Obviously, you want to win more than you lose, so I think it’ll be more geared towards that at this point. But I’m looking forward to playing and seeing where I fit in on the team.”

The CHL has sent many players to the NHL, but it was the ECHL where Smyth got his start all the way back in 1993-94 with the Birmingham Bulls. With that league still in its formative years, only a handful of players graduated to the NHL at the time, but Smyth was one of the lucky few, and feels that experience can help him be a better teammate and coach in Denver.

“That’s part of the experience that maybe I can bring to Denver, where everyone has NHL aspirations and might not reach them, or they’re not there yet and they have to keep their spirits up and keep working hard,” he said.

“It’s definitely the mental aspect of the game, where maybe some people don’t notice or recognize where hopefully I can help them out with that in Denver.”

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

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9/29/2012: Hockey Today

September 29, 2012

Relatively light day in the hockey world today…

Veteran goaltender Daren Machesney is the newest addition to the Springfield Falcons training camp roster (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The AHL’s Springfield Falcons have brought in veteran goaltender Daren Machesney. He joins Mike Clemente, Paul Dainton, Curtis McElhinney and Allen York on the Falcons roster. Machesney, who was born on the coolest day of the year, split last season between ECHL South Carolina and AHL Hershey, the latter of whom is most synonymous with his career.

The 25-year-old has played in 87 games for Hershey, the most for any team in his career. And he’s gotten around. He’s worn eight different sweaters in the past three seasons — Manitoba, Springfield, Victoria, Elmira, Reading, Worcester, South Carolina and the Bears — and hasn’t yet reached the NHL after being selected in the fifth round by the Capitals in 2005.

Former BC goalie Chris Venti has signed a tryout deal with the San Francisco Bulls (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— A few notable college players signed with ECHL teams today. The Florida Everblades signed troubled former Boston University forward Corey Trivino, while the San Francisco Bulls brought in ex-Boston College goalie Chris Venti on a tryout deal.

Trivino, the Islanders second round pick in 2008, was kicked off of BU’s team in the middle of last season after bring charged with assault and battery — to which he later pled guilty — following a dormroom incident in which he attempted to sexually force himself on a woman. The 22-year-old was sentenced to two years probation, and it is unclear if he remains in the Islanders future plans.

Venti’s story is far more uplifting. In his first three seasons, he played a grand total of 25 minutes and 41 seconds, stuck behind John Muse and Parker Milner. But after an impressive appearance in relief of Brian Billet, he was given the nod to start the Frozen Fenway game against Northeastern, which BC won, 2-1.

The 24-year-old had signed a tryout deal with the Everblades during the postseason last year, but did not play.

Dan DaSilva returns to North America after playing last year in the KHL (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The ECHL’s Ontario Reign have signed Dan DaSilva to a contract. DaSilva played in the KHL last season, and is likely best known for his two seasons with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks, in which he racked up 94 points in 152 games.

Former Devils draft pick Kory Nagy returns to Trenton as a member of the Titans (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— And the Trenton Titans of the ECHL have brought in former Devils draft pick Kory Nagy. For more on Nagy, who had previously played in Trenton while with the Devils organization, check out Inside The Trenton Titans.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Albany Devils Training Camp Photo Gallery

September 29, 2012

Adam Henrique was easily the biggest name in camp with the Albany Devils on Friday (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

The complete set of photos from Day 1 of Albany Devils training camp can be viewed here

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

9/28/2012: Hockey Today

September 28, 2012

— I finally have time to catch you up on the past two days of hockey news. And there is quite a bit.

— Really productive day in Newark at Albany Devils camp today. I shot “Masked Men” videos with Maxime Clermont, Scott Wedgewood, Jeff Frazee and Keith Kinkaid. The Clermont one is already posted, and I’ll have the others in time on the blog.

I also interviewed each player separately for a story on the goaltending jam in Albany, and spoke to Corbin McPherson and Eric Baier. You can read a big feature on Baier in Sunday’s Trentonian. I’ll have plenty of A-Devils camp content soon, including a photo gallery and original stories.

In addition to my phoner with Brad Smyth, I also spoke to Orlando Solar Bears goaltender Drew Palmisano today, which you’ll see down the road as well.

According to the ECHL, Scott Gomez has re-signed with the Alaska Aces. According to Gomez, well… (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— Again, the ECHL has got the top story today. In the league’s daily transactions e-mail, they announced that Scott Gomez was going to be re-joining the Alaska Aces, just as he did during the 2004-05 lockout. In addition, he was to be joined by Nate Thompson and Joey Crabb. However, Gomez has denied the story via text to a Montreal reporter. Hmmm…

— The AHL has named their 2013 Hall of Fame class. Straight from the press release:

Honored by the AHL Hall of Fame Selection Committee as the eighth group of enshrinees are Harvey Bennett, Sr., Ken Gernander, Jim Morrison and Peter White.

“With their illustrious careers and outstanding achievements, these four individuals represent the best of the best in the storied history of the American Hockey League,” said David Andrews, AHL President and Chief Executive Officer. “The AHL Board of Governors unanimously approves the Selection Committee’s recommendation for their induction into the American Hockey League Hall of Fame.”

— The AHL’s Worcester Sharks signed six players to AHL deals so that they can play at that level during the lockout. Forwards Tim Kennedy, Brandon Mashinter, John McCarthy, Frazer McLaren and defensemen Matt Pelech and Nick Petrecki have all agreed to deals.

Today, they also added James Sheppard. Sheppard, picked ninth overall in 2006 and sidetracked by injuries, last played in the NHL with Minnesota in 2009-10.

Tyson Strachan returns to the San Antonio Rampage on a PTO (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The San Antonio Rampage signed defenseman Tyson Strachan to a PTO. Strachan primarily played with the Rampage last season, but also played in 15 games for the Panthers, as well as two postseason contests.

— The Albany Devils were one of many AHL teams to officially unveil their training camp roster…and yes, I would know. Adam Henrique, Adam Larsson, Jacob Josefson and Mattias Tedenby are among the notables.

Reilly Smith looks to start his first full pro season with the Texas Stars (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The Texas Stars have got some talent in their camp. Among the bigger names are Jack Campbell, Austin Smith, Reilly Smith, Colton Sceviour, Tomas Vincour and Cam Barker.

— Oklahoma City’s roster came out and, as expected, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins are on it. Nugent-Hopkins will not wear his customary 93, and will instead use 18.

Beau Bennett, former first round pick of the Penguins, will make his pro debut in Scranton Wilkes-Barre this season (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— Scranton Wilkes-Barre’s roster has been released. Beau Bennett, Eric Tangradi, Robert Bortuzzo and Simon Despres are among the names you may know. Bennett, who was Pittsburgh’s first round pick in 2010, played a season and a half at the University of Denver and will be making his pro debut.

— Peoria’s roster includes Stefan Della Rovere, Evgeny Grachev and Jaden Schwartz.

— The Hershey Bears will have another talented group this year. Among this year’s players in camp are Braden Holtby, Philipp Grubauer and Dmitry Orlov.

— Highlighting Grand Rapids’ camp roster are Petr Mrazek, Brendan Smith and Gustavy Nyquist. Tomas Tatar is playing overseas, but the team says he’ll be back in time for the first game.

— The ECHL has changed all playoff rounds back to a best-of-seven. They had previously reduced the first round to a best-of-five.
— The ECHL Idaho Steelheads added goalie Ryan Zapolski to their roster. Zapolski, who has bounced around between a few teams, is out of Mercyhurst College and will be in camp with Idaho this weekend.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

MASKED MEN: Maxime Clermont

September 28, 2012

Watch HERE.

Welcome to the first video in the “Masked Men” series here at 5 For Writing. In creating the blog that supplements the print work, I wanted it to be different…I wanted it to be stuff that not just anyone could do. So, goalies have always fascinated me…not a secret. But goalie masks are exceptionally intruging. Why are certain things on there? What was the design process like?

So, throughout the season, I’ll be asking different goalies to tell me about their masks. Albany Devils goalie Maxime Clermont talks to me about his in the very first installment of “Masked Men” at the top of the post.

You may need to turn the audio on your computer up…

Albany Devils goalie Maxime Clermont (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

Quick Update…

September 28, 2012

I’m currently at Albany Devils camp in Newark…I’ll have a full update from the past day or two, including stuff from camp, as soon as I can.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

5FW CONTEST: Win These Panini Hockey Cards

September 27, 2012

 

Free. Hockey. Cards.

So, it’s been outstanding to see the level of support from the hockey community in starting this new venture. So many teams have been incredibly helpful in getting this off the ground, offering player interviews, credentials and access to their press release lists.

But it’s time to give back, all thanks to Tracy Hackler and the great folks at Panini America. I wanted to have a “Cardboard Corner” feature on here, where I take a look at new hockey card products — which is in large part due to my interest in the hobby and also because it’s something you just don’t see on “mainstream” hockey coverage. Tracy was kind enough to send me a few boxes to review, and you’ll see those videos posted on here in the very near future, complete with a brief write-up and info on where you can get the cards yourself.

However, you can win the exact cards you see me pull out of the boxes I open in the videos. Panini has allowed me to give the cards away to some lucky readers, so stay tuned for details on how to win some great cards from 2011-12 Panini Titanium Hockey and 2012-13 Score Hockey.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

9/26/2012: Hockey Today

September 26, 2012

— Lots of hockey happenings today. Always a good day when that’s the case. In case you missed it in yesterday’s post, I did speak with Denver Cutthroats forward Brad Smyth this morning…Smyth signed with the CHL expansion team after a lengthy stay in Europe, and I’ll be able to give you a lengthy feature on the NHL and AHL veteran.

Also, I may get to check out Albany Devils camp in Newark on Friday, and I’ll be sure to get a crapload of content for you if that’s the case. That is, of course, a technical term.

The ECHL’s Ontario Reign have signed veteran NHL defenseman Paul Mara (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The ECHL has got the lead story today, and you’ll see why.  The Ontario Reign have signed long-time NHL defenseman Paul Mara to a contract.  The 33-year-old has played in 734 NHL games, encompassing 13 seasons.  The veteran blueliner has suited up for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Phoenix Coyotes, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, Montreal Canadiens and Anaheim Ducks over his lengthy career.

The Ridgewood, NJ has played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs five separate times, reaching the second round twice with the Rangers.  After splitting the 2010-11 campaign between Anaheim and Montreal, Mara did not play last season.

“Mara’s experience will definitely help us on the back end this year,” said Reign Head Coach Jason Christie in a team statement.  “With Paul coming in, he has a pretty calm demeanor about him and he has played at the highest level possible; it’s good for guys sitting in the locker room to have that kind of presence.” 

Michel Ouellet, who has 190 games of NHL experience, is one of a few intruging names to pop up as a tryout invite on the Hamilton Bulldogs roster (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The Montreal Canadiens released the final list of 42 players who will be participating in Hamilton Bulldogs camp, most of which I’ve addressed on here before. However, many players have been brought in on a tryout basis, including Wheeling Nailers forward Zack Torquato, who was the subject of the first-ever 5FW Original story.

The complete list of tryout players is as follows…

F: Spencer Bennett, Bobby Farnham, Stephen MacAulay, Michel Ouellet, Brendan Ranford, Kyle Rank, Zack Torquato
D: Antoine Corbin, Kevin Gagne, Sebastian Owuya, Cody Wild
G: Scott Darling, Cody Reichard

A few interesting names on that list. Michel Ouellet has a lot of NHL experience, primarily with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning, and he was in the AHL with Norfolk last year. Wild is a former Oilers draft pick who was with the Penguins organization last year. Reichard is fresh out of Miami (OH) and is slated to play with ECHL Stockton this year.

The Canadiens also announced that they are moving two Bulldogs games from Hamilton to the Bell Center in Montreal; November 9 against Syracuse and February 22 against Rochester.

Connor Knapp, pictured here making a save during the 2012 NCAA Tournament, should see a lot of playing time in Rochester this year (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The Rochester Americans will be holding the first two days of their camp at First Niagara Center in Buffalo before returning to Blue Cross Arena. 34 players are scheduled to attend camp, among them are Luke Adam, Marcus Foligno, Corey Tropp, Brayden McNabb and Connor Knapp.

— The Milwaukee Admirals, AHL affiliate of the Nashville Predators, have also released their camp roster. Gabriel Bourque and Mattias Ekholm are the only two players with NHL experience listed among the 27 players.

— Many players continue to sign AHL contracts so that they’re not subject to waivers and can play at the AHL level this season. Wilkes-Barre Scranton has signed goalies Brad Thiessen and Jeff Zatkoff, defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Brian Strait and forward Eric Tangradi to AHL deals.

Sebastien Piche has signed an AHL contract with the Connecticut Whale (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— Defenseman Sebastien Piche was a somewhat surprise name to appear on the AHL Connecticut Whale’s training camp roster. Now, the team has announced they’ve signed the former ECHL’er to an AHL deal.

Piche, who was signed as a free agent by the Red Wings in 2009 after his QMJHL career was over, has split the last three years between AHL Grand Rapids and the ECHL; the first two seasons in Toledo and final year in Florida. Piche had his best ECHL years with the Walleye, and was a talented offensive defenseman who posted a career-high 33 points in 2010-11.

Denver University goaltender Sam Brittain was named to the All-WCHA Preseason team today (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The WCHA released their preseason poll today, and not surprisingly, the Minnesota Golden Gophers came out on top. Only a first place vote for North Dakota kept Minnesota’s number one ranking from being unanimous. Nick Bjugstad was named the Preseason Player of the Year and was a member of the Preseason All-WCHA Team, where he was joined by Denver’s Joey LaLeggia, St. Cloud State’s Nick Jensen, Wisconsin’s Mark Zengerle, St. Cloud State’s Ben Hanowski while Denver’s Sam Brittain and Colorado College’s Josh Thorimbert split the goaltender votes.

94X WCHA PRESEASON MEDIA POLL
PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Minnesota (24 first place votes) … 11.92 poll average
2. North Dakota (1) … 10.76
3. Denver … 9.92
4. Wisconsin … 7.8
5. Minnesota Duluth … 6.88
6. St. Cloud State … 6.84
7. Colorado College … 6.08
8. Nebraska Omaha … 5.48
9. Michigan Tech … 5.2
10. Minnesota State … 3.6
11. Bemidji State … 2.48
12. Alaska Anchorage … 1.04

PRESEASON PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Nick Bjugstad, forward, Minnesota (16 votes)
Others receiving more than one vote: Erik Haula, forward, Minnesota (4); Mark Zengerle, forward, Wisconsin (3)

PRESEASON ROOKIE OF THE YEAR

Rocco Grimaldi, forward, North Dakota (8 1/2 votes)
Others receiving more than one vote: Nic Kerdiles, forward, Wisconsin (5); Jordan Schmaltz, defenseman, North Dakota (2 1/2); Brady Skjei, defenseman, Minnesota (2); Andy Welinski, defenseman, Minnesota Duluth (2)

PRESEASON ALL-WCHA TEAM

Forwards
Nick Bjugstad, Minnesota (20 votes); Mark Zengerle, Wisconsin (17); Ben Hanowski, St. Cloud State (8)
Others receiving more than one vote: Danny Kristo, North Dakota (7); Erik Haula, Minnesota (6); Rylan Schwartz, Colorado College (5); Corban Knight, North Dakota (3)

Defensemen
Joey LaLeggia, Denver (20 votes); Nick Jensen, St. Cloud State (9)
Others receiving more than one vote: Nate Schmidt, Minnesota (7); Wade Bergman, Minnesota Duluth (3)

Goalie
Sam Brittain, Denver and Josh Thorimbert, Colorado College (7 1/2 votes each)
Others receiving more than one vote: Juho Olkinuora, Denver (3), Joel Rumpel, Wisconsin (2)

— The ECAC released their preseason coaches and media polls as well…

Troy Grosenick, who returns to the Dutchmen after leading the team to the Frozen Four in his sophomore season, was named to both the coaches and media All-ECAC preseason teams. (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

Preseason Coaches Poll1) Union (8)                118

2) Cornell (3)             110

3) Harvard (1)             98

4) Quinnipiac              93

5) Yale                         77

6) St. Lawrence          61

7) Dartmouth    58

8) Rensselaer             46

9) Colgate                   45

10) Clarkson              41

11) Princeton              25

12) Brown                  20

 Coaches Preseason All-League Selections:

G-Troy Grosenick – Jr. – Union

D-Danny Biega – Sr. – Harvard

D-Mat Bodie – Jr. – Union

F-Daniel Carr – Jr. – Union

F-Kyle Flanagan – Sr. – St. Lawrence

F-Connor Jones – Jr. – Quinnipiac 

Preseason Media Poll

1) Union (18)              343

2) Cornell (11)           330

3) Harvard                  293

4) Quinnipiac              246

5) Yale  (1)                  236

6) St. Lawrence          159

7) Clarkson                155

8) Colgate                   148

9) Rensselaer              144

10) Dartmouth           140

11) Princeton              108

12) Brown                  41

 

Media Preseason All-League Selections:

G-Troy Grosenick – Jr. – Union

D-Danny Biega – Sr. – Harvard

D-Mat Bodie – Jr. – Union

F-Daniel Carr – Jr. – Union

F-Greg Carey- Jr. – St. Lawrence

F-Connor Jones – Jr. – Quinnipiac

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

9/25/2012: Hockey Today

September 26, 2012

Time to catch you up on the past day of hockey happenings. Not a whole lot to report, but what there is to report is still very much so worth passing along…

Dylan McIlrath, drafted 10th overall by the Rangers in 2010, is slated to be in camp with AHL Connecticut (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The Connecticut Whale, AHL affiliate of the New York Rangers, released their training camp roster today. In addition, camp will take place at the MSG Training Center instead of Connecticut since the facility doesn’t have that pesky NHL camp in the way. Sigh.

Among the notables in Whale camp: Dylan McIlrath, Ryan Bourque, Marek Hrivik, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller and Christian Thomas.

Former Trenton Devils captain Trevor Kell is getting an opportunity in the AHL with Chicago (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— Missed this a few days back, but the AHL’s Chicago Wolves signed old friend Trevor Kell. Kell, former captain of the Trenton Devils, played in Italy last year with Fassa of Serie A and racked up 36 points in 45 games.

Kell played four seasons in the ECHL with Trenton, tallying 66 goals and 89 assists in 207 games.

— A few interesting names popping up among ECHL tryout deal players…Alexandre Beaudry, who finished out his collegiate career at Providence College last year, is in camp with Reading. Beaudry went 13-19-4 with a 3.04 GAA and .896 save pct. with the Friars.

Boston College is awarded the 2012 Beanpot, and head into the 2012-13 season as the Hockey East preseason favorite (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— Hockey East released their preseason poll today…

Rank Team (First Place Votes) Pts

1.Boston College (9) 90
2.UMass-Lowell 74
3.Boston University 73
4.New Hampshire (1) 63
5.Maine 56
6.Northeastern 44
Providence 44
8.Merrimack 38
9.Massachusetts 35
10.Vermont 23

Boston College, who won both the Beanpot Tournament and NCAA Championship, is on top of the preseason poll for the fifth straight year.

— John Gibson, drafted in the second round by the Anaheim Ducks in 2011, was named the CHL Goalie of the Week. Gibson went 2-0-0-0 with a 0.96 GAA and .964 save pct. over the weekend for the Kitchener Rangers.

— WHL head coach and former NHL’er Pat Conacher will not travel with the club this weekend to tend to a family matter. Via a team release, Pats GM Chad Lang’s statement on the current situation, “I met with Pat (Conacher) early this week at which time he informed me that he needed to return back to Calgary to help deal with a family matter. Out of respect to his wish he has returned back to Calgary to assist with that family matter and we provide him with our full support during this time. It’s a situation now where we’ve got two capable individuals in (assistant coaches) Malcolm Cameron and Josh Dixon to lead our group until which time Pat is able to return to our hockey club.”

— I am working on setting up a LOT of phone interviews until I can actually get to camps and games.

I’ve been in touch with quite a few teams, and actually just got off the phone with Brad Smyth, the long-time NHL and AHL player who signed with the CHL’s Denver Cutthroats. Spent about ten minutes on the phone with him, so stay tuned for a story down the road.

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com

9/24/2012: Hockey Today

September 25, 2012

Some days, like this weekend, there isn’t a heck of a lot to to write about. And then there are days like today, where there’s a ton. I like days like today.

Long-time NHL goaltender Dan Ellis signed a PTO with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers today (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The most interesting story of the today is easily the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers signing goalie Dan Ellis to a tryout deal. I’d honestly assumed Ellis was already on an NHL deal with someone, given that he’s been at the top level for a while now, but he instead finds himself on a PTO with the Carolina Hurricanes affiliate, who already have Justin Peters and John Muse set as their AHL tandem.

Ellis hasn’t been in the AHL since the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs, and has been an NHL regular ever since with the Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks. Ellis missed a lot of time last season with a sports hernia, and played in just 10 games with the Ducks last year, posting a 2.72 goals against average and .911 save percentage.

Should the NHL lockout end quickly, Ellis could put himself in position to take the backup job from Peters, who would only be in the position due to a Brian Boucher injury that was expected to have him miss the beginning of the regularly scheduled season.

I have reached out to the Checkers to speak with Ellis, which could happen this weekend when he arrives in camp.

Danny Hobbs, pictured here in the USHL, has signed to play for the AHL’s Connecticut Whale (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The AHL’s Connecticut Whale, affiliate of the New York Rangers, have signed Danny Hobbs to a contract. Hobbs, a 23-year-old forward, played collegiately at UMass-Amherst. But I’m more familiar with him from his days in the USHL, where I saw him play with the now-defunct Jr. Blue Jackets. Hobbs, a seventh round pick in the 2007 NHL Draft, was one of the best players on the ice that day. He blossomed in his last two college seasons, scoring 12 goals in each of his final two years.

— The Rochester Americans signed five players to AHL deals today: goaltender David Leggio, forward Mark Mancari, and defensemen T.J. Brennan, Joe Finley and Drew Schiestel.

— The AHL’s Springfield Falcons released their training camp roster today. The Blue Jackets’ affiliate will have Cam Atkinson, Ryan Johansen, Tim Erixon, David Savard and Allen York in camp, among others.

Jordan Nolan was a key member of the 2012 Stanley Cup Champion Los Angeles Kings, but the lockout has pushed him back to AHL Manchester to start the year (Photo: Mike Ashmore)

— The Manchester Monarchs also released their camp roster. Andrei Loktionov, Jordan Nolan and Slava Voynov are among the notables.

— Another day, another player with NHL experience signing in the ECHL. This time it’s former Toronto Maple Leafs forward Ben Ondrus, and he’s agreed to terms with the Idaho Steelheads. Ondrus, 30, returns to where he started…he began his pro career in Idaho at the end of the 2002-03 season, skating in nine games for the club. A former captain of the AHL’s Toronto Marlies and Oklahoma City Barons, Ondrus played in the DEL last year.

Ondrus made his NHL debut for the Leafs during the 2005-06 season, and played parts of four seasons in the NHL. In 52 games, he tallied two assists.

Steelheads head coach Brad Ralph in a statement: “Ben is an established, veteran, AHL-caliber player so his play on the ice will speak for itself. You can’t put a value on his leadership on the bench and in the dressing room. He’s been where the other guys in our room want to go. There’s no way to teach the experience and smarts that Ben brings.”

— The ECHL’s Elmira Jackals have named Dwight Mullins as their head coach. Mullins replaces Pat Bingham, who somewhat surprisingly left the team with just a few weeks to go before the start of the regular season. The Jackals offseason has been filled with turmoil, with their agreement to play at First Arena still in question as the season draws closer.

Mullins had previously been the coach and GM of the CHL’s Allen Americans, where he led the club to a 128-51-17 record.

“I’m excited to have the privilege to come to Elmira and lead the Jackals,” Mullins said in a team release.

“I am equally excited to be a part of an organization, and a league, that offers players development and advancement opportunities both personally and professionally. Our team will display the hard-working character that Pat Bingham has established here. With the core group of players we have assembled, our sights are set on a championship.”

Mullins will be formally introduced to the media at a Tuesday press conference

— The ECHL itself also released its list of critical dates for the upcoming season:

Sept. 2012
27 Players may report to Training Camp
Training Camp Rosters due (3 p.m. ET)
28 First day of on-ice sessions

Oct. 2012
11 Opening Day Rosters due (3 p.m. ET)
12 25th ECHL Regular Season begins

Nov. 2012
1 Deadline for submission of ECHL Hall of Fame candidates

Dec. 2012
21 Christmas Waiver/Trade Freeze begins (5 p.m. ET)
24-26 Christmas Break (no games played)
26 Christmas Waiver/Trade Freeze ends (Noon ET)

Jan. 2013
22-24 All-Star Break (no games played)
22 ECHL Skills Competition (Loveland, Colo.)
23 ECHL Board of Governors Meeting (Loveland, Colo.)
23 20th ECHL All-Star Game (Loveland, Colo.)
25 Jersey Reversal Date
27 NHL All-Star Game (Columbus, Ohio)
28 AHL All-Star Game (Providence, R.I.)
31 IIHF Transfer Deadline (6 p.m. ET) – Players leaving for Europe, etc.

Feb. 2013
1 Any NHL/AHL Player bought out of contract after today may not appear on an ECHL Protected List
4 ECHL Overseas Deadline (5 p.m. ET)

Mar. 2013
6 Recall/Assignment Deadline (11:59 p.m. local time)
7 ECHL Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)
29 Last day to place a Player on Waivers (5 p.m. ET)
30 Last day of 2012-13 ECHL Regular Season

Apr. 2013
1 Kelly Cup Playoff Rosters due (3 p.m. ET)
TBA Kelly Cup Playoffs begin
13 Last day of NHL Regular Season
21 Last day of AHL Regular Season

June 2013
1 Protected Lists due (3 p.m. ET)
13 Future Considerations Trade Deadline (3 p.m. ET)
15 Season Ending Rosters due (3 p.m. ET)

— The WHL’s Regina Pats are retiring Jordan Eberle’s number on October 9. Eberle, selected in the first round by the Edmonton Oilers in 2008 while with the Pats, played four years in Regina and scored 155 goals while reaching the postseason twice.

Portland’s Nicolas Petan was named the WHL Player of the Week (WHL Photo)

— Portland’s Nicolas Petan was named the WHL’s Player of the Week. Petan led all WHL scorers with eight points — four goals, four assists — and posted a +6 in three games for the Winterhawks.

— The USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine NCAA Division 1 Preseason Poll was released today. From a release:

Boston College and Minnesota (476 points) share the No. 1 ranking in the poll, followed by Michigan (408),
North Dakota (407), Union (295), Cornell (233), UMass Lowell (221), Denver (220), Miami (203), Notre Dame (186), Western Michigan (182), Minnesota Duluth (176), Boston University (158), Ferris State (123) and Wisconsin (99)

Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com