9/24/2012: Hockey Today

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

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