Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 10

There has been some activity in the AHL ranks this past week, and Antler Banter is here to inform you of the key moves! While I'm constantly searching for more Manitoba Moose news to bring your way, it has been oddly silent from the local AHL franchise's offices. Other AHL teams, though, are signing players, announcing news, and generally being good contributors to Antler Banter. We have some free agent moves, another coach joining the NHL ranks, a new coach joining the AHL ranks, and a former Moose favorite is off to Europe to continue his career. Antler Banter is off and running for another a week here on HBIC!

A New Home

Former Winnipeg Jet Eric Tangradi has found another new home in the AHL after spending last season with the Montreal Canadiens and Hamilton Bulldogs. The 26 year-old finished last season with 31 points for the Bulldogs in 48 games, but was allowed to search for a new opportunity via free agency. It turns out that the Detroit Red Wings are willing to give him a shot meaning that he'll most likely be seen in Grand Rapids this season.

Detroit signed Tangradi to a one-year deal. The former Ducks draft pick has 152 AHL points in 226 career games, and he'll be expected to continue that scoring pace with the Griffins this year. His AHL numbers have been solid, but his NHL numbers have been less than stellar as he's only recorded a mere 15 points in 143 NHL contests.

Needless to say, the Griffins will need him to produce.

Wolves Get American

The Chicago Wolves added a piece to their offensive attack this summer as they signed former ECHL Allen American Spencer Asuchak. If that name seems unfamiliar to you, get used to hearing it.

Asuchak played 28 games for the Americans while posting 12 goals and 18 assists. He then finished third on the Americans in scoring in the Kelly Cup Playoffs as he posted 10 goals and 11 assists in 25 games en route to helping the Americans win their first Kelly Cup. Combined with the previous season's CHL Championship, Asuchak has the experience of winning two championships in two different leagues with the Americans.

Chicago added a player who has averaged about a point per game in both the CHL and ECHL. A good signing by the Wolves in this writer's humble opinion.

Slaney Gets His Shot

John Slaney, who is a legend in the AHL community, is getting his shot on the big stage after the Coyotes announced that they had signed him as an assistant coach on a multi-year contract. Slaney had served the previous four years as the Portland Pirates' assistant coach after joining the organization following his retirement from hockey in 2010-11.

"We are pleased to add John to our coaching staff," Coyotes GM Don Maloney. "John has done a good job developing our young prospects in the American Hockey League and he will continue to do similar work here in Arizona."

Dave Tippett is getting an excellent teacher with a load of experience on the international, minor-league, and NHL stages. It's assumed that Slaney will run the defence on the bench with his experience, but there's no questioning this signing. It does, however, open up another coaching position in the AHL.

Promoted From Quebec

The Iowa Wild had a void that needed to be filled at the assistant coaching position, and they went to the junior leagues to fill that gap. The Wild announced that they have hired Pascal Rheaume from the QJHL's Sherbrooke Cougars to be their new assistant coach for the upcoming season. The QJHL is one step below the QMJHL in Quebec, but Rheaume also has experience there.

With the Cougars, Rheaume posted an incredible 73-20-11 record over the last two seasons. Twice the Cougars advanced to the Fred Page Finals in his two seasons where they lost in seven games both times. Clearly, he has some ability in shaping young players. Before taking the helm of the Cougars, Rheaume served as the assistant coach with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Sherbrooke Phoenix in 2012-13 and the Drummondville Voltigeurs in 2010-11. Rheaume also played 17 years in the NHL as a defensive forward, helping the 2003 New Jersey Devils win the Stanley Cup.

If experience counts, consider Rheaume one of the best signings in this off-season.

Auf Wiedersehen

Former Manitoba Moose and St. John's IceCap forward Jason Jaffray was not offered a contract by the new Moose nor was he brought back to the new IceCaps via the Montreal Canadiens. It was weird to see a true professional such as Jaffray discarded by the Moose/IceCaps after having served them for so long, and to be summarily dismissed by the new IceCaps after having helped forge a real identity for the team in Newfoundland. I was hoping the Moose would reconsider, but Jaffray is off the market as you read this.

Jaffray will be heading to Germany to play for the EHC Red Bull Munchen this season. The Munich-based team announced on Monday they had signed Jaffray to a contract. It's hard to see him leave, but this Moose fan wants to wish Jaffray and his family well on their new adventure in Germany. Much like another Moose great in Brandon Reid, we'll try and keep up with Jaffray's progress this season on The Hockey Show!

That's all for this week's Antler Banter. Needless to say, I'm getting a little excited for the return of the Moose to Winnipeg. If you're looking for great hockey at an affordable price, don't look past the AHL where the NHL stars of the future are honing their craft!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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