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Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Antler Banter: Season 1, Volume 9

Your weekly AHL roundup is back for another week as Antler Banter actually has some Manitoba Moose news to report! It's been a while since we've had any Moose news to report, so we'll dive into that right away as the new-look Moose start putting pieces in place. There was another coaching appointment, a former Moose great finds a new home, and a pile of players moved addresses as AHL rosters begin to take shape. I'll also throw a special mention out to a couple of good people who received a qualifying offer from the parent NHL team, and there's hope we'll see him pass through Winnipeg during his time with either the NHL or AHL team with which he's been qualified. There's lots to get to, so let's get the Banter rolling!

Moose Sign Four

As I said, it's been a while since any Manitoba Moose news has broken, but there are four players confirmed to be wearing the new jerseys this winter at MTS Centre. One name is familiar to Jets fans if they followed the ECHL last year while the other three will be breaking into the professional ranks after successful collegiate careers.

Goaltender Jussi Olkinuora, 24, played in 43 games for the Ontario Reign of the ECHL during the 2014-15 season, posting a 27-9-6 record with a .916 save percentage. The Helsinki, Finland native has played in 15 career games at the AHL level with the St. John’s IceCaps, with a record of 7-5-1.

Defenceman Aaron Harstad, 23, recorded nine points (5G, 4A) and 32 penalty minutes in 30 games with Colorado College last season. At the college level, the Stevens Point, Wisconsin native scored 30 points (9G, 21A) in 127 games. He was selected in the seventh round, 187th overall by the Jets at the 2011 NHL Draft.

Defenceman Brennan Serville, 22, picked up seven points (0G, 7A) in 33 games with the University of Michigan last year. The Pickering, Ontario native just completed his fourth year with the Wolverines. During his college career, he recorded 21 points (1G, 20A) and 46 PIM in 129 games. Serville was selected in the third round, 78th overall by the Jets at the 2011 NHL Draft. Of the four players listed here, he'll be the only one in the Jets' orientation camp this weekend in Winnipeg.

Defenceman Peter Stoykewych, 22, had 11 points (3G, 8A) and 42 PIM in 34 games for Colorado College during the 2014-15 season. The Winnipeg native played in 139 games for the Tigers over the past four seasons, recording 34 points (6G, 28A) and 122 penalty minutes. He was selected in the seventh round, 199th overall by the Atlanta Thrashers in 2010 NHL Draft.


To The Birds

The Anaheim Ducks named Dallas Eakins the first coach in San Diego Gulls history in terms of the new Gulls last week on Thursday. The former Marlies and Edmonton Oilers coach spent some time away from the game with family after being dismissed by the Oilers, and rediscovered his passion for the game after the shock of being fired had subsided.

"He was on the radar from day one," Anaheim general manager Bob Murray said. "He's a teacher and communicator. We got lucky."

Eakins was very successful in the AHL as he compiled a 157-114-41 record with the Marlies over four seasons that saw him lead the team to the Calder Cup Finals in 2012. There was thought that Eakins might stay closer to home in Vancouver and not uproot his family as an opportunity with the WHL's Vancouver Giants appeared to be on the horizon, but he'll take his skills to San Diego for the upcoming season.

Following The Aeros

The Houston Aeros were a fixture in the IHL and AHL for some time. They were a solid team that had a number of excellent players go through their system, but they were moved to Des Moines, Iowa after being bought by the Minnesota Wild. They were also renamed as the Wild, and that's how we arrived at having a team in Iowa after the Chops left town.

Maxime Fortunus, a longtime fixture on the blue lines of the Manitoba Moose and Texas Stars, will follow the Aeros' path as he'll join the Wild for the upcoming AHL season after not being re-signed by the Texas Stars. Fortunus inked a two-year American Hockey League contract yesterday, and will provide some stability and leadership for a younger Wild team. Fortunus will enter his 13th professional season next season where he will build on his career totals of 64 goals and 178 assists for 242 points. He's also a Calder Cup winner, having been a part of the Texas Stars team that captured the AHL's most illustrious trophy in 2010.

Good on the Wild for signing Fortunus. He's a true professional.


Staying with the Wild, I'm happy to report that Jon Blum and, in turn, Emilie Blue have received a qualifying offer from the Wild, meaning they can continue to negotiate with the Blums in an effort to get Jon re-signed. Jon played with the Iowa Wild for most of the season last year, so there's hope he'll break through the ranks and suit up more often with the Minnesota Wild this season. Emilie, as you may know, has appeared on The Hockey Show, and she's an absolute gem. It's always nice to see good people get rewarded, so I'm hopeful Jon and the Wild come to an agreement.

Emilie, meanwhile, is working on building her pet supply business, Double Dog Pet Supply. There are some great products on Emilie's site, and they're even running a sale right now if you're looking to get your pet something or replace something for your furry friend!

Good on Jon and Emilie with this qualifying offer. Always nice to see good things happening to good people.

Other Notable Signings

We're going to run through this quickly, so hold on tight.

  • Goaltender Michael Leighton was re-signed by the Blackhawks, and will most likely start the season as a Rockford IceHog unless Scott Darling regresses in a big way.
  • Goaltender Tom McCollum re-signed with the Detroit Red Wings, and will handle the majority of the workload seen by the Grand Rapids Griffins.
  • Right winger Stanislav Galiev re-signed with the Washington Capitals and will most likely start the season as a Hershey Bear.
  • Goaltender Mike McKenna signed with the Florida Panthers and will assume the starting netminder duties with the Portland Pirates.
  • Goaltender Richard Bachman, who played in Edmonton late last season, signed with the Canucks and will assume the starting role for the Utica Comets.
  • Winger Jayson Megna, who spent time with the Pittsburgh Penguins, was signed by the New York Rangers. There's a good chance he'll skate with the Hartford Wolfpack this season.
  • Ottawa signed three players who appear to be headed to Binghamton in former Jet Eric O'Dell, former Oiler Zack Stortini, and former Blackhawk defenceman Mike Kostka.
  • Former Washington Capitals defenceman Steve Oleksy signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He may play in Pittsburgh depending on their blue line's health and needs.
  • Former Lightning defenceman Mark Barberio signed a two-way deal with the Canadiens. He may start the season in St. John's, but might get a look with Les Habitants.
  • The Wild were busy in free agency as well as they signed former Hurricane Zac Dalpe and former Lightning and Penguin Ruslan Fedotenko to one-year, two-way deals. Both will most likely start in Iowa this season.
  • Former Avalanche and Blues forward TJ Hensick signed a two-way deal with the Carolina Hurricanes as he looks to crack their roster. The four-time AHL all-star could be a huge help in the scoring department for the Charlotte Checkers, though.
  • The Flyers signed former Kings defenceman David Drewiske to a two-way deal. He'll most likely start the season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms.
  • Dustin Jeffrey will suit up with the Springfield Falcons this season after signing a deal with the Arizona Coyotes. He may have a shot at making that Coyotes roster, though.
  • Matt Hackett jumps coasts as he leaves the Sabres and Rochester Americans for the greener pastures of San Diego. He'll most likely backup John Gibson with the Gulls.
  • Former Winnipeg Jet James Wright was signed by the New York Islanders and will most likely start the season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
There are more signings, of course, and more player movement from trades, but those are the names that you're most likely to recognize this season. I'll have more updates next week as more players are signed.

Carotenemic Condors

The Bakersfield Condors have been dropping hints all week on Twitter about their new uniforms, so here they are. They look, unsurprisingly, like the Oilers do aside from the shoulder patches and the orange condor in the middle. While I'm not suggesting that the condor is afflicted with any diseases or problems, the rather large abundance of orange pigment seen on the condor seems to indicate carotenemia - an increase in the orange pigment carotene in the blood. Normally, this is seen with an excessive consumption of carrots or other carotene-containing foods, so what exactly is the Bakersfield condor being fed?

Of course, all joking aside, the Condors will look very much like the Oilers right down to the font used on the sleeves and back. What happened to all the creativity that the Condors had when they were an ECHL team?

That's it for the Banter today, kids! I'm off to enjoy some Canada Day libations and listen to the various sports networks try to out-scoop the other on free agency deals. Enjoy Free Agency/Canada Day everyone!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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