Archive for July, 2013

Tessier Headed to Sweden

July 16, 2013

Forward Kelsey Tessier, one of the real fixtures on the Wolf Pack/Whale roster the last three seasons, had another year to run on his American Hockey League contract with the Pack.  Another opportunity suddenly came up for the 23-year-old New Brunswick native, though, and the parent New York Rangers agreed today to release him from the second year of his deal.

“They were really nice to release me,” Tessier said of the Rangers in a telephone conversation this afternoon.  “I got an offer in Europe and I was still under contract, so I didn’t know if I was going to be able to (accept the offer) or not, but [Wolf Pack general manager/Rangers assistant GM Jim Schoenfeld] was really nice to cooperate with me and release me from my contract so I can go there and get a good opportunity.  So I was really happy to hear that.”Tessier Action Shot

The offer came from the Swedish club Rögle, which plays in the Allvenskan, the next league below the top-level Swedish Hockey League.  And like so many opportunities in hockey, or anywhere in life, it came via a good connection.

“The GM there (in Rögle) is Anders Carlsson,” Tessier said.  “When I was drafted to the NHL with Colorado, he was the head European scout.  He called me up, and he and I had a great connection since I got drafted there, and every time I talked to him we really clicked.  It was really nice to hear that after three or four years he still remembered me and really wanted me on his team and gave me that opportunity.  So I was really, really happy.”

As thrilled as he was to be wanted by Rögle, Tessier stressed that it was hard to be leaving Hartford, where he arrived right out of Junior hockey and had three solid seasons.

“I’m definitely going to miss that town,” he said.  “I made a lot of good friends, on and off the ice, and the people around were great, and passionate about hockey too.  So that’s the big thing I’m going to miss, the people that I met there, and just everything.  Hartford was the one that gave me my opportunity to play pro, and my coaches, Kenny (Gernander) and when (former assistant) J.J. (Daigneault) was there and just having Pat Boller and all the staff, I’m definitely going to miss those guys.  I’ve been there three years and was expecting to go there again this year, and having them not around is going to be different.  I’m going to have a new chapter in life, same thing but different league, so it’s kind of weird.”

As valuable a cog as he was on the ice, Tessier made an equally strong impact on the Hartford community, winning the team’s community service award the past two seasons.

“Every year we’d go to the children’s hospital (Connecticut Children’s Medical Center) and all that, that’s something I’m definitely going to miss, but at the same time I already plan to do that in Sweden,” Tessier said.  “I’ve always been that guy, to get outside my bubble and do something around town.  And my girl (Audrey Houle) is going to follow me there too, and one of our goals is to do the same thing over there, and that’s something I always do.

“I haven’t been to Sweden, but I’ve been to Europe, I’ve been to pretty much everywhere around it but Sweden.  We’ve been reading up on it and all that.  It (signing with Rögle) just happened, so I’ve got to read more about it and everything, but just really, really excited.”

Tessier played 221 total games in a Wolf Pack/Whale uniform, 15th all-time in franchise history, and had 33 goals and 49 assists for 82 points.  This past year the 5-9, 177-pounder scored 11 goals and added 13 assists for 24 points, and led the team in shorthanded goals with three.

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Ranger Free Agency/Trade Recap

July 8, 2013

Plenty of movement around the hockey world the last few days, with the NHL Draft and the beginning of the free agency period, and the parent-club New York Rangers made their share of deals.  With the help of the invaluable capgeek.com, whence all salary information comes, here is a rundown.

  • Defenseman Justin Falk was acquired June 30th, on the eve of the draft, from Minnesota, in exchange for Benn Ferriero and a sixth-round draft pick.  Falk is a restricted free agent, coming off of a one-year, one-way contract that paid $825,000.
  • Just before the beginning of the July 1 draft, Kris Newbury, the Whale’s leading point-getter the last three years, was traded to Philadelphia for elite offensive defenseman Danny Syvret.  Syvret is entering the second year of a two-year, two-way deal that has an NHL cap hit of $587,500.
  • The day after the draft, July 2, the Rangers dealt Christian Thomas to Montreal for fellow young prospect forward Danny Kristo.  Kristo has one year left on an entry-level contract that has an NHL cap hit of $1.3 million.
  • On July 4, veteran forwards Arron Asham and Darroll Powe were put on waivers.  Asham has one year left on a contract with a cap hit of $1 million and Powe one year left with a cap hit of $1.07 million.

    Arron Asham (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

    Arron Asham (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

  • On July 5, the first official day of free agency, the Rangers inked a trio of veterans, forwards Dominic Moore and Benoit Pouliot and defenseman Aaron Johnson.  All three are one-year, one-way contracts, Pouliot for a reported $1.3 million, Moore for $1 million and Johnson for $600,000.
  • Also on July 5, forward Ryane Clowe, who it was going to be hard for the Rangers to keep because of salary cap concerns, signed with New Jersey.

So, if I count right, on a net basis, the big club has subtracted three forwards (if you assume that Asham and Powe are off the roster), and added three D-men.  On the blueline, Ryan McDonagh, who was a restricted free agent, was just re-signed today, and Falk is an RFA as well, and you would think they would sign him if they bothered to trade for him.  That would make, by my count, nine experienced defensemen under NHL contract, and the likes of Stu Bickel and Dylan McIlrath would up the count to 11.  Tons of depth there.

John Moore (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

John Moore (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Syvret has been mostly an AHLer over his career, so a first glance would have him ticketed for the Wolf Pack, but among the guys who finished last year in the NHL, only John Moore is on a two-way contract, and it sure sounded like the organization liked his work with the Rangers after Moore was acquired from Columbus in the Marian Gaborik deal.  The rest all have one-way deals and Johnson is the only one who spent any time in the AHL last season, and that was a mere two games with Providence.  So it’s going to be very interesting to see who makes up the top end of the Wolf Pack backline coming out of training camp.

Things are somewhat less crowded up front.  Right now there are ten forwards from last season’s concluding NHL roster currently under contract, again minus Asham and Powe.  Derek Stepan and Carl Hagelin both need new contracts, but there doesn’t seem to be any question that they will be re-signed.  Mats Zuccarello seems more of a question mark, again due to cap issues.  Extra opportunity for somebody outside that group of 12 or 13 will be there for the taking early in the season, as neither Hagelin nor Ryan Callahan is expected to be fully recovered from their respective shoulder surgeries in time to start the year.

Rangers Move Newbury for Danny Syvret

July 1, 2013

Kris Newbury’s Hartford tenure came to an end Monday night, when the parent New York Rangers announced a trade that sent the ten-year veteran to Philadelphia in exchange for eight-year vet Danny Syvret.

Kris Newbury

Kris Newbury

Newbury, who led the Whale in scoring in each of the three years he played full seasons with the team, leaves the organization as the fourth-leading scorer in franchise history, and the leader outside of the “big three” of franchise icons Brad Smyth, Ken Gernander and Derek Armstrong.  With 205 all-time Wolf Pack/Whale points (66-39-205 in 222 games-played), Newbury ranked one ahead of P.A. Parenteau and still had a long way to go to catch Armstrong, who is third all-time in franchise annals with 309.

Danny Syvret

Danny Syvret

Syvret, a defenseman, has been one of the premier offensive blueliners in the AHL for most of his career.  The 5-11, 205-pound native of Millgrove, Ontario has 46 goals and 206 assists for 252 points in 483 career AHL games, including stops in Hamilton, Grand Rapids, Springfield, Hershey, Philadelphia, Syracuse, Peoria and Adirondack.  As a Junior player, Syvret had an outstanding run with the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights, which he capped off by captaining a Memorial Cup winner in 2004-05, a season in which he played on the same blueline corps with Dan Girardi and had totals of 23-46-69, and an OHL-leading +70, in 62 games.

The two players are very close in experience and age, Newbury 31 and Syvret 28, and their contract statuses are virtually the same.  According to capgeek.com, both Newbury and Syvret are going into the second years of two-way contracts, with Newbury scheduled to make $300,000 this year in the AHL and $600,000 in the NHL, and Syvret earning $275,000 in the AHL and $600,000 in the NHL.

So the crux of this one looks very much like the acquisition of Justin Falk the day before…that is, an organizational quest for defensive depth.  The Rangers obviously are confident that the players are there in the chain (or available as free agents) to compensate for the loss of Newbury’s offense, and Ranger director of player personnel Gordie Clark said something interesting to the media at the NHL Draft Sunday about the Falk acquisition.

“I think he can play in the top six (Ranger defensemen),” Clark said of Falk. “I think what he brings, the element is the fact that, let’s say he doesn’t make it as a sixth and he’s a seventh, we really haven’t had a seventh or eighth who can move up and play those positions.”

I would imagine that the Ranger player personnel department would put Syvret in the same category, a clear indication that upgrading the defensive options throughout the organization is a big priority this offseason.