As NCAA and Major Junior seasons wrap up, players with good seasons are usually rewarded with NHL entry level contracts of varying lengths. I'll update you on the recent signings - significant and otherwise in the Western Conference this week.
Newly signed players fit into two categories. Previously drafted players whose junior or college careers have come to an end, or undrafted players - essentially free agents who can sign with the highest bidder.
Ryan Stoa - Colorado
Stoa, a 6'3, 215-pound winger out of the University of Minnesota, ripped up the NCAA this season scoring 24 goals
and 46 points in 36 games. The former early second round pick in the 2005 draft, doubled his best goal output and
was two points shy of doubling his best point output to lead the WCHA. Like Bobby Ryan, drafted second overall in
the same draft, Stoa developed his power game slowly. The Avalanche was patient with Stoa and will now reap the
dividends. Stoa has upside as a first line power forward.
Luke Gazdic - Dallas
Gazdic, 21, signed a three-year entry-level deal with Dallas recently. He's been assigned to the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL where he's sure to wreak havoc. The 6'3, 230-pound, former Erie Otter is a legitimate OHL "tough guy,"
earning 127 PIMs in 63 regular season OHL games. The former 6th round pick in the 2007 draft has some upside as an
Richard Bachman - Dallas
Bachman, a smallish 5'11, 170-pound goalie signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Dallas after a solid
follow up to his spectacular rookie season at Colorado College, where he was named WCHA Player of the Year. In 35
games this season, Bachman posted a 14-11-10 record with three shutouts, a 2.63 GAA and a .914 save percentage. The
fourth round pick in 2006 has some potential as a 1A NHL goalie but he's at least three years away.
Jordan Eberle - Edmonton
The diminutive but highly skilled centre, didn't take long to sign his first pro contract. Drafted 22nd overall in
2008, Eberle finished third in scoring in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ottawa. Still only 18, Eberle
has two goals and six points for the AHL's Springfield Falcons since signing his three-year, entry-level contract
with Edmonton. The 5'10, 175-pound centre has upside as a Ray Whitney clone.
Marco Scandella - Minnesota
Nephew of former NHL'er, Sergio Momesso, Scandella is a big (6'3, 210-pounds) puck moving defenceman. A second round pick in 2008, Scandella led the QMJHL's Val d'Or Foreurs defencemen in points with 37 in 58 games. Scandella won a
gold medal with Team Canada at the 2008 Under-18 IIHF World Championships. He has some upside as a top-four
defenceman with some skill.
Aaron Palushaj - St.Louis
Palushaj ripped up the NCAA this season prompting St.Louis to offer him a pro contract after two years at the
University of Michigan. The 6'0, 185-pound playmaking winger, had 50 points in 39 games. St.Louis' second round pick in 2007 has upside as a top-six forward.
Nick Petrecki - San Jose
Petrecki, San Jose's first round pick in 2007, signed an entry-level pro contract with San Jose recently. The 6'3,
220-pound, bruising defensive defenceman had 161 penalty minutes in 35 games for Boston College. Petrecki can
develop into a Mike Komisarik-style defenceman.
Dan Sexton and MacGregor Sharp - Anaheim
Both Sexton and Sharp signed two-year entry-level contracts with Anaheim recently. Sexton, a 5'9, 165-pound forward from Bowling Green University, scored 39 points in 38 games finishing fifth in CCHA scoring. Sexton is a project at this point.
MacGregor exploded in his senior year for the University of Minnesota at Duluth, scoring 26 goals and 50 points in 43 games. The 6'1, 190-pound centre has some potential as a top-6 forward.
Alec Richards and Brian Connelly - Chicago
Richards is a 6'4, 190-pound goalie from Yale University. Richards was signed despite a losing record during his college career because of his ability to keep the team in every game. He's a project.
Connelly is a slick, puck-moving defenceman. Only 5'11, 170 pounds, Connelly scored 27 points in 38 games while quarterbacking Colorado College's power play this season. He has some potential as a depth defenceman.
Cedric McNicoll-Lalonde - Colorado
An over aged centre, McNicholl, finished third in QMJHL scoring with 104 points in 65 games for the Shawinigan Cataractes. At only 5'11, 180-pounds, McNicholl is a project along with every other overaged scoring star from the "Q".
Sebastien Piche and Jordan Pearce - Detroit
Piche is a Detroit-style, puck-moving defenceman with decent (6'0, 200-pounds) size and great skating ability. Piche, who scored 23 goals and 72 points in 62 games for Rimouski in the QMJHL, has updside as a top-six NHL defenceman.
The Red Wings signed goaltender Jordan Pearce to a two-year, entry-level deal recently. Pearce, 6'1, 200 pounds, was a finalist for CCHA player of the year this season. He finished the year 30-6-3 with a 1.68 GAA, .931 save percentage and eight shutouts. He led the NCAA in wins and shutouts, was second in goals-against average and fifth in save percentage. Pearce has potential as a No. 2 NHL goalie.
Corey Elkins and Patrick Mullen - LA
The Kings are taking a flyer on Elkins who finally put everything together in his final year at Ohio State University. The one-year entry-level deal was a direct result of Elkins' 41 points in 42 games for OSU. Elkins is already 24 so he doesn't have much time to prove himself. He's a long shot.
Mullen, son of NHL Hall of Famer Joe Mullen, had four goals and 25 points in 38 games for Denver University this season. Splitting time at University playing forward and defence, the 5'11, 190-pound Mullen will likely succeed in the pros as a forward. Signed to a two-year deal, Mullen has upside as a top-9 forward.
Joe Loprieno - San Jose
Hard-nosed defenceman, Loprieno, signed with San Jose after his junior year at Merrimack University. At 6'3, 205-pounds, Loprieno uses all of his size to keep opposing forwards honest. He has racked up 190 PIMs in 88 collegiate games. He has upside as a depth defenceman.
Evan Oberg and Eric Walsky - Vancouver
Walsky, a 5'11, 195-pound forward, put up solid numbers with Colorado College this season to earn a pro contract with Vancouver. With a previous season high of 20 points, Walsky managed 36 points in 38 games for Colorado. This NHL project is now plying his trade with the Manitoba Moose.
Oberg, a lanky 6'0, 170-pound defenceman out of the University of Minnesota-Duluth signed with Vancouver recently. Oberg managed 27 points in 43 games to lead all Bulldog defencemen in scoring. Oberg is a project.