Happy Summer Thunder fans! We’re unofficially past the halfway point of summer after the fourth of July holiday and New Jersey Devils GM, Tom Fitzgerald and crew has been shaping up the roster across all three leagues. No coaching changes we’re made in the off-season at the helm with Lindy Ruff, Kevin Dineen, and Pete MacArthur back in their respected spots behind the bench and well deserved for sophomore coach, MacArthur after clawing the Adirondack Thunder to a post-season spot for the first time since the 2018-19 season! Here’s Friday thoughts around the ECHL with the Thunder Scoop With Coop!
1). ECHL free-agency kicked off on June 23rd
After a busy month in June throughout the entire league, from Protected lists due, (where Colin Long was protected but not on the end of season-roster, more on that in the future), Future Considerations where the Thunder shipped forward Matt Jennings to Idaho to complete the Matt Stief trade that happened on November 9th (which I was quite surprised by, by the way, thought maybe he’d be in the picture for 2023-24). then Adirondack completed a trade that happened almost a year to the month sending defenseman Wayne Letourneau to Tulsa who then head coach Rob Murray flipped to Rapid City. Letourneau was traded to complete the Ryan Da-Silva trade that happened on July 27th, 2022. That was all that Adirondack had to complete for future considerations day. A plethora have sign and trades have been completed throughout the entire league as team’s couldn’t officially sign anybody until Friday the 23rd of June. But every-team has had action and mostly a lot of teams awaited what the NHL clubs we’re going to do on NHL Free Agency Day which happened on Saturday July 1st but with the fourth of July holiday, teams are just starting to roll out AAA & AA signings. I can confirm that teams are just awaiting when to announce them, but there has been a lot of movement throughout the league of players, sticking around the ECHL just not with a team that they played for last season, but that tends to happen around this time of year.
2). Yanick Turcotte and Ryan Smith re-signs for the 2023-24 season.
It was only a matter of time before the Adirondack Thunder and head coach Pete MacArthur returned to their annual off-season Facebook Live’s and the past two weeks Adirondack has announced a pair of forwards coming back to the squad back in October. It’s no secret that Yanick was hungry to return to Thunder land after his season was cut short due to an injury. Two goals and three assists in 23 games for the Quebec native. Meanwhile Ryan Smith was pretty much the Iron-man up front on the forward core with 70 games, playing in a multiverse role sliding into the Top 6 & Top 9, plus number ten was a major key piece on that Thunder PK all season long 16 goals and 26 assists last season. At 4:00pm today (July 14th, 2023) on at Hits 95.9. and on Hits 95.9.com along with the Hits 95.9 app I’ll be joined alongside the newest Thunder signing Ryan Smith so tune in!
3). Kyle Dubas Leaving Toronto for Pittsburgh is really changing the landscape of the Newfoundland Growlers.
I think that’s it’s no surprise that a team like Newfoundland is losing most of the roster to either over-sea’s or to other AHL clubs or players that have signed NHL deals with the turnover that happened in Toronto with Dubas leaving for Pittsburgh and now Brad Treliving at the helm for the Maple Leaf’s.
I still have really no idea what happened with forward Pavel Gogolev who was traded to the Chicago Blackhawks just days before the trade deadline last season, he was a big part in the Jake McCabe, Sam Lafferty deal that then at the time GM Kyle Dubas was trying to make the Leaf’s major contenders where Chicago had their eyes on the winger. Then fast forward some ten days later his contract was terminated by the Blackhawks, and he finished the season on an AHL deal with the Marlies but was assigned back to Newfoundland, but Gogolev was happy to back in St. Johns we’re he took to Instagram saying that he was returning. At the time there was rumors from sources that said the forward was returning to Canada due to family issues but that wasn’t fully confirmed. Now fast forward from March to July and none of that matters as Pavel is headed over to the KHL after signing with HC Sibir. 33 goals, 32 assists for 65 points for #46. He will be missed on that top six for Eric Wellwood’s Growlers.
Gogolev took to Instagram and stated this on his departure from Newfoundland on June 2nd. The signing wasn’t public knowledge until two days ago on Tuesday July 4th. “I want to thank everyone for making my last year in North America the most unforgettable year! I met so many great people in Newfoundland! It was a pleasure playing for this city, I want to thank my teammates, coaches, and staff of Newfoundland to making it feel like home! Newfoundland will be in my heart and part of my life forever! You guys made this year unforgettable and made it special!”
Departures from that Newfoundland team last season include Derian Plouffe who’s signed over with Lillehammer Ishockeyklubb, Tyler Boland who joins former Adirondack Thunder head coach Brad Tapper with the Iserlohn Roosters, Zach O’Brien who signed with HC Sloven Bratislava, however this signing hasn’t officially been public but it’s looking like it’s headed in that direction – I personally don’t think that O’Brien was happy about the leak or he fully hasn’t made up his mind fully – Zach took to Instagram to explain the situation.
“Happy Monday Growlers Nation!
I wanted to explain this earlier post because you knows I loves yas. I wasn’t expecting all the commotion as I always have a post like this following a season.
This one stings. We lost to the champs… again. So close to another Kelly Cup, but still so far. I lost many good teammates too as they venture on to new opportunities.
At the end of every season, our ECHL contracts expire. I have to wait and see what the next couple of weeks or months bring, but as of right now I have no plans and that’s the honest truth. Time is needed to wind down and think about the future. If something comes up, the fans will know immediately following my family and close friends. Don’t believe everything you see or hear unless it’s from a reliable source. Until then, enjoy the off season and your summer.
Thank you for the continued love, support and kind words”.
Other players that have left from that 2022-23 team was Chris Martenet. Martent has signed with Rytiri Kladno of the Czech extraliga. Brennan Kapcheck heads over to HKM Zvolen of the Slovak Extraliga. Meanwhile Noel Hofenmayer, Marc Johnstone and Mac Hollowel are going across the border state side as the three signed contracts on Free Agency Day wasting no time looking for a new home. Hofenmayer signs an NHL deal with Edmonton, Johnstone is signing with Pittsburgh and finally Hollowel is signing an NHL deal with the Rangers as he will be a good fit with the Hartford in the AHL. I think Chris Drury and company are very high on him from what I could gather over the weekend.
Finally, so far, a few more moves within the organization with Brett Budgell also signing on July 1 with the Iowa Wild. Looks like that’s a full on AHL deal, so he could see time with the Iowa Hearlanders come October. The bleeding doesn’t stop there for the Growler nation with now former assistant coach Nate McIver headed up for a callup to the AHL. He was named assistant coach for the Belleville Senators. He joins former Brampton Beast video coach, Frédéric Lemay.
4). Time to Tebow in Lake Tahoe
After the NHL took their talents to Lake Tahoe during the pandemic it was only a matter of time before somebody wanted a piece of the pie and Ryan Crelin and the ECHL got something together. Big news was announced on Monday that during the League’s Board of Governors meeting in Vegas two weeks ago that the ECHL announced an increase in maximum memberships from 30 to 32 and I didn’t have Lake Tahoe or Tim Tebow co-owning an ECHL team on my bingo card for an announcement in the summer of 2023 but here we are. No team name was announced just the fact that they will indeed enter the ECHL during the 2024-25 season here’s what they had to say.
5). A couple of Quick Hits
For those who missed it on Wednesday it has been confirmed that goaltender Mike Robinson is headed overseas to join defenseman Jake Ryczek over in Nottingham on Wednesday. Ryczek received a QO from the Thunder but ultimately decided to continue this overseas career. Adirondack protects him though if he decides to come back to America. Very similar to Blake Thompson situation from last season which has rolled over to this season.
From Nottingham to Hungary we go, to truly no surprise Nick Rivera is taking his talents to the DEAC/Erste Liga confirmed by the team on Wednesday afternoon. Rivera is represented by the Kaizen Sports Agency under Mike O’Rafferty.
Lastly just a note here: New Jersey wraps up their prospect camp this afternoon. Media availability was made available on Monday, Wednesday and this afternoon. It’s nice to see Tom Fitzgerald bringing Yushiroh Hirano from Cincinnati, Abbotsford along with Eric Cooley from Norfolk, Colin Felix, Reading and Jeremy Brodeur who’s back in America after last year with the Manchester Storm in England. There is more that has happened, just awaiting them to be official before I speak on them as things can change and i’m not here to break news or take away a team’s Thunder (no-pun intended), but that’s a good forward core and the addition of iron man Felix will be fantastic. Going to provide a lot with that plus rating.
Awaiting to see what happens with the QO of Grasso, Chukarov, Slick, Steif and Theut. Grasso has looked good on TV with Harper with 3ICE this summer. Chukarov i think is looking for a bigger role but I would take him back as he was a great defenseman to slide in anywhere in a lineup plus he could play up front in a pinch, Slick from the small sample size, definitely would love him back just based on his size alone. If he’s back I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t get a camp invite to the AHL with Utica or getting an invite to NJ camp in September. I believe we’d all love fan favorite Jake Theut back there’s not much to say more about that. I will say I haven’t asked about Jake’s status but have to think that he’s looking for an AHL deal, especially with the unique situation that presented himself last year, coming in as a third goaltender, working his butt off, 3ICE, working his way to an AHL deal and then being the number one for Adirondack, earning himself a call-up and then working his way back from injury fighting for the team in the first round of the playoffs. Warrior.
We will be back next week! Until then you can catch me on Hits 95.9 in the afternoon Monday through Friday 12:00pm-6:00pm, every other Saturday 6:00am-9:00am.