The Will Sports Group

The RIG 28 for July

July 1

Michael Cammalleri Signs 1-Year Deal with LA Kings

The LA Kings have agreed to terms with unrestricted free agent forward Michael Cammalleri on a one-year contract, Kings Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake announced today. The AAV for the contract is $1 million (plus bonuses).

The 35-year-old Cammalleri (born June 8, 1982) is a 5-9, 185-pound native of Toronto, Ontario who appeared in 61 games during the 2016-17 season with the New Jersey Devils, posting 31 points (10-21=31) and 21 penalty minutes.

Cammalleri, who made his NHL debut with the Kings during the 2002-03 season, has scored 20-or-more goals six times, and 30-or-more goals twice during his NHL career, highlighted with a career high 39 goals with the Calgary Flames in 2008-09.

He scored 79 goals and collected 182 points for Los Angeles from 2005-08, highlighted by a 34-goal, 80-point season with the Kings in 2006-07. In 283 regular season games over five seasons with the Kings, Cammalleri registered 93 goals and 205 points (93-112=205), with 55 of those goals on the power play.

Drafted in the second-round (49th overall) by the Kings during the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, Cammalleri has appeared in 840 regular-season games during his 14-year NHL career with the Kings, Devils, Flames and Montreal Canadiens. He has recorded 287 goals, 613 points and 407 penalty minutes during his career (287-326=613), and he has 102 career power play goals.

Cammalleri has recorded 32 points (17-15=32) and eight penalty minutes in 32 career playoff games.


Wild Inks Defenseman Ryan Murphy
Minnesota Wild

ST. PAUL — Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League (NHL) club has signed free-agent defenseman Ryan Murphy to a one-year, two-way contract ($700,000/$350,000).

Murphy, 24, tallied two assists in 27 games with the Carolina Hurricanes and one assist in seven contests with the Charlotte Checkers in the American Hockey League (AHL) last season. The 5-foot-11, 185-pound native of Aurora, Ontario, was placed on waivers by Calgary on June 30, one day after being acquired by the Flames along with Eddie Lack and a seventh-round selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Keegan Kanzig and sixth-round selection in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft. He owns 37 points (6-31=37) in 151 career NHL games during five seasons with Carolina (2012-17) and has collected 66 points (10-56=66) in 89 career AHL contests with Charlotte. Murphy tallied 220 points (53-167=220) and 122 penalty minutes (PIM) in 228 games during four seasons (2009-13) with the Kitchener Rangers in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and was named to the OHL All-Rookie Team in 2010, the OHL First All-Star Team in 2011 and the OHL Second All-Star Team in 2012 and 2013.

The right-shot defenseman was originally selected by Carolina in the first round (12th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.


Clendening Seeks Chance to Play More Regularly
Dave Vest
Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – The Coyotes added depth on defense when they signed free agent Adam Clendening to a one-year contract on Saturday, the first day of the NHL’s free agent signing period.

Clendening, 24, spent last season playing for the New York Rangers, for whom he notched two goals and nine assists and a plus-3 rating in 31 games.

“It’s a good opportunity,” said Clendening, who is craving more games and ice time. “It’s a chance for me to get maybe an opportunity every night, and really get my foot in the door in the League. I know it’s been a little bit of a rough ride, but we’ll go from there and hopefully it works … They have a lot of hope for me and I know they’re very excited to see what I can do on an every-night basis … I think it gets easier the more you play.”

The Coyotes are Clendening’s sixth NHL team since Chicago drafted him 36th overall in 2011.

“I kind of look at it as a positive,” Clendening said. “I’m still in the League, still kicking away here. People are still wanting me and giving me opportunities. Some teams are in different stages, and I think this is a good spot for me. I think they’re in more of a rebuild and looking to stay young and not in such a win-now mode. Some of the teams I’ve been on have been that way and don’t completely give their young guys a nice little look. I still consider myself relatively young for the League.”

Clendening played with some elite players in Chicago, Vancouver, Pittsburgh, Edmonton and New York. He said some of them taught him how to manage the game and how sometimes less is more.

He lists Duncan Keith, Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin as a few of his mentors.

“I’ve been lucky,” Clendening said. “I’ve played with a lot of All-Stars and superstars. I just tried to take little bits and pieces from everyone and the way they handle themselves, and everything like that, on a daily basis.”

Clendening likely will compete with Luke Schenn and Kevin Connauton for a spot in Arizona’s third defensive pairing. The top two pairs appear set with Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Jakob Chychrun and Alex Goligoski.

“We think he can be an impactful player,” Chayka said of Clendening, who played for USA Hockey and Boston University before turning pro. “… He has a lot to offer and hasn’t really gotten the opportunity or chance that he would have liked to date … He’s just an efficient player. He moves the puck and he moves it effectively … He’s got a good stick, he’s smart and he makes plays, so when you put that all together then you end up getting a player that plays a lot in the offensive zone and allows his forwards to get the puck up quick and go on the offense. That’s what we’re looking for from him.”


Coyotes Sign Campbell
Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – Arizona Coyotes General Manager John Chayka announced today that the Coyotes have signed forwards Zac Rinaldo and Michael Sislo along with defensemen Andrew Campbell and Joel Hanley to two-way contracts. As per club policy, terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

The 29-year-old Campbell recorded 6-16-22 and 62 penalty minutes (PIM) in 75 games with the Toronto Marlies (AHL) last season. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman has collected two assists in 42 career NHL games with the Coyotes, Los Angeles Kings and Toronto Maple Leafs. He has also picked up 31-104-135 and 524 PIM in 595 career AHL games with Toronto, the Portland Pirates and the Manchester Monarchs. The Caledonia, Ont. Native was originally drafted by the Kings in the third round (74th overall) of the 2008 NHL Draft.


Avalanche Signs Agozzino
Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has signed forward Andrew Agozzino and defenseman David Warsofsky to two-year contracts through the 2018-19 season and goaltender Joe Cannata to a one-year deal for the 2017-18 campaign.

This will be the second stint with the Avalanche for Agozzino. The 26-year-old was with the organization from 2012-16, collecting 194 points (79g/115a) in 266 combined games with the club’s American Hockey League affiliates, the then-Lake Erie Monsters and the San Antonio Rampage. He spent the 2016-17 campaign with the Chicago Wolves, finishing with 54 points (18g/36a) in 71 outings.

Agozzino made his NHL debut with the Avalanche on Nov. 22, 2014, against the Carolina Hurricanes and picked up an assist. He has skated in 10 NHL games with Colorado, registering three assists.

An undrafted free agent, the 5-foot-10, 187-pound left wing signed with the Monsters for the 2012-13 campaign, and after recording 52 points (20g/32a) in 76 games, earned a contract with Colorado in March 2013. He was named a starter for the Western Conference at the 2013 AHL All-Star Classic.

A Kleinburg, Ontario, native, Agozzino played five seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Niagara IceDogs from 2007-12. He served as captain for three campaigns (2009-12) and totaled 306 points (159g/147a) in 318 career OHL contests, all with Niagara.


Lightning acquire forward Carter Verhaeghe from Islanders
Tampa Bay Lightning

TAMPA BAY – The Tampa Bay Lightning have acquired forward Carter Verhaeghe from the New York Islanders in exchange for goaltender Kristers Gudlevskis, vice president and general manager Steve Yzerman announced today.

Verhaeghe, 21, skated in 45 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League, recording 16 goals and 29 points with 20 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1, 182-pound forward ranked tied for third on the Sound Tigers for goals and tied for fifth for power-play goals with four. He set career highs for games played, goals, assists, points and power-play goals during the 2016-17 season. Verhaeghe also played in 16 games with the Missouri Mavericks of the ECHL, collecting 12 goals and 32 points.

The Toronto, Ontario native has appeared in 77 career AHL over the past three seasons with the Sound Tigers and Toronto Marlies, collecting 22 goals and 45 points. Verhaeghe played four seasons with the Niagara IceDogs of the Ontario Hockey League prior to turning pro, recording 83 goals and 224 points in 262 career games

Verhaeghe was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the third round, 82nd overall, at the 2013 NHL Draft.


July 3

Red Wings and Ouellet agree to terms on two-year deal
Kyle Kujawa
Detroit Red Wings

DETROIT – The Detroit Red Wings today agreed to terms with defenseman Xavier Ouellet on a two-year contract.

Ouellet, 23, skated in 66 games with the Red Wings in his first full NHL season and tallied 12 points (3-9-12), a plus-two rating, 51 penalty minutes, 73 hits and 87 blocked shots while averaging 17:58 time on ice. He has logged 96 NHL games since making his NHL debut during the 2013-14 campaign, totaling 16 points (5-11-16), a plus-four rating and 57 penalty minutes. The 6-foot-1, 208-pound defenseman also appeared in 183 games with the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins from 2013-16, notching 62 points (9-53-62), a plus-21 rating and 112 penalty minutes and adding 10 points (3-7-10), a plus-two rating and 18 penalty minutes in 33 AHL postseason games. Ouellet was an AHL All-Star with the Griffins in 2015 and 2016 before graduating to full-time NHL duty.

Originally drafted by the Red Wings in the second round (48th overall) of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, Ouellet spent four seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with the Montreal Juniors and Blainville-Boisbriand Aramada prior to his professional career. The two-time QMJHL First-Team All-Star appeared in 223 games with the two teams from 2009-13, registering 160 points (41-119-160), a plus-61 rating and 177 penalty minutes. He added 37 points (10-27-37), a plus-10 rating and 54 penalty minutes in 43 QMJHL playoff games. A native of Bayonne, France, Ouellet skates for Canada internationally and contributed a goal and two assists in six games during the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championships and won a gold medal at the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.


July 4

Avalanche Signs Nail Yakupov
Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that the team has signed forward Nail Yakupov to a one-year contract for the 2017-18 season.

Yakupov, 23, was the first overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2012 NHL Draft. He has appeared in 292 career NHL games for the Oilers and St. Louis Blues, tallying 120 points (53g/67a). The Nizhnekamsk, Russia, native skated in 40 games for the Blues this past season, collecting nine points (3g/6a).

“Nail is a young, skilled winger who will add depth to our lineup,” said Avalanche Executive Vice President / General Manager Joe Sakic. “We look forward to seeing him at training camp.”

Yakupov made his NHL debut in 2012-13 and went on to lead all NHL rookies in goals (17) and points (31-tied) in 48 games during that shortened season. He spent four years in Edmonton before being acquired by St. Louis prior to the 2016-17 campaign on Oct. 7.

The 5-foot-11, 195-pound right wing played two seasons for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League (2010-12). In 2010-11, he won the Emms Family Award as the OHL’s top rookie and was also named the Canadian Major Junior Rookie of the Year after leading all first-year players with 101 points (49g/52a) in 65 games.

At the international level, Yakupov tied for the team lead with eight points (3g/5a) in seven games to help Russia win the bronze medal as the host nation at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship. He also won a silver medal for his country at the 2012 IIHF World Junior Championship in Alberta, collecting a team-high nine assists (0g/9a).


Maksimov at Oilers Camp

July 8

Dallas Stars sign Miro Heiskanen to a three-year entry level contract
Dallas Stars

Dallas Stars General Manager Jim Nill announced today that the club has signed defenseman Miro Heiskanen to a three-year entry level contract.

Heiskanen, 17, played for HIFK of the Finnish Elite League in 2016-17, compiling 10 points (5-5=10) in 37 regular season games, and three points (0-3=3) in eight playoff contests. He also represented Finland at both the 2017 U-20 World Junior Championship and the 2017 U-18 World Junior Championship.

In the U-20 World Junior Championship, he recorded one assist in six games. At the 2017 U-18 World Championship, he registered twelve points (2-10=12) in seven games as Finland captured the silver medal. Heiskanen earned best defenseman honors and was named to the tournament all-star team after leading all skaters in assists and all defensemen in points.

The 6-foot-1, 172 pound native of Espoo, Finland was selected with the third overall pick in the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft.


Miro Heiskanen excited about first NHL contract
Mark Stepneski
Dallas Stars

It’s been an exciting couple of weeks for Miro Heiskanen. The Stars selected the 17-year-old Finnish defenseman with the third overall pick late last month at the NHL Draft in Chicago. He made his first trip to Texas this week for Stars development camp. And on Saturday, he signed his first NHL contract, a three-year, entry-level deal with the Stars.

“I am really excited,” Heiskanen said. “It’s a big day for me.”

And the Stars are excited about the slick skating Heiskanen, who played in Finland’s top league last season and was considered the top defenseman in this year’s draft.

“He’s a great young player. He was a player our scouts were watching all year, the last couple of years,” Stars GM Jim Nill said. “I was able to go to the Under-18 World Championships and see him. He was arguably one of the best players over there and maybe the best defenseman. He’s what you are looking for in an NHL defenseman. He can skate, he can move the puck. He’s a guy that is never under pressure; the game looks awful easy to him. We’re excited that he is part of our future. I think he really helps moving our defense moving forward.”

A lot of people took notice of Heiskanen after that performance at the 2017 Under-18 World Championship, where he tallied 12 points (two goals, ten assists) in seven games as Finland took home a silver medal. He was strong in the Finnish Elite League as well, logging almost 19 minutes per game for HIFK and recording ten points (five goals, five assists) in 37 games. One of his teammates was Stars prospect Roope Hintz, the highly regarded second-round pick from 2015.

“He’s very good people, very good guy and very good on the ice,” Hintz said. “He’s a very good skater, and he can play with the puck. And he has it here (pointing to his head) also.”

All of that strong play and those attributes added up to Heiskanen going third overall in the draft.

“I didn’t know where I was going, but it’s nice to be third overall,” Heiskanen said. “It’s an amazing feeling, and now I have to work as hard as I can and play in the NHL as soon as possible.”

The Stars will give Heiskanen a look this September. Nill said Heiskanen will come back to North America to play at the NHL Prospect Tournament in Traverse City, Michigan and then attend Dallas Stars training camp. If Heiskanen can’t crack the NHL lineup, then he’ll likely go back to Finland.

“I want to see him in camp. He’s a very young player still. Sometimes you can get ahead of yourself in this game. He is still only 17-years-old,” Nill said. “My preference is if he isn’t making the Dallas Stars he is probably going to go back to Finland for one more year. That’s the best thing for him. Let’s just see where he’s at. I don’t want to make any promises either way. He understands that. We’ve had a good talk with his representatives and him. He knows where we stand. In the end, a player’s play will dictate where he ends up. He’s either going to be here in Dallas or what I think is probably back in Finland.”

For now, Heiskanen is getting his taste of Dallas Stars development camp and his first experience in Texas.

“It’s been really great,” Heiskanen said. “It’s a really hot place, a lot hotter than Finland. I like it here.”


July 13

Andrei Loktionov Agrees to Professional Tryout with LA Kings

Andrei Loktionov has agreed to a professional tryout (PTO) with the LA Kings ahead of the 2017-18 season.

The PTO means the 27-year-old native of Voskresensk, Russia could return to the team that drafted him 123rd overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He will attend Kings training camp in September.

Last season, Loktionov registered 27 points (12-15=27) in 58 games for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL. He added 12 points (4-8=12) in 14 games during Lokomotiv’s run to the Western Conference finals of the Gagarin Cup.

Loktionov previously played 155 games in the NHL, amassing 48 points (22-26=48) during that time.

He scored his first NHL goal while a member of the Kings against the Carolina Hurricanes on Oct. 20, 2010.

Loktionov also captured a Gold Medal at the 2014 IIHF World Championship while playing for Team Russia.


July 14

MacDermid re-signs with Los Angeles

The LA Kings have signed forwards Justin Auger and Andrew Crescenzi, along with defensemen Zachary Leslie and Kurtis MacDermid to one-year, two-way contract extensions, Kings Vice President and General Manager Rob Blake announced today.

All four of the players’ contracts carry a $650,000 cap hit at the NHL level.


The 23-year-old MacDermid (born March 25, 1994) is a 6-5, 239-pound native of Sauble Beach, Ontario who appeared in 58 regular-season games this past season with Ontario, recording 20 points (6-14=20), a plus-11 rating and 135 penalty minutes.

He also appeared in all five postseason games for Ontario, going scoreless with a plus-4 rating and four penalty minutes.

Signed by the Kings as an unrestricted free agent on Sept. 12, 2012, MacDermid has appeared in 114 regular-season AHL games, posting 36 points (10-26=36), a plus-35 rating and 256 penalty minutes. He’s played in 18 postseason games, tallying three points (2-1=3) and 16 penalty minutes.


Heiskanen impresses early with Stars
Sean Shapiro

FRISCO, Texas — Miro Heiskanen got his first taste of Texas summers during Dallas Stars development camp.

Although it was relatively cool in the rink, the temperature outside was in the upper 90s during the July 7-11 camp. That could have been a reason to complain, but Heiskanen embraced the heat.

“It’s been really great,” the defenseman prospect said. “It’s a really hot place, a lot hotter than Finland. I like it here.”

Heiskanen, the No. 3 pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, had plenty of things to like about development camp, most notably signing his entry-level contract July 8.

“I am really excited,” he said. “It’s a big day for me.”

The Stars have big plans for Heiskanen, who is their highest pick since Mike Modano was taken No. 1 in 1988 when they were the Minnesota North Stars.

“We’re excited for Miro,” Dallas general manager Jim Nill said. “He’s a player our scouts have watched all year. He’s what you’re looking for in a prototype defenseman nowadays. He can skate, he moves the puck, he’s a guy that’s never under pressure. The game looks awful easy to him.”

Heiskanen (6-foot, 170 pounds), who turns 18 on July 18, had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 37 games with HIFK in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland. He also had 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) for Finland at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, and was named the tournament’s best defenseman.

The Stars’ other prospects got a firsthand view of Heiskanen’s skill set during the five-day camp at their practice facility. Jason Robertson, their 2017 second-round pick (No. 39), went head-to-head with Heiskanen during a puck-control drill Sunday and was impressed.

“He’s a very skilled guy, not only on defense, but when I was on defense and how he handled the puck,” Robertson said. “I was shocked at how good he handled the puck and how well he skated.”

That wasn’t much of a surprise to left wing Roope Hintz, a second-round pick (No. 49) in 2015 who was Heiskanen’s teammate last season with HIFK.

“He’s very good people, very good guy and very good on the ice. He’s a very good skater and he can play with the puck. And he has it here also,” Hintz said while pointing to his head.

The Stars want to be patient with Heiskanen, but he is going to be on their roster for the Traverse City Prospects Tournament in September and could win an NHL roster spot with a strong training camp.

“My preference is if he isn’t making the Dallas Stars, he is probably going to go back to Finland for one more year,” Nill said. “That’s the best thing for him. Let’s just see where he’s at. I don’t want to make any promises either way. He understands that.”

That development path fits well with the Stars’ current roster. They have a number of young right-handed defensemen, but Heiskanen, a left shot, could fit in after the contracts of veterans Marc Methot and Dan Hamhuis expire within the next two seasons.

“Now I have to work as hard as I can and play in the NHL as soon as possible,” Heiskanen said. “I think I can do that if everything goes well.”


July 15

July 19

Blackhawks prospect William Pelletier goes from roller hockey to Rockford
Chris Hine
Chicago Tribune

A hockey player can take many paths to becoming a professional.

Winger William Pelletier took one of the rarer routes possible, one that carried him from Division III hockey to the Rockford IceHogs — with an assist from roller hockey.

“When you’re young, you always dream to play professional hockey,” Pelletier said. “But it’s rare to see someone to go from Division III to the AHL right away.”

Pelletier, one of the young players at this week’s Blackhawks prospect camp, was unsure whether he would be noticed by NHL talent evaluators when he played at Norwich University, a private military school in Northfield, Vt.

But in his spare time, the Quebec native played in a roller-hockey league with Pierre-Cedric Labrie, a former IceHog who told Pelletier he would talk to Rockford general manager Mark Bernard about him.

“He asked if I would like to get a tryout with Rockford,” Pelletier said. “I told him, ‘Why not? It could be a good idea.’

“During my last season during the playoffs, I texted him and said, ‘Hey is it still there if I wanted a tryout with you guys?'”

Bernard said he also heard about Pelletier from former Hawks assistant Mike Kitchen. After Pelletier was named the MVP of the Division III tournament for leading Norwich to the national championship in May, Bernard brought in Pelletier for a tryout.

The 5-foot-7 Pelletier, 24, hoped to land a roster spot in the mid-level East Coast Hockey League. Bernard thought he was trying out Pelletier for a slot on the Indy Fuel, the Hawks’ ECHL affiliate. But when Pelletier took the ice during a Rockford practice, Bernard was impressed.

Rockford shocked Pelletier by offering him an amateur tryout contract.

“I was not supposed to play,” Pelletier said. “I was supposed to practice and see how it goes. After the first practice they asked me if I wanted to be in the lineup the next night and I said, ‘Yeah, let’s do it.’ Everything worked out pretty well.”

Pelletier made an instant impression with Rockford, scoring three goals with four assists in eight games. He earned a one-year AHL contract and a chance to further prove himself next season.

“Even though he’s smaller in stature, he’s strong. He’s a thick kid,” Bernard said. “He’s hard to knock off the puck. I really liked his battle and compete level last year when he came to Rockford. The thing I like the most is he doesn’t shy away from the busy areas. He goes to the corners. He goes to the front of the net, and he endeared himself to his teammates right away in Rockford.”

And with that, Pelletier cemented his quick, unusual rise from Division III college hockey to the AHL.

“I’m sure there were a lot Division I players shaking their heads going, ‘Wait a minute here.'” Bernard said. “It is rare. There’s a lot of good players that get overlooked for whatever reason who end up in Division III hockey and he came in, took advantage of that opportunity.”

It’s more than he could have hoped for considering where he was not long ago.

“It’s amazing,” Pelletier said. “The Blackhawks are a great organization and it’s a dream come true.”