Free agency plays major role in the minors

Brendan McCarthy
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How the process relates to the IceCaps

Centre Marco Rosa was the St. John’s IceCaps’ leading scorer before suffering a concussion that derailed his 2011-12 season. Rosa has signed a contract to play in the Finnish Elite League next season.— Telegram file photo

Once the National Hockey League free-agent period began Sunday, the focus naturally settled to the bigger available names like Zach Parise, Ryan Suter  and Martin Brodeur. But there are well over 250 unrestricted free agents, another 150 or so of the restricted variety and about 100 more whose American Hockey League deals have expired. It may take a while in the trickle-down market that is hockey free-agency, but the process will certainly have a lot to say about how AHL teams, including the St. John’s IceCaps, will loook this fall.

A number of players who were part of the IceCaps’ Calder Cup playoff  run this spring have already determined their employer and employment status for 2012-13: Jason King recently reached a new two-year AHL deal with the parent Winnipeg Jets; defenceman Derek Meech re-signed with the Jets, agreeing to a two-way contract that could conceivably have him back in St. John’s; goalie David Aebischer and centre Marco Rosa will play in Europe next season; and rearguard Jason DeSantis has a contract with the Florida Panthers’ organization.

Still to be determined are the final contractual dispositions of a half-dozen IceCaps who are restricted free agents — including leading scorer Spencer Machacek and top defenceman/team MVP Paul Postma — and what will happen with three key forwards: veteran Garth Murray; John Albert, coming off a strong rookie season; and captain  Jason Jaffray, who is recovering from spinal fusion surgery, but has indicated he’d like to be back with the Jets’ organization.

To help you navigate free-agency as it relates to the IceCaps, here’s a primer listing affected players and their free-agent/contract status.



Has signed new contract for 2012-13

Derek Meech (D) — Signed one-year, two-way deal with Jets


Restricted free agents

(Have received qualifying offer from Jets)

Brett Festerling (D); Arturs Kulda (D); Maxime Macenauer (F)

Spencer Machacek (F); Ben Maxwell (F); Paul Postma (D)


Unrestricted free agents

Jason Jaffray (F) — Not eligible for qualifying offer

John Negin (D) — Did not receive a qualifying offer from Jets



Have signed new contracts for 2012-12

David Aebischer (G) — Signed with Rapperswil (Switzerland)

Jason DeSantis (D) — Signed contract with the Florida Panthers

Jason King (F) — Signed two-year AHL deal with IceCaps/Jets

Marco Rosa (F) — Signed with the Espoo Blues (Finland)


Still unsigned

John Albert (F); Garth Murray (F)


Others of note

Peter Mannino (G) — Loaned by Jets to AHL’s Portland Pirates at AHL trade deadline. He’s an unrestricted free agent with expiration of his contract with Winnipeg

Kenndal McArdle (F) — Loaned by Jets to AHL’s Portland Pirates at AHL trade deadline. He’s an unrestricted free agent after not receiving a qualifying offer from Winnipeg

Ray Sawada (F)  — Loaned to IceCaps at AHL trade deadline. He’s an unrestricted free agent with expiration of his contract with the Dallas Stars

Brock Trotter (F)  — Loaned to IceCaps at AHL trade deadline. He’s an unrestricted free agent with expiration of his contract with the Phoenix Coyotes

Organizations: American Hockey League, IceCaps, Winnipeg Jets National Hockey League Florida Panthers Florida PanthersJason King Dallas Stars Brock Trotter Phoenix Coyotesbmcc

Geographic location: Buffalo, Europe, Switzerland Finland

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Recent comments

  • Kyle
    July 10, 2012 - 07:55

    Trotter signed with Dinamo Minsk of the KHL. He played there a few years ago as well.

  • Joe O'Shea
    July 03, 2012 - 13:01

    The previous commentatorr was actually wrong about McArdle. The story is right because he has NOT received a qualifying offer from Winnipeg and is an unrestricted free agent. But I am interested in Trotter. What team in Europe did he sign with? Can't find it anywhere. Go IceCaps!

    • Steve M.
      July 04, 2012 - 00:09

      McArdle is actually a group 6 UFA (Players who have reached age 25, who have 3 accrued years of professional experience and whose contracts have expired, but have played less than 80 NHL games played (forwards and defensemen).

  • Incorrect information
    July 03, 2012 - 09:18

    Brock Trotter has signed over seas as well. McArdle has received a qualifying offer from the jets organization as well. DeSantis received a two way contract with the panthers organization, not one way.