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.
PLAYERS WITH NHL CONTRACTS LAST SEASON
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
PLAYERS WITH AHL CONTRACTS LAST SEASON
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)
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