It didn’t require sips from a fountain of youth, just an end to the NHL lockout, to suddenly transform the St. John’s IceCaps’ defence into one of the youngest in the American Hockey League.
With Zach Redmond and Paul Postma off to Winnipeg, and Derek Meech nursing an injury, but set to join them at the Jets’ upcoming training camp (see Robin Short’s column), four of the six defencemen the IceCaps will send out against the Toronto Marlies Friday and Saturday at Mile One Centre qualify as AHL rookies.
With the end of the NHL lockout and the resulting domino effect, those four — Will O’Neill, Ben Chiarot, Julian Melchiori and Cody Sol — have all made significant jumps on a depth chart that now shows Dean Arsene and Travis Ramsey as the only veterans.
At least until this morning, when defencemen Richard Petiot is scheduled to report to the team.
The IceCaps have signed the 30-year-old Petiot to a try-out contract, although it remains to be seen how long it will be before the veteran of more than 300 AHL games can be pencilled into the St. John’s lineup.
The six-foot-four, 210-pound Alberta native hasn’t played in any league so far this season and hasn’t appeared in any game since October of 2011, when he suffered a season-ending knee injury while playing for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals. However, before being hurt, Petiot was seen as an important depth player and high on the potential call-up list of the parent Tampa Bay Lightning.
Petiot, in fact, has appeared in 15 career NHL games with the Los Angeles Kings, Edmonton Oilers and Lightning.
“I know he has experience, obviously, which is something we can use right now,” said IceCaps’ head coach Keith McCambridge.
“And the scouting reports says he has a good, solid two-way game. He can be a physical stay-at-home type, but he can also move pucks up the ice.”
The coach will know more once Petiot takes to the ice, but McCambridge said it’s his understanding “everything is good” with the surgically-repaired knee.
Petiot has 18 goals, 71 assists, an overall plus-54 rating and 339 penalty minutes in 314 AHL games with the Admirals, Marlies, Manchester Monarchs, Rockford IceHogs and Oklahoma City Barons. His best season was 2009-10, when he was named Rockford’s top defenceman after appearing in all of the IceHogs’ 80 games and registering eight goals, 37 points, a plus-20 rating and 88 PIMs.
A product of Colorado College. Petiot was a 2001 fourth-round draft pick of the Kings.
He is one of three players the IceCaps officially added to their roster Wednesday, the others being goalie Chris Carrozzi and forward Josh Lunden, both brought in from the ECHL.
Carrozzi was needed after Mark Dekanich injured his hamstring in practice this week. With forwards Alex Burmistrov, Spencer Machacek and Max Macenauer also leaving for the Jets’ training camp, Lunden gives St. John’s 12 healthy forwards heading into the series with Toronto.
Marlies beat the storm
The IceCaps won’t be the only team on the Mile One ice missing a passel of regulars this weekend.The Marlies were taking no chances with today’s forecasted blizzard in eastern Newfoundland and were set t arrive in a number of separate groups throughout Wednesday. However, a number of players ticketed to attend the parent Leafs’ training camp weren’t expected to make the trip. No confirmation on names, but it would be reasonable to expect goalie Ben Scrivens, forwards Matt Frattin and Nazim Kadri and defenceman Korbinian Holzer would be among those staying in Toronto. Frattin was a healthy scratch Tuesday as the Marlies lost 2-1 to the Bulldogs in Hamilton, while Scrivens dressed as the backup to Jussi Rynnas. Kadri did play, scoring the Marlies’ lone goal ... Star Toronto blueline prospect Jake Gardiner, who has been with the Marlies during the lockout, will also head to the big club, but the 22-year-old is still recovering from a concussion he suffered in December ... Defenceman Mark Fraser and forwards Joe Colborne, Carter Ashton, Keith Aucoin and Ryan Hamilton are other Marlies who are signed to NHL contracts and who have appeared in big-league games... Alaska Aces defenceman Corey Syvret, the younger brother of Adirondack Phantoms rearguard Danny Syvret, has been signed to a try-out deal by the Marlies. He’s the fifth player the Leafs’ farm team has brought in from the ECHL in the last couple of days ...