© — Telegram file photo
After just one season with the Winnipeg Jets organization, all of which was spent with the St. John’s IceCaps, unrestricted free agent Andrew Gordon signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
Winger signs with Philadelphia in hopes of keeping NHL dream alive
Andrew Gordon found himself with two new homes Wednesday.
One was in Minneapolis, where he and his girlfriend were moving into the house where they’ll be living this off-season. The other is with the Philadelphia Flyers’ organization, with whom the unrestricted free-agent forward signed a one-year, two-way contract.
“Very busy day,” said the 28-year-old Gordon, who was one of the American Hockey League’s St. John’s IceCaps’ top offensive players this past season.
“The Flyers thing happened pretty quickly and I’m just glad to get it done.”
Wednesday was a busy day for IceCaps in general, as four other players who suited up with St. John’s last season signed new contracts.
Goaltender Michael Hutchinson reached a two-year-deal with the parent Winnipeg Jets (see story this page); the Jets also announced they had an agreement on a one-year, two-way deal with defenceman Will O’Neill; checking forward Blair Riley got a new AHL contract with St. John’s; and big forward Ryan Schnell headed to his home state of Illinois and a minor-league contract with the Rockford Icehogs.
Gordon said his agent had been in contact with a number of other teams — including the Jets — who had been interested in him for next season, but added that he felt Philadelphia gave him “a good opportunity to play some games in the NHL.”
And there’s that word — “opportunity” — you so often hear this time of the year as free agents explain their signing decisions. It was what former IceCaps defenceman Zach Redmond spoke about Tuesday after agreeing to a deal with the Colorado Avalanche. And it’s what’s motivating Gordon as he moves to his fifth different NHL organization in as many seasons.
“Look, I’m going to be 29 later this year. I’m not a 19-year-old hot-shot prospect coming into the league with a brand-new contract,” he said. “But I still have the same dream I did when I was 19 and that’s to play in the NHL.
“Right now, from everything I’ve been told, from everything I know, I think the Flyers give me that best chance to live that dream.”
He didn’t get that chance with Winnipeg last season, not receiving any call-ups from the Jets despite putting up 56 points (23 goals, 33 assists) second-most on the IceCaps in the regular-season.
He also didn’t get recalled despite a contract that would have seemed to make it easy for Winnipeg to do so. The free-agent deal he signed with the Jets in 2013 was a two-way, but its minor-league component called for a $350,000 salary, higher than that given to any other AHLer.
“It would be tough to say I was surprised,” said Gordon. “Pro hockey is a cruel, harsh business and things like that happen ... or in that case, don’t happen.
“I won’t say I wasn’t disappointed at times, especially when I thought I was playing well and there were (call-ups) being made, but I’ve been around enough to realize there are what I call situational things going on, whether they’re coaching changes mid-season (Paul Maurice replacing Claude Noel in Winnipeg) or the fact the Jets also had a lot of good, young forwards in St. John’s like Eric O’Dell and John Albert, who were also playing well and who they’ve got something invested in for the future.
“You run into situations and things don’t work out.”
See ‘I LOVED’, page C3
Albert, who was selected by the Washington Capitals in the seventh round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, has developed a reputation as a dependable AHL scorer (149 goals, 175 assists, 324 points in 426 career AHL games) especially based in his time with the Hershey Bears, with whom he won two Calder Cups (2009, 2010), but had also become used to playing big-league games as well. Before last season, he had five straight years where he suited up for at least some NHL contest, totalling 55 with the Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Vancouver Canucks.
The Flyers are moving their AHL farm club, the Phantoms, from Glens Falls, N.Y., to the Lehigh Valley (Allentown) region of Pennsylvania and for many observers, Gordon’s signing is seen as a way of boosting the new team’s fortunes, but he’s convinced his move will at least get him back into at least the career pattern he experienced previous to last season.
“I loved playing in St. John’s. I loved living in St. John’s. My girlfriend loved being in St. John’s, and it’s close to Halifax, so it was great for family to visit,” said the native of Porters Lake, N.S, who had a team-leading 19 points (eight goals, 11 assists) in 21 playoff as St. John’s went all the way to the Calder Cup final, where they lost to the Texas Stars,
“We had what I guess you could call a dream season, or almost a dream season last year, and if all I wanted to so was play in the AHL, I can’t think of better place than St. John’s.
“But I think people will understand when I say that even though feel fortunate to be able to play in the AHL and in a city like St. John’s, I’m still at a stage of my career where I still want to be in the NHL.”