There are a passel of players on the St. John’s IceCaps in line to become free agents of some description this summer, and each case is bound to produce a differing level of interest in IceCaps fans.
Near the high end of that interest gauge should be the situation surrounding forward Kael Mouillierat, if only because no player has been more of a revelation for St. John’s this season.
Brought in from the ECHL on a tryout contract in early December, Mouillierat has produced 11 goals and 42 points in 50 games for the IceCaps, good enough to put him third in team scoring behind linemate Eric O’Dell and captain Jason Jaffray.
By January, the 25-year-old Mouillierat earned a bump-up to an American Hockey League deal, but that ends when St. John’s 2012-13 season finishes this weekend with three road games in Ontario.
So the Edmonton native will soon have to start thinking about his next campaign and where it will be played.
But just not yet.
“I’ll let that stuff unfold in the summertime,” said Mouillierat this past week. “This season hasn’t gone like we wanted, but it’s not over.”
It may be for Mouillierat, however. He suffered an injury in Saturday’s game against the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at Mile One Centre, did not practise Tuesday and is questionable for the weekend, which sees the IceCaps play the Hamilton Bulldogs Friday and the Toronto Marlies Saturday and Sunday.
Mouillierat came to St. John’s from the ECHL’s Idaho Steelheads, one of many players pushed down a level last fall by the NHL lockout. He had performed well with the AHL’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers last season, with eight goals, 23 points and a plus-16 rating in 44 games. There were many in Bridgeport who expected him back with the Sound Tigers this season
“A little bit,” Mouillierat answered, when asked if he had shared those expectations. “I was a little surprised, but I understand they had some young guys coming in and sometimes, you’re just the odd man out.
“I wasn’t the only guy affected by (the lockout) and (the ECHL) wasn’t where I wanted to start the year, but I knew if I did well down there, a chance would come somewhere.”
It came with the IceCaps, where he found almost extraordinary chemistry with O’Dell when the two were united.
“Not quite like this,” responded Mouillierat when asked if he had ever clicked with another player so well. “Normally, I was playing centre, so I’d be the guy looking for wingers to dish the puck to, but he makes it easy. He’s always about five feet away from me, so it’s easy to play with him .. and it’s fun.”
One IceCaps player does have a new contract. That’s forward Adam Lowry, who as expected, has agreed on an three-year, two-way entry-level deal with the parent Winnipeg Jets.
Lowry, who turned 20 late last month, has played six games for St. John’s on an amateur tryout deal, registering just one assist, but acquitting himself well.
According to Capgeek (capgeek.com), the deal, which kicks in next season, will pay him $2,485,000 over three years at the NHL level, with a $277,500 signing bonus built in. In the AHL, Lowry would be paid on the basis of $70,000 a season.
There hasn’t been much consistency to the St. John’s IceCaps’ season, other than perhaps when it comes to injuries.
Including Mouillierat, the team’s weekly report shows the IceCaps’ injury list with nine players, which has pretty much been a median level over the last four months.
Some of the names are familiar ones, including those of forwards Jason King, Hunter Tremblay and Ivan Telegin, all out with concussions. King has been sidelined for 64 games, Tremblay hasn’t dressed in 52 contests, and Telegin, already back in his native Russia, has missed 39 games, almost all of them because of his head injury.
Forward John Albert, who has had a number of injuries — the latest being a broken hand— is another longtime infirmary resident. He’s sat out 49 games.
Others listed on the current IR: forwards Patrice Cormier and Jason Gregoire, also with concussions, defenceman Richard Petiot and recently-arrived right-winger Vinny Saponari, both with undisclosed injuries.
In all, St. John’s has officially lost 446 man-games to injuries, with that number set to go up by at least 20 with this weekend’s season-ending road trip, just based on current conditions. That 446 games is the equivalent of starting the season with a 22-man roster and being told that each and every one of those 22 players will miss at least 20 games because of injuries.
The IceCaps have recalled defenceman Jake Marto from the Colorado Eagles, who were bounced from ECHL playoffs over the weekend. The 26-year-old Marto has appeared in 45 games with the Eagles during the regular season, recording 15 points (3 goals, 12 assists) and 37 penalty minutes, He has a goal and three assists in the Eagles’ first-round playoff series, which they lost in six game to the idaho Steelheads
Marto 12 games with the IceCaps last season for three assists. He probably would have been called up to St. John’s earlier this season had it not been for his own injury troubles.
Marto arrives just after the IceCaps’ released rearguard Josh Godfrey from his tryout contract. Godfrey had an assist in four games with St. John’s.