Isn’t that the way it goes?
On Wednesday, the day after The Telegram carried a story about three Newfoundlanders starting the new season in the American Hockey League, one member of that trio — defenceman James Melindy — was assigned to the ECHL.
However, the quota of players from this province in the AHL remains the same today. That’s because rookie rearguard Cody Donaghey of St. John’s has been promoted to the Belleville Senators.
The 21-year-old had been with the ECHL’s Brampton Beast, which hockey fans here probably know as an affiliate of the Montreal Canadiens and the former AHL St. John’s IceCaps. After five years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Donaghey is starting the first-year of his NHL entry-level contract with the Ottawa Senators, but since Ottawa doesn’t have its own ECHL affiliate, it has been sending players — Donaghey included — to various teams when making assignments to that league.
Donaghey has attended the Senators’ NHL camp and that of their new AHL team in Belleville before being sent to Brampton in late September. But with Ottawa having already been beset by injuries on the blueline, the trickle-down — or maybe in this case, the trickle-up — effect has led to Donaghey’s return to the AHL Sens, who play in Syracuse Friday night against the Crunch.
Friday also marks the first games of the 2017-18 season in the ECHL, with two Newfoundlanders in that league both set to see action.
The 23-year-old Melindy is now with the Salt Lake City-based Utah Grizzlies, who open on the road against the Colorado Eagles. He has been with the AHL’s San Diego Gulls, but after not seeing any action during the first week of the Gulls’ season, was shipped to the Grizzlies.
Melindy, who is from Goulds, signed a two-way minor-league contract with the Gulls over the summer.
On a similar deal is yet another player from Goulds, Zach O’Brien, a centre for the Wichita Thunder. who start their ECHL campaign at home versus the Indy Fuel.
O’Brien signed his two-way contract with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors, the California-based farm team of Edmonton Oilers, and the 25-year-old actually spent some time in Edmonton’s main training camp before being assigned to Bakersfield and then to Wichita.
The latter move amounted to a return of sorts for O’Brien, who spent the majority of last season in that Kansas community. In 32 games with the Thunder in 2016-17, he had nine goals and 18 assists.
O’Brien didn’t start last season in Wichita. After three years in the AHL with Manchester Monarchs and Chicago Wolves, he had headed across the Atlantic to play for Ravensburg in Germany’s second division, but only stayed for a few months before returning to North America and joining the Thunder.
He also got into one AHL game in late March with the Binghamton Senators (Wichita had been Ottawa’s affiliate), scoring a goal in the process.
Of course, it will depend on his performance in Wichita, but there’s a decent chance O’Brien will get back to the ‘A’ sometime this year, what with his 175 games of experience in that league, the fact he’s under contract to Bakersfield and because he wouldn’t fall under AHL rules limiting the use of players withe 260 more games of experience in the AHL, NHL or European leagues.
For that matter, the same applies to Melindy, the former Arizona Coyotes draft pick who has appeared in 52 AHL contests, including three with San Diego at the end of last season.