It won’t be long before we reintroduce Newfoundlanders Away, The Telegram’s weekly feature that lists the statistics of hockey players from this province playing in high-level leagues elsewhere.
Of the approximately 90 players who will be found in that listing, four are skating in the American Hockey League, including three who have returned to their 2016-17 clubs.
With Teddy Purcell and Adam Pardy without contracts and teams, 31-year-old forward Colin Greening of St. John’s becomes the veteran Newfoundlander in the pro ranks.
The left-winger didn’t see any NHL time in 2016-17, spending the entire season with the Toronto Marlies, the Maple Leafs’ farm team, scoring 10 goals and 24 points in 69 games.
There were many who thought the Maple Leafs would jettison Greening after he played out the final year of a three-year contract that paid him $3.2 million last season. However, they lauded the leadership the left-winger brought to their minor-league team, enough so that the Leafs re-signed him to a one-year, one-way deal, albeit one that led to a significant pay cut; Greening’s new contract is paying him $750,000.
Greening, who has been named a Marlies assistant captain, has spent most of his pro career as a winger, but has started as a centre this season.
Clark Bishop of St. John’s is back with the Charlotte Checkers, farm team of the Carolina Hurricanes, who selected him in the fifth round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. The 21-year-old centre, who is beginning the second year of his three-year entry-level contract, actually split 2016-17, his first pro season, between the Florida Everblades of the ECHL and the Checkers. He had two goals and four assists in 42 games with Charlotte and three goals and eight assists in 21 games with the Fort Myers, Fla.-based Everblades.
To say defenceman James Melindy of Goulds is back with the San Diego Gulls might be a bit of a stretch since he only appeared in three games for that AHL team at the end of last season after having suited up in 68 contests for the ECHL’s Wichita Thunder.
However, the 24-year-old Melindy impressed the Gulls — the farm team of the NHL’s Anaheim Ducks — with his toughness (he had 27 PIMs in those three games) and signed him two a two-way AHL-ECHL contract in the off-season.
San Diego, however, is not Melindy’s first AHL team. He appeared in 49 games with the AHL’s Portland Pirates after being a third-round draft pick of the Arizona Çoyotes in 2012. However, he spent most of the last three seasons in the ECHL, making stops in Gwinnett, Ga., Wheeling, W.V.; Rapid City, N.D. and Wichita before making his way back to the ‘A.’
With the Thunder in 2016-17, Melindy had three goals, 17 points and 229 penalty minutes.
The AHL newcomer centre Nathan Noel of St. John’s, although he technically isn’t in the league yet. A right leg injury suffered in the Chicago Blackhawks’ rookie training camp is delaying his expected pro debut with the Rockford IceHogs, the Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate. The 20-year-old was placed on Chicago’s injured reserve list a week ago, but will be assigned to the minors as soon as he’s healthy.
A fourth-round draft pick by Chicago in 2016, Noel had 24 goals and 50 points in 52 games with the QMJHL champion Saint John Sea Dogs last season.
Two other players from St. John’s have contracts that could see them play in the AHL in 2017-18, but forward Zach O’Brien and defenceman Cody Donaghey have been sent to ECHL teams to start the season.
O’Brien, who has minor-league contract with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors, is back in Wichita, where he spent the last half of the 2016-17 campaign.
Donaghey was sent to the Brampton Beast by the Ottawa Senators. The 21-year-old rearguard is in his first pro season and in possession a of a three-year entry-level NHL contract with the Sens.