Abbotsford Heat goaltender Leland Irving and Albany Devils forward Philip DeSimone have signed tryout contracts with Finnish team Jokerit.
Many people thought Irving was the goaltender of the future for Calgary after he was drafted in the first round, 26th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. A restricted free agent last season, Irving publicly considered signing in Europe if he couldn’t get a one-way contract from the Flames, but chose to return to Calgary on a one year, two-way deal worth $687,500 for an NHL season. Irving returned to Abbotsford for the start of the 2012–13 AHL season due to the NHL labour dispute. However, a slow start coupled with the outstanding play of Barry Brust and Danny Taylor relegated him to the team’s third-string goaltender, and even after the Flames traded backup goaltender Henrik Karlsson, he still couldn’t find a spot with the team after they signed Joey MacDonald. Clearly, the Flames didn’t give him a chance, but he didn’t exactly steal a spot, considering the fact the team felt they needed to fill the spots with outside goaltenders.
DeSimone was selected by Washington Capitals in the 3rd round (84th overall) of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. It took him a while. but he made his professional debut in the 2011–12 season, after signing a one-year contract with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. After producing an impressive 33 points in his rookie season, mainly in a small role, DeSimone was signed by fellow AHL club, the Albany Devils, on a one-year contract on July 6, 2012. Last season, he saw 44 games with the Baby Devils, potting 9 goals and 19 points.
Jokerit already features multiple former NHLer’s, including Tomi Maki, Jarkko Ruutu, Jani Rita and Ossi Väänänen. As well, Joonas Korpisalo, a Columbus Blue Jackets prospect, will likely challenge for the starting spot after playing for their junior team.
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