According to Syracuse.com reporter Lindsay Kramer, Riku Helenius has agreed to report back to the ECHL, just days after getting suspended for breaching his contract.

Earlier in the week,Tampa Bay reporter Erik Erlendsson revealed some interesting news:

Riku Helenius, the one-time first round pick, informed the Florida Everblades of the East Coast Hockey League on Wednesday that he was leaving the team to return home to Finland, thereby resulting in a suspension from the Lightning for breach of contract.

With usual Syracuse Crunch goaltender Cedrick Desjardins and Kristers Gudlevskis on their way to Montreal to fill in with the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Crunch were forced to sign journeyman AHLer Allen York and Central Hockey League puck stopper Grant Rollheiser to fill in. Rollheiser was unable to make it in time due to travel issues, leaving the team to sign 46 year old emergency backup John Parks to sit on the bench.

But what about Helenius, a long time prospect with the team? Well, on Wednesday, it was reported that the Finnish netminder had left the ECHL’s Florida Everblades without permission, leaving the team no choice but to suspend him for breaching the terms of his contract.

Yikes.

On Monday, Helenius agreed to return to the ECHL for at least the time being, but the Everblades weren’t interested. With the team already committed to former NHL draft picks Connor Knapp and Trevor Cann, the roster spot isn’t available for a third goaltender. Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois said he is trying to find room for the goalie elsewhere, likely in the ECHL, but a team has yet to been found.

When Gudlevskis leaves to play for Latvia in the Olympics later this week, BriseBois said Desjardins will return to Syracuse to team up with York, who will likely get released once the Olympics are over. All this makes a return to Syracuse highly unlikely for Helenius, minus an unforeseen injury. He struggled with the Crunch in an early stint last month, going 2-3-0 with a 3.43 GAA and .875 SP in five games. 

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Darren Calabrese/National Post
Darren Calabrese/National Post

The Toronto Maple Leafs have traded Mark Fraser to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Cam Abney & Teemu Hartikainen.

Fraser was selected by the New Jersey Devils in the third round of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. In 19 games with the Leafs this year, Fraser recorded zero goals and one assist to go along with 33 penalty minutes. He’s not even close to the answer to Edmonton’s defensive woes, but at least Ben Scrivens will have a familiar buddy to talk to 50+ times a night.

Abney will likely be an ECHL tough guy in the long run. After getting drafted in the third round back in 2009 by the Oilers, the rotating forward/defenseman has gone on to record zero points in 18 career AHL games, but did sit in the box for 38 minutes. In 85 career ECHL games split between the Bakersfield Condors and Stockton Thunder, Abney has a whopping 283 penalty minutes to compliment only 17 points.

After three years of trying to break into the Edmonton system, Hartikainen decided to bolt to the KHL this season, signing with Ufa Salavat Yulayev. He had 52 games to try to prove himself as an offensive threat with the big club, but only posted six goals and 13 points during that time. Hartikainen did put up decent offensive numbers at two World Junior tournaments, recording 15 points in 12 games over two years.

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PHOTO BY DANIA MAXWELL
PHOTO BY DANIA MAXWELL

The ECHL’s Florida Everblades needed to clear a roster spot, meaning the end of the line for former Stanley Cup winning defenseman Brian Rafalski.

Rafalski, 40, hadn’t played a game since Jan. 18. He only participated in three contests with the Everblades, recording an assist.

“I’m done,” he told the media. “My back is no good. That was one of the hurdles.”

Rafalski, a three-time Stanley cup winner and three-time U.S. Olympian retired after the 2010-11 season but hoped a stint in the ECHL would help re-spark a career.

The 5-foot-10, 200-pound defenseman chose to retire before the last year of his five-year, $30-million contract with the Detroit when nagging knee injuries made it tough for him to compete at a high level.

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The ECHL’s South Carolina Stingrays have signed former NHL goaltender David LeNeveu. This comes a day after the Toledo Walleye signed former Boston Bruins starter Hannu Toivonen to a contract.

LeNeveu was selected by the Phoenix Coyotes in the 2nd round (46th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. At the 2007–08 trade deadline, the Coyotes traded LeNeveu, along with forwards Fredrik Sjostrom and Josh Gratton, to theNew York Rangers in exchange for Marcel Hossa and goaltender Al Montoya. He was then signed to a one-year contract by the Ducks during the 2008 NHL free agency period. 

LeNeveu failed to play a game with the Ducks and served the year with affiliate, the Iowa Chops, for the 2008–09 season before leaving for Europe to signed initially on a try-out with EC Red Bull Salzburg on August 10, 2009. After completing a one-month trial period, David’s tenure to the end of the season was confirmed by Red bull Salzburg on September 8, 2009. After helping Salzburg capture the Austrian Championship, on July 7, 2010, LeNeveu signed a one-year, two-way deal to return to North America with the Columbus Blue Jackets. On August 12, 2011, LeNeveu signed a contract with the Oklahoma City Barons. He recorded a career best 2.24 goals against average in 34 games during the 2011–12 season for the Barons.

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The ECHL’s Toledo Walleye signed former NHL starting goaltender Hannu Toivonen to a contract.

Remember Hannu? The once promising prospect was drafted by the Boston Bruins during the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, and would later move on to the St. Louis Blues in 2007 when he was traded in exchange for Carl Söderberg.  His NHL numbers include a record of 18-24-10, a 3.37 goals-against average and an .890 save percentage. Toivonen signed a two-year contract with the Malmö Redhawks of the HockeyAllsvenskan on July 1, 2011 after a short stint in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, spending his time in the AHL with the Rockford Icehogs. After a short tenure with the Redhawks, the team fell into financial issues and would have to release Toivonen shortly after.

Toivonen spent 11 games in the ECHL with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL, but with Mike Brodeur and John Curry between the pipes, Toivonen was expendable.  With no more North American offers, Toivonen found himself on the road again, signing with SaiPa in Finland to finish off the season. He has yet to play professionally this season, and considering Toivonen used to be the go to guy in Boston for a while, its been a tough few years for the Finnish native. 

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With Freddy Anderson impressing with the Anaheim Ducks and Igor Bobkov getting sent down to the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies, the Norfolk Admirals have signed goalie Ben Meisner to a Professional Tryout Contract.

As a member of the American International College the past couple of seasons, Meisner posted a 30-64-12 record with a .912 save percentage, a 3.37 goals against average, and eight shutouts. Immediately after finishing his college career last year, Meisner signed a tryout con tract with the Grizzlies, posting a 3-1-4 record during his eight game stint with the club.

Meisner is set to dress tonight for the Admirals when they face the Syracuse Crunch.

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The ECHL’s Colorado Eagles have traded goaltender Trevor Cann to the Florida Everblades in exchange for future considerations.

Cann was drafted by the Colorado Avalanche with the 49th overall pick in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft, but never really panned out to the potential he could have reached. He began his professional career with the Lake Erie Monsters of the AHL during the 2009–10 season but was assigned to the Avalanche’s Central Hockey League affiliate, the Tulsa Oilers after only three wins in thirteen AHL contests. Cann posted career high 9 wins and 25 games with the Monsters during the 2011–12 season, however failed to establish himself within the Avalanche system and was not tendered a new contract.

Cann appeared in just one game for the Eagles, allowing four goals in a 5-0 loss to the Stockton Thunder last month.

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The Colorado Eagles have announced that they have signed Marc Cheverie for the upcoming ECHL campaign.

Cheverie was selected by the Florida Panthers in the 7th round (193rd overall) of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft. Cheverie, 25, spent part of the 2011-12 season with the Portland Pirates. In nine games with the Pirates he posted a record of 4-3-0 with a 3.29 goals-against average and a .893 save percentage. During the 2012-2013 campaign, he played in 22 games last season with the Elmira Jackals, where he recorded a 2.60 GAA and a .917 save percentage.

According to Hockey’s Future, “Cheverie uses his large frame to cover the net effectively. He is athletic and has above average quickness with good reflexes. Cheverie likes to challenge shooters and takes an aggressive approach to goaltending. Cheverie was very successful during his college career by playing a controlled, deliberate style emphasizing positioning.”

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The Stockton Thunder have acquired forwards Brayden Irwin and Shawn O’Donnell from the Florida Everblades in exchange for defenseman Mike Little and Tony DeHart.

Upon completion of his four-year collegiate career with the University of Vermont, Irwin signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 29, 2010. With the Leafs out of playoff contention, Irwin immediately made his NHL debut at the end of the 2009–10 season on April 1, 2010. In the final year of his entry level contract with the Leafs, due to injury and lack of form Irwin was re-assigned to ECHL affiliate the Reading Royals by the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 11, 2011. After one game with the Royals, Irwin was then loaned to ECHL rival the Florida Everblades for the remainder of the season, where he became instrumental in helping capture the Kelly Cup. On September 5, 2012, he was re-signed to a one-year ECHL contract with the Everblades. He returned back to Florida, where he recorded 29 points, which attracted the attention of the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals, who received him through loan.

O’Donnell played his first ECHL season last year, collecting a goal and three assists in his first five games with Florida. Prior to joining the squad, he spent four seasons with Saint Mary’s University, recording 62 points in 103 games.

Little, who spent the past two seasons with the Thunder and was the Thunder’s Defenseman of the Year” in 2012. The offensive defenseman, he spent all four years of his college career at American International College and posted 32 points and 32 penalty minutes in 133 games.

DeHart was selected by the New York Islanders in the 5th round (125th overall) of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. During the 2011-12 season, DeHart played 46 games in the ECHL with the Stockton Thunder and, on July 12, 2012, he was re-signed by Stockton to return for a second season with the team. Despite having his rights owned by Stockton, DeHart was also signed by the St. Charles Chill of the Central Hockey League.

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Elsa/Getty Images
Elsa/Getty Images

Following a short, but well traveled career,  goaltender Shawn Hunwick will join his agent Alec Schall as part of Legacy Global Sports, retiring from hockey.

If you were wondering what Hunwick was up to this year, all you had to do was pay attention to our transaction page. Hunwick was  released from his contract with EC Red Bull Salzburg after playing three European Trophy games and only one in its entirety in September. Afterward, it was believed that he was to sign with Bolzano in Italy, however the deal fell through. Just a few days after being let go, however, Hunwick signed a tryout with the ECHL affiliate of the Phoenix Coyotes, the Las Vegas Wranglers, and was later signed to a tryout by the Providence Bruins of the AHL. He didn’t get a contract once his tryout was completed, and was sent to the South Carolina Stingrays of the ECHL. After 9 miserable games in a Stingray uniform, Hunwick was traded to the Utah Grizzlies, where his stats didn’t do justice. In 11 games this season, the former college star has 4 wins, 5 losses in 9 games this year, with a not so pleasant 4.38 GAA  and .830 SP in his two outings with Utah. Hunwick had a 2.92 GAA while facing about 30 shots per game with the South Carolina Stingrays this season. Before 2012 even came to a close, he signed a contract for the remainder of the season with the Iserlohn Roosters of the DEL in Germany. With Sebastion Caron, as well as young goalies Lukas Schaffrath and Raphael Leibfried, Hunwick’s play didn’t warrant him a contract renewal, resulting in the end of his career.

During the 2011-2012 campaign, Hunwick was signed to an amateur try-out on March 28th, 2012 just days after his college career ended. The Columbus Blue Jackets gave him this opportunity when Steve Mason went down to injury in a practice. -Hunwick made his NHL debut on April 7th in a game against the Islanders after replacing Steve Mason in the last few minutes in a 7-3 victory.

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The Stockton Thunder have signed free agent goaltender Brian Foster to an ECHL contract.

Foster was selected by the Florida Panthers of the National Hockey League in the 5th round (161st overall) of the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, and remains in the club’s prospect pool. Prior to turning professional, Foster attended the University of New Hampshire where he played four seasons with the New Hampshire Wildcats men’s ice hockey team which competes in NCAA’s Division I in the Hockey East conference.

Foster was recalled by the Panthers on February 1, 2012 to serve as the back-up for Scott Clemmensen, while starter Jose Theodore was injured. He made his NHL debut on February 4, 2012 against the Tampa Bay Lightning, relieving Clemmensen during the second period of the game. After that, he was returned to the AHL, where he would serve as the backup goaltender to Jacob Markstrom. As well as playing in the American Hockey League, he spent the past three seasons with the Cincinnati Cyclones, where he went 46-24-7 with a 2.62 goals against average and .908 save percentage in 80 career games.

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Milano Rossoblu, a team competing in Italy, have signed Springfield Falcons goaltender Paul Dainton, Abbotsford Heat forward Adam Estoclet, Las Vegas Wranglers defenseman Jamie Fritsch and Lillehammer forward Brad Schell.

Dainton has spent the past three seasons split between the AHL’s Falcons and Chicago Express, Reading Royals and Evansville Icemen of the ECHL. During his first season in 2010-2011, he played five games with the Falcons and had an impressive 2.63 goals against average to go along with a 2-2-0 record. The following season, he had a 3.11 goals against average and a 12-11-1 record in 28 games with the squad, and followed it up with a 3-5-1 record last season as Curtis McElhinney and Allen York stole the lions share of the work.

Estoclet played four seasons of NCAA college hockey with Dartmouth College scoring 103 points in 127 games. On September 13, 2011, the Grand Rapids Griffins signed Estoclet to a standard American Hockey League contract, but after 12 games, he was traded to the Abbotsford Heat. During his second professional season last year, he split time with the Heat, as well as the Utah Grizzlies, recording two points in the AHL and 39 in the ECHL.

Undrafted, he was signed by the Philadelphia Flyers on an amateur try-out contract on April 12, 2009, but would only get one game of action with the squad. Fritsch signed with the Gwinnett Gladiators of the ECHL for the 2009–10 season and played in 48 games posting 5 points. On February 5, 2010, he was signed to a try-out with the Norfolk Admirals of the AHL and appeared in 2 games. Following the season, he was traded to the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL on August 12, 2010, and played there for three years.

Schell was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 9th round (167th overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft. After 23 total games split between the Chicago Wolves and the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL, he didn’t play anywhere during the 2010-2011 campaign, but did sign with Dornbirner EC in Austria2 the next season, dominating the scoring with 50 points in 27 games. Midway through the year, he got a chance in Austria’s top division, playing four games with the Graz 99ers before the season was over. This past year, Schell went on to rip up Norway, recording 64 points while spending the season with Lillehammer.

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Kevin Regan, who spent the past season playing in the Central Hockey League, has signed with the EIHL’s Fife Flyers for the 2013-2014 season, according to British Ice Hockey.

A lifelong Boston Bruins fan, he was drafted by the Bruins in the ninth round (277 overall) of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft. After graduating from the University of New Hampshire, he spent the 2008–09 and 2009–10 played two seasons playing in the American Hockey League and the ECHL. He was signed by the Providence Bruins in 2008, where he initially served as a backup to Tuukka Rask. While in the AHL he was hampered by hip injuries, including a torn labrum, that required multiple surgeries. He was briefly called up to Boston in January 2009 but did not see any action.

After two seasons with Italy’s Valpellice, Regan joined the CHL’s Wichita Thunder, posting 13 wins and 10 losses in 27 games. The signing replaces former Edmonton Oilers prospect Bryan Pitton in Fife, who recently joined the CHL’s Allen Americans.

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The Sheffield Steelers of the EIHL in the UK have agreed to terms with their 11th import player for the 2013-2014 campaign, signing forward Ryan Galiardi, older brother of Calgary Flames forward TJ Galiardi.

Undrafted in the NHL, Galiardi played NCAA college hockey with the Minnesota State Mavericks in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association where he scored 29 goals and 52 assists for 81 points, and earned 82 penalty minutes in 140 games played. In his first professional season, Galiardi signed a one-year deal with the Florida Everblades of the ECHL and was twice briefly loaned to the American Hockey League with the Providence Bruins and Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

Galiardi signed as a free agent to remain in the ECHL with the Gwinnett Gladiators on July 18, 2012, but was was traded by Gwinnett, along with Christian Ouellet and Cody Carlson to theSan Francisco Bulls in exchange for Justin Bowers and Sacha Guimond in January 2013. In total, he has played in 120 ECHL and 13 AHL games to date.

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The Hershey Bears have signed goaltender Riley Gill to an American Hockey League contract.

Gill has been successful in the bottom feeding professional hockey leagues during the past few seasons. Two years ago, Gill played 44 games for the Kalamazoo Wings and recorded the fifth most wins in the league (with 24), as he helped the K-Wings advance to the Eastern Conference Finals. Gill has played 38 games this past season with the Louisiana IceGators of the Southern Professional Hockey League, where he finished first in the league with 25 wins. After joining the Bears’ ECHL affiliate Reading Royals in February, Gill finished with a mark of 10-3-1 and three shutouts before leading the franchise to it’s first Kelly Cup championship. Gill was named the MVP of the playoffs for his performance.

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Former Carolina Hurricanes goaltending prospect John Muse has been signed by the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL. In addition, Andreas Nodl has been signed by Lausanne of the NLA in Switzerland.

Muse’s first full professional season during the 2011-2012 season saw him spending time in both the ECHL and AHL, recording 15 games in Charlotte and 25 in Florida, where he shared netminding duties with Pat Nagle. On June 7, 2012, Muse was signed to his first NHL contract with the Everblades parent affiliate, the Carolina Hurricanes, on a one-year contract. Last season, he was named Kelly Cup MVP in 2012 when he led the Florida Everblades to their first title. Muse was 11-2 in the Kelly Cup playoffs with a 1.78 goals-against average in 13 games.

Nodl was drafted in the second round, 39th overall, of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. On November 29, 2011, he was waived by the Flyers after spending time between the NHL and AHL and was picked up by the Hurricanes. He’s a veteran of 183 NHL games and should get another shot in the NHL at some point. During his time with the Hurricanes, he was considered more of a defensive forward than an offensive one, leading him to be placed in roles that he didn’t fulfill all too well.

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The Utica Comets have signed right winger David Pacan to an AHL contract for the 2013-2014 season.

Pacan was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth round (177nd overall) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Pacan spent most of the 2012-13 season with the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL, where he managed to record 14 goals and 52 points in 57 games. He also played in nine games with the AHL’s San Antonio Rampage, recording two assists. Last season, he was named to the ECHL’s All-Rookie Team.

During his overaged OHL season during the 2011-2012 campaign, he scored 29 goals with 35 assists in 68 games and was plus-25 with 48 penalty minutes while a member of the Niagara Icedogs.

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The Vancouver Canucks have  re-signed Jordan Schroeder, Dale Weise and Yann Sauve.

Schroeder received a one-year, one-way deal for $600,000. A talented young gun, he was drafted 22nd overall by the Vancouver Canucks during the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Schroeder then spent several years playing with the Canucks minor league affiliates in the American Hockey League before joining the Canucks in 2013. During the past season, he posted nine points and four penalty minutes in 31 games played, and he also finished fourth on the Chicago Wolves in goal scoring with 12 goals and added 21 assists in 42 games.

Weise will make $750,000 during his one year contract with the club. A fourth-round pick (No. 111) by the New York Rangers in the 2008 NHL Draft, Weise  had three goals, six points and 43 penalty minutes in 40 regular-season games for the Canucks during 2012-13.

Sauve received a one year,  two-way deal for $708,750. He split the 2012-2013 season with the Chicago Wolves and the ECHL Kalamazoo Wings, posting two assists and 10 penalty minutes in 17 games with the Wolves and 19 points and 40 penalty minutes in 32 games with the Wings.

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The San Francisco Bulls of the ECHL have agreed to terms with goaltender Tyler Beskorowany.

Beskorowany was selected by the Dallas Stars in the 2nd round (59th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He played for U20 team Canada. Prior to turning professional, Beskorowany played major junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League with the Owen Sound Attack and Kingston FrontenacsOn September 17, 2009, Beskorowany was signed by the Dallas Stars to a three-year entry-level contract.

During the 2010-2011 season, Beskorowany joined the Idaho Steelheads of the ECHL and performed very well.  In 20 ECHL games, he posted a 10-5-4 record with a 2.35 GAA and .928 save percentage. He also saw 18 AHL contests with the Texas Stars, going 7-8-1 with a 2.58 GAA and .921 save pct. During the 2011-2012 season, he was 10-19 with 1 shutout in 22 games for Texas and had a 3.39 goals against average and .886 save percentage.  Last season, Beskorowany went 17-12-3 with a 2.78 goals-against average and a .911 save percentage with the Steelheads.

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The Grand Rapids Griffins have agreed to terms with goaltender Thomas McCollum on a one-year AHL contract.

Detroit’s first choice (30th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, McCollum was named to the United States for the 2009 World Junior Championships, finishing in fifth place. The next year,  McCollum split time between Detroit’s affiliates in his first pro season. In 6 ECHL games with the Toledo Walleye, the netminder had a 2-1-0 record with a 4.48 goals against average and .864 save percentage. He finished with a 10-16-2 record for Grand Rapids in 30 AHL appearances with a 3.48 goals against average and .881 save percentage.

McCollum struggled in his first three years with the Griffins, but he did manage to post a 18-11-2 record, with a 2.63 goals-against average and .904 save percentage this year, but couldn’t beat out Petr Mrazek for the starting job. It will be an interesting situation for the Griffins next season, with Mrazek tagged as the goalie of the future and free agent signee Jared Coreau expected to back him up. There’s a chance that he returns to the Walleye, a team that he already has experience with. In 42 overall games with the club, McCollum recorded a 19-16-4 record with a 2.84 GAA and three shutouts.

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