Friday, June 14, 2013

AHL Players Making Moves to Europe; Are Any Stars on Their Way?

Gragnani (Credit: Texas Stars)
As soon as the book closed on the 2012-13 regular season, deals started to be made for many AHL players to either head back to their homeland or the promise of more money (or both) in the many hockey leagues in Europe. Many of the Stars' South Division rivals will look different next season due to these moves. It's possible the Stars could as well.

First, in the confirmed category, are two moves by Checkers' defensemen. Justin Krueger will be headed to the Swiss national league and Marc-Andre Gragnani will take his talents to the KHL's HC Lev Praha. Krueger is a German citizen and possesses a Swiss 'player-license' allowing him to play in the European leagues without counting against common 'import player' restrictions. Similar rules allowed former Star Dan Spang, who has an Italian passport, to more easily move to Europe. Gragnani, on the other hand, is a Canadian with no European ties and has 74 NHL games to his name. He was a third round pick by the Sabres, where he played all but one of those games. His single season in Charlotte only saw him called to the Hurricanes for a single game.

The OKC Barons could lose a big star according to rumours out of Sweden. Marc Arcobello is tops on the list of acquisition target for the SEL club Brynäs. Arcobello still has a possible Oilers deal on the table but there is clearly a possible spot for the "points king" in Sweden.

Former Star Garrett Stafford will leave North American for sure as he signed a deal with Färjestad of the SEL

Antti Tyrväinen, also of the Barons, is definitely on the move as he signed a one-year deal with SM-liiga's Jokerit (Helsinki, Finland). Tyrväinen spent two years in OKC, racking up 9 goals and 15 assists in 87 games. He added 3-3-6 across 30 playoff games.

Other relevant AHL players on the move include:
  • Juuso Puustinen of Milwaukee to HIFK (SM-liiga)
  • Ben Walter of Abbotsford to Örebro (SEL)
  • Anton Rödin of Chicago to Brynäs (SEL)
Finally, in tangentially related news, Ben Gazdic, younger older brother of Texas Star Luke Gazdic, has signed with the KHL's Zagreb. Zagreb will be joining the KHL for the first time in the 2013-14 season, and they have been making a number of 'bigger' moves to ensure they are successful in the league. Goalie Mark Dekanich, skaters Hugh Jessiman and Mike Glumac and former Bears coach Mark French are among the names they've added that you might know. Several articles on the signing of Ben Gazdic mentioned that Luke and Mark Gazdic are both eligible to play with Zagreb due to their Croatian heritage. While it seems unlikely that #34 leaves North America at this moment, Luke Gazdic is a restricted free agent this summer for Dallas.

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