|Maxime Fortunus (Credit: Gregg Forwerck)|
It turns out Fortunus was the veteran defenseman that GM Scott White had been looking for, and he didn't have to go very far to find him. The 29-year old Quebec native had made a decision to test free agency coming off a two-way deal with the Dallas Stars. Fortunus played a few NHL games in the 2009-10 season for Dallas.
With the expectation that Jordie Benn could stay in Dallas among the likely stable of eight defensemen there, the AHL Stars needed a veteran presence to guide youngsters including sophomores Oleksiak and Nemeth and rookies Klingberg, Jokipakka and Boutet.
It's an interesting signing for the Stars, who were at one point looking for a veteran defenseman who could push the NHL roster. They appear to have gotten that and a little bit more with Jordie Benn, who is anticipated by some to make the NHL out of camp. Needing to backfill that veteran gap, Fortunus fits the bill.
The term of the deal leads me to believe that the Stars are investing in Fortunus's leadership abilities following the success of last season under his captaincy. Two year deals are rare in the AHL mostly due to the constantly shifting rosters. Texas has had only two in its history, both captains. Landon Wilson signed a two year deal but only played one season due to injuries.
Fortunus joins Luke Gazdic, Francis Wathier, Travis Morin and Colton Sceviour as first-year Stars to remain with the club through its fifth season.
Here's the release:
The Texas Stars announced today that the club has signed defenseman Maxime Fortunus to a two-year standard American Hockey League contract through the 2014-15 season.
Fortunus, 29, is a member of the Original Texas Stars, having played all four years of the franchise's existence. The La Prairie, Quebec native was selected as the Stars' third captain in team history on October 12, 2012 and had 28 points (7 goals, 21 assists) and 16 penalty minutes in 67 regular season games during the 2012-13 season. Fortunus also appeared in all nine Calder Cup Playoff games for Texas, registering one assist and two penalty minutes. Undrafted after playing parts of five seasons for Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL, he has played in 699 career professional games over the course of his ten pro seasons, including 568 career AHL games with 180 points (49 goals, 131 assists) and 234 penalty minutes in his AHL career. Fortunus has also played in 94 career Calder Cup Playoff games, reaching the Calder Cup Finals in back-to-back seasons with the Manitoba Moose (2009) and Texas (2010), both times losing to the Hershey Bears in six games. He made his NHL debut with the Dallas Stars on December 18, 2009 against the Detroit Red Wings and has appeared in eight career NHL games for the Stars.
Fortunus has appeared in 272 career regular season games for Texas, which is the most of any defenseman in team history and ranks fourth overall. He leads the franchise amongst defenseman in almost every offensive category: goals (29), assists (76), points (105), power play goals (11), power play assists (31) and shots (410). Fortunus ranks fourth overall in assists and points, fifth in shots, ninth in goals and 13th in penalty minutes. He is one of only three players, along with Colton Sceviour and Francis Wathier, to play in all 39 Calder Cup Playoff games in Texas Stars history.