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AHL Free Agency Recap - Atlantic Division


Atlantic Division Rebuilds From Within On Day One

It was an extremely busy day for AHL-level free agents as the first day of free agency begins to wind down on Canada Day.  I was hoping to post all the moves each team made in one post, but due to the sheer volume of signings today I’m going to post the teams by division starting with the Atlantic Division.

Surprisingly, there wasn’t a ton of action in the Atlantic Division on Day 1 like there has been in previous years. The top teams from last year in the division – the Pennsylvania three of Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Lehigh Valley and Hershey – re-loaded for the upcoming season by mostly re-signing some of their own free agents and one or two outside pieces.

New to the Atlantic Division this season, the Charlotte Checkers and their NHL affiliate Carolina were one of the more active teams – adding some solid AHL-level free agents to bolster Charlotte’s roster for the upcoming season.

You can track your favorite AHL team, favorite current or former players & more with our extensive AHL free agency coverage. Follow @InsideAHLHockey and @TonyAndrock on Twitter for all the latest AHL news.

After the jump, a look around the Atlantic Division to see the new signings for the upcoming season.

EDIT: This will serve as a rolling update for signings at the AHL-level for the Atlantic Division all summer long.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers (New York Islanders)
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23-ranked free agent defenseman

Kane Lafranchise (Bridgeport): 67GP, 5G-16A, +17, 28 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with New York Islanders.

The offensively-minded defenseman proved 2015-16 was no fluke, and he’s a solid option on a bottom pairing for an AHL club in need of depth on the blueline. Lafranchise was on an AHL-only contract with Bridgeport this past season.

Unranked
Seth Helgeson (formerly of Albany): 48GP, 2G-7A, +11, 50 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with New York Islanders.



A fringe NHL/AHL defender, Helgeson split time between New Jersey and Albany for the third straight season but didn’t re-sign with the Devils for a fifth year in the organization.

TRADE: Forward Carter Verhaeghe traded to Tampa Bay for goaltender Kirsters Gudlevskis,

AHL CONTRACT: Bridgeport signed forward Scott Eansor to a one-year AHL contract for 2017-18. Eansor was the captain of the WHL’s Seattle Thunderbirds and a former teammate of current Isles prospect Matthew Barzal.

Charlotte Checkers (Carolina Hurricanes)
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14-ranked free agent goaltender

Jeremy Smith (San Antonio): 17GP, 5-8-1, 2.57 GAA, .911 SV%, 0 SO
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Carolina.

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A bit overshadowed by being on some bad teams the past two years, Smith can really be an under-the-radar kind of addition for an AHL club looking for a veteran to pair with a younger prospect in net. Smith had at least 16 wins in each of the last six seasons prior to last year’s down year with lowly San Antonio.
#14-ranked free agent defenseman Brenden Kitchon (formerly of Manitoba): 63GP, 1G-22A, -19, 52 PIM ***EDIT: [Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Carolina](https://www.nhl.com/hurricanes/news/kichton-agrees-to-terms-with-hurricanes/c-290255812).***
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A career-low 23 points and just one goal for Kitchon this past season in his fourth year at the pro level, but there’s obvious offensive upside with his game. A 48-point rookie season and a 41-point in 68-game season in 2015-16 makes it seem he can flourish in the right situation.
Unranked Dennis Robertson (formerly of Charlotte): 65GP, 6G-10A, +7, 52 PIM ***EDIT: [Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Carolina.](https://www.nhl.com/hurricanes/news/hurricanes-robertson-agree-to-terms-on-contract/c-290256084)*** ** ** Robertson wasn’t tendered a qualifying offer by Carolina on June 25th, becoming an unrestricted free agent after a respectable 2016-17 campaign – his third full year at the pro level.
**Hartford WolfPack (New York Rangers)** ** ** #3-ranked free agent forward Cole Schneider (formerly of Rochester): 71GP, 24G-39A, +9, 45 PIM ***EDIT: [Signed a contract with New York Rangers.](https://twitter.com/NYRangers/status/881254123525607424)*** *** ***Arguably the top power forward in the AHL, but don’t let that fool you – Schneider adds speed to his game as well and is a dynamic scoring threat at the AHL level.

6-ranked free agent forward

Paul Carey (formerly of Hershey): 55GP, 24G-31A, +14, 29 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with New York Rangers.

Carey was a point per game player last season in the AHL and could be one of the league’s top forwards in 2017-18 if he doesn’t graduate to the NHL full-time.

Hershey Bears (Washington Capitals)
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Unranked free agent forward
Anthony Peluso (Manitoba): 22GP, 0G-2A, +2, 6 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Washington.


***After several NHL seasons, Peluso was relegated to AHL duty in 2016-17 without much success – also having his season cut short due to injury.

Not on AHL Big Board
Forward Devante Smith-Pelly (New Jersey Devils): 53GP, 4G-5A, -19, 12 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Washington.



Smith-Pelly played the entirety of 2016-17 in the NHL, so he wasn’t included on our AHL Big Board. While he’s likely cheap depth for a cap-struggling Capitals team at the NHL level, he could be a big part of Hershey’s forward group this fall if he doesn’t make Washington’s roster out of training camp.

Not on AHL Big Board
Forward John Albert (Karpat – Liiga): 42GP, 12G-12A, Even, 16 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Washington.



After a year overseas, the former AHL Manitoba captain returns to North America hoping to make his way back into the NHL, where has has played just nine games at hockey’s highest level in his six year pro hockey career.

** It’s worth noting that the Bears major moves came before July 1st in re-signing Chris Bourque to an AHL deal, re-signing goaltender Pheonix Copley and re-signing Chandler Stephenson. The Bears also signed 6-foot-7 Danish forward Mathias Bau-Hansen to an AHL contract.

Lehigh Valley Phantoms (Philadelphia Flyers)
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11-ranked free agent forward

Phil Varone (formerly of Binghamton): 65GP, 15G-36A, -14, 22 PIM
EDIT: Signed a two-year, two-way contract with Philadelphia.
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*An offensive juggernaut in the AHL, Varone has put up 40 points or more in five of his six AHL seasons. A top line center option at the AHL level.

37-ranked free agent forward

Corban Knight (Lehigh Valley): 72GP, 11G-29A, +8, 44 PIM
EDIT: Signed a two-year, two-way contract with Philadelphia.


***Labeled a Swiss army knife by the Phantoms’ staff last season, Knight can play all three forward positions and play on penalty kill, power play, late game situations, etc. Solid AHL option that can play up and down the lineup.

Providence Bruins (Boston Bruins)
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1-ranked free agent forward

Kenny Agostino (formerly of Chicago): 65GP, 24G-59A, +24, 48 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, one-way contract with Boston Bruins.


***Hands down the #1 AHL-level free agent at any position. Agostino continues to impress, building off of a 57-point season in his sophomore campaign. AHL fans are hoping he signs with their team’s NHL affiliate.

30-ranked free agent forward

Jordan Szwarz (Providence): 65GP, 22G-32A, +20, 76 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Boston.


***Complimenting PBruins’ scorers well, Szwarz nearly doubled his offensive production from a year prior with a lowly Springfield team.

Springfield Thunderbirds (Florida Panthers)
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14-ranked free agent forward

Alexandre Grenier (Utica): 69GP, 17G-28A, -15, 52 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Florida.


***Grenier hasn’t had much of an NHL chance with Vancouver, but is a high-end AHL power forward in the minors.

28-ranked free agent defenseman

Reece Scarlett (Albany/Springfield): 51GP, 5G-17A, -5, 53 PIM
EDIT: Re-signed a one-year, two-way contract with Florida.


***Moved during the trade deadline, Scarlett scored in his first game with Springfield after the trade from the New Jersey Devils organization. He’ll be back with the Thunderbirds this fall.

36-ranked free agent forward

Curtis Valk (Utica): 75GP, 16G-30A, -3, 49 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year entry-level contract with Florida.


***His first full season in the AHL was a resounding success, and he’ll look to continue to build on his game in 2017-18.

38-ranked free agent forward

Chase Balisy (Springfield): 76GP, 17G-28A, +4, 26 PIM
EDIT: Re-signed a one-year, two-way contract with Florida.


***Bailsy put up good numbers on a struggling Springfield team last season. Perhaps on a better team he could be a 50-point plus AHL forward.

Not on AHL Free Agent Big Board

Forward Connor Brickley and goaltender Harri Sateri were also signed to one-year, two-way contracts by the Florida Panthers Saturday.

Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (Pittsburgh Penguins)
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2-ranked free agent goaltender

Casey DeSmith (W-B/Scranton): 29GP, 21-5-3, 2.01 GAA, .926 SV%, 1 SO
EDIT: Signed a two-year, two-way contract with Pittsburgh.


***On an AHL-only contract and a backup to Tristan Jarry, DeSmith was one of the top goaltenders in the league this past season with the AHL Penguins. Casey will be getting an NHL contract this summer, and the AHL affiliate of that club will get a solid AHL #1 starter. Funny enough, the Pens retained DeSmith and he earned his first NHL contract. Two AHL #1’s on the same team in Wilkes-Barre in the fall.

35-ranked free agent defenseman

Zach Trotman (Ontario): 9GP, 0G-2A, +2, 26 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Pittsburgh.


***Injury-plagued year for Trotman in 2016-17, but if he can stay healthy he’s been a fringe NHL/AHL player in prior seasons. Might be worth taking a flyer on.

Unranked free agent forward
Tom Sestito (W-B/Scranton): 33GP, 6G-10A, +1, 121 PIM
EDIT: Re-signed a one-year, two-way contract with Pittsburgh.


***The Penguins’ enforcer can do more than drop the gloves. He makes the games interesting.

Unranked free agent defenseman
Jarred Tinordi (Tucson): 64GP, 1G-10A, -6, 102 PIM
EDIT: Signed a one-year, two-way contract with Pittsburgh.


***Tinordi has been a fringe NHL player in recent years, but can be a solid AHL option for any team wishing to use him in that role.

Chris Summers (Hartford): 74GP, 4G-8A, -6, 71 PIM
EDIT: Signed a two-year, two-way contract with Pittsburgh.


***The physical veteran defender was named an alternate captain of the WolfPack last year, but appears headed for the free agent market in search of a new home for his eighth pro season.

** The Penguins also re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Frank Corrado to a one-year, two-way contract to further bolster the organization’s depth on the blue line.