NHL free agency: Wild ink Connelly to two-year, two-way deal

The Wild brass continue to make smart moves including this very good depth signing. This was a smart move by former Tiger Brian Connelly, pictured in foreground, who reportedly did not seem a good fit for the Flames organization.

Tiger fans can expect Connelly to make his NHL debut and  spend a little time in St. Paul this season depending on the big club’s health.

He joins Nate Prosser and Chad Rau at the Minnesota training camp later this summer/fall.

Here is the updated list of former Tigers testing the waters of free agency as of 9a.m. MT this July 7.

They are (name, 2011-12 team):  Richard Bachman, (Dallas): Mark Cullen (Florida); Kris Fredheim (Wild); Trevor Frischmon, (Islanders); Richard Petiot (Tampa Bay);  Brett Sterling (Blues), and Colin Stuart (Sabres).

From NHL.com …

The Minnesota Wild bolstered its defensive depth late Friday night by inking defenseman Brian Connelly to a two-year, two-way deal. The move gives the Wild an added weapon from the blue line capable of contributing at the offensive end and displaying outstanding puck moving ability and skating.

The Bloomington native split time between the Abbotsford Heat and Rockford IceHogs last season of the American Hockey League. His 52 points (6-46=52) ranked second amongst defensemen in the AHL.

Connelly has played in the AHL All-Star Game the last two seasons. At last year’s AHL Skills Competition, he represented the Western Conference in the Fastest Skater Competition.

The 26-year-old has played professionally. For three seasons, all in the AHL. Before turning pro, the blueliner was a three-year standout at Colorado College. With the Tigers, he amassed 63 points (8-55=63) and was a teammate of Nate Prosser and Chad Rau.

A left-handed shot, Connelly is listed at 5-foot-11 and 185 pounds.

Seven sign on with Tigers; four coming this fall

Here is the CC press release ….

Colorado College has received signed letters of intent from seven hockey players who will enroll at and play for CC in the future, head coach Scott Owens announced today.

The list of Tigers-to-be includes five forwards and two defensemen. Four will join the team later this year as freshmen on the 2012-13 roster, while three more will arrive in time for the 2013-14 season.
Additions for the ’12-13 campaign are center Cody Bradley of Tampa, Fla., left wing Hunter Fejes of Anchorage, Alaska, and right wing Jared Hanson of Palmer, Alaska, along with defenseman Michael King of Prince George, British Columbia.

“We are very pleased with the talent, skill and character of this group,” said Owens. “Joe and Eric (assistant coaches Joe Bonnett and Eric Rud) have done a great job of bringing this class together. We’re bringing in an excellent mix of hockey ability, size and players who come from winning programs. I’m very excited to see them on the ice in the fall and to watch their development while at Colorado College.”

Bradley, 5-10 and 166 pounds, has played in 15 games for the Dubuque Fighting Saints of the United States Hockey League this season, scoring six goals and adding four assists. In time split between Dubuque and the USHL’s Indiana Ice, he’s collected 18 points (9g,9a) in 31 games. His father, Brian Bradley, played 14 years in the National Hockey League before retiring with 503 career points (182g,321a) in 1998. The Fighting Saints wrap up their regular season this weekend before opening Clark Cup playoffs action as a No. 3 seed in the USHL East.

“Cody is a skilled, clever center iceman,” Owens said. “He has the ability to score goals and to distribute the puck as well. He gets around the sheet very well and is suited to our style of play here at CC.”

Fejes, a standout at Shattuck-St. Mary’s School in Faribault, Minn., is ranked 91st among North American skaters in the final 2012 draft rankings released earlier this week by the National Hockey League. At 6-1 and 191 pounds, he is expected to be selected within the top five rounds in June. Shattuck-St. Mary’s, a perennial powerhouse in the USA Hockey Tier I Under-18 ranks, recently claimed its fifth national championship in nine years with an overall record of 50-5-2. Fejes led the team with 38 goals and finished second with 78 points in 55 games.

“Hunter is a power left wing who also can score,” said Owens. “He has the ability to get to the net front and makes good things happen down low.”

The 6-0, 190-pound Hanson, currently in his second full season with the USHL West-leading Lincoln Stars, has compiled 51 points (26g,25a), four game-winning goals and a +29 plus-minus rating in 53 appearances so far in 2011-12. Lincoln currently leads the second-place Omaha Lancers by one point in the conference standings, with two games to play. The Stars finished fifth in the West Conference during Hanson’s rookie season in 2010-11.

“Jared has had an excellent season for Lincoln,” Owens said. “He’s continued to get better and better all year long. He’s a goal scorer, with 22 of his 26 tallies so far having come in 5-on-5 situations.”

King, 6-4 1/2 and 210 pounds, finished the 2011-12 season with the Lloydminster Bobcats of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He collected 19 points (4g,15a) in 32 games with the Westside Warriors of the British Columbia Junior Hockey League before being traded, then added a power-play goal and two assists in five appearances, including a pair of playoff games, with Lloydminster. In 2010-11, he compiled 23 points (5g,18a) while playing in 48 outings for Westside.

“Michael has very good foot speed and stick skills for a young man his size,” said Owens. That range and mobility will enable him to improve and develop throughout the season as he adjusts to the tempo and rigor of the WCHA.”

Also signing letters of intent to join the Tiger Hockey family a year later, in time for the 2013-14 season and CC’s debut as a member of the of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference, were forwards Matt Hansen of St. Cloud, Minn., and Christian Heil of Westminster, Colo., as well as defenseman Jaccob Slavin of Erie, Colo., who all will play another year of junior hockey before launching their collegiate careers.

“Matt, Christian and Jaccob represent the beginning of a projected, very strong class in 2013,” said Owens, who has compiled a record of 299-185-43 (.608) in 13 years behind the bench. “All three are playing significant minutes for their respective junior teams at this time. Matt has tremendous speed and skill, Christian is a power forward with the ability to make plays and finish, and Jaccob plays both ends of the rink extremely well as an offensive ‘D-man’ who can defend as well. We are extremely pleased to have them as future Tigers and look forward to monitoring their progress next season.”

Hansen, who actually signed his letter of intent previously, currently plays for the Austin (Minn.) Bruins of the North American Hockey League, while Heil and Slavin are teammates with the Chicago Steel of the USHL.

Tigers To Be
Name                Pos.    Hgt.     Wgt.     Shoots        DOB            Hometown                              Arrival at CC

Cody Bradley       C      5-10     166            L           5/26/94          Tampa, Fla./Dubuque (USHL)          2012-13
Hunter Fejes      LW      6-1       191            L           5/31/94         Anchorage/Shattuck-St. Mary’s       2012-13
Christian Heil        F      6-1       178            L           3/25/95         Westminster/Chicago (USHL)         2013-14
Matt Hansen         F     5-10      163            R           5/11/93          St. Cloud, Minn./Austin (NAHL)       2013-14
Jared Hanson    RW     6-0       190            R           1/24/93        Palmer, Alaska/Lincoln(USHL)      2012-13
Michael King        D      6-4 1/2   210            R           1/22/93      Prince George, B.C./(AJHL)          2012-13
Jaccob Slavin      D       6-2       170            L            5/1/94           Erie, Colo./Chicago(USHL)            2013-14

Updated Wednesday reading: CC radio show, TV deal, recruits

Tonight’s monthly Scott Owens radio show is from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at McCabe’s Tavern in downtown Colorado Springs. No doubt they will talk about Denver, which has been getting a spark from freshman Ty Loney of late and reigning WCHA offensive player of the week Luke Salazar.

Coach Scott Owens said two players, yet to be determined, will be there toward the end of the show and radio man Ken Landau is lining up an out-of-town guest for the 7 p.m. slot.

Here are two who have made verbals to North Dakota along with other notes out of Grand Forks. That said, the UND coaches aren’t happy about some losses to the Canadian major junior leagues.

Here’s a MSU Mankato recruit update.

There’s been mixed reaction to The National Collegiate Hockey Conference’s 18-game exclusive TV deal with CBS Sports Network. I think fans may want to wait until their school finalizes their regional and local TV deals before deciding if this was a good deal or not. When you consider CBS SN broadcast 23 TOTAL college hockey games this season and will now broadcast a minimum of 18 NCHC games, including the playiff tournament semifinals and title game, it looks like a strong deal to me. Here’s some more details comparing the NCHC deal with Hockey East and the Big 10.

Odds are, this will lead to more college hockey on TV with games like RIT-Air Force and Air Force-Army likely broadcast games as well. With CBS SN signing Jim Rome to an exclusive talk show deal, it looks like the network is bolstering its lineup, which bodes well for the NCHC getting on board now.

Minnesota-Duluth’s Jack Connolly, a contender for the Hobey Baker, is a finalist for the Lowe’s senior CLASS award.