The Grand Rapids Griffins on Monday announced that they have re-signed left wing Jeff Hoggan and defenseman Nathan Paetsch and have signed left wing Triston Grant, who returns to the team following a one-year absence. Paetsch inked a two-year deal while Hoggan and Grant each signed one-year contracts.
The trio led the Griffins to their first Calder Cup championship in 2012-13 and will again provide the team’s veteran foundation in 2015-16 under new head coach Todd Nelson
Hoggan, 37, returns for his fourth season as Grand Rapids’ captain, making his tenure the longest in franchise history. One of only two Griffins to appear in every regular season (76) and playoff (16) game in 2014-15, he replicated his scoring totals from the previous campaign, contributing 14 goals, 17 assists and 31 points to go with a plus-23 rating that placed fourth on the club and tied for 12th in the AHL.
The recipient of the 2014-15 Fred T. Hunt Award as the American Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of sportsmanship, determination and dedication to hockey, Hoggan helped guide the Griffins to their second Midwest Division title and second Western Conference Finals appearance in his three years in West Michigan. His seven assists (3rd) and nine points (T5th) in the postseason both placed among the team’s best, and his leadership in the opening round against Toronto – including a memorable Game 3 victory, when he set the tone with a physical, disruptive performance – sparked the Griffins to become just the 11th team in AHL history to win a best-of-five series after trailing 0-2.
Hoggan, who alongside Paetsch has won seven of nine playoff series as a Griffin, ranks among Grand Rapids’ all-time postseason leaders with 50 games played (T2nd), 11 goals (T8th), 15 assists (7th) and 26 points (4th). Through 211 regular season contests (T26th), he places among the franchise’s best with 48 goals (T22nd), 59 assists, 107 points (T22nd) and a plus-31 rating (T17th) to go with 101 penalty minutes.
Preparing for his 14th pro season after being undrafted out of the University of Nebraska-Omaha, Hoggan won his first Calder Cup as a rookie in 2003 with the Houston Aeros. The Hope, B.C., native has logged 318 points (159—159—318) in 623 AHL contests with Grand Rapids, San Antonio, Providence, Worcester and Houston, while also registering 11 points (2-9—11) in 107 NHL games with Phoenix, Boston and St. Louis.
The 32-year-old Paetsch, who has served as an alternate captain throughout Hoggan’s captaincy, has made his mark as one of the most prolific offensive blueliners during the Griffins’ 19-year history. His eight goals in 2014-15 equaled the total from his first two seasons in Grand Rapids, his 30 assists ranked second on the team, and his 38 points tied for fifth overall on the team and 12th among AHL defensemen, marking his highest-scoring season since 2005-06 with Rochester (50).
Thanks to a plus-24 rating last season that ranked sixth among AHL defensemen, Paetsch now stands sixth all time on the Griffins and third among rearguards with a career rating of plus-55. In 213 games (T24th) with Grand Rapids, he has accumulated 16 goals, 84 assists (T12th overall/2nd among defensemen) and 100 points, becoming the 31st player and third defenseman in franchise history to reach the century mark.
After chipping in four assists in 16 appearances during the 2015 playoffs, Paetsch ranks among the Griffins’ all-time postseason leaders with 50 games played (T2nd) and 20 assists (4th)/20 points (T13th). Among defensemen, only Travis Richards (4-21—25) has registered more playoff assists or points for Grand Rapids.
Paetsch has scored 203 points (45-158—203) in 462 AHL games with Grand Rapids, Syracuse and Rochester, along with 42 points (7-35—42) in 167 NHL contests with Columbus and Buffalo during his 12 professional seasons. The LeRoy, Saskatchewan, native was Buffalo’s 8th choice (202nd overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
Grant, 31, reunites with his Calder Cup brethren after spending the 2014-15 season with the Milwaukee Admirals, where he posted career highs in goals (13), assists (13, tied) and points (26), tied for eighth in club scoring and ranked third in penalty minutes with 123 over 73 games.
During his initial two-year stint with the Griffins (2012-14), the Neepawa, Manitoba, native appeared in 126 games, posting 26 points (10-16—26) with a plus-seven rating. His 299 penalty minutes slot him into 17th place in franchise history.
After contributing 10 points (4-6—10) and leading the Griffins with 196 PIM over a career-high 75 games during his first season in Grand Rapids, Grant chipped in four points (2-2—4) and played in all 24 playoff games during the team’s run to the 2013 Calder Cup. While only appearing in 51 games during his second season in 2013-14, he still improved his totals in each scoring category (6-10—16), notched a plus-six rating and finished third on the Griffins with 103 PIM.
Grant, a 10-year pro who was Philadelphia’s 10th choice (286th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, has registered 153 points (73-80—153) and 1,688 PIM in 634 AHL games with Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Oklahoma City, Rochester and Philadelphia. He has also seen action in 11 NHL games with Nashville and Philadelphia, showing one assist and 19 PIM.