NHL trade deadline shakes up AHL rosters

Frederic Allard (Photo: Ontario Reign)

📝 by Patrick Williams

The 2022 Calder Cup Playoffs are six weeks away, and it is full speed ahead for an invitation to the event.

With Monday’s National Hockey League trade deadline now having passed, several American Hockey League clubs saw significant roster shake-ups that may impact stretch-drive races across each of the AHL’s four divisions.

In addition, a player had to be on an AHL roster at 3 p.m. ET on Monday to be eligible to be sent down from the NHL at any time for the rest of the season. That requirement led to several top prospects being assigned to an AHL club in order to maintain that eligibility. And more moves could be on the way as well with the AHL’s own trade/loan deadline set for next Monday, March 28, at 3 p.m. ET.

Below is a breakdown of the deadline action and how it could impact AHL clubs as they push toward the Calder Cup Playoffs:


With the North Division standings remarkably tight, the B-Sens fortified themselves. A difference in points percentage of just .021 separates the second-place Laval Rocket (.567) from sixth-place Belleville (.546). Speedy forward Zach Senyshyn, who had 19 goals and 31 points in 51 games for the Providence Bruins, joins the Belleville line-up after Ottawa acquired the 24-year-old from Boston. Ottawa also picked up goaltender Michael McNiven from the Calgary Flames for further organizational goaltending depth.


Affiliated with two NHL organizations, the Checkers not so surprisingly saw considerable change to their roster. With the Panthers in contention for first overall in the NHL, Charlotte lost forward Owen Tippett in a trade to the Philadelphia Flyers that brought Claude Giroux to Florida. However, the Panthers did bring in a pair of Lehigh Valley Phantoms forwards to soften that loss: Connor Bunnaman, who had 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 41 games for the Phantoms, and 2016 first-round pick German Rubtsov, who can get a fresh start after dealing with injuries during his tenure in the Philadelphia organization. Seattle also added a major forward piece for the Checkers in Victor Rask, acquired from the Minnesota Wild; the 28-year-old Rask registered 10 points (two goals, eight assists) in just 10 games for the Iowa Wild.


Two important parts of the Hartford lineup departed Monday. First, one of the costs for the Rangers acquiring center Andrew Copp from the Winnipeg Jets was second-year forward Morgan Barron. But the Rangers did offset that loss with the addition of 24-year-old forward Nick Merkley from the San Jose Sharks. Bringing Merkley back to the Eastern Conference, where he had spent parts of the past two seasons as a New Jersey Devils prospect, did mean losing defenseman Anthony Bitetto, however. Still, the fourth-place Wolf Pack are comfortably in playoff position in the Atlantic Division.


With a new management regime continuing to retool the Canadiens organization, the Rocket came away from Monday with an impressive pair of additions. To start, the Habs acquired defenseman Justin Barron ― Morgan’s younger brother ― from the Colorado Avalanche. The 20-year-old rookie, who went 25th overall in the 2020 NHL Draft to the Avs, made an impressive transition to the AHL level with the Colorado Eagles. A smooth skater with a right-handed shot, Barron posted 20 points (five goals, 15 assists) in 43 games for the Eagles. The Rocket also grabbed an important contributor from a potential postseason opponent in the Utica Comets when Montreal sent goaltender Andrew Hammond to New Jersey for forward Nate Schnarr. Schnarr, who turned 23 on Feb. 25, has had a breakout AHL season in Utica, grabbing 26 points (13 goals, 13 assists) in 43 games. Now he can strengthen an already-formidable group of forwards in Laval.

Owen Tippett (Photo: Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)


It was a hectic Monday in Winnipeg, and that movement extended directly to the Moose. The Copp trade with the Rangers that brought in Morgan Barron gives the Moose a strong scoring threat after he notched 15 points (six goals, nine assists) in 25 games with Hartford. Barron, 23, can immediately slot into the Manitoba top-six as he works toward refining his game. Still early in his career and in need of game experience, Barron can take on a heavy workload during the upcoming busy stretch drive. Winnipeg also sent long-tenured defenseman Nelson Nogier to the Los Angeles Kings for fellow blueliner Markus Phillips.


To make up for the loss of long-time defender Frederic Allard to the Los Angeles Kings organization, Nashville acquired key help for Milwaukee in Alex Biega. The veteran right-shot defenseman, who played 31 games for the Toronto Marlies and contributed seven points (one goal, six assists), also has 243 NHL games to his name. The Allard deal brought useful forward Brayden Burke to the Milwaukee lineup. Burke, 25, logged 31 games with Ontario, where he had 17 points (six goals, 11 assists). He also had a 21-goal season and was an AHL All-Star with the Tucson Roadrunners in 2019-20.


The Reign are on the move as they loaded up for what will be a difficult fight to advance out of the Pacific Division this spring. Ontario added long-time NHL blueliner Thomas Hickey on loan from the New York Islanders; the move represents something of a homecoming for Hickey, who went to Los Angeles as the fourth overall pick in the 2007 NHL Draft. This season in Bridgeport, Hickey supplied 12 points (four goals, eight assists ) in 29 games, and he has also skated in 457 NHL games in his career. Furthermore, the Kings acquiring Allard, 24, gives Ontario a dependable blue-line presence as he gets a new start following parts of five seasons in Milwaukee. Los Angeles wrapped up the retooling of the Ontario defense corps with the addition of Nogier from Winnipeg. The 25-year-old Nogier was a much-respected presence with the Moose and can easily fit into the Ontario lineup. Los Angeles also made top prospects Quinton Byfield, Rasmus Kupari, Jordan Spence, and Gabriel Vilardi eligible to play with Ontario, which clinched a Calder Cup Playoff berth on Tuesday night.


Sixth overall in the AHL, the Thunderbirds already were in good shape going into Monday. Then the Blues added Grand Rapids alternate captain Luke Witkowski in their major trade with the Detroit Red Wings. The physical defenseman played 44 games for the Griffins this season, chipping in seven points (three goals, four assists). “He’s a big, sturdy defender that plays with an edge,” Blues general manager Doug Armstrong told the Blues team website. “We get an (experienced) player we know we can use if necessary if injuries happen.”


Tampa Bay management has long been active in working to shore up any needs there may be in Syracuse. With the Crunch caught in the North Division traffic jam, Tampa Bay brought in center Riley Nash, a veteran of 627 NHL games, from the Arizona Coyotes. The Lightning also sent forward Antoine Morand to the San Jose Sharks for goaltender Alexei Melnichuk, who provides goaltending depth for Syracuse after appearing in 48 games with the San Jose Barracuda over the last two seasons.


Vancouver Canucks rookie forward Vasily Podkolzin is eligible to play for the Abbotsford Canucks after being assigned before Monday’s deadline. The 20-year-old Podkolzin, taken 10th overall in the 2019 NHL Draft, has 16 points (10 goals, six assists) in 61 games with Vancouver… The Colorado Eagles will be able to add forward Alex Newhook at any point; Newhook had 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 10 games for the Eagles earlier in the season and has 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 53 games for the Avs, who made him the 16th pick in the 2019 NHL Draft… Three Buffalo Sabres players could return to the Rochester Americans – forward Peyton Krebs along with defensemen Casey Fitzgerald and Mattias Samuelsson… Forward Matias Maccelli – still the AHL’s top-scoring rookie – and defenseman Vladislav Kolyachonok are eligible to return to Tucson from Arizona… Goaltender Erik Källgren and defenseman Timothy Liljegren were made eligible to compete with the Marlies by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Källgren has made three consecutive starts for the Leafs… The Henderson Silver Knights lost defenseman Derrick Pouliot on waivers to Seattle. The 28-year-old had 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 42 appearances with Henderson… New Jersey made goaltender Nico Daws eligible to return to Utica… 2018 first-rounder Joe Veleno, who has played 47 games with Detroit this season, was made eligible to play in Grand Rapids… Washington Capitals forward Connor McMichael, an AHL All-Rookie Team selection last year, was briefly assigned to Hershey before the deadline… Alex Vlasic, who made his NHL debut with the Chicago Blackhawks after completing his junior year at Boston University last week, is eligible to join Rockford… Second-year pro Thomas Harley, a first-round pick by Dallas in 2019, was made available to return to Texas… Pittsburgh assigned forward Radim Zohorna to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton… Stockton acquired Tyrell Goulbourne from Belleville for future considerations.