Thursday buzz: Roadrunners add Kampfer to blue line

Photo: Mark Newman

📝 by Patrick Williams

Help is on the way for the Tucson Roadrunners.

Locked in a Pacific Division playoff chase, the Roadrunners got an assist Thursday when the parent Arizona Coyotes acquired veteran defenseman Steven Kampfer from the Detroit Red Wings for future considerations.

Kampfer, who recorded 22 points in 44 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins this season, will report to Tucson to help a blue line that has undergone significant changes in the past month. The Roadrunners lost Dysin Mayo in a trade with Vegas on Feb. 22, and saw Cam Dineen head to Edmonton in a deal for Michael Kesselring, who made his Tucson debut on Saturday. Victor Soderstrom has been on recall to Arizona since Feb. 11.

The move to the Coyotes organization reunites Kampfer with Tucson general manager John Ferguson, who had the same role with the Providence Bruins when Kampfer was there earlier in his career. Kampfer’s extensive experience includes an appearance in the Stanley Cup Final with Boston in 2019.

Tucson currently holds the seventh and last playoff spot in the Pacific Division, three points ahead of San Jose. The Roadrunners’ playoff chase continues with a trip to Milwaukee for games Friday and Saturday.

Another first-round pick is on his way to the Cleveland Monsters after the Columbus Blue Jackets signed Corson Ceulemans on Tuesday. The 19-year-old defenseman out of the University of Wisconsin went 25th overall to Columbus in the 2021 NHL Draft. His entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets will begin next season; in the meantime, he will play on an AHL tryout deal with Cleveland for the remainder of this campaign.

As a sophomore at Wisconsin, Ceulemans led his club’s defense corps in goals (eight), assists (15) and points (23) in 2022-23.

Columbus also assigned another 2021 first-round pick, forward Cole Sillinger, to the Monsters before last Friday’s NHL trade deadline, making him eligible to be loaned the Cleveland any time over the remainder of the season. Sillinger, also 19, has already played 137 games with Columbus over the last two seasons after going 12th overall in the 2021 draft. Sillinger’s older brother, Owen, is in his first full season with Cleveland after playing four years at Bemidji State University. Their father, Mike, had an 18-year pro career that included a Calder Cup championship with the Adirondack Red Wings in 1992.

Cleveland also has had rookie defenseman David Jiricek for most of this season. Jiricek, who turned 19 in November, was selected sixth in last July’s NHL Draft and has had a standout season with the Monsters, posting 30 points in 39 games to rank third in scoring among AHL rookie defensemen.

All three top prospects could gain valuable postseason experience if the Monsters can push their way into the North Division playoff field. Cleveland sits two points behind Laval for the fifth and final playoff spot in the North as they prepare to visit Grand Rapids on Saturday.

Injuries in net at the NHL level have impacted the goaltending picture for the Henderson Silver Knights.

With Laurent Brossoit and Logan Thompson already injured, and Adin Hill absent from practice on Wednesday, the Vegas Golden Knights recalled Jiri Patera from Henderson. That left the Silver Knights with Isaiah Saville making just his second AHL start of the season at Coachella Valley on Wednesday night, backed up by 50-year-old goaltending coach Fred Brathwaite.

On Thursday, Henderson brought up Jordan Papirny from Savannah, its ECHL affiliate. Papirny, 26, is 7-6-4 in 19 games with Savannah this season after signing an AHL contract with the Silver Knights last June. This is his first full professional season after playing major junior and Canadian college hockey.

Henderson’s five-game road trip continues this weekend with games at San Diego on Friday and Saturday.