Best Available AHL-Level Free Agents

Saturday, July 30, 2016
Despite a strong 2015-16 season, goaltender Michael Leighton remains a free agent heading into the month of August. Photo: Amanda Statland
Almost a month into hockey's free agency period and there are still several unsigned free agents who were key contributors to their previous AHL clubs in 2015-16.

To keep track of all the AHL-level free agent signings this off-season, stay tuned here. Here's my 2016 Free Agent Tracker and a team-by-team list of who is signed for the upcoming season as well as where each team's respective free agents have moved on to.

The following is a list of five forwards, five defensemen and five goaltenders still available that can be difference makers in the AHL in the upcoming 2016-17 season.

I'll be linking to this often, but for those interested in helping me continue to travel across the east coast covering the AHL in the upcoming 2016-17 can do so by sharing/donating to my GoFundMe page. Every little bit helps, and sharing the page to others who might be interested is just as important. Help spread the word!

Zengerle Hopes to Push Phantoms into Postseason

Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Mark Zengerle (#9 on right) is looking forward to transitioning to the AHL's Eastern Conference with Lehigh Valley in the fall. Photo: Amanda Statland
After another disappointing season ended with the Philadelphia Flyers' AHL affiliate missing the postseason for the seventh straight season, management made it clear that they're looking to turn things around in Lehigh Valley for the upcoming season.

The Flyers signed top-ranked AHL-level free agent forward Andy Miele, formerly of the Grand Rapids Griffins, shortly after the free agency period began on July 1st. A few days later, the Phantoms inked Miele's teammate and roommate on the road Mark Zengerle to an AHL contract for 2016-17.

"It was really funny how it worked out when I called him and told him I signed with Lehigh Valley," Zengerle said in a recent 1-on-1 interview, recalling a recent conversation he had with Miele at the beginning of free agency. "He couldn’t believe it. It’s awesome, he’s a great guy and it makes it easier for sure."

"It takes the nerves off you a little bit when there’s a familiar face there," Zengerle added. "A guy that knows the style you play. We played together for a couple years – same line, power play, stuff like that. Just to have that comfort level makes it easier when you get there."

While Zengerle hasn't had any talks with Phantoms' head coach Scott Gordon since signing with the team earlier this month, the way he plays appears to be a perfect fit in the way Gordon wants his team to play - a structured two-way game with speed and skill.

Preliminary Projected AHL Rosters For 2016-17

Monday, July 18, 2016
The American Hockey League rosters are beginning to take shape for the upcoming 2016-17 season. Photo: Amanda Statland
Now that the dust has settled after a multitude of free agent signings in the first two and a half weeks of July, it's never too early to take a look at how AHL rosters across the league are taking shape for the 2016-17 season.

Several NHL general managers made it a point to stockpile their AHL affiliate with both depth and talent, while others re-signed their in-house free agents across the board to solidify their respective team needs. After taking a look through the 30 teams' current projected rosters, comment below on who you think the top three rosters in each conference are.

After the jump, an updated team-by-team look at some new names on the 30 AHL rosters as well as where their in-house free agents have signed so far. As always, be sure to check out my 2016 AHL Free Agent Tracker to see which AHL-level free agents are still available.

I'll be linking to this often, but for those interested in helping me continue to travel across the east coast covering the AHL in the upcoming 2016-17 can do so by sharing/donating to my GoFundMe page. Every little bit helps, and sharing the page to others who might be interested is just as important. Help spread the word!

AHL's New Fighting Rules Leave Goulbourne Unaffected

Sunday, July 17, 2016
Tyrell Goulbourne isn't going to think twice about dropping the gloves with the Phantoms in 2016-17. Photo: Nina Weiss
The American Hockey League may have added some new rules in regards to fighting, but Lehigh Valley Phantoms forward Tyrell Goulbourne doesn’t think there will be too much of a difference around the league this fall. He certainly isn’t going to change the way he plays.

“Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to change a thing in my game. I will not play any different,” Goulbourne replied when asked if he’ll have to think twice about dropping the gloves in the 2016-17 season.

Under the new rules, any player who accrues 10 fighting majors in the regular season will receive an automatic one-game suspension for his 10th fight. In addition, if a player reaches 13 fights each subsequent fighting major will result in a two-game suspension.

There are also rules deterring players from fighting before, during or immediately after a face-off, with those choosing to do so receiving an automatic game misconduct. Under this new rule, Goulbourne and ex-Phantoms forward Zack Stortini would have been suspended for this altercation off the opening face-off of a game last season.

“If I get 10 fights, I get 10 fights. If I get suspended for a game, it’s whatever it is. But I can’t see myself getting that many and being worried about it. I’m going to play the same way every single game,” Goulbourne explained. “If there’s a cheap shot or a time where I have to stand up for a teammate or get the energy change I’ll do it even if I’m at 10 fights. It’s not going to make a difference to me.”

Flyers Development Camp Wrap Up, Phantoms Roster Notes

Monday, July 11, 2016
The Flyers' prospects took part in a 3-on-3 tournament this afternoon in Voorhees, NJ. Photo: Nina Weiss
The on-ice portion of the Philadelphia Flyers annual development camp wrapped up Monday with the three-on-three tournament yesterday afternoon, and a day on the beach at Trial on the Isle Tuesday is all that remains before the organization's prospects head home to finish their summer training.

Then, they'll come back to the Flyers Skate Zone for training camp in mid-September.

Between now and then, I'll be delving into the numerous interviews I conducted over the weekend at camp featuring many guys who will be key contributors on the Lehigh Valley Phantoms this fall - guys like defensemen Sam Morin, Robert Hagg, Travis Sanheim, forwards Cole Bardreau, Tyrell Goulbourne, Danick Martel and goaltender Alex Lyon.

After the jump, the latest on the projected Phantoms' roster after the Flyers signed two forwards today.