Overseas Exodus - Zengerle Leaves Lehigh Valley For Sweden

Monday, May 22, 2017
Mark Zengerle is moving on to pro hockey in Sweden in 2017-18. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Zengerle: "I always thought Europe was going to be a destination for me."

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

After just one season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms and three total years of professional hockey in North America, Mark Zengerle is looking forward to the next chapter of his pro hockey playing career in the fall.

Zengerle signed a one-year deal with Linköpings HC last week to play in Sweden's top pro league for next season, following his Phantoms' teammate and good friend Andy Miele (Malmö - SHL) overseas.

It was a little different for Zengerle than Miele, whose move overseas was well in the works even before the Phantoms' season came to an end. For Zengerle, it 'happened quick'. A week to week and a half later the deal was done.

"All of a sudden at the end of the year, I got a few phone calls and heard that they were interested," Zengerle explained of how quickly his deal with Linköping came to be. "With Miele going over and getting to talking, I always thought Europe was going to be a destination for me in my career at some point. I figured it would be a good time to get at it now and try to work my way up the ladder over there."

AHL Thoughts 5/21/17

Sunday, May 21, 2017
Is Jakub Vrana's future in the Washington Capitals organization in question? Photo: Amanda Statland/Highland Park Hockey
Editor's Note: Now that the main source of content for this website - the Lehigh Valley Phantoms beat - has entered its off season, there's going to be a different look this spring/summer before our annual AHL Free Agent Big Board starts to get put together leading up to free agency in July.

New content starts with my 'AHL' Thoughts - a new feature I might roll with weekly/bi-weekly if it receives positive feedback. Let me know in the comments below, on our Facebook page or tweet at @TonyAndrock/@H_P_Hockey with your thoughts.

Since the first AHL Thoughts post I wrote at the beginning of the month went over well with the majority of readers, it's back for a second time - new and improved with a full 30 thoughts around the AHL similar to Elliotte Friedman's oh so popular 30 Thoughts for Sportsnet.

After the jump, my 30 thoughts with news around the AHL. This edition focuses on the AHL's Conference Finals, coaching/management changes around the league and more!

Will Flyers Fill Coaching Vacancy From Within?

Thursday, May 18, 2017
Photos courtesy of Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Promotion From Phantoms Possible?

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

The Philadelphia Flyers - specifically general manager Ron Hextall - will need to hire an additional body to their NHL club's coaching staff this off-season.

Hextall opted not to retain the services of assistant coach Joe Mullen, making the announcement at the team's season-ending news conference back on April 13th shortly following the conclusion of the Flyers' 2016-17 season.

While there isn't a rush to do so right now, and the Flyers will certainly do their due diligence with any potential hire, the question still remains - who will be the newest Flyers assistant coach on staff for the 2017-18 season?

Perhaps the answer won't come from too far away.

Morin Underwent Off-Season Surgery

Friday, May 12, 2017
Sam Morin certainly appears to have gone under the knife recently. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Sam Morin 'rehabbing' off-season surgeries

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

Now that the Lehigh Valley Phantoms season has concluded, been wrapped up with exit interviews and confirmation of players signing overseas for next year has begun the hockey news for teams not still playing in the postseason begins to slow down for the most part.

Yesterday, teams across the AHL released their opponent breakdowns for the 2017-18 season following the American Hockey League's (AHL) announcement of division alignment for the league's 82nd season. The Phantoms haven't 'officially' released their schedule matrix yet, but a league source shared Lehigh Valley's matrix with Highland Park Hockey Friday afternoon.

Follow the link for an exclusive first look at how often the Phantoms will be facing Eastern Conference opponents next season.

The big news today in the Flyers organization comes in the form of some Instagram photos (slow news day, I know!) It certainly appears that defenseman Sam Morin recently underwent off-season surgery to repair what appears to be a right wrist ailment. (EDIT: Flyers GM Ron Hextall confirmed to Philadelphia media Saturday Morin had surgery on both wrists and that it won't cause any setbacks.)

The photos Morin posted to his Instagram page are after the jump in case they are too graphic for some readers.

AHL Division Alignment 2017-18

Thursday, May 11, 2017
The Phantoms will face the Charlotte eight times in 2017-18 season. Photo: Nina Weiss/Highland Park Hockey
Phantoms will face four new teams, visit three new cities in 2017-18

Written by: Tony Androckitis - Twitter/Facebook

The American Hockey League (AHL) announced new changes to the league's divisions for the 2017-18 season on Thursday afternoon. Likewise, some of the league's teams released their schedule breakdowns with how many times they will play their opponents next season with the league beginning regular season play on October 6th.

The division changes confirm what has already been widely reported throughout the spring. The league will remain at 30 teams, meaning the Vegas Golden Knights will not have their own AHL affiliate this upcoming season and will be splitting an affiliate with an existing club.

All three new AHL franchises for the 2017-18 season - Belleville Senators, Binghamton Devils and Laval Rocket - will play in the North Division of the Eastern Conference. The Charlotte Checkers move to the Eastern Conference from the West, joining the always challenging Atlantic Division.

For the first time in at least a decade, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears will be playing against a trio of Western Conference teams - Grand Rapids, Milwaukee and Rockford. Unfortunately for Phantoms fans hoping to see some teams from the Western Conference grace the PPL Center next season, they'll have to wait at least another year. Hopefully the inter-conference play will continue in future years with teams rotating the honors of playing new opponents in the opposing conference.

More news/notes about the AHL's division alignment, the schedule and more after the jump.