- On Sunday, the New York Night announced that D Ed Francis, who had been playing for their minor-league affiliate in Utah, will miss the rest of the season. The 30-year-old Francis suffered a severely broken leg during last Saturday’s game against Minnesota, an injury so severe that it required surgery to reconstruct the leg. In the wake of the injury, Francis announced that he would retire from hockey. (Story here.) To replace Francis on the roster, the Night signed D Gustaf Bergstrom for the rest of the season. Bergstrom recently played a 10-game stint in Halifax, where he recorded a goal and six assists.
- On Friday, the Washington Galaxy traded LW Casey Thurman to the Boston Badgers in exchange for LW Marty “Fish” Pescatelli, D Kermit Kaufman, and a first-round draft pick. (Story here.) In related moves, Boston demoted LW Norris Young to their CHL affiliate in Hartford and promoted D Jackson Creed from Hartford. They also signed D Gerry Michaud to a minor-league deal.
- On Friday, the Night demoted G Sherman Carter to their CHL affiliate in Utah and promoted G Corey Franklin-Lee from Utah. Carter, expected to be New York’s top starter in the next, has been atrocious so far this season. Despite compiling a 5-5-1 record, he has put up a 5.75 GAA and an .861 save percentage. The 20-year-old Franklin-Lee makes his first appearance on an SHL roster; with Utah this season, he has gone 9-4-2 with a 2.82 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
- On Saturday, the Quebec Tigres placed D Kevin Buchanan on the injured list. The veteran blueliner has been plagued by injuries this season; he missed 10 games with an upper-body injury earlier this season. It is unknown whether this latest setback, suffered in the second period of Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Hershey, is an aggravation of his prior injury or a new one. To replace Buchanan on the roster, Quebec recalled D Hampus Olsson from their CHL affiliate in Halifax. Olsson was sent down two weeks ago when Buchanan returned from his prior IL stint; he spent 9 games in the minors, recording 5 points (2 goals, 3 assists). To fill Olsson’s roster spot in Halifax, the Tigres signed veteran D Igor Shovshenkov.
When LW Casey Thurman publicly lamented the direction of the Washington Galaxy franchise in a postgame interview a couple weeks back, it seemed like the star winger’s days with the only SHL team he’d ever played for were numbered. Thurman’s time in the nation’s capital came to an end on Friday, as the Boston Badgers – desperate to spark their flailing offense and climb into contention in the East – acquired him in exchange for a pair of prospects and their first-round pick in the draft.
“I don’t really have words for it, to be honest,” said Thurman. “And you know how much I love talking, so that’s saying something. I thought I was going to be here for my whole career. But I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.”
Once word got out about Thurman’s dissatisfaction with the Galaxy, GM Wilson Shuster found himself flooded with offers from other teams. But Boston was one of the only teams that could fit Thurman’s $4 million salary under the cap without sending salary in return, which reportedly appealed to Galaxy owner Perry Dodge.
In Thurman, the Badgers acquire one of the league’s biggest stars and biggest characters. The 31-year-old went to the SHL Finals twice with Washington, in 2015 and 2016. He’s often among the league’s top scorers, and he holds his own on the defensive end as well. Although he was not producing at his usual offensive pace this season, Thurman was second on the Galaxy in points with 21 (7 goals, 14 assists) at the time of the trade.
“It’s rare to find a player of Casey’s caliber available in midseason,” said Badgers GM Jody Melchiorre. “And when he became available, we went after him aggressively, because he fits the perfect mold of the player we look for. He’s a star who can generate a ton of offense, but he thinks like a grinder. He plays hard the whole 200 feet, and he’s going to be a great leader and mentor for our younger guys.”
To acquire Thurman, the Badgers had to let go of a pair of prized young players. One of them, LW Marty “Fish” Pescatelli, returns to the team that first drafted him. Pescatelli was an 18-year-old rookie when the Galaxy shipped him up to Boston in a deal for LW Charlie Brooks and D Scott Hexton. He blossomed in the Badgers’ system, and was named to the CHL All-Star Game last season. The 20-year-old has struggled to stay healthy this season, but he’s produced when he’s played, with 10 points (5 goals, 5 assists) in 13 games.
“We’re really excited to get Fish back in our organization,” said Shuster. “He’s quick-wristed with a cannon for a shot, and we think that he can grow into the kind of brilliant two-way scorer that Thurm has been for us.”
In addition to Pescatelli, the Galaxy also acquired 22-year-old defenseman Kermit Kaufman. Kaufman is a rugged stay-home defenseman who knows how to sacrifice his body to disrupt opponents’ offensive flow. In 23 games with Boston this season, he recorded no goals and 2 assists, but he had 38 blocks, the third-highest total on the team.
“Kermit has really grown into an elite defenseman,” said Shuster. “He’s got a body like a battering ram; some of our guys have found that out the hard way, when he’s thrown some rough checks at us. We’re building a hard-hitting young defensive corps, and Kermit’s going to fit right in there.”
There’s no question that adding Thurman will boost Boston’s lackluster attack. But will that be enough? At the time of the deal, Boston was tied with Washington for the league’s worst record at 7-14-2, and they were last in the league in goals scored with 54. If Thurman can recover his traditional scoring touch in Badgers green, he should provide a boost. But other players will need to step up as well, most notably goalie Roger Orion and the team’s league-worst penalty-killing unit.
Of course, Melchiorre might not be done dealing. “We’ve still got plenty of cap room to play with, and if we see a chance to improve, I’m not going to hesitate,” the Badgers GM said. “We’re not waiting around.”
- On Tuesday, the Boston Badgers activated D Patrick Banks from the disabled list. Banks, who was out most of the second half of last year due to injury, missed nearly three weeks with an upper-body ailment. The Badgers were very happy to see him back; despite missing almost half of Boston’s games this season, he has the second-highest point total (8) among their defenseman. To accommodate Banks’ return, the Badgers returned D Kermit Kaufman to their farm team in Hartford. Kaufman appeared in 7 games with Boston, recording an assist and a +2 rating.
- On Monday, the Dakota Jackalopes placed star LW “Flyin’ Ryan” Airston on the 10-game DL. Airston was knocked out with an upper-body injury on Sunday against Saskatchewan. Airston’s injury was a major blow to Dakota’s feeble offense, as he is one of their leading scorers. To take his place, the Jackalopes promoted LW Van Dyke Browning from their minor-league affiliate in Idaho. Browning, 20, was off to a strong start in Idaho (2 goals and 4 assists in 9 games); he made his SHL debut on Thursday against Kansas City
- On Friday, the Boston Badgers placed D Patrick Banks on the 10-game DL. Banks suffered an upper-body injury during Thursday’s game against Quebec. It’s the second injury-marred season in a row for Banks, who missed most of 2018’s second half after suffering a broken leg and torn ACL. To fill Banks’ roster spot, Boston called up D Kermit Kaufman from their minor-league affiliate in Hartford. The 21-year-old Kaufman, who appeared in 21 games for the Badgers last season, recorded 3 assists in 11 games with Hartford.
- Also on Friday, the Quebec Tigres placed D Richard McKinley on the DL. McKinley left Thursday’s contest against Boston with an upper-body injury; he is expected to be out of action for up to 4 weeks. McKinley was one of Quebec’s top blueliners, posting 8 points (4 goals, 4 assists) and a +7 rating. The Tigres promoted RW Luc LePettier from their CHL affiliate in Maine to fill the open roster slot. LePettier had recorded 4 goals and 5 assists on the season with the Moose.
- On the good-news front for Quebec, they activated LW Stellan Fisker on Saturday. Fisker went on the DL with a lower-body injury during the season’s opening week. Fisker was an essential piece of last year’s Eastern Division-winning Tigres squad, as he scored 23 goals and anchored the second line.
- On Saturday, the Kansas City Smoke demoted G Brooks Copeland to their affiliate in Omaha, and called up G Bill Bates from Omaha. The Smoke’s 4.30 GAA and .875 save percentage are worst in the league, both by significant margins. Copeland is off to a dismal start between the pipes, going 0-5-0 with a 5.00 GAA and an .843 save percentage. He lost the starting netminder job this to rookie Jim Fleetwood. With Omaha this season, Bates recorded a 4-2-1 record with a 2.51 GAA and a .907 save percentage.