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Hurricanes continue to add organizational depth with more signings

With the NHL roster largely set, the Hurricanes have looked to fill out their AHL roster.

Los Angeles Kings v Vancouver Canucks

UPDATE: The Hurricanes announced Thursday morning that they’ve signed goaltender Antoine Bibeau to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will pay him $700,000 at the NHL level or $70,000 at the AHL level next season.

Bibeau missed most of last season with a hip injury, but appeared in two games for the Colorado Avalanche, going 1-0 with a 3.27 goals-against average, and also played two games for the AHL’s Colorado Eagles.

Bibeau was drafted 172nd overall by the Maple Leafs in 2013 and has a 2-1 career NHL record with a .907 save percentage and 2.54 goals-against average.

“Antoine is coming off a hip injury, but is fully healthy now,” general manager Don Waddell said in the team’s official release. “He’s a veteran netminder with some NHL experience and adds to the depth of our organization at that position.”

With the Carolina Hurricanes’ NHL lineup nearly set, the organization has been honing in on signing depth players who will most likely see a vast majority, if not all, of their time playing for the AHL’s Chicago Wolves.

In addition to re-signing a quartet of players who spent time with the Charlotte Checkers last season — David Gust, Steven Lorentz, Spencer Smallman, and Clark Bishop — the Hurricanes have also added a set of new players with a wealth of professional experience who will help fill out the AHL roster.

On Wednesday, the Hurricanes announced the signing of veteran forward Drew Shore to a one year, two-way contract. Shore’s deal would pay him $700,000 in the NHL and $150,000 in the AHL.

Shore, a former second-round pick of the Florida Panthers, has 94 NHL games to his name over parts of six seasons, and was last seen in North America in the 2016-17 season, when he played 14 games for the Vancouver Canucks at the end of the regular season. He also has 205 AHL games, 61 KHL games, and 90 National (Swiss) League games on his resume, making him automatically one of the more experienced players who will likely suit up for the Chicago Wolves in the 2020-21 season.

Shore primarily plays center and has a fairly strong two-way game. He has shown flashes of creativity, particularly when he played in Switzerland, but has never been able to translate his game to the NHL level. His time in the NHL was fairly unremarkable and, aside from a brief stint getting major minutes for the Panthers, has largely been in a bottom-six type role.

Fun side note, Shore is the eldest of four hockey-playing brothers, two of whom played in the Los Angeles Kings organization. The youngest played in the Chicago suburbs for the USHL’s Chicago Steel before beginning his collegiate career at Harvard.

As reported last week, the Hurricanes also signed Jeremy Bracco and Sheldon Rempal to one-year contracts.

Bracco, initially drafted 61st overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2015, has been known as a good playmaker with strong passing skills and overall vision on the ice. He took a somewhat non-traditional route to professional hockey, playing first in the United States National Team Development Program before going to Boston College, which he left after five games to go to the OHL instead.

While he may have had more opportunities in the OHL, he didn’t do much to separate himself from his peers, and his experience in the AHL was much of the same. Bracco never quite managed to distinguish himself in the Toronto Marlies’ lineup and found himself quickly passed up by other prospects in the Toronto system who perhaps worked a little harder to get themselves noticed.

Bracco did take a personal leave of absence from the Marlies in the 2019-20 season and is known to have asked for a trade. The Maple Leafs clearly never found a trade partner to their liking, and Bracco finished last season in the AHL with 34 points in 44 games.

His game tends to be a bit one-dimensional and he sees most of his success on the power play. His inability to get much of anything going at even strength, coupled with the fact that he never managed to distinguish himself from the class of young, talented prospects in Toronto’s system, made it highly unlikely that he was going to get much of an opportunity to prove that he has what it takes to make it in the NHL.

Sheldon Rempal, a 25-year old winger, played two seasons in the Los Angeles Kings organization after signing as an undrafted free agent out of Clarkson University. Standing somewhere around 5-foot-10, Rempal plays a fearless game and has some pretty blazing speed at his disposal but can be frustratingly inconsistent.

In his first year with the Ontario Reign, he scored eight points in his first four games, earning himself a brief call-up to the NHL. The next month, he scored 12 points in nine games, earned himself AHL Rookie of the Month honors for November, and received another call-up. He was streaky though, going on a lengthy pointless streak at the end of the 2018-19 season. Despite that, he still finished the season with 40 points in 59 games and was considered a budding talent for the Kings.

Rempal’s 2019-20 season was a huge step back for him, scoring just four goals in 56 games. In a season where I’d wanted to see him take a step forward and become more of a leader on the team, he regressed and found himself getting bounced around the lineup. While he has potential, the fact that the Kings have an influx of new talent coming into the professional ranks means that there just wasn’t room for Rempal in the AHL.

When I talked to Rempal after his first home game with the Reign in 2018, he talked about being a player who needs confidence to be successful. Perhaps a change of scenery, with a new coaching staff who won’t have any preconceived notions about him, will help Rempal regain his rookie-season form. He isn’t too far removed from the high-scoring season which saw him named an AHL All-Star.