Last season, the Carolina Hurricanes didn’t have to work too hard to provide organizational depth for their new AHL affiliate, given that the Chicago Wolves also welcomed in players from the Nashville Predators organization when their AHL team opted out of the season. With the affiliations going back to normal this year, the Hurricanes’ signings as free agency continues are all with an eye towards providing veteran depth for the AHL. Today we look at some recent signings who could play a role for the Hurricanes, but who most likely will be playing the role of experienced veteran for the Wolves.
2020-21 Stats: 5 games played, 0 points (San Jose Sharks); 12 games played, 2 goals, 4 assists (San Jose Barracuda, AHL); 1 game played, 0 points (Toronto Maple Leafs); 4 games played, 1 goal, 2 assists (Toronto Marlies, AHL)
Noesen, a 28-year old veteran of 205 NHL games, is the most likely player of the recent signings to spend time with the Hurricanes this season. A former first-round draft pick, Noesen has bounced around the league in recent years. Injuries earlier in his pro career kept him from ever really reaching his potential, but he’s put in a lengthy career nonetheless. Noesen’s best season was in 2017-18, where he recorded 13 goals and 14 assists with the New Jersey Devils, his best stats in the NHL to date. He’s a sizeable winger who plays with energy and a bit of grit with NHL experience if needed by the Hurricanes.
2020-21 Stats: 21 games played, 2 goals, 3 assists (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, AHL)
Miletic, a 24-year old left winger, spent the previous three seasons in the Pittsburgh Penguins organization after being signed as an undrafted free agent out of the OHL. A 2020 AHL All-Star, Miletic struggled in the 2020-21 season, missing time as he recovered from mononucleosis and eventually being pushed down the depth chart by other players. Miletic spent a significant amount of time on the taxi squad for the Penguins. While he was once thought of as someone next in line for a promotion to the NHL, Miletic’s inability to rebound this past season saw him passed over and he did not receive a qualifying offer from Pittsburgh. At his best, Miletic can play a top-six scoring role for an AHL team, and could provide energy on a bottom six at the NHL level.
2020-21 Stats: 32 games played, 12 goals, 3 assists (San Jose Barracuda)
Letunov, a 25-year old center, stands at 6-foot-4, immediately providing size down the middle for the Wolves. He’s spent his professional career with the San Jose Sharks organization, appearing in three NHL games in 2019-20. With the Barracuda, Letunov helped drive the power play and excelled at setting his teammates up for opportunities. For a player of his size, Letunov could play with a bit more physicality, but does offer speed and a lengthy reach that helps disrupt opposing plays.
2020-21 Stats: 1 game played, 0 points (Buffalo Sabres); 15 games played, 4 goals, 9 assists (Rochester Americans, AHL)
Like many other players stuck between the AHL and NHL, Smith spent much of last season on the taxi squad with his former organization, the Buffalo Sabres. He got into one NHL game when the Sabres’ lineup was decimated due to COVID-19 but otherwise spent the rest of the season in the AHL, when he wasn’t serving as an extra player for the Sabres. Smith is a proven scorer at the AHL, putting in career highs in goals, assists, and total points in 2018-19 with the Rochester Americans. Smith can be a shifty player on the ice and excels when paired with someone who can help drive play and give him opportunities to shoot.
2020-21 Stats: 19 games played, 0 goals, 3 assists (Binghamton Devils, AHL)
Jacobs will be in his sixth full professional season, having spent his career to date in the New Jersey Devils organization. Scoring isn’t necessarily Jacobs’ forte at the professional level, but he does bring a new level of physicality to what will likely be an overall young blue line for the Wolves. His skating and defensive positioning is a strong point and he displays overall strong defensive awareness on ice.
2020-21 Stats: 18 games played, 0 goals, 1 assist (Vancouver Canucks)
Unlike the other recent signed players, Chatfield played all of his games in the NHL last season (along with sitting on the taxi squad for the rest of the time). Chatfield put in three seasons with the Utica Comets before being promoted. While he doesn’t contribute much in terms of scoring — his career high as a professional is seven points in his first AHL season — Chatfield does eat up penalty kill minutes, blocks shots, and has a reputation as a physical defenseman who stays just on the right side of the rulebook.
2020-21 Stats: 1-3-1, 3.33 GAA, 0.893 Sv% (Philadelphia Flyers); 2-1-0, 3.40 GAA, 0.874 Sv% (Lehigh Valley Phantoms, AHL)
With Antoine Bibeau not re-signing with the Hurricanes, Lyon steps in as the organization’s third-string goaltender. Lyon will most likely be splitting starts with second-year goaltender Beck Warm, who joined the Wolves last year on an AHL contract before earning an NHL deal after a stellar start to the season. Lyon has five professional seasons behind him, splitting time between the NHL and AHL each year. Lyon’s biggest claim to fame as a professional is playing in the longest AHL game ever, stopping 94 shots in a five-overtime game against the Charlotte Checkers in 2018. Lyon was well-loved with the Phantoms and will serve as an excellent mentor for Warm and any other young goalies who may find themselves suiting up for the Wolves.
Thanks for everything, Alex!— LehighValleyPhantoms (@LVPhantoms) July 31, 2021
Alex Lyon has been a terrific representative of the team, a great goalie, and an awesome person.
Alex has signed with the Carolina Hurricanes.
With the Phantoms:
75-54-22, 2.75, .913
On May 9, 2018 he won the longest game in AHL history with 94 saves. pic.twitter.com/5moLicvSIX