Cal O’Reilly might return to the Utica Comets for the 2014-15 American Hockey League season, but fellow center Pascal Pelletier, the team’s leading scorer, will not.
The Vancouver Canucks, the Comets’ parent club, announced Wednesday they had signed O’Reilly, center Dustin Jeffrey, who helped the Texas Stars wins the Calder Cup this season, and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti.
Pelletier, an AHL veteran who scored 22 goals and had 40 assists in 69 games, has signed to play with Medvascek Zagreb of the Kontinental Hockey League. He was an assistant captain and a mainstay on the Comets’ power play and penalty kill.
O’Reilly, 27, who has played for three different National Hockey League teams, joined the Comets in mid-November after playing in the KHL. He scored seven goals and added 38 assists in 52 games, and was a key member of the power play and penalty kill.
Jeffrey, 26, who has spent time in the NHL with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Dallas Stars, scored four goals and six assists in 21 games with the Stars, playing for new Canucks coach Willie Desjardins, then added seven goals and five assists in 19 playoff games.
Sanguinetti, 26, played 15 games in the KHL last season, scoring two goals and adding five assists. He has played 45 games in the NHL with the New York Rangers, who drafted him 21st overall in 2006, and Carolina Hurricanes.
The Canucks did not announce it, but it is believed defenseman Alex Biega, who scored three goals and had 19 assists in 73 games for the Comets last season, also has signed with the NHL club.
The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed goaltender Joe Cannata, who spent last season with the Utica Comets.
The Canucks also re-signed forward Zack Kassian and defenseman Yannick Weber on Friday.
Cannata, a 24-year-old native of Wakefield, Massachusetts, was 11-12-1 in 28 games with the Comets. He had a 2.83 goals against average and a .907 save percentage in his third American Hockey League season.
Kassian had 29 points (14 goals, 15 assists) and 124 penalty minutes in 73 games for the Canucks last season.
“Zack is a skilled, young player and an important member of this team,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a statement. “He has the ability to impact a game both with his talent and size. We look forward to seeing him continue to develop as a Canuck.”
Weber, who split last season between Vancouver and the Utica Comets of the AHL, had 10 points in 49 games for Vancouver.
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The Vancouver Canucks have re-signed defenseman Peter Andersson, who spent last season with the Utica Comets in the American Hockey League.
The 6-foot-3, 194-pound Andersson, 23, scored two goals and had 11 assists in 58 games for the Comets in his second season in the AHL. He had a goal and seven assists in 42 games during the 2012-13 season with the Chicago Wolves, the Canucks’ previous AHL affiliate.
The Canucks previously signed goalie Joe Cannata, defenseman Alex Biega, and center Cal O’Reilly, all of whom played for the Comets last season, along with center Dustin Jeffrey and defenseman Bobby Sanguinetti.
Travis Green could have been working in the National Hockey League next season. Instead, he expects to return to as head coach of the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets.
Green was offered a job as an assistant to Mike Johnston, the new coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, but turned it down. Green was Johnston’s assistant for five seasons with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League. He took over the team for the second half of the 2012-13 season, when Johnston was suspended.
“Mike Johnston is a phenomenal career coach,” Green said, adding that he had learned a great deal from him. “I have goals and aspirations, and they are to be a head coach in the NHL. I felt it was important for me to continue down the path I laid, and I feel I need to be a head coach a longer period of time.”
The former long-time NHL player coached the Comets to a 35-32-5-4 record in their inaugural season in 2013-14. The team just missed the Calder Cup playoffs after a disastrous 0-8-2 start.
Green said being a head coach in the AHL is the best way for him to get to the NHL, at least at the moment.
“It’s not any different than a player,” he said. “You move up and move up and when you’re ready, you’re ready. … I feel the AHL is a great breeding ground for coaches and players. I want to build a program and be part of a program that is going to produce NHL players and produce a championship. I’m looking forward to building on what we started last year.”
Green said he likes what he sees in a revamped Canucks organization led by the new team of President Trevor Linden, General Manager Jim Benning and new head coach Willie Desjardins, who led the Texas Stars to the Calder Cup this past season.
“I’ve been impressed with the commitment they have to developing players and developing winning players,” he said.
Green said he will miss Pascal Pelletier, the Comets’ leading scorer who recently signed to play in Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League.
“It was kind of expected,” he said. “I understood his decision. Your veterans are so important. But we’re going to have some good veterans again, and your younger veterans have to take the next step and be better than they were a year ago.”