AHL Teams Start Filling Roster Holes Left By Departure Of NHL Players

By Jonathan Katje
Patrick Rissmiller
Russell LaBounty – USA TODAY Sports

As NHL teams begin to pull their players in the AHL back for training camps, AHL teams will have to scramble to fill their rosters. The Worcester Sharks (San Jose Sharks) started that process Tuesday by adding AHL veteran Patrick Rissmiller, a one-time Shark, to a tryout contract. The team also added Michael Wilson, a defenseman who has spent this season with the ECHL’s Orlando Solar Bears.

Rissmiller has appeared in NHL action for four teams, most recently the Florida Panthers. In almost 200 games, he has 18 goals and 29 points, and has twice been an All-Star at the AHL level. The past three seasons have seen him skate for the Grand Rapids Griffins (Detroit Red Wings), Lake Erie Monsters (Colorado Avalanche) and Rochester Americans (then-Panthers, now-Buffalo Sabres).

Another team signing a former NHLer to an AHL deal was the Houston Aeros (Minnesota Wild), who added defenseman Paul Mara to their roster. A former first round pick of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Mara has scored 64 goals in a career that spans over 700 games. He has also played for the Montreal Canadiens, Anaheim Ducks, New York Rangers, Boston Bruins and Phoenix Coyotes.

Expect more moves like this in the coming weeks and a lot of ECHL players being recalled by their respective AHL teams. While the lockout’s end will make a pretty good dent in the AHL talent pool, it is going to severely impact the ECHL the rest of the month and possibly the rest of the season. Thankfully for these minor league teams, the lockout did little to boost attendance any more than normal, so they can expect fans to keep coming out, even if the NHL talent is (mostly) gone.

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