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A Few Good Vets: Options for the 2019-20 Hartford Wolf Pack


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Like in the NHL, teams in the AHL want to win first and foremost. But the AHL is also unique in that it simultaneously serves as an on-the-fly developmental league expected to transition players through its ranks to the NHL. This makes productive veterans who also serve as leaders on and off the ice crucial to the team?s success, despite the fact that most of them go largely unthanked for it.


The right ones, in fact, can have a supremely positive effect on the developing psyche and mental fortitude of young players learning what it means to be a professional. These veteran players serve not only as valuable on-ice contributors in these cases, helping their team to win games, if not championships, but also as mentors.


As fate would have it, in fact, Letestu himself is set to enter free agency again this summer. Who better than the man himself when looking for your own version of him?


At the age of 34, and given his low NHL scoring totals over the last two years in which he?s collected just 23 points over 82 games, how amenable would he be to a a move from Cleveland to Hartford? Perhaps more than you might think given how well he took his assignment to Cleveland in the first place.



Rather than viewing the shift to the Monsters as some kind of personal failure, Letestu opted to embrace the opportunity as a chance to impart the wisdom of a near-600 game NHL career on impressionable young minds.


?I like playing and competing and that?s why I am here,? Letestu said back in December of 2018. ?With that being said, when you?re the elder statesman in the room, any chance you have to lend knowledge or experience to guys and help them along in their careers? I get excited about that now.?


It?s not so difficult to see why JD was so willing to exalt him as a shining example of what he?s after.


In a similar vein, what about a return ticket for Chris Mueller? The 33-year-old played in just seven games for the Rangers back in 2014-15, but had 40 points in 64 games with the Wolf Pack that same season. He?s spent the last four years in the AHL where he won a Calder Cup with the 2017-18 Toronto Marlies. He finished second in scoring on that team with 65 points in 60 games.


Marlies? head coach Sheldon Keefe seemed especially impressed by Mueller?s decision to join his team, declaring him ?an ultra-competitor.?


?He?s got a desire to win that I haven?t seen,? Keefe said of the veteran this past January. ?I don?t know in a lot of cases that actually winning the Calder Cup is too high on players? priority list.?



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Good points. I'm a big believer of vets in the room showing the pups the right way to play. given the movement towards youth in the NHL, there should in reality be no scarcity of 30 something vets that really cannot compete in todays NHL but would be a prime fit for the A.


It's part of the reason given the 3 ominous defense contracts we have on the books right now that I'm most interesting in keeping Staal.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Well, the 34-year-old center will become a free agent Monday. It would be no surprise if the Rangers recruit him with a two-way offer under which he would be paid upward of $400,000, perhaps $500,000, as a member of the Wolf Pack.

There is no cap as applies to minor league payrolls, but just you wait, let the Rangers flex their financial muscle in such a way this summer and the small-market criers will put it on Sixth Avenue?s bargaining agenda for the next round of talks.





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