The Newfoundland Growlers should be announcing their first player signing soon, and there’s a good chance it will be a player from this province.
However, don’t expect it to be defenceman Alex Wall.
The Growlers were more than interested in having Wall, a 27-year-old from St. John’s, on their roster for their inaugural ECHL season. After all, the former QMJHL and Canadian university standout already had proven himself in the ECHL, scoring 44 points in 66 games with the Adirondack Thunder in 2016-17, a season that also saw him get into a couple of contest with the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets.
But it appears Wall, who spent last season with a team in Norway’s top league, will be remaining in Europe; he recently signed on with the Vienna Capitals of Austria’s top circuit.
But Wall is believed to be just one Newfoundland player the Growlers have been considering.
Others include defencemen Adam Holwell and James Melindy, and forward Marcus Power.
Holwell, the rearguard from St. John’s who wrapped up his major junior career by helping the QMJHL’s Acadie-Bathurst Titan win a Memorial Cup championship, recently attended the summer development camp of the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Growlers’ NHL affiliate, as an invited player.
Melindy, who is from Goulds, has played nearly 300 professional games since graduating from the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. That includes 53 games last season with the ECHL’s Utah Grizzlies. In all, the 24-year-old, 6-3, 205-pound Melindy — a former third-round draft pick of the NHL’s Phoenix (now Arizona) Coyotes — has 583 penalty minutes in 236 ECHL games.
Power, who is from St. John’s, brings a much different skill set than Melindy.
The 24-year-old Power (he turns 25 later this week), was the QMJHL’s second-leading scorer in 2013-14 when he had 109 points for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, second only to present-day Detroit Red Wing Anthony Mantha.
Since then, he’s spent four years at the collegiate level with the UPEI Panthers, finishing up his university career with 29 points in 30 games in 2017-18.
Besides players, the Growlers also need to announce an assistant coach (or coaches) for bench boss Ryane Clowe, and to fill out their training staff. In all cases, these will all be hires of the Maple Leafs, who will also be supplying a good portion of players for the expansion ECHL team.
Toronto has already appeared to have done a great deal of work that could result in their stocking the Growlers. Toronto has been busy signing players for the AHL’s Toronto Marlies, players who would be eligible to be assigned to Newfoundland. That includes forward Zach O’Brien, who split last season between the ECHL and AHL.