Jonathan Paiement began the season with the Albany River Rats, though his initial stay was a short one.
The defenseman was farmed out to ECHL Florida in mid-October after playing in the Rats’ season opener. A month later Paiement was back, apparently to stay.
Entering the weekend, Paiement — signed to a one-year, two-way AHL-ECHL deal on Sept. 11 — had played in 28 of 29 games following his Nov. 12 recall. He has quietly but effectively worked his way into the Rats’ defensive rotation that has had four players — captain Tim Conboy, Brett Carson, Casey Borer and Bryan Rodney — see NHL time with the Carolina Hurricanes this season.
“He’s been great since he’s been back up from Florida,” head coach-GM Jeff Daniels said. “He’s played well enough that his spot in the lineup, game in and game out, it’s there. He’s playing ahead of some guys under contract.”
One of them is defenseman Noah Babin, scouted and signed by Hall of Famer Ron Francis for the Carolina Hurricanes. Babin was assigned to Florida Jan. 2.
“At one point when we had 10 defensemen here, I called them all in and said that ice time was going to be based on performance,” Daniels said. “It didn’t matter if you were an older guy or a rookie; if you deserve the ice time, you’ll play.
“Jonathan’s the perfect example of that. We have a lot of confidence in him, no matter if it’s five-on-five, power play or penalty kill. He deserves to be on the ice, so he’ll play.”
An eighth-round pick of the Rangers in 2004, Paiement, 23, played 37 games for the Hershey Bears to end last season, with two goals and 11 assists, and dressed in all five Calder Cup playoff games. Paiement also saw AHL time with the Rockford IceHogs, scoring two goals in three games.
In Florida, Paiement played for Malcom Cameron, who was his coach last season with ECHL Texas.
“He spoke highly of him,” Daniels said. “He coached him for a couple of years and definitely felt he could play in this league. Obviously, he did play last year in Hershey for a fair bit. I think it was more of a numbers thing in Hershey, I’m not sure, but we’re fortunate to have him on our team.”
In addition to solid defensive play, Paiement is starting to chip in, offensively. After picking up four assists in his first 25 games, he had five in a three-game stretch entering the weekend, including a career-high three in a 6-4 win at Hershey.
“We’re in a situation here whether you’re a first-round draft pick or an eighth-round draft pick, if you’re ready to perform and play, I’ll play ya,” Daniels said. “Jon’s in a case where he has to bring it every day, and he knows that. The way he’s doing it right now, he’s here to stay, and he deserves it.”
Rochester goalie Mike Brodeur, who had been on a 25-game pro tryout, was signed to a standard AHL contract last week.
Brodeur had been toiling with ECHL Augusta, but was given a chance by the struggling Amerks after the Lynx ceased operations Dec. 2.
Since his season debut Dec. 4, Brodeur had won eight of 13 decisions (8-4-1) and led the AHL in goals-against (1.59) and save percentage (.944). Prior to his arrival, Rochester was 3-18-0-2.
“This guy is legitimately a prospect for the NHL,” Jack Birch, director of player personnel for the Florida Panthers, the Amerks’ NHL affiliate, told the Democrat & Chronicle.
LONG, STRANGE TRIP
Forward Adam Pineault had an eventful weekend that included the first trade of his career.
Pineault played for Syracuse in its game at Rochester on Jan. 9. He got a call at 8 the following morning from the assistant GM in Columbus, telling him he’d been traded to Chicago, and was booked on an 11 a.m. flight.
Immediately assigned to Rockford, Pineault was scheduled to play for the IceHogs that night. Flight delays kept him from arriving in Chicago until 6:45 p.m., 15 minutes before faceoff.
He hopped in a waiting limo for the ride to Rockford, getting to the rink around 8:45. He was given a quick physical, some sticks and new pants and was on the ice for the third period.
“It was a fun way to meet the guys,” Pineault told the Post-Standard. “I felt like I had concrete taped to my legs. I kept my shifts pretty short.”
All-time AHL penalty minute king Dennis Bonvie last week signed a five-year lease to open a cafe in downtown Wilkes-Barre.
Blue Chip Gourmet is an Ohio-based national franchise that sells ice cream, cookies and coffee as well as light breakfast and lunch.
The business is expected to open on St. Patrick’s Day weekend. Bonvie retired after last season, his fifth with the Penguins (1999-2001, 2005-08).
“I have been looking for the right opportunity to invest in the community that invested in me over the past nine years,” Bonvie said.
Out since February 22, 2007 with a back injury and subsequent surgeries, Steve Sullivan returned to Nashville’s lineup on Jan. 10, and picked up an assist, his 350th in the NHL, in his second game last week in Toronto.
Washington recalled the Hershey captain last week for the third time this season, and he was minus-2 in a 6-3 Caps win over Pittsburgh, his first game since Dec. 26. Helmer has three assists in nine NHL games.
Wilkes-Barre/Scranton captain David Gove visited Pittsburgh last week and has been diagnosed with a herniated disc in his back. He will be reevaluated after a 1-2 month rehab program, and is hopeful to return this season.
Lake Erie goaltender Tyler Weiman tied for the AHL lead with his fifth shutout, stopping 32 shots to blank Quad City, 3-0, last week. Weiman beat Philadelphia, 3-0, in his previous start.
Lowell’s Petr Vrana was knocked out of the game in the second period of a 3-2 win over Providence last week on a crushing hit from Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk. The Devils winning goal was scored by Pierre-Luc Letorneau-Leblond, his sixth goal in 104 AHL games.
Right wing Shane Willis signed with Wilkes-Barre’s ECHL farm team in Wheeling, W. Va. last week to be a player/assistant coach. Willis, who missed all but one game last season with a neck injury, attended Columbus Blue Jackets training camp, but was unable to come to contract terms with Syracuse.
Kevin Ulanski had two assists and was plus-1 as the Colorado Eagles beat the CHL all-stars in the Central League all-star game last week. Jeff Christian was scoreless and minus-2 in defeat.
Defenseman Ray Giroux was scoreless but Team Jagr defeated Team Yashin, 7-6, in the KHL All-Star Game, played outdoors in 3-degree weather on Moscow’s Red Square. Team Jagr was comprised of international players, while Team Yashin was an all-Russian group.
Dan LaCouture had an assist in his KHL debut, logging 20:41 of ice time on 26 shifts for Astana Barys.
Defenseman Bryan Muir left Russia’s Dynamo Minsk to play for Germany’s Frankfurt Lions. Muir was 1-6-7 and minus-10 with 47 PIM in 23 KHL games, where one of his teammates was Maxim Balmochnykh.
Also changing overseas teams was Max Birbraer, who went from Torpedo Ust-Kamenogorsk in Kazakhstan to Heilbronner ECJ in Germany’s second division.
AROUND THE BOARDS
- Defenseman Matt Lashoff of East Greenbush was sent down by Boston after 51⁄2 weeks in the NHL last week, then recalled back to the Bruins a day later. He was 0-1-1 in 13 NHL games.
- Rockford goalie Corey Crawford went 2-0-1, 0.67, .979 and one shutout, stopping 95 of 97 shots to be named player of the week. Albany nominated Jonathan Paiement (0-4-4, plus-1, 2 games).
- In his first AHL game since the 2000-01 season, Daniel Briere had a goal and assist and was plus-2 as Philadelphia beat Worcester last week. Out of the Flyers lineup since Dec. 2 with a groin injury, Briere completed his two-game conditioning stint Friday night.
- The Phantoms played their 1,000th game in franchise history on Sunday, losing at Lake Erie. Hamilton joined the 1,000 club three days later, a 3-1 home loss to Grand Rapids.
- Lowell’s win over Providence last week snapped the Bruins’ 31-game win streak when leading after one period, dating back to Feb. 15, 2008.