Thursday, March 4, 2010

Rats welcome new faces after trades

As many predicted, the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday made a flurry of deals prior to the NHL trade deadline, unloading five veterans, opening up nearly $9 million in salary cap space, and clearing room for prospects from Albany.

When the dust finally settled, the Rats had lost three players and gained three new faces.

Fourth-line center Harrison Reed, who spent the past two seasons with Albany, was dealt to the Colorado Avalanche and will likely join the Lake Erie Monsters in the North Division. 

Carolina made room for rookie forward Zach Boychuk and blueliner Jay Harrison, both of whom were recalled last night.

Veterans Joe Corvo, Aaron Ward, Stephane Yelle, Scott Walker and Andrew Alberts were all traded away for younger players and draft picks. 

Joining the River Rats in the coming days will be Justin Pogge, a talented netminder from Anaheim; Oskar Osala, a large power forward from Washington; and rookie Cedric LaLonde-McNicoll, a natural center from Colorado. 

Pogge, who will be 24 years old in April, has been spending the season with the San Antonio Rampage, where he has earned a 2.57 GAA, .920 SV%, one shutout and a record of 12-7-0-3. 

Pogge started the year with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL, registering a 2.69 GAA, .902 SV%, one shutout, and a record of 6-2-0-0. 

Pogge was acquired along with a fourth-round pick from Anaheim in exchange for veteran defenseman Aaron Ward.

Selected in the third-round by Toronto in 2004, Pogge spent his first three professional seasons with the Marlies. He was granted seven starts with the Maple Leafs last season, but did not perform up to expectations and was traded to Anaheim during the summer.

Pogge, a native of Fort McMurray, Alberta, is a product of the Western Hockey League. He spent two years with the Prince George Cougars and another two years with the Calgary Hitmen, putting up a phenomenal 1.72 GAA, .926 SV%, 11 shutouts and a record of 38-10-2-4 during his final junior year. Pogge was honored with the league's MVP award and was named Canadian Hockey League goaltender-of-the-year.

Pogge helped Team Canada win its second consecutive gold medal at the 2006 World Junior Championships with a 1.00 GAA, .952 SV% and an undefeated record of 6-0. 

Pogge is listed at 6-foot-3, 204 pounds and is similar in size and frame to Albany's regular starter, Justin Peters, as well as Carolina's goalie coach Tom Barrasso, who hopes to personally fine-tune the skills of the young netminder.

The acquisition of Pogge gives Albany some stability in net as Justin Peters remains in Carolina. Canes' starter Cam Ward is out indefinitely and Rats' rookie Mike Murphy is sporting a cast/finger-splint.

Recently acquired back-up goalie Ryan Mior, who was signed to a professional tryout contract on Sunday, will likely be released after he recovers from an undisclosed injury suffered on Tuesday.

Oskar Osala, drafted by the Washington Capitals in the fourth round in 2006, comes to Albany from the division rival Hershey Bears, where the Finnish-born 22-year-old has totaled 29 points (15 G, 14 A) in 53 games this season (including two goals and an assist against Albany). 

Osala was acquired along with Brian Pothier (formally of R.P.I.) and a second-round pick from Washington in exchange for defenseman Joe Corvo.

Listed at 6-foot-4, 220 pounds, Osala is a powerful winger best known for his speed and hard shot. He knows how to play tough and is not afraid to mix things up from time to time. 

After spending a season in the Finnish elite league SM-liiga, Osala signed a three-year deal with the Capitals in 2008. 

Osala tallied 37 points (23 G, 14 A) and a +11 rating in 75 games with the Bears last year and put up another six goals and four assists in 22 playoff contests as Hershey went on to win the Calder Cup. 

Osala was recalled to the Capitals on two occasions, going scoreless in his first two NHL appearances.

Cedric LaLonde-McNicoll is a 21-year-old undrafted rookie center who started his pro career this season with the Lake Erie Monsters. 

The undersized youngster was acquired along with a sixth-round pick from Colorado in exchange for Stephane Yelle and Harrison Reed.

Born in Longueuil, Quebec, LaLonde-McNicoll spent four full seasons with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League prior to going pro in October. The small but speedy playmaker, listed at 5-foot-10, 178 pounds, was the third-highest scorer in the QMJHL last season with 104 points (38 G, 66 A) in 65 games.

LaLonde-McNicoll has 13 points (5 G, 8 A) in 45 games this year with Lake Erie.