Calgary Flames general manager Jay Feaster promised to add more veteran depth in the organization, and he delivered on the second day of free agency.
The Abbotsford Heat’s NHL parent club inked Ben Walter and Clay Wilson to two-year, two-way (NHL/AHL) contracts on Saturday, and also retained forward Jon Rheault on a one-year AHL deal.
Walter and Wilson are precisely the type of players the Heat needed more of this past season – experienced players who can generate offence.
Walter, a 27-year-old centre, has eclipsed the 50-point plateau each of the past five AHL seasons. In 2010-11, he posted 70 points (23 goals, 47 assists) in 77 games with the Lake Erie Monsters. Walter also has 24 NHL games under his belt with the Boston Bruins, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
“Ben is a consistent goal scorer and point producer at the AHL level who is also very good on draws,” Feaster said in a press release.
“He is a player our scouts identified during the season last year as someone with very good hockey sense who would significantly add to our depth. At the same time, his character and work ethic are such that we are pleased to have him leading the way for our younger players in Abbotsford.”
Wilson, a 28-year-old defenceman, is an adept puck-mover. In 2009-10, he was second among AHL defencemen in scoring with 60 points in 75 games for the Rochester Americans. Last season he posted 48 points in 66 games with the Amerks, while also suiting up for 15 NHL games with the Florida Panthers.
“Clay Wilson is a responsible defenseman, yet a consistent point producing D-man at the AHL level,” said Feaster. “He, too, adds to the depth on our blue line and is a player who we are confident will compete for a spot in our top seven at camp. He significantly improves our depth on the back end.”
In 2010-11, his first full season with the Heat, Rheault was second in team scoring with 12 goals and 22 assists in 79 games. He’s back on a one-year deal worth $95,000.
“Jon was one of our leading scorers in Abbotsford last season and one of our last cuts at training camp as well,” said Feaster. “He has good hands and vision and is someone who can both make plays and finish at the AHL level. Jon continues to battle and compete for an NHL contract and we know his commitment to our organization is rock solid.”