Abbotsford, BC – With the team looking for a better role player to play along side Gaelan Patterson and Ryan Stone on the fourth line, the Abbotsford Heat signed right-winger Ryan MacMurchy to a tryout contract on Wednesday.
MacMurchy joins the Heat from Victoria of the ECHL where he had 16 goals and 33 points in 39 games with the Salmon Kings this season.
“When you look at our fourth line, I don’t think it’s really proper that Bryan Cameron is in that role as a fourth line player,” explained Jim Playfair. “I think Bryan Cameron has to play on the top three right wing positions to be an effective player.
“We brought in MacMurchy, he’s more of a defined role player for that role. He’s an older player, a veteran player, a player that I think will allow us to be more of a solid fourth line team.”
With MacMurchy in the fold and John Negrin ready to be at least the seventh defenceman the Heat re-assigned three to the ECHL on Thursday morning.
Bryan Cameron was sent to Victoria while tough guy Ryley Grantham and defenceman Josh Meyers were assigned to the Utah Grizzlies.
MacMurchy was originally a ninth-round selection of the St. Louis Blues in 2002, and has spent past six years between the AHL and ECHL after finishing four years at the University of Wisconsin.
“They want me to come in and play a role, third/fourth line type role and just keep things simple,” said the 27-year-old. “No turnovers, make sure I’m physical, turn pucks over, getting pucks deep.
“It’s a third or fourth line type role, if they need me to kill penalties I’ll do that. I’ve got myself in good shape and just give it my all every shift.”
After a five-game audition with the Flames, Lance Bouma was returned to the Abbotsford Heat last week having picked up one assist with the big club.
Overall Bouma called the experience a re-assuring one, knowing now that he can skate with the big boys.
“It was awesome. Obviously it was really positive up there. I had a good time and the team was doing well, everyone was excited to be at the rink – for me it was awesome,” he said. “It was really fun to know I can play at that level and to see what it takes to stay there and be a regular player there.”
Bouma returned in time for a time-honored tradition: rookie dinner, which took place on Tuesday for the Heat. Rookie dinner is, as described, a team dinner with the rookies picking up the tab.
“It was fun. It was good for the guys to go have some fun like that together,” said the 20-year-old. “It’s something every young player does, it’s fun for the guys and I think everyone really enjoyed it. We just went out for dinner and then out as a group it was fun.”
However, the youngsters benefitted from the fact that the Heat are one of the youngest teams in the league with as many as nine rookies helping pick up the bill.
“It was enough,” laughed Bouma. “It’s good because we have a lot of young guys on our team so everyone’s going through it together – the guys really enjoyed it.”
Trade Deadline Approaching
Last season at the NHL trade deadline then GM Darryl Sutter made a move to help out his farm club’s defensive depth trading Riley Armstrong to Grand Rapids in exchange for veteran blue liner Andy Delmore.
So what’s on Playfair’s wish list this year?
“I think we all know we’d like to have a centre,” said the Heat bench boss. “When you look at the situation we have we have (Quintin) Laing and Greg Nemisz playing centre ice. It’s not an ideal situation for their development or the better man of our group, but they’re our two best, qualified guys for it.”
While the team was in Calgary last week Playfair had an opportunity to discuss his team’s needs with acting GM Jay Feaster.
“I met with Jay Feaster last Thursday and just went over where I felt our organization was individual player-wise,” Playfair continued. “I’m sure if a trade could be made that he could upgrade our group, I’m sure he’s willing to do that. It’s just a matter of seeing what’s out there for us.”
Week in Review
Over the course of the last week Abbotsford dropped a pair of games to the Oklahoma City Barons.
Last Friday night in Calgary Ryan Stone had the lone goal as the Heat dropped a 3-1 decision to the Edmonton Oilers top farm club.
The following night in Abbotsford the Barons edged the Heat 3-2 in over time. Nemisz and Logan MacMillan had the goals for Abbotsford
Mitch Wahl – Concussion
Kris Chucko – Concussion
Carter Bancks – Concussion
Matt Keetley - Knee
The Heat conclude their six-game home stand this weekend as the Providence Bruins (AHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins) pay a visit this Friday and Saturday night.
Abbotsford then heads out on the road Tuesday for games in Texas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City and Houston playing five games in six nights.