It has been a very busy week for agents, secretaries and lawyers in the Latvian capital, as no fewer than 24 players signed on the dotted line and pledged one year of allegiance to HC Dinamo Riga, and among the two dozen were four North Americans.
From Bridgeport of the AHL, via Banska Bystrica of Slovakia, comes Canadian forward Colton Gillies. The 27-year-old’s resume shows 154 appearances in the NHL (6 goals, 12 assists, 72 penalty minutes) with Minnesota and Columbus, and in 2008 Colton helped his country secure the gold medal at the World Junior Championships in the Czech Republic.
Joining him is another Canadian forward from the AHL: Justin Shugg, 24, spent last season plying his trade at Charlotte, after the briefest of spells in the NHL (3 outings in 2014-15) with Carolina.
US defenseman Patrick Mullen, 30, has also been tempted away from the AHL after spending 2015-16 at Milwaukee.
If the above trio need any help in adjusting to life by the Baltic, they can seek advice from Mullen’s fellow American, Tim Sestito. The forward made 50 appearances in the KHL for Dinamo last season, and he signed a new contract which keeps him in Riga for another year.
Meanwhile, at the southern end of the European continent, Canadian center Eric O'Dell, 26, became the latest addition to the HC Sochi roster. O’Dell broke into the NHL in 2013 with Winnipeg, making 41 appearances in two seasons, but spent the 2015-16 campaign in the AHL, first at Birmingham and then Rochester. Despite spending all his career to date in North America, Eric is not a complete stranger to Russian ice: in 2008, he won gold with Canada at the World U18 Championships in Kazan. His contract with Sochi runs for one year.