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BCHL alums find new homes in the NHL

With the NHL playoffs taking place from August to the end of September, that meant the offseason was delayed until early October. With little time to spare, the NHL held the 2020 entry draft on Oct. 6 and 7 and two days later the free agency window opened to signify the official start of the offseason.

As a result of this, over the last week, several BCHL alums have found new homes in the NHL and a few have remained in place by re-signing with their current club.

Here is a look at all the transactions involving BCHL alums over the past week:

Kyle Turris (Burnaby Express) – signed a free-agent contract with the Edmonton Oilers

After his contract was bought out by the Nashville Predators on Oct. 7, Turris immediately found a new home on the first day of free agency, signing a two-year contract with the Oilers. Turris was the highest-ever BCHL player selected in the NHL Draft when he went third overall to the Phoenix Coyotes in 2007. Over his now 13-year career, the 31-year-old has amassed 415 points in 726 regular-season games with the Coyotes, the Ottawa Senators and the Predators.

Turris played two years in the BCHL with the Express, totaling 183 points in 105 regular-season games and winning the Coastal Conference MVP as well as a Fred Page Cup and RBC Cup National Championship in 2006.

Troy Stecher (Penticton Vees) – signed a free-agent contract with the Detroit Red Wings

As a pending restricted free agent, Stecher was not qualified by the Vancouver Canucks, but quickly signed a two-year free agent deal with the Red Wings. The Richmond, B.C. native spent his entire pro career with the Canucks prior to signing with Detroit. He has 75 points in 285 games in his career.

Prior to his three-year stint at the University of North Dakota where he won a National Championship in 2016, Stecher played three seasons in Penticton. In his BCHL career, Stecher won a Fred Page Cup and an RBC Cup national title in 2012 and was named the Interior Conference’s Best Defenceman in 2013.

Justin Schultz (Westside Warriors) – signed a free-agent contract with the Washington Capitals

After four-plus years with the Pittsburgh Penguins, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2016 and 2017, Schultz signed a two-year deal with the Capitals. The 30-year-old started his career with the Edmonton Oilers, before being dealt to Pittsburgh midway through the 2015-16 season. Schultz has totaled 214 points in 482 regular-season games over his career.

The product of Kelowna, B.C. played two seasons with the Warriors from 2007 to 2009, put up 90 points during his stint with the team and was named the Interior Conference’s Best Defenceman both years. He went on to play at the University of Wisconsin where he continued to excel, being named his conference’s Defensive Player of the Year and a First-Team All-Star each of his final two seasons. The accolades continued for Schultz during his first pro season with the Oklahoma City Barons of the AHL when he won the Eddie Shore Award as the league’s top defenceman and was a First-Team All-Star.

Devon Toews (Surrey Eagles) – traded to the Colorado Avalanche

Toews was a key part of the New York Islanders run to the Eastern Conference Finals this past season, but was traded to Colorado in exchange for 2021 and 2022 second-round picks. The 26-year-old had 10 points in 22 games for the Islanders in the 2020 playoffs, which now gives him a total of 15 in 30 career postseason contests over his first two NHL seasons.

Toews played for Surrey from 2011 to 2013. He made the All-Rookie Team in his first season and was named the Coastal Conference’s Best Defenceman the following year when he had 47 points to tie for second in defencemen scoring. That same year, he helped the Eagles win the Fred Page Cup and made an appearance in the RBC Cup national championship tournament. He went on to play three years at Quinnipiac University

Matt Irwin (Nanaimo Clippers) – signed a free-agent contract with the Buffalo Sabres

Irwin’s contract with the Sabres is for one year. He is entering his ninth NHL season, after previously spending time with the San Jose Sharks, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators and Anaheim Ducks. Over his career in the NHL, the defensive defenceman has 82 points in 359 regular-season games.

Despite being known for the defensive side of the game now, Irwin was an offensive force with the Clippers during his three years with the team from 2005 to 2008, putting up 111 points in 178 games. He was named the Coastal Conference’s Best Defenceman two years in a row in 2007 and 2008. He played two years at the University of Massachusetts before making the jump to the AHL.

Derek Grant (Langley Chiefs) – signed a free-agent contract with the Anaheim Ducks

Grant is now on his third stint with the Ducks after signing a three-year contract with the team. The 30-year-old forward started his career with the Ottawa Senators, then made stops with the Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators before joining the Ducks for the first time in 2017-18. After one season there, he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins, before being reacquired by the Ducks midway through the same season. This past year, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers at the trade deadline before signing back with the Ducks last week. Grant has split time between the AHL and NHL over his pro career. He has 70 points in 264 NHL games and 185 points in 320 AHL games. He also won a Calder Cup in his first pro season with the Binghamton Senators.

Grant played two seasons in Langley from 2007 to 2009. He amassed 123 points in 92 regular-season games in his BCHL career. He went on to play two seasons at Michigan State University before turning pro.

Other signings

  • Laurent Brossoit (Cowichan Valley Capitals) – re-signed with the Winnipeg Jets (one year)
  • Taro Hirose (Salmon Arm Silverbacks) – re-signed with the Detroit Red Wings (one year)
  • Jake Lucchini (Trail Smoke Eaters) – re-signed with the Montreal Canadiens (one year)