From the Milwuakee Admirals:
The Milwaukee Admirals announced today that they have signed forwards Mark Van Guilder and Joel Champagne and defenseman Jeff Foss to American Hockey League contracts.
Van Guilder will suit up for the Admirals again this coming season after helping them reach the Western Division Finals last year. Following his best statistical season with the Admirals, where he posted ten goals and seven assists in 62 games, the Notre Dame alum contributed three goals and three assists in 13 playoff contests. Van Guilder split time with the Admirals and Cincinnati Cyclones in 2009-10 and was an essential piece of the ECHL team that won the Kelly Cup.
Foss will also be returning to the Admirals after skating in five games with the organization last year following the conclusion of his four-year career at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. The defenseman recorded three goals, 11 assists and led the team in penalty minutes during his senior season. Throughout his four years, Foss skated in every R.P.I. contest.
Champagne is coming off his most efficient season of his junior career, posting over a point per game with the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL. The 21 year-old tallied 82 points on 24 goals and 58 assists, which was good for second on the Remparts roster.
Jeff Foss was 6th-round draft choice in 2008 by the Preds, so it will be interesting to see where he fits in on the Milwaukee blueline. Champagne was a 5th-round selection by Toronto in 2008, but never signed with the Maple Leafs, so we'll see if a fresh start gives his career a boost. Here's what Pension Plan Puppets had to say about Champagne last summer when the Leafs let his rights expire:
Worth noting here is that Joel Champagne at 20 years old is 6'4" and 220lbs. He's a center who's excellent in the dot and seems like a good candidate to be a third line energy guy.
Maybe as a prospect he was lazy defensively, maybe as a prospect Champagne didn't hit enough; these things are irrelevant. Brian Burke has said he wants some big kids to play his style of game and passing on Joel Champagne while handing a contract to Brayden "Playdough ankles" Irwin (to quote mf37) seems like a terrible move.
We traded Jiri Tlusty for a big kid in the QMJHL: Phillippe Paradis. Let's compare their stats:
Champagne Paradis Season GP G A Pts GP G A Pts 1 62 6 16 22 45 11 12 23 2 70 18 22 40 66 19 31 50 3 52 24 37 61 63 24 20 44 4 65 38 41 79 - - - -
Remember that Champagne is three inches taller than Paradis and also appears to be better on the faceoff dot. I asked Mirtle to ask around on this for us so hopefully we'll hear an answer on this, but on a Wednesday morning it's hard to understand this move and one wonders about Brian Burke's plan here.