The Winnipeg Jets did not hold an organizational monopoly on July 1st signings. Today, the Manitoba Moose announced deals with Jake Baker, Jiri Fronk, Tyson Wilson, Brandon Denham and Darren Kramer.
Jiri Fronk, RW
Back in 2015, Josh Khalfin said of Fronk, "Great skill and has a good set of hands and a nice release. Has size as well", while friend of the AIH 20416 Podcast Steve Kournianos called him an "Armia type". The 22-year-old Czech native proceeded to post eight points in 33 games with the Moose last season, having earned himself an AHL contract by Oct. 9th.
Jake Baker, LHD
A product of four years at Northern Michigan University, the major in accounting played most of last season with the ECHL's Quad City Mallards, before skating in nine games with the Moose. At 6'5" and 223 lbs, the 24-year-old fills Keaton Ellerby's shoes in spirit, if not pedigree.
Tyson Wilson, LHD
Despite "five hip surgeries in less than three years time", the economics major racked up an impressive NCAA career with the Robert Morris University Colonials. As per the Brockville Recorder on March 23rd, 2016:
The 25-year-old finished his NCAA hockey career just a few days ago as the captain of the Robert Morris Colonials and a slew of school records.
Wilson is the second-highest scoring defenceman in the Colonials' program history with 80 points. He tallied up 69 assists and a plus-40 plus/minus rating, both stats placing him fifth in the Colonials record books and best by a defenceman. Wilson also suited up for 145 games for RMU, eighth-most by a player for the school.
Brandon Denham, RW
Tyson Wilson wasn't the only Colonial brought back by the Moose, with 24-year-old RW Brandon Denham also earning himself a contract. At the time Denham signed his ATO with Manitoba last season, the official RMU Colonials website wrote:
Denham's senior campaign was best of his collegiate career, scoring 42 points in 39 games on 22 goals and 20 assists. Denham was tied for the team lead in power play goals with eight goals... Denham was a major component of the Colonials power play that was tops in the nation for the majority of the season.
Denham finishes his college career ranked ninth all-time in scoring at Robert Morris, recording 98 points on 43 goals and 55 assists. Denham holds the record for most games played in Colonials history with 154 games under his belt. Denham's 43 goals are seventh all-time at Robert Morris, seven of those goal coming as game-winners. The senior from Milton, Ontario was an Atlantic Hockey third team all-conference player this season.
Darren Kramer, LW/C
Last but certainly not least is 24-year-old Darren Kramer, a 6th round pick of the Ottawa Senators in 2011. With 12 points and 138 PIM in 61 games last season, his role on the Moose seems self-explanatory. Unfortunately, search results for Darren Kramer may forever be dominated by headlines such as "Manitoba Moose vs. Mickey Mouse: AHL player arrested after confrontation at Disney World". As the linked Yahoo! Sports article wrote:
A police report alleges Kramer and a friend referred to only as "Corbin" tried to steal a decorative bowling pin display from a restaurant and failed to comply when a security officer, and later a deputy, tried to stop them.
According to Global News, after he was tasered by an Orange County police officer, Kramer "was charged with Battery on a Law Enforcement Officer, Grand Theft and Resisting Arrest without Violence", a process likely ongoing in some form or fashion.
Avid Manitoba Moose watchers, what say you on these five signings? Are you surprised the organization brought back Kramer, given his alleged transgressions at "The Happiest Place on Earth"? Should folks have their eye on any player(s) in particular? Share your thoughts, questions and concerns in the Comments section below, and as always, thanks for reading!