Around the AHL: Perfect fit for Ellis

A failure to land a job as an NHL backup has proven to be a blessing in disguise for goalie Dan...

A failure to land a job as an NHL backup has proven to be a blessing in disguise for goalie Dan Ellis.

KEN WIEBE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:51 PM ET

A failure to land a job as an NHL backup has proven to be a blessing in disguise for goalie Dan Ellis.

The 32-year-old from Saskatoon shopped his services as an unrestricted free agent, but came away empty-handed, until the Charlotte Checkers stepped in and signed him to an American Hockey League pro tryout offer on Sept. 24.

“It’s awesome actually,” Ellis said in a telephone interview from Charlotte, N.C. “If I would have signed an NHL deal, I would be in Europe or sitting at home playing shinny hockey. It was probably the best situation you could have hoped for, playing for a great team, a great organization. We’re off to a good start. I’m still an unrestricted free agent, but I get a chance to stay sharp while the (NHL) is not doing anything.

“It’s a perfect fit right now. I’m extremely happy.”

And why wouldn’t he be?

Through the first month of the American Hockey League season, Ellis is sporting a 3-1 record with a 1.97 goals against average and .940 save %.

Those are the type of numbers that are sure to catch the attention of NHL teams seeking depth in their organization once the lockout finally comes to an end.

He’s also been showing teams that the groin injury that limited him to only 10 games with the Anaheim Ducks last season is fully healed.

“It took a long time to overcome the injuries I had last year, it wasn’t as quick a process as I wanted it to be,” said Ellis, originally taken in the second round (60th overall) of the 2000 NHL Entry Draft by the Dallas Stars. “It’s been 100%. It feels better than it did before.”

Being back in the minors has also helped rejuvenate Ellis, who has 165 NHL games on his resume.

“It’s always great to go back to where you came from,” said Ellis, who hadn’t played an AHL game since 2007. “It resets some of your thinking and whether you took certain things for granted or not. Maybe you get a little bit comfortable playing in the NHL. Playing in the AHL, riding the buses, getting up early for flights, it’s a great wake-up call.

“It’s nice to be one of the older guys on the team, to be a presence in the room and try to have a calming effect. It’s an opportunity to be thankful again and a chance to give back. It’s the best of both worlds.”

AWARDS HANDED OUT: Chalk up another award for Oklahoma City Barons defenceman Justin Schultz, who was named CCM/AHL Player of the month for October.

After signing with the Edmonton Oilers this past summer, Schultz picked up at least a point in each of his seven games, finishing with six goals and a league-high 12 points.

Houston Aeros centre Mikael Granlund, a first round pick (ninth overall) of the Minnesota Wild in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, had three goals and 10 points in seven goals to earn Rookie of the month honours.

DAVIDSON BATTLING: The Barons announced on Thursday that rookie blue-liner Brandon Davidson has been diagnosed with testicular cancer and will undergo treatment immediately.

Davidson, a sixth round choice (162nd overall) of the Edmonton Oilers in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, has one assist and six penalty minutes in six AHL games this season.

“Thanks to all my family, friends, fans, and everyone for all the love and support. It goes a long way,” Davidson, 21, wrote on his Twitter feed, @bdavy3.

Power rankings for 7 Canadian farm teams - going into Friday’s games

1. (1) Abbotsford Heat (Calgary Flames) 5-1-0-2, 12 points

C Roman Horak already has 7 goals 8 points in 8 games

2. (2) Chicago Wolves (Vancouver Canucks) 5-2-1, 11 points

Third-year D Kevin Connauton has four points, leads team with 22 shots on goal

3. (4) Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers) 3-2, 6 points

The addition of LW Taylor Hall only bolsters a potent lineup

4. (5) St. John’s IceCaps (Winnipeg Jets) 4-5, 8 points

Return of F Jason Jaffray, D Paul Postma should help

5. (3) Binghamton Senators (Ottawa Senators) 3-3-1, 7 points

2011 first-rounder Mika Zibanejad making the transition to North American game

6. (7) Hamilton Bulldogs (Montreal Canadiens) 3-2-1, 7 points

Blake Geoffrion showing some promise

7. (6) Toronto Marlies (Toronto Maple Leafs) 3-3-0-1, 7 points

Veteran C Keith Aucoin has been a playmaking-machine

Numbers game

3

As in the number of seconds it took for the Abbotsford Heat to score two goals in Thursday’s 3-0 victory over the Toronto Marlies at the Abbotsford Entertainment and Sports Centre, setting an AHL record for the quickest two goals in history. Veteran D Steve McCarthy scored at 4:28 to break a scoreless deadlock, then Ben Street beat Ben Scrivens from centre ice. The craziest thing was that both goals were scored while shorthanded. The previous AHL record for quickest two goals was five seconds, achieved most recently by the Worcester IceCats in 2003.

PROSPECT PROFILE

Charlotte Checkers D Justin Faulk

It’s not everyday that a guy who was named to the NHL's All-rookie team finds himself back in the AHL the following season, but the 20-year-old blue-liner isn’t about to have his developmental growth stunted. The second round pick (37th overall) of the Carolina Hurricanes in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft enters the weekend tied for the league lead in assists (nine) and is second in points (11) through seven games. He’s an offensive D-man that is a gifted skater, an excellent puck mover and has a phenomenal shot.

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ken.wiebe@sunmedia.ca

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