Bill Meltzer: Meltzer’s Musings: Oullette Signed to Phantoms, Quick Hits

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GOALTENDER OUELLETTE SIGNED TO AHL CONTRACT

The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have signed 22-year-old goaltender Martin Ouellette to an AHL contract for the 2014-15 season. Originally a seventh-round pick (184th overall) of the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2010 NHL Draft, the graduated University of Maine netminder became an unrestricted free agent this weekend after the Blue Jackets declined to offer him an entry-level contract.

Ouellette served as the Black Bears starting goaltender in both his junior and senior seasons after being the backup as a freshman and sophomore. The 6-foot-2 native of Saint Jerome, Que., posted a 2.29 goals against average and .925 save percentage in 34 starts in 2013-14. In his four-year career at Maine, Ouellete appeared in 82 games, posting a 2.51 goals-against average and .913 save percentage.

Although Ouellette’s team was not a powerhouse, the goalie gained national attention as a junior during the 2012-13 season when he backstopped Maine to back-to-back wins over defending national champions Boston College. For his junior year, Ouellette had a 2.42 goals against average and .917 save percentage. He played in 30 games after playing a combined 18 games (nine apiece) as a freshman and sophomore.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Phantoms now have six goaltenders under contract for next season. Incumbent Flyers starter Steve Mason and veteran backup Ray Emery will play at the NHL level. European league veteran Rob Zepp and rookie Anthony Stolarz are the most likely duo for the Phantoms, and are both under two-way NHL contracts. Ouellette and recently signed former Buffalo Sabres goaltender Connor Knapp are on AHL-only contracts, and are likely to start the season with the ECHL’s Reading Royals.

In total, the Phantoms have seven players under AHL contract for next season. In addition to Knapp and Ouellette, forwards Darroll Powe, Matt Hatch and Kevin Goumas as well as defensemen Steven Delisle and Brett Flemming are under minor league contract for 2014-15. The rest of the roster is under NHL contract with the Flyers.

********* QUICK HITS: AUGUST 19

* Flyers head coach Craig Berube told NJ.com that he plans to practice the shootout on a much more frequent basis that the club has in recent seasons. Berube said that, when the club does undertake such practices, he wants the shooting participants to take it seriously and do things they’d actually try during a game rather than fooling around with fancy puckhandling tricks and novelty shots.

* Today marks the 17th anniversary of the passing of Flyers forward Yanick Dupre at the age of 24. Dupre died on Aug. 19, 1997 after a year-long struggle with leukemia.

* Happy 62nd birthday wishes go out to Jimmy Watson. Far and away the best homegrown defenseman in Flyers team history, Watson was a five-time NHL All-Star, a member of Team Canada at the 1976 Canada Cup and is the owner of two Stanley Cup rings.

Selected by Philadelphia with the 39th overall pick of the 1972 Draft, the younger Watson brother played his entire 714-game NHL career (613 regular season games and 101 playoff games) as a member of the Flyers. Unfortunately, back problems, which resulted in spinal fusion surgery, ended his career prematurely. Watson announced his retirement in June of 1982, roughly two months before his 30th birthday.

As with older brother Joe, Jim has made his permanent home in the Delaware Valley after his active career. For many years after his playing career, he has been a hockey instructor and ownership partner at the Ice Works in Aston, PA. In 1984, he parlayed his side interest of building houses into the James C. Watson Construction Company which he operated successfully until deciding in more recent years to concentrate on his hockey school.

This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.

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