The Tri-City Americans will raise their 2012 U.S. Division banner Saturday night before their season opener against the Spokane Chiefs at the Toyota Center.
It likely will be one of the last games Patrick Holland will play in an Americans uniform, as he is scheduled to report to the Hamilton Bulldogs camp (the Montreal Canadiens AHL affiliate) Sept. 29 in Sherbrooke, Quebec.
“I’ll be here for the first two games, then I leave on the 27th,” Holland said. “The fact is, I don’t want to come back, as bad as that sounds. I’ve enjoyed everything that has happened to me here, and I’m grateful for everything I have gotten, but it’s time to move forward.”
Holland scored 25 goals and had a Western Hockey League best 84 assists last season in helping the Americans win their fourth U.S. Division banner in five seasons and advance to the Western Conference finals against Portland.
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A 2010 NHL draft pick of the Calgary Flames, Holland had his rights traded to the Canadiens, along with Rene Bourque, on Jan. 12 in a deal that sent Mike Cammalleri and Karri Ramo to the Flames. Montreal signed Holland on March 7 to a three-year contract.
Holland is one of 21 players the Canadiens assigned to Hamilton, and though Holland knows there are no guarantees, he expects to stick with the Bulldogs.
“I’ve never really been cut from a team I thought I’d make,” Holland said. “This is one of those times where anything can happen. I don’t like the feeling of the unknown.”
With Holland leaving, the Americans will have four overage players on the roster — captain Justin Feser, alternate captain Jesse Mychan, forward Jordan Messier and defenseman Drydn Dow. They must be down to the league minimum of three by Oct. 10.
Former Tri-City Americans forward Adam Hughesman was extended an invitation to the Toronto Marlies camp. He has been in the Tri-Cities working out with the Americans the last few weeks.
“Right after camp in the summer, they said they liked me and invited me to come back,” said Hughesman, who attended the Marlies prospect camp in July. “I had five different invites to camps, but I picked Toronto because I’m familiar with them and they liked me in the summer. I got invited, but there are no guarantees.”
Hughesman, who is undrafted, was second in team scoring last year — behind Brendan Shinnimin — with 50 goals and 66 assists.
Hughesman will leave the Tri-Cities on Sunday, and spend a day in his hometown of Winnipeg, Manitoba, before heading to Toronto.
“They are only bringing 28 guys in for camp and three are goalies,” Hughesman said. “I’m excited for the opportunity. I think I’m ready.”
Also at the Marlies camp will be former Tri-City forward Carter Ashton and Brad Ross of the Portland Winterhawks.
Hamilton and Toronto will play two exhibition games against each other — on Oct. 6 in Cobourg, Ontario, and Oct. 8 in Brantford, Ontario.
“I don’t know how long they will keep guys around,” Hughesman said. “It would be fun to play against (Holland).”
Shinnimin, who signed a free agent contract with the Phoenix Coyotes on March 2, will report to the Portland Pirates camp in Maine on Sept. 28.
Ones to watch: Tri-City goalie Eric Comrie, forward Connor Rankin and defensemen Justin Hamonic and Wil Tomchuk were listed in Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings.
Americans ink prospect: The Americans signed defenseman Brandon Carlo, 16, to a standard player’s contract. Carlo (6-4, 180), a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., spent the 2011-12 season with the Colorado Thunderbirds U-16 team. In 40 games, he had six goals, 11 assists and 20 penalty minutes.
CHL Top 10 Poll: Three WHL teams were ranked in the Canadian Hockey League’s first poll of the season. The Edmonton Oil Kings were ranked second, while the Portland Winterhawks were fourth and the Saskatoon Blades ninth.
Leaders to be named later: The Saskatoon Blades will open their season today without a captain or alternate captains, according to head coach and general manager Lorne Molleken.