Mark Mitera has signed a three year entry level contract with the Anaheim Ducks and will report to their AHL affiliate the Iowa Chops immediately. So immediately he will not be at the annual year end banquet this Saturday. The Chops play tonight and Mitera could make his pro debut.
Who else could be signing or departing this offseason? According to Michael Spath at The Wolverine, the obvious one is Aaron Palushaj, who almost left Michigan after his freshman season. But he floated another name out there today—defenseman turned forward for two games Scooter Vaughan.
Regarding Palushaj, Spath writes:
One of his teammates (who might be closest to him — and that’s NOT easy) said he really would have to work him to bring [Aaron Palushaj] back. In the nicest way possible, some kids aren’t college material and while I’ve always really liked Aaron, he was never in this for the long haul.
Seeing as Palushaj almost walked out the door with Max Pacioretty last summer, seeing him depart this time around wouldn’t be a shocker and if that’s what he wishes to do, then it’s probably for the best for him and the team. I remember when Al Montoya’s head seemed to be stuck in New York during his junior year rather than focused on the here and now. I just hope he makes his decision sooner rather than later so it doesn’t drag and leave the coaches in a scramble.
Obviously I’d love for Palushaj to return as he’s got the skill but has some consistency issues to work on, but whether he returns or ends up signing with St. Louis and goes to the AHL, he’ll do well.
As for Vaughan, Spath says:
Sophomore defenseman Scooter Vaughan played in 33 games last year and started the season in a significant role. His ice time shrunk, however, with the return of junior Steve Kampfer and the emergence of freshman Greg Pateryn. It disappeared completely when senior Mark Mitera returned in late February. Vaughan is not happy with his role and could be interested in playing somewhere else. He’s at least worth keeping an eye on.
I’m not panicking over this one. Vaughan did alright his freshman year, but he was also paired with Mitera, I believe, which kind of covered up some of his faults and mistakes. Some of his puckhandling and decision making always made me worry, so I wasn’t surprised when he was on the odd man out in the rotation this season. He’s a decent defenseman, but isn’t going to “wow” you with his skill or physical play or anything.
Of course, losing experience and depth on the blue line is never good, but if he doesn’t feel comfortable with his role, then he’s got to do what he’s got to do. Everyone always wants to play, but there’s only so many spots. Reminds me of former U-M defenseman Scott Crawford a decade ago who was probably about the same skill level and left after two seasons due to lack of playing time.
Spath did stress that this “could” happen. But the follow bit of news, also from Spath, would make losing any d-man a bit less painful—he fully expects Chris Summers to be back for his senior year.