LAVAL, QC — The Rocket may not have a playoff qualifying round to prepare for the way their parent club does, but that has not stopped them from looking to bolster their ranks for next year.
The early days of July have seen the club announce that three new players have signed on for the 2020-21 season. On July 2, Laval announced that defenseman Corey Schueneman and centerman Samuel Vigneault had each agreed to a one-year, one-way AHL contract. Exactly a week later on July 9, the team announced that they had also come to terms with defenseman Nathanael Halbert on a one-year, two-way AHL contract.
The 24-year-old Schueneman spent the 2019-20 campaign with the Stockton Heat of the American Hockey League. In his first professional season, the left-handed blueliner posted three goals and 18 assists for 21 points over 44 games.
Schueneman closed the season 12th in points among Heat players, second among Stockton’s defensemen.
Standing at 6’0” and weighing in at 201 lbs., the Brighton, MI native spent four seasons playing collegiate hockey for Western Michigan University of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC). While defending the blue lines of the Lawson Ice Arena for the Broncos, Schueneman tallied 14 goals and 68 assists throughout 144 games to finish his NCHC career with 82 total points.
After spending three years and 106 games with Clarkson University, Vigneault signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2017. He wrapped up his final collegiate season with 75 points (30G + 42A) to his name.
A looming figure on the ice at 6’5” and 203 lbs., Vigneault has played in 109 career AHL games with the Cleveland Monsters. Over those 109 games, the two-way forward from Baie-Comeau, QC racked up 25 goals and 38 assists for 63 total points. Vigneault is also well accustomed to the penalty box, accruing 108 career penalty minutes.
The 2019-20 season earned Vigneault 11 goals and five assists (63 points) in 57 games with Cleveland.
The Laval Rocket and their fans are no strangers to Nathanael Halbert; they’ve already seen him play. Halbert signed a professional try-out (PTO) contract in February. The five games he spent with the Rocket yielded just one assist and left him with a plus-one differential, but they were more than enough for the Laval brass to keep him.
The 6’0”, 194 lbs. defenseman from Richmond Hill, ON co-captained the McGill Men’s Hockey team for the 2019-20 season. Halbert spent four years playing for McGill, totaling three goals and 16 assists for 19 points across 68 regular-season games, adding one goal and nine assists in 22 playoff games with the Montreal university.
Halbert was invited to rookie camp by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2015.
Three new players will look to impress the Laval coaching staff when the AHL returns to play. Looking for the chance to continue their professional careers with the same team is not the only thing these three newly-minted Rocket have in common.
Curiously, all three players:
- Shoot left-handed
- Are 24 years old
- Were born in September of 1995
- Played collegiate hockey
Unusual happenstance or hints to a larger conspiracy? You be the judge.
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