The Rochester Americans announced Wednesday the signings of three players to AHL contracts. The team re-signed forward Frederick Roy, added former Sabres draft pick Alex Lepkowski, and brought in veteran centerman Mike Zigomanis.
Zigomanis is easily the biggest signing of the three, for a number of reasons. He’ll bring a lot to the Americans team, having spent all of last season with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies with a storied hockey background prior to that.
The first thing of note – that I’m sure many have asked – is that no, Zigomanis is not eligible to join the Buffalo Sabres. As of right now, he’s signed to an AHL contract by the Americans, which means he’ll end up there in October when the season begins. In order to come up, he would have to sign an NHL contract with the Sabres.
Many people might not be aware that Zigomanis was actually a draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, selected 64th overall in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. However, a fax machine mishap made the team miss its deadline to sign him. He re-entered the draft and was selected in 2001 by the Carolina Hurricanes.
Zigomanis, a former OHLer, played in the Carolina system until 2005, when he joined the St. Louis Blues and also spent time with the Peoria Rivermen. He went on to play for the Phoenix Coyotes, San Antonio Rampage and Pittsburgh Penguins before joining the Marlies in 2009-10. Aside from playing eight games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2010-11, Zigomanis has spent the majority of the last three seasons in the AHL.
He won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.
So – what will Zigomanis bring to the Rochester Americans this season?
- AGE – At 32, Zigomanis still has plenty of good hockey left in him. He’ll become the oldest player on the Rochester Americans roster – edging out captain Matt Ellis by just under nine months – and will undoubtedly be a veteran leader on a generally young Amerks team. The Toronto Marlies seem to be headed for a youth movement – further evidenced by not signing Zigomanis – but he’ll fit well in Rochester.
- EXPERIENCE – Zigomanis has played 197 NHL games in his career, and he’ll be the only member of the Amerks to have a Stanley Cup under his belt.
- FACEOFF SKILLS – Zigomanis is an offensively-skilled centerman who is extremely skilled at faceoffs. It’s something he’s been largely known for in his career, even dating back to his days with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
- LEADERSHIP – I’d be one to argue that if the Toronto Marlies had re-signed Zigomanis, he would have been named their captain this upcoming season, thanks to the departure of Ryan Hamilton. Zigomanis has proven time and time again of his leadership skills both on and off the ice, and he’ll easily fit in as a leader on the Americans squad.
- COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT – Okay, I can’t promise he’ll get super involved in the Rochester community, but this is something that Zigomanis has brought to Toronto the past few seasons and it’s an off-ice skill that some may overlook. Zigomanis has made numerous visits to children’s hospitals in the Toronto area, was involved in the Marlies You Can Play video last season and was named AHL Man of the Year 2013 for his contributions to community organizations and charities.
If the Buffalo Sabres end up adding an NHL contract to Zigomanis’ card at some point, he can certainly bring a lot to the NHL squad as well. As it stands right now, however, he’ll be joining the “#merk$” this coming season, and he should be a welcome addition to the team.