GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Thunder extended qualifying offers to seven skaters for the upcoming season. Of those seven, four are forwards and three are defensemen.
John Edwardh (forward): Edwardh played two games for the Thunder after his collegiate career had concluded at the end of the 2017-18 season. He signed an AHL deal with the Binghamton Devils the following season, but spent a good chunk of the season with Adirondack, picking up 59 points in 54 games.
Edwardh signed with the Florida Everblades for the 2019-20 season, but was traded to the Cincinnati Cyclones, where he picked up 22 points. He found his way back to Adirondack via trade, and picked up another 21 points before the season abruptly ended due to COVID-19. His two forward linemates — Matt Salhany and Mike Szmatula — have already signed with Adirondack for the 2020-21 season.
Jake Linhart (defense): Linhart signed with Adirondack following his collegiate career with the University of Wisconsin. In his rookie season (2018-19), he picked up 30 points in the regular season and three in the playoffs, earning himself a five-game stint with the Hershey Bears, where he picked up an assist. Linhart got a late start on the 2019-20 season after recovering from testicular cancer in the offseason. He got healthy again and worked his way back into the lineup, picking up 23 points in 51 games.
Robbie Payne (forward): Payne signed with the Thunder in the offseason after a rookie season split between the Texas Stars and Idaho Steelheads. The Michigan native had moved to New Hampshire, so Glens Falls was much closer to home for him. In an injury-shortened season, Payne contributed 32 points in his 44 games played.
James Phelan (forward): Phelan spent much of his rookie season (2018-19) with the Texas Stars. He signed with the Jacksonville Icemen for the 2019-20 season, but was traded to Adirondack mid-season. While with the Thunder, the Laval native earned himself an opportunity to play in his hometown for the Laval Rocket. He appeared in two games before being returned to Adirondack. He finished the season with nine points (two with the Icemen, seven with the Thunder).
Conor Riley (forward): Riley has been a mainstay with the Thunder since he finished his collegiate career in 2016, Adirondack’s first season in the league. The defenseman signed up for the 2016-17 season, had a slow start, and ended up in the SPHL with the Peoria Rivermen. He worked his way back to Adirondack and never looked back, re-signing with the Thunder each season.
During the 2017-18 season, Riley made the switch to forward mid-season. In 2018-19, he earned his first AHL call-up and scored his first AHL goal with the Binghamton Devils. He also had a three-game stint with the Providence Bruins later that season. Riley also scored his first hat trick that season.
His hard work earned him his first NHL training camp opportunity in 2019 with the Anaheim Ducks. He then attended the San Diego Gulls camp before returning to Adirondack to begin the 2019-20 season. He currently has 94 points (44 goals, 50 assists) with the Thunder.
Kelly Summers (defense): Summers signed with the Thunder as a rookie in the 2018-19 campaign following a college career at Clarkson University. He learned and improved quickly, at times looking more like a veteran than a rookie, and ended the season with 24 points and a plus-15 rating, second only to forward James Henry‘s plus-16.
He re-signed with Adirondack last season and picked up right where he left off. He earned his first AHL stint with the Binghamton Devils and scored his first AHL goal before being returned to the Thunder. Once again, Summers finished the season with 24 points for Adirondack. His plus-18 rating led the team.
Blake Thompson (defense): Thompson bounced around a bit before finding a home with the Thunder during his rookie season. After a collegiate career at St. Norbert College, Thompson played two games with the Orlando Solar Bears at the end of the 2016-17 season.
During the 2017-18 season, he played with both the Evansville Thunderbolts (SPHL) and Cincinnati Cyclones before landing in Adirondack. He completed his rookie season in New York, re-signing with the Thunder the following two seasons. Like so many others, Thompson has found a bit of a comfort zone in Glens Falls and has seen an improvement in his game as a result.
Note: Qualifying offers are for players who have not signed with the team yet. Also, players on NHL or AHL contracts cannot receive qualifying offers from the ECHL teams they played for. Evan Cormier, Ludvig Larsson, Eamon McAdam, Ara Nazarian, Nikita Popugaev, and Colby Sissons all fall into one of these two categories.
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