GLENS FALLS, N.Y. – The Adirondack Thunder have announced their qualifying offers for the 2019-20 season. Each team is allowed eight, and most teams use all eight, though not required to. The Thunder was one of the teams that used all eight of theirs, extending offers to defensemen Desmond Bergin, Jake Linhart, Michael Sdao, Kelly Summers, and Blake Thompson, as well as forwards Shane Conacher, Conor Riley, and Mike Szmatula.
Bergin has spent the past two seasons with the Thunder, racking up 67 points in 102 regular season games, and eight points in 16 playoff games. The Massachusetts native has also spent some time in the AHL during that time: two games with the Hartford Wolf Pack during the 2017-18 season, six games with the Providence Bruins, two with the Milwaukee Admirals, and ten with the Binghamton Devils during the 2018-19 campaign. After four years at Harvard, Bergin spent his rookie season with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits in 2016-17.
Linhart joined the Thunder after four seasons at the University of Wisconsin. In his first pro season, Linhart picked up 30 points in 60 regular season games with the Thunder, plus three assists in four postseason games. He also earned himself an AHL call-up, and picked up an assist in five games with the Hershey Bears.
Sdao joined Adirondack after a scoreless season with the Rapid City Rush. Known more for his big hits than his point production, the big 6’4″, 225 lbs. defenseman was able to contribute three goals and seven points during the 2018-19 regular season. Sdao has plenty of AHL experience as well, competing in a total of 137 games spanning five seasons. He originally signed with the Binghamton Senators in 2013 after his collegiate career at Princeton had ended. He remained with the Sens until the 2015-16 season, when he headed to the Rochester Americans, then to the Iowa Wild in 2016-17. He spent much of that season with the Colorado Eagles before moving on to the Rush in 2017-18.
Like Linhart, Summers was another rookie defenseman who entered his first pro season in Glens Falls after finishing his college career. The Ontario native spent four years at Clarkson University. Despite an injury that sidelined him for a couple months, Summers was still able to contribute five goals and 24 points in 49 regular season games.
Thompson just completed his second full pro season. The only Adirondack defenseman to appear in all 72 regular season games in 2018-19, the Ontario native had his best season thus far, picking up six goals and 21 points. Thompson had previously played for the Orlando Solar Bears following his college career (St. Norbert College) at the end of the 2016-17 season, the Cincinnati Cyclones and Evansville Thunderbolts (SPHL) in 2017-18, before joining the Thunder mid-season.
Conacher is a talented forward who came to the Thunder via trade in 2017. Though under contract with the Syracuse Crunch, the Orlando Solar Bears still held his rights heading into the 2017-18 season. His rights were traded to Adirondack, where he thrived. Conacher racked up 63 points in 55 games in the regular season, and four more points in the playoffs. The Thunder were happy to re-sign him for the 2018-19 season. During his second season with Adirondack, Conacher was diagnosed with testicular cancer, forcing him to miss some time during his recovery. His comeback couldn’t have been more perfect, though, with a goal on Cancer Awareness Night. Though not at his pace from 2017-18, he still put up 33 points in 43 regular season games.
Riley has been with the Thunder in each of their first four seasons, beginning his pro career after four years at the University of Maine. Originally a defenseman, Riley switched to the forward position part-time during the 2017-18 season, and became a full-time forward for the 2018-19 campaign. This was when he shined, with 21 goals and 35 points (including a hat trick) in 53 games. He also earned himself two AHL call-ups: two games with the Binghamton Devils (where he scored his first AHL goal), and three games with the Providence Bruins. Riley is currently in Australia playing for the CBR Brave. Their postseason ends in September, so it is very possible to see Riley back in Glens Falls come October.
After finishing his college career at the University of Minnesota, Szmatula joined the Thunder for the end of the 2017-18 regular season, and stayed on for their playoff run. The small (5’9″) forward scored his first five pro goals during that playoff run. During his first full pro season, Szmatula contributed 48 points in 60 regular season games with the Thunder, as well as two points in the playoffs. As the lone representative from Adirondack at the 2019 All-Star Classic, he made the Thunder proud with his two goals and four points. He also earned his first AHL call-ups, two games with the Stockton Heat and three with the Utica Comets. Szmatula has signed a contract with GKS Tychy in Poland. By extending the qualifying offer, the Thunder will hold his rights for a year.
Reminder: The absence of a qualifying offer does not necessarily mean a player will not return. If a player has already signed with the team prior to June 30, there is no need for a qualifying offer. It is very possible that some players have already signed contracts with the team and they have not been publicly announced.
There have been three returnees announced so far this summer: forward Matt Salhany, rookie defenseman Tommy Parran, and rookie forward Hans Gorowsky.
After struggling with the Reading Royals and South Carolina Stingrays in his rookie season, Salhany thrived in his 58 regular season games with the Thunder last season, scoring 15 goals and 42 points. He also scored a pair of goals, including the game-winner, in Adirondack’s lone playoff victory.
Following the end of his collegiate career with Ohio State University, Parran joined the Thunder for three games late in the 2018-19 season, where he picked up an assist.
Gorowsky, a former teammate of Salhany’s while at the University of Alabama-Huntsville, also joined the Thunder following his collegiate career, picking up two goals.
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