Salmon Arm Silverbacks alumni are making bounds in the hockey world, with three leading the charge in the NHL and others just on the cusp. These players have all attended NHL camps with aspirations of cracking the roster and securing a role in “The Show”.
Taro Hirose, Chase Priskie, and Angus Redmond are three former Silverbacks trying to join the likes of Travis Zajac, Riley Nash, and Josh Manson in the NHL.
Hirose, Priskie, and Redmond are at an exciting stage in their career, but also the toughest point in their aspirations to play in the NHL. This is inevitably where careers advance to the spotlight of the NHL or stay in the shadows of the minor leagues.
Taro Hirose (Detroit Red Wings)
Our first player, whose name you have heard mentioned a time or two throughout Salmon Arm is Taro Hirose. Hirose is currently on a one-year two-way deal where he has been moving in and out of the lineup between the Detroit Red Wings and their American Hockey League farm club, the Grand Rapids Griffins.
Detroit assigned Hirose to the minors alongside 10 other players back on Jan. 12. However, he was back with the Wings two weeks later and made his season debut against Chicago on Jan. 24, where he was added to the fourth line with Frans Nielsen and Giavani Smith.
He stayed on that line for the following matchup against the Dallas Stars on Jan. 16 in a 2-1 loss. Despite the defeat, Hirose secured his first point of the season, an assist on a Vladislav Namestnikov goal.
Expect to see Hirose suit up for Detroit throughout the season as he looks to prove to the Red Wings he can be an everyday NHLer and earn a multi-year contract offer.
"I’m really looking forward to really taking a step this year. I think there’s another level to my game that I’m really looking forward to."
Chase Priskie on building off success he had in his first pro season last year. pic.twitter.com/fQicMqnUUc
— Syracuse Crunch (@SyracuseCrunch) January 27, 2021
Chase Priskie (Florida Panthers)
Defenseman Chase Priskie, our next Silverbacks alumnus, was a sixth-round pick of the Washington Capitals in the 2016 NHL Draft.
Despite never signing with the Capitals, not even 48 hours after his draft rights expired, he was inked by the Carolina Hurricanes to a two-year, entry-level pact on Aug. 17, 2019. Priskie failed to crack Carolina’s roster after signing and didn’t see any NHL action with the Hurricanes.
He eventually was part of a blockbuster trade that saw Priskie, Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark, and Eeto Luostarinan sent to Florida for Vincent Trocheck back on Feb. 24, 2020. Priskie attended training camp with the Panthers for the 2020-21 season and is still on their radar as a potential player.
Priskie was assigned to the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL, which is the Panthers farm team, on Jan. 13. Hopefully, his efforts in the AHL find him a spot with the Panthers at some point this season as he looks to make his NHL debut.
VIDEO: In a fresh episode of Catching up with the Backs, we chat with our all-time wins leader: @Angus_Redmond!
'Beef' talks about his time here from 2012-16, signing with the Anaheim Ducks & more!
— Salmon Arm Silverbacks (@SASilverbacks) January 11, 2021
Angus Redmond (Edmonton Oilers)
The first goalie to come out of Salmon Arm with NHL potential is Angus Redmond. After proving a solid netminder for Michigan Tech in the 2016-17 season, Redmond found himself a three-year entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks.
Redmond’s path following the signing proved uncertain as he jumped between the AHL and ECHL. During that time, he appeared for seven different teams between the two leagues before landing with the Newfoundland Growlers and starting 20 games for them in the 2019-20 season.
His impressive performance with the Growlers garnered the attention of the Edmonton Oilersm who were looking for depth between the pipes. The Oilers made a move for Redmond by trading Joel Persson and a conditional seventh-round pick for the netminder last February.
Redmond has yet to crack Edmonton’s lineup and is currently signed to a professional try-out contract with the Bakersfield Condors of the ECHL.
Each of these players has a unique journey on their path to try to make the NHL. Travelling all across North America, facing different roadblocks, and meeting new challenges is all part of reaching the highest level of the sport.
The one common factor they share is how hard it is to break through to that highest level. With only 23 spots on an NHL club’s active roster, open spots rarely occur and need to be taken advantage of. It will come down to hard work, determination, and a stroke of luck for Hirose, Priskie, or Redmond to be the next Silverbacks alumnus to play in the NHL.