At around 11 p.m. Monday night captain Maxime Fortunus made the decision to commit to the future of the Texas Stars and signed a two-year standard American Hockey League contract with the club.
Texas Stars GM Scott White told me last week he was looking for a veteran defenseman to fill out the roster and had one in mind. It turns out Fortunus was always that defenseman and White was just waiting for the captain to make his final decision.
“It was Max Fortunus the whole time,” White said. “Just pleased to have the negotiations complete and he’s comfortable with his role within the Texas and Dallas Stars organization.”
Fortunus is one of the original members of the Texas Stars and a two-year AHL contract is a bit of an anomaly — Justin Dowling and Mike Hedden both signed one-year AHL deals. White said that Fortunus’ history with club was the reason for the two-year deal.
“It’s huge for our group (of defenseman) to have Max back in the fold,” White said. “Obviously two-year deals aren’t common place in the (AHL), so you wouldn’t make this type of deal with a person you didn’t know. It’s a good partnership for Max and the Stars.”
With Fortunus’ signing White said the core of the 2013-14 roster is complete. White may sign some other players to AHL or AHL/ECHL deals, but for the time being he’s not in talking to many free agents.
White did say he expects defensemen Jordie Benn and Kevin Connauton to compete for an NHL roster spot. While both players are on two-way contracts this season, both would have to go through waivers to play in the AHL.
“That’s part of the business and a risk associated with competing,” White said. “There is a chance they could be sent down, but that’s the risk when you sign a player to a contract like that. Right now both those players are looking to make the NHL and aren’t worried about the Texas Stars.”
Here is the official release on the Fortunus signing:
CEDAR PARK, Texas – The Texas Stars announced today that the club has signed defenseman Maxime Fortunus to a two-year standard American Hockey League contract through the 2014-15 season.
Fortunus, 29, is a member of the Original Texas Stars, having played all four years of the franchise’s existence. The La Prairie, Quebec native was selected as the Stars’ third captain in team history on October 12, 2012 and had 28 points (7 goals, 21 assists) and 16 penalty minutes in 67 regular season games during the 2012-13 season. Fortunus also appeared in all nine Calder Cup Playoff games for Texas, registering one assist and two penalty minutes. Undrafted after playing parts of five seasons for Baie-Comeau Drakkar of the QMJHL, he has played in 699 career professional games over the course of his ten pro seasons, including 568 career AHL games with 180 points (49 goals, 131 assists) and 234 penalty minutes in his AHL career. Fortunus has also played in 94 career Calder Cup Playoff games, reaching the Calder Cup Finals in back-to-back seasons with the Manitoba Moose (2009) and Texas (2010), both times losing to the Hershey Bears in six games. He made his NHL debut with the Dallas Stars on December 18, 2009 against the Detroit Red Wings and has appeared in eight career NHL games for the Stars.
Fortunus has appeared in 272 career regular season games for Texas, which is the most of any defenseman in team history and ranks fourth overall. He leads the franchise amongst defenseman in almost every offensive category: goals (29), assists (76), points (105), power play goals (11), power play assists (31) and shots (410). Fortunus ranks fourth overall in assists and points, fifth in shots, ninth in goals and 13th in penalty minutes. He is one of only three players, along with Colton Sceviour and Francis Wathier, to play in all 39 Calder Cup Playoff games in Texas Stars history.