The Lehigh Valley Phantoms have re-signed forward Chris Conner to a two-year deal which will keep him under contract through the 2018-19 season. The 33-year-old winger has spent the past two seasons with the Phantoms and posted a career-high 22 goals and tied a career-best 56 points in 2016-17.
The @LVPhantoms have signed five players to AHL contracts, including forward Chris Conner
— AHL (@TheAHL) July 6, 2017
Conner finally seems to have found himself a home in Lehigh Valley for the first time since he was drafted and played four seasons in the Stars’ organization from 2005-2009. Since then Conner has bounced around the AHL and NHL; Conner has played for the Peoria Rivermen, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins (two tenures), Grand Rapids Griffins, Portland Pirates, and the Hershey Bears in the AHL. In the NHL, Conner has made appearances for the Pittsburgh Penguins, Detroit Red Wings, Phoenix Coyotes, and the Washington Capitals.
The Phantoms also announced that they have signed four players to AHL contracts: Derek Hulak, Matt Willows, Frank Hora, and John Muse.
Hulak is entering his 4th season of professional hockey. Spending almost a decade playing hockey in the WHL and CIS (Canadian collegiate sports system), he was signed to a professional contract by the Texas Stars in 2014. An offensive force with the Stars in his first 2 seasons, he recorded 44 and 40 points in 68 and 69 games, respectively. Last season, the 27-year old forward only played 17 games with the Utica Comets before an upper-body injury took him out of the lineup for the season.
Willows, 25, is entering his 3rd season of professional hockey. After spending 4 seasons playing for the University of New Hampshire, Willows signed his first AHL contract in 2015 with the Charlotte Checkers where he was then immediately sent down to the Florida Everblades in the ECHL for the full season. Scoring 66 points in 71 games for the Everblades, the forward added 6 more points in 6 playoff games that year to take home the John A. Daley Trophy as the ECHL Rookie of the Year. The next season, 2016-17, he bounced around a few teams in the AHL and ECHL before ending up on the Reading Royals for the majority of the year. A team affiliated with the Flyers, the Royals enjoyed his presence as he scored 50 points in 46 games in the regular season.
Hora is entering his rookie year next year with the Phantoms. After spending the last 4 seasons playing with the Kitchner Rangers of the OHL, it will be his first professional contract. However, he was signed to a PTO last year with the Cleveland Monsters for 4 games. The 21-year old defenseman was honored with the captaincy of the Rangers last season. In 241 OHL games, he scored 91 points.
Muse, 28, is entering his 7th season of professional hockey. A bit of a journeyman of sorts, the goaltender has played for 7 teams across the AHL and ECHL as well as 1 game with the Portlan Pirates on a PTO in 2011. Usually a backup, Muse’s busiest season was 2013-14 where he was able to play 47 games with the Charlotte Checkers and put up a .915 save percentage. Named twice an AHL Player of the Week that year, it remains the only time he played over 30 regular season games a year. In 2011-12, Muse was the biggest reason behind the Florida Everblades’ Kelly Cup title as his .939 save percentage in 13 playoff games earned him the Kelly Cup Playoffs MVP award. Last year, he played 20 games with the Rochester Americans and Elmira Jackals in the AHL and ECHL.