Two professional hockey players from P.E.I. have had plenty to be thankful for this month.
Zack MacEwen, 24, of Stratford signed a two-year contract with the Vancouver Canucks with an average annual value of $825,000.
And Josh Currie, 27, of Charlottetown signed a one-year deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins that will pay him $700,000 if he makes the NHL club, and $350,000 if he is sent down to their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
"I'm extremely happy with the contract," said Currie, who now lives in the Covehead area in the off-season.
"Obviously you want to play in the NHL, and by playing in the NHL, you get to make the bigger money, so it's just kind of an incentive to work hard."
Obviously you want to play in the NHL, and by playing in the NHL, you get to make the bigger money, so it's just kind of an incentive to work hard. — Josh Currie
Currie has had a productive minor league career with the Bakersfield Condors, the AHL affiliate of the Edmonton Oilers. In the 2018-19 season, he got a taste of the NHL, playing 21 games with the Oilers.
He returned to Bakersfield last season, then became a free agent before signing with Pittsburgh on Oct. 9.
"I knew that I wasn't probably going to re-sign with Edmonton, I was looking for a new opportunity, just kind of a fresh start," he said.
"It seemed like the best fit. They were excited to have me and I was just as excited to go to Pittsburgh."
The NHL season is scheduled to start Jan. 1, delayed from the autumn of 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Currie will go to Pittsburgh's training camp this winter taking nothing for granted.
"Everything is earned. Nothing's going to be given to me, but they definitely said they signed me for a reason. They think I can play games in the NHL for them, so it's up to me to put in the work this summer and show them that they were right by signing me."
MacEwen, who has remained in Vancouver during the COVID-19 pandemic, said in a text message that it was a "great feeling" to re-sign with the Canucks, adding that he's training for the upcoming season. He played 23 games for Vancouver last season, including six in the playoffs. He will make the same salary whether he's in the NHL or AHL.
Three other players from P.E.I. are also under contract with NHL teams: Noah Dobson of Summerside and Ross Johnston of Charlottetown with the New York Islanders, and Jordan Spence of Cornwall with the Los Angeles Kings.
As well, in July, Sarah Steele of Stratford signed a professional contract with the Toronto Six of the National Women's Hockey League.
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