Thursday, May 15, 2008

Plymouth's Bellemore signs with Carolina

The Carolina Hurricanes today announced that the team has agreed to terms with defenseman Brett Bellemore on a three-year, entry-level contract.

The deal will pay Bellemore an average of $500,000 per season in the NHL and an average of $55,000 per season in the minor leagues. Bellemore also receives a $100,000 signing bonus as a part of the contract.

“Brett is a big and smart defenseman who can log a lot of minutes,” said Carolina assistant general manager Ron Francis. “He played well in Albany at the end of the year and we look forward to watching his development as a professional.”

Bellemore, 19, completed his third season with the Plymouth Whalers of the Ontario Hockey League in 2007-08, scoring six goals, earning 18 assists (24 points) and accumulating 70 penalty minutes in 56 regular-season games. Following Plymouth’s exit from the OHL playoffs, Bellemore (6-foot-4, 200 pounds) finished the season with Carolina’s top minor-league affiliate, the Albany River Rats of the American Hockey League, playing in four of Albany’s last six regular-season games, and five of the team’s seven postseason games.

In 2006-07, the Windsor, Ont., native was named Plymouth’s Most Improved Player when he led all Canadian Hockey League defensemen with a plus-48 plus-minus rating, and helped the Whalers to the OHL championship. In three seasons of major junior hockey, Bellemore played in 152 regular-season games, scoring six goals and earning 30 assists (36 points) and helping Plymouth make the playoffs in each of his three seasons.

Carolina drafted Bellemore in the sixth round, 162nd overall, in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. He was originally selected by the Whalers in the 12th round (233rd overall) in the 2004 OHL Priority Selection.

“We saw a lot of potential in Brett when we drafted him,” said Plymouth head coach Greg Stefan. “We saw with his size and his instincts, that there was something there. Fortunately for us, he came into his own during our Memorial Cup run (2007) and was one of the better defensive defensemen in junior hockey. He was a stalwart defenseman for us last season, playing close to 30 minutes per game.

“By losing him, it’s going to hurt us, but on the other hand, it’s great to see our players reach their goals and sign NHL contracts. We wish him the best.”

“One of our goals, as an organization, is to help players move up to professional hockey,” said Plymouth general manager Mike Vellucci. “Brett has worked very hard for the Whalers and has earned this opportunity. We’re very happy for him.”

Photo by Walt Dmoch/Plymouth Whalers

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