By Phil Janack
The Daily Gazette
ALBANY, N.Y. – Bryan Rodney joined the Albany River Rats 10 months ago as nothing more than an emergency fill-in, one of a franchise-record 61 players that saw action at one time or another last season.
Twenty-two of those players, or more than a third, were defensemen, like Rodney. Most of them were around only as long as the injuries, illnesses and recalls lasted.
Rodney, who was selected to the 2008 ECHL All-Star Game but unable to play as he was in Albany, was an exception. In fact, he not only returns to Albany for his first full AHL season, but does so backed by his first NHL contract.
Discovered and promoted by former Rats coach Tom Rowe, Rodney signed a one-year, two-way contract with the Carolina Hurricanes on May 12, just two weeks after Albany’s season ended in a seventh-game loss to Philadelphia in the first round of the Calder Cup playoffs.
Rodney, 24, will earn $500,000 at the NHL level and $55,000 in the AHL. He also received a $30,000 signing bonus.
“It’s indescribable how good it felt,” Rodney said, “especially that early in the summer. I didn’t know the process, how it was going to go. To have it out of the way that early was a bonus for me, because it makes it easy.
“They’re dangling that carrot in front of you. You know where you’re going, you know where you’re going to be. You know what you’ve got to work out for. The last few years, it’s been hard because I didn’t know where I was going to play. This year, it was more laid out for me, and it made it much easier to sweat out those hard hours in the gym.”