Good morning, Insiders!
Two AHL contracts were signed to announce this morning, as the Ontario-era defenders Tyler Inamoto and Christian Casastole signed AHL’s one-year contracts. Both defenders appeared last season with Reign on PTO (Professional Experience), with Kasastul being a regular backend league player, while Inamoto joined the team at the end of the season and made his professional debut from the University of Wisconsin.
Kasastul has been with Ontario for the greater part of the season, playing 25 AHL games versus just 13 ECHL games with Greenville. Casastol was in training camp with Ontario and came back twice on a pro experience, his second signing lasting from early December through early April. Casastol provided stability and consistency on the back end, especially as the Kings suffered injuries in the two balls, which saw Norwigan earn more minutes.
Inamoto joined Reign late in the season after finishing his college career at the University of Wisconsin. A fifth-round pick by Florida in the 2017 NHL Draft, Inamoto benefited from an NCAA rule that allowed players an additional season of eligibility due to time eliminated due to COVID, and played five seasons in total with the Badgers. Inamoto’s rights to Carolina were traded on deadline, but the two sides had yet to agree on an NHL contract by the August 15 deadline, with the player joining Ontario two weeks later.
Both players are better known for their abilities on their end than on the offensive end of the ring, which is not a bad thing for players who are likely to start at the bottom of the squad and demand to play responsibly. Casastol impressed with his physique, competitiveness and intensity when he played last season, becoming part of Reign’s all-powerful squad for four months. Inamoto’s audition was short–only two games–but his reputation as an individual “eating pucks” preceded him from the NCAA to the AHL.
The duo are the third and fourth defenders signed by Reign for AHL contracts this off-season, joining veteran Cameron Jones and rookie Joe Gatenby. Gaunce will likely be part of Ontario’s leadership pool this season, while Gatenby is on a two-way contract, with Ontario and ECHL-Greenville, the organization’s new affiliate.
All in all, Reign should be in a constant battle for positions on the roster at Blueline during bootcamp. In addition to the four players on AHL contracts, Reign can have several players on NHL contracts as well. The Kings currently have 11 defenders signed to NHL contracts, and that doesn’t include pairs Mikey Anderson and Sean Durzi, who remain restricted free agents. Assuming they’re both agreed by the season, Ontario can expect 5-6 contract defensemen from the Kings, barring any injuries every now and then. The AHL does not carry a roster limit, which means that Ontario can choose to carry additional players if they choose.
Inamoto, 23, became a pro by signing a pro experience with Reign late last season after playing teamwork at the University of Wisconsin from 2017-22. The Barrington, Illinois native appeared in a total of 158 appearances for the Badgers while scoring 29 points from five goals and 24 assists. decisive. The blueliner made his Ontario debut late in the regular season and saw the excitement of two competitions.
Serving as one of Wisconsin’s bench captains during 2021-22, the 6-foot-2, 202-pound defender scored a pair of assists in 26 games. During both the junior and senior seasons, Inamoto ranked fifth among all NCAA skaters in blocking shots. He was previously drafted by the Florida Panthers in the fifth round of the 2017 NHL Draft and spent two campaigns with the United States National Team Development Program (USNTDP) from 2015-2017, winning a goal medal with Team USA at the 2017 World Under-18 Championship.
Wisconsin associate coach Mark Oseki on Inamoto (February 2022)
Tyler Inamoto is one of those guys that you love as a coach. He’s one of those kids who does everything right. If you ask anyone on our list, they will definitely say he leads by example. Every kid wants to put big numbers and score points, but he doesn’t have to worry about that. He’s worried about making a good first pass, he’s worried about defending first and being a good teammate, that’s what defines his game. Some nights he blocks as many shots as the goalkeeper, he is one of those guys who want to be known for their bravery.
Casastol, 25, was a fit in 25 AHL games for Ontario last season and scored eight points with one goal and seven assists. He also played for ECHL’s Greenville Swamp Rabbits during his first professional year in North America, appearing in 13 games and scoring four assists. Kasastol, who was born in Skåne, Norway, played in four playoff games for Grenfell, scoring a goal and an assist.
Prior to last season, Casastol spent seven seasons playing professionally in Europe from 2014 to 21, including 207 games in Norway and 82 games in Sweden. He has represented Norway on the international stage at the IIHF World Championships three times in 2019, 2021 and 2022.
Ontario assistant coach Chris Haggt on Castol (March 2022)
Since he came back, he’s getting better every day. That’s an important thing, you want to keep doing that and he’s working on his game, he’s a competitive person. That jumps out at you right away, he doesn’t care who you are, he’ll play physically, it’d be hard to play against him in his own zone, away from the rush, and he’s a physical item we need and he did an excellent job of it, he’s been into scratching and stuff. Other teams don’t like him because he plays hard. He played a killing penalty as well and the other night he had four blocking shots to kill one there and that goes a long way with your teammates that you’re willing to put your body to the test and put your team before your own needs doing it. It’s something that bothers the other players and they have a lot of respect for him and he’s done a lot of really good things, he’s been in the squad, out of the squad, he’s just getting on with his work and working on his game every day and it’s good for him.”