The Jacksonville Icemen of the ECHL announced the signing of veteran defenseman Mike Ratchuk on Wednesday. Jacksonville is affiliated with the Manitoba Moose of the AHL and the Winnipeg Jets of the NHL. The 29-year-old defenseman was originally selected 42nd overall in the second round of the 2006 NHL Draft by the Philadelphia Flyers.
Ratchuk started making waves in his hockey career all the way back in 2004-05 with the U.S. National U-17 Team in the United States Development Program. He would move onto the U-18 squad a year later for both the USDP and NAHL. Ratchuk would also spend some time in the NCAA for Michigan State University where in 82 games he put up 36 points (10g, 27a).
During the later part of his last NCAA season, Ratchuk would make his pro debut with the Philadelphia Phantoms of the AHL where he put up three points in three games. In 2008-09 he would spend an entire season with the Phantoms, this time putting up 17 points in 77 games. After that is was much of the same for Ratchuk as he would spend two more seasons in the AHL but this time splitting those years between three teams, the Adirondack Phantoms, Springfield Falcons, and Syracuse Crunch.
It wasn’t until 2011-12 that Ratchuk would move down a level to the ECHL for the Elmira Jackals, however, that year was also spent with Binghamton and Syracuse in the AHL. He took a small break from North American pro hockey in 2012-13 when he played for the Olimpija Ljubljana in the EBEL where he put up 11 points in 42 games.
But after that, Ratchuk was back in the ECHL. During the 2013-14 and 2014-15 campaigns, Ratchuk played for the Wheeling Nailers where he put up some decent numbers offensively. He played a total of 97 games during those two seasons and in doing so put up 17 goals and 38 assists for 55 points. A year later he was on the move yet again, this time to the Cincinnati Cyclones where he would only play 24 games before moving to Norfolk and Utah of the ECHL as well.
Last season saw Ratchuk play outside of the pro’s yet again as he joined the Sheffield Steelers of the EIHL putting up 21 points in 45 games. So it’s clear that the 29-year-old has been quite the journeyman over his years of hockey, and hopefully stays with the Jacksonville Icemen, a team that could use some experience.