35 Players sign NAHL Tenders in Preparation for ’23-24

Teams from the Mitten State account for 10 percent of all tenders for the upcoming season

Craig Peterson

June 15, 2023

Photo by Hometown Life
Photo by Hometown Life

The window to sign North American Hockey League (NAHL) tender contracts for the upcoming season has officially closed. Nearly 350 prospects have agreed to join NAHL teams for the 2023-24 season. Among those to accept offers were 35 players with ties to Michigan youth hockey programs. 

A tender contract awards the team exclusive rights to the player for the upcoming season. That means that the player is no longer eligible to sign a tender with any other NAHL team, nor can they be selected in the league’s upcoming draft. Additionally, that player receives a spot in the team’s main camp with an opportunity to make the opening-day roster. 

Standouts Rosa and Markham Highlight 10 High School Seniors to Sign Tenders

Cam Markham was named the 2023 Mr. Hockey recipient while Peter Rosa earned State Champs! MVP honors for a second consecutive year. Both signed NAHL tenders for the upcoming season, with Markham set to join the Wisconsin Windigo and Rosa heading to the Oklahoma Warriors. Markham was a four-year letter-winner for Houghton, scoring 184 points in 90 career games. Fellow 2004-born Rosa played three seasons for Brother Rice, playing a significant role in the Warriors’ back-to-back Division-II state championships. 

Markham’s teammate and ‘05-born forward Landon Stevens also signed an NAHL tender; he’s set to join Odessa this fall. Two other Michigan high school seniors signed on with Odessa as well. Hartland’s Braden Pietila and Gabriel Richard’s Jimmy Monks will join Stevens in Texas. Odessa has been a popular destination for high school hockey alumni; its 2022-23 roster included Brendan Finn (Lake Orion, 2021) and Cameron Dunn (West Ottawa, 2021).

Pietila wasn’t the only Hartland graduate to sign a tender. Teammate Jack L’Esperance signed on with the Chippewa Steel. Both L’Esperance and Pietila were members of the Team Michigan Seniors that won the 2023 CCM NIT in Minnesota. Teammates from that tournament team included Logan Nickolaus, Owen Penny, Jack Roberts and Landon West. All three also signed NAHL tenders for the upcoming season. 

Nickolaus spent that last four years between Byron Center and Fox Motors. In 75 high school games, he scored 58 goals and 132 points. Over that same time frame, Nickolaus scored 12 goals and 31 points in 40 total games for Fox Motors at the 14U, 16U and 18U age levels.

Penny was a three-year letter-winner for Livonia Stevenson, scoring 44 goals and 100 points in career 64 games. Roberts played his junior and senior years for Chelsea, scoring 56 goals and 112 points in 40 career games. 

West is set to join the El Paso Rhinos after leading the No. 1 team in the state, Detroit Catholic Central, in scoring with 52 points.

Note: Holden Pratt signed a tender with Aberdeen. He played four years for Grandville, and most recently played for the Minnesota Loons in the NA3HL.

18 Total Tenders from the 18U Age Group; Biggby Accounts for Nine of Them

Eight 18U AAA teams in MAHA combined to produce 18 total tenders for the 2023-24 season. Biggby accounted for half of those signings, headlined by top-scoring Michigan natives Charlie Smith, Vinny Hart and D.J. Ott. Import players and top performers Anthony Alvarado (California), Gavin Duckworth (Texas) and Breyden Zupsansky (Ohio) also signed tenders. Bryce Boucher, Garrett Carvounis and Brando DiAntonio (California) round out the group.

As a league member of the NAPHL, Biggby does have a slight advantage in the tender department over other Michigan-based clubs. The NAPHL is a sister league to the NAHL, and all NAHL teams are equipped with two NAPHL player-specific tenders that must be fulfilled. These NAPHL tenders vary from the general NAHL tenders, as they can only be issued to NAPHL players.

Five other MAHA teams accounted for the remaining nine NAHL tenders signed this season. Here’s a breakdown by team:

9:Biggby Coffee 18U
3:Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 18U
2:Belle Tire 18U
2:Little Caesars 18U
1:Fox Motors 18U
1:Victory Honda 18U
0:Compuware 18U
0:HoneyBaked 18U

Four Michigan Natives Find Success Out-of-State

After playing the last two seasons with HoneyBaked, goaltender Oskar Siemionek spent the 2022-23 season with the Omaha Mastery. The Detroit native signed an NAHL tender mid-season to join the Minot Minotauros this fall. 

Listed as a native of Howell Michigan, Christopher Graves has spent the last four seasons playing in Florida and Arizona. He’s set to join the Colorado Grit for the organization’s inaugural season. 

Kingsford, Michigan, native Henry McRoberts has played for three different organizations in the past three years. Each of those stops have been in separate states, including the Northern Cyclones, Maine Nordiques, and most recently, the Sioux Falls Power. 

After playing his sophomore, junior and senior seasons for Houghton, defenseman Matthew Rowe played an additional season of youth hockey with the 18U Madison Capitols. It served him well, as he signed a tender with nearby Wisconsin Windigo.

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