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Gladiators' roster gets infusion of firepower

DULUTH — The Gwinnett Gladiators added some offensive punch to their roster, signing rookie defenseman Martin Lefebvre and former Florida Everblades forward Alex Hutchings.

Hutchings has spent the last three seasons under contract with Tampa Bay and has split time between Florida and the AHL. Last year, the 22-year-old had 34 points in 40 games with the Everblades and also played 24 games for the Syracuse Crunch.

“I love his speed and I love his tenacity for the game,” head coach Rick Emmett said. “He plays well in all three zones and gets timely goals as well.”

In 2011-12, Hutchings had 24 points in 23 games with Florida, which won the Kelly Cup that season. Hutchings wasn’t there for the playoff run, however, having been called up to AHL Norfolk. He spent the bulk of his rookie season with Everblades after a four-year career for Barrie in the Ontario Hockey League.

A fourth-round draft pick of the Lightning in 2009 and proven contributor at two levels, Hutchings was in demand this offseason.

“There was certainly interest from other teams,” Emmett said. “We definitely expressed a strong interest in him from the get-go.”

Hutchings is headed to AHL Rochester for training camp and looking to establish himself there.

“He’s motivated to get to that point (of being under NHL contract) again,” Emmett said.

Lefebvre coming straight out of the major junior ranks after a whole career with the Quebec Remparts. The 21-year-old blueliner averaged 43 points per season while playing 249 games.

“He’s a dynamic puck-handling defenseman,” Emmett said. “He was one of the better defenders in the league (QMJHL) and you can tell by the numbers he has quite the ability to move the puck.”

Lefebvre, a teammate of Gwinnett goalie Louis Domingue for three seasons, will see time on the power play and be looked to for some leadership after serving as a captain for the Remparts.