As you know, the Wolves are now affiliated with the Canucks and their captain for the past two seasons, Jason Krog, is headed to Sweden. Clearly, a lot of changes are coming to the team — and they are coming fast.
Thankfully, one of those changes might just be a new captain who’s ready to go. On Saturday, the Winnipeg Sun announced that Nolan Baumgartner was re-signed by the Canucks after spending the last few seasons with their AHL affiliate, the Manitoba Moose, and serving as their captain for two non-consecutive seasons.
Now that AHL affiliation has changed to the Wolves, Baumgartner will be expected to serve both as a leader with the Wolves (as the team will now consist of many of the guys he played with on the Moose) and as a depth player for the Canucks. The 35-year-old defenseman seems completely ready to take on the challenge, though — but he is also very grateful to the Moose and the city of Winnipeg, and sad to leave them.
“I was going on eight years being part of the Moose organization and I owe a lot to that organization and to the city too. We live there now and it’s a great place to raise a family for my wife and I. In summers, we’re going to come back and enjoy because we enjoy the people so much,” he said.
To have a veteran who has previously led this group of guys will definitely be helpful as the new Wolves face the start of the season in a different city, with a different management — and a very different fanbase.
After the jump, find out whom the Wolves will be welcoming back from Finland and which ex-Wolf signed with the Penguins.
Kevin Doell Returning to the Wolves
A piece of news that slipped through the cracks, but the Wolves announced near the end of the June that they will be bringing back Kevin Doell. Doell spent six seasons with the Wolves, from 2003 to 2008 and then 2009-2010, spending the gap year with Leksands Idrottsförening (Leksands IF) from HockeyAllsvenskan in Sweden — and then returned to Europe last year, spending the season with Tappara Tampere of the SM-liiga in Finland where he ranked first on the team with 18 goals and 38 points in 58 games. He was also second with 105 penalty minutes and third with 20 assists. Doell should be joining Darren Haydar, Mark Matheson, and Tim Miller, whose contracts were also with the Wolves rather than with the Thrashers. Relatedly, some of the former Moose who are expected to be transitioning to the Wolves are goaltender Eddie Lack (!!!!!!), defenseman Yann Sauve, and forwards Bill Sweatt and Aaron Volpatti.
Valabik Comes to Terms with the Penguins
As reported by the AHL yesterday, former Wolf Boris Valabik was signed two a one-year, two-way contract by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Slovak was drafted by the Thrashers in 2004 after spending a year with the Kitchener Rangers in the OHL, and he spent two more years in the OHL before he debuted with the Wolves in 2006-2007. He split the next four seasons between the Thrashers and the Wolves, being a vital player in their championship season in 2007-2008 before being traded to the Bruins last February with Rich Peverley in exchange for Mark Stuart and Blake Wheeler. The 6’7″ defenseman finished last season with the Providence Bruins, notching a total of 11 assists and 189 penalty minutes in 59 regular-season AHL games during 2010-2011. He is best known by Penguins fans as the guy who took a run at Kris Letang and got several punches to the testicles by Sidney Crosby for his troubles.