Camp Day 1 Photo's
Training camp is officially underway, here is the roster.
Nailers Sign Michael Joly
2018 Kelly Cup Playoff MVP Has Spent the Last Two Seasons in the AHL
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce another player signing for the upcoming season. Wheeling has signed forward Michael Joly to an ECHL contract.
Joly, 25, is set to begin his fifth professional season, as he returns to the ECHL, where he has had outstanding success. Michael spent two seasons in the ECHL with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits and Colorado Eagles in 2016-17 and 2017-18, and proceeded to pile up 64 goals, 43 assists, and 107 points in 81 regular season games. That production continued in the 2018 playoffs, as he led the ECHL with 13 goals and 29 points and earned the June M. Kelly Playoffs Most Valuable Player Award, as the Eagles captured the Kelly Cup.
The Gatineau, Québec native has spent the last two seasons playing for Colorado in the American Hockey League, a league he has seen action in during all four years of his career. Joly's best AHL campaign came in 2018-19, when he finished fifth on the club with 30 points in 47 games. His career totals in the AHL are 34 goals, 34 assists, and 68 points in 136 games. Prior to turning pro, Michael played four seasons of junior hockey with the QMJHL's Rimouski Océanic and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles. The highlight of his junior career came in 2015, when his goal in double overtime of game seven won the President's Cup for the Océanic.
Nailers Sign Lawton Courtnall
Former Western Michigan Bronco to Continue His Family's Tradition in Professional Hockey
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced another player signing for the upcoming season. Wheeling has signed forward Lawton Courtnall to an ECHL contract.
Courtnall, 24, is set to begin his professional career, after completing his four-year collegiate career at Western Michigan University, where he majored in Business. As a Bronco, Lawton appeared in 138 games and totaled 17 goals, 19 assists, and 36 points. He appeared in at least 30 games in all four seasons, and has his best campaign as a senior, as he netted five goals and ten points, while achieving a +4 rating.
Prior to school, the Westlake Village, California native played three seasons of junior hockey in the USHL with the Waterloo Black Hawks and Sioux Falls Stampede. His time in Sioux Falls saw him have both individual and team success, as the Stampede won the Clark Cup in 2014-15, then he posted 31 points in 58 games the following year. Lawton comes from a strong sports family, as his father Russ and uncle Geoff combined to play in 2,078 NHL games, while his sister Ally won an NCAA Soccer Championship at UCLA.
Nailers Sign Dane Birks & Matt Foley
Birks Returns to Wheeling After One Year in Rapid City; Foley Begins Pro Career After Attending Yale
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced two more player signings for the upcoming season. Wheeling has signed defensemen Dane Birks and Matt Foley to ECHL contracts.
Birks, 25, will begin his third professional season and second in Wheeling, as he played for the Nailers during his rookie season of 2018-19. Dane accumulated one goal, 13 assists, and 14 points in 65 games with Wheeling, and also posted a +1 rating, as he was relied upon to play well in his defensive zone. Last season, the Merritt, British Columbia native recorded three goals, seven assists, and ten points in 52 games with the Rapid City Rush. Prior to turning pro, Birks played three seasons of college hockey at Michigan Tech, where he tallied 30 points in 117 games and posted a +27 rating.
Foley, 25, is set to make his professional debut. Matt attended Yale University for four years, where he majored in Political Science, while playing for the Bulldogs. The blueliner collected two goals, 16 assists, and 23 games in 88 games at Yale, with his best offensive season coming as a freshman, when he finished tied for third among his team's defensemen with eight points. The Longmeadow, Massachusetts native also played two seasons of junior hockey, as he notched ten points in 38 games with the BCHL's Merritt Centennials, then registered eight points in 45 games with the USHL's Bloomington Thunder.
Nailers Sign Sean Josling
Rookie Forward Led OHL's Sarnia Sting in Scoring Last Season
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their 21st player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Sean Josling to an ECHL contract.
Josling, 21, is set to begin his professional career, after having a successful junior hockey career with the OHL's Sarnia Sting. Sean led the Sting in scoring last season, as he amassed 32 goals, 46 assists, and 78 points in 60 games. It was his third consecutive campaign with at least 20 goals and his second straight year with at least 50 points. In addition to his success at even strength, Josling also provided offense on the power play (ranked 2nd with 23 points) and when his team was shorthanded (team-leading six points). In October, Sean rattled off a seven-game point streak, which included a pair of five-point performances and the first of his two hat tricks on the season.
"Sean is coming off of a strong overage campaign with Sarnia in the OHL," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "His greatest assets are his puck skills and his speed, and we are looking forward to him contributing to our offense."
The Toronto, Ontario native has played in his home province for his entire career, as he spent three seasons in the Greater Toronto Hockey League, which included a 59-point campaign with the Toronto Red Wings. Former Nailer Franky Palazzese was a member of Sarnia's coaching staff during the 2019-20 season.
"Wheeling is the best opportunity for me, as it's a great spot to play, and they have a history of moving players up the lineup quickly to the AHL and NHL," Josling said. "I like to score goals and put points up, but I take pride in my own end first and like to be an all-around player."
Nailers Sign Alex Tonge
Norfolk's Leading Scorer from Last Season Ranks Fourth All-Time in Points at Robert Morris University
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 20th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Alex Tonge to an ECHL contract.
Tonge, 25, will begin his second full professional season and third overall, as he started his pro career by appearing in five regular season games and 13 postseason contests with the Florida Everblades in 2018-19 after he finished his college career. Alex contributed five goals and eight points in the regular season, then added two goals and two assists in the playoffs, as the Everblades reached the Eastern Conference Final. Last season, he suited up for three different teams, as he started with Florida, then played for the Adirondack Thunder, and finished up with the Norfolk Admirals. Tonge's best success came in Norfolk, as he notched nine goals, seven assists, and 16 points in 20 games, after recording 14 points in 27 games with the other two clubs.
"Alex is a skilled player, who is entering his second full year in the league," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He has a history of producing at the NCAA level and last year at the ECHL level."
Prior to turning pro, the Kingston, Ontario native attended Robert Morris University for four seasons, where he played for the Colonials. Tonge was an offensive force at RMU, as he racked up 56 goals, 82 assists, and 138 points in 146 games. His 138 points are tied for fourth most in school history, trailing Brady Ferguson and former Nailers Cody Wydo and Zac Lynch. Alex set a career high with 20 goals as a sophomore and posted back-to-back 44-point campaigns as a sophomore and a junior. He was college teammates with both Lynch brothers, as well as Daniel Leavens.
"Wheeling had interest in me, and it was an easy call, because I love what they've been doing with the organization," Tonge said. "I pride myself on being offensive and being creative when I make plays."
Nailers Sign Cody Sylvester
Wheeling's Leading Goal Scorer from 2013-14 Begins Eighth Pro Season
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 19th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Cody Sylvester to an ECHL contract.
Sylvester, 28, returns to Wheeling, where he began his professional career in 2013-14, led the Nailers with 24 goals and finished tied for fifth on the team with 42 points. Cody played a key role in helping the team reach the playoffs, as he notched multiple goals on seven occasions, including a hat trick against the Reading Royals. He also led the team in game winning goals (7), tied for first in shorthanded goals (4), finished second in shots on goal (155), and was third in +/- (+19). Those performances helped earn Sylvester 17 games with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, in which he collected a pair of goals.
"Cody has been a good scorer throughout his career, which includes a big season here in Wheeling when he was a rookie," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "Cody has also been recognized as a leader, and we expect him to continue that on and off the ice."
The Kelowna, British Columbia native started the 2014-15 season with the South Carolina Stingrays, but then went on to play the remainder of the season, as well as his next five seasons in Europe, primarily in Germany. Sylvester spent two years in Germany's top league, the DEL, with the Iserlohn Roosters, then played one season for Dornbirn EC in Austria, before returning to Germanay in DEL-2 with Bad Nauheim EC. Cody recorded at least 20 points in each of his last four European seasons, and thrived especially in Nauheim, as he racked up 58 goals, 89 assists, and 147 points in 128 games.
"I loved playing in Wheeling, and I'm looking forward to coming back," Sylvester said. "I had great success on the ice, plus the fans are always very supportive, and the organization treated me extremely well. Mark French is a well-known coach who I've heard a lot of good things about, and am excited to play for this season."
Nailers Sign Matt Alfaro
University of Calgary Leading Scorer to Make Pro Debut with Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 18th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Matt Alfaro to an ECHL contract.
Alfaro, 24, is set to make his pro debut, after playing three seasons at the University of Calgary. Last season, Matt led the Dinos in scoring, as he racked up 15 goals, 21 assists, and 36 points in 27 games. Over the course of his three years in Calgary, he amassed 24 goals, 44 assists, and 68 points in 78 games.
"Matt is coming off a strong season at the University level," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He possesses good size and skill, and also is known as a strong competitor who plays with an edge."
Prior to his scholastic years, the Calgary, Alberta native played four years of junior hockey in the Western Hockey League, as he suited up for the Kootenay Ice and Lethbridge Hurricanes. Alfaro's production increased each season, with his best occurring in 2016-17, when he compiled 25 goals, 35 assists, and 60 points in 61 games, as the Hurricanes finished with 95 points and reached the league's conference final round.
"Wheeling is a great opportunity, as they are consistent in getting players moved up, there's a great relationship with the ownership and the city, and for me, Mark French coached against me in the WHL," Alfaro said. "I see myself as a two-way centerman, who chips in offensively, but can also play lots of different roles up and down the lineup."
Nailers Sign Drydn Dow
EIHL's Leader in Goals by Defensemen to Play First Pro Season in North America
I'm a paragraph. Click here to add your own text and edit me. It's easy.WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 17th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed defenseman Drydn Dow to an ECHL contract.
Dow, 28, will play his first season of professional hockey in North America, after beginning his career by playing two years with the EIHL's Dundee Stars. Drydn was Dundee's leading scorer from the blueline in both seasons, as he produced nine goals, 29 assists, and 38 points as a rookie, then upped his totals to 14 goals, 27 assists, and 41 points in 2019-20. His 14 goals last season led the EIHL and earned him a spot on the league's All-Star Second Team. Dow becomes the second player the Nailers have signed from Dundee this offseason, joining the team's leading scorer, Kevin Dufour.
"Drydn is an offensive defenseman, who has did a great job of producing for his team in Europe," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "We expect him to provide offense from the back end at the ECHL level as well."
Prior to turning pro, the Calgary, Alberta native attended the University of Calgary for five years, where he finished either first or second on the Dinos in scoring by defensemen four times. His most productive season came in 2017-18, when he collected seven goals, 11 assists, and 18 points. Dow also enjoyed offensive success when he played junior hockey for the WHL's Tri-City Americans, as he registered 63 points in 222 games.
"I have heard a lot of really good things about Mark French and the Nailers organization, and I think this year especially, it is going to be a very talented league," Dow said. "I pride myself on skating and moving the puck, but I also play a pretty hard game, so I see myself as more of a two-way defenseman."
Nailers Sign Matt Miller
Ohio State's Top Offensive Defenseman to Begin Pro Career Close to Home
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 16th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed defenseman Matt Miller to an ECHL contract.
Miller, 25, is set to begin his professional career, after attending The Ohio State University for four years, where he majored in Information Systems, while playing for the Buckeyes. Matt enjoyed tremendous success producing offense from the blueline in Columbus, as he led Ohio State in points by a defenseman during each of his final three seasons. His highest goal total was seven, which came during his sophomore year, while his highest point total was 22, which occurred during his junior season. Miller's four-year numbers with the Buckeyes were 19 goals, 45 assists, and 64 points in 119 games. Ohio State reached the NCAA Tournament in three consecutive seasons, including a Frozen Four appearance in 2018, and also won a Big Ten Regular Season Championship in 2018-19.
"Matt played for a good program at Ohio State, where he was one of the top offensive defensemen in the Big Ten," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He plays a well-rounded game and possesses and good shot that allows him to be an offensive threat from the blueline."
Prior to college, the East Palestine, Ohio native played parts of five seasons of junior hockey in the USHL, primarily with the Youngstown Phantoms. Miller posted back-to-back 13-point campaigns in 2014-15 and 2015-16. During his final season in Youngstown, he was teammates with current Nailer Tyler Drevitch and former Nailer Yushiroh Hirano. Matt's older brother is J.T. Miller, who plays in the NHL with the Vancouver Canucks.
"This is a dream come true for me to play this close to home, where everyone is within two hours," Miller said. "I believe I can fill whatever role I need to, and in college, I was able to adapt into a power play guy. My parents were really big Penguins fans, so being here is really special."
Nailers Sign Michael Pelech
Veteran Forward Ranks in ECHL's Top Five in Assists & Games Played
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 15th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Michael Pelech to an ECHL contract.
Pelech, 31, is set to begin his 12th season of professional hockey, as he continues to enjoy tremendous success on the ice. Michael ranks fourth in games played in ECHL history (705), fifth in assists (372), and is primed to join the top 20 in points, as he enters this season with 541. The veteran forward has suited up for seven different teams in the league, and has spent the last two years with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, notching 118 points in 135 games. Pelech's best individual seasons came when he scored 25 goals for the Utah Grizzlies in 2014-15, then in 2018-19, when he amassed 65 points with Greenville. In 2012-13, Michael reached the Eastern Conference Final as a member of the Cincinnati Cyclones, and two years later, he finished second on Utah with 13 points in the postseason.
"Michael is a proven point producer at the ECHL level," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He has a rare combination of offensive ability and grit. We're looking forward to adding his experience and leadership to our dressing room."
In addition to his ECHL accolades, the Toronto, Ontario native has also spent parts of five seasons in the American Hockey League, playing for seven different squads. Between his ECHL and AHL time, Pelech has achieved double digits in goals, at least 25 points, and at least 55 games played in each of his 11 pro seasons. Prior to turning pro, Michael played four seasons of junior hockey in the Ontario Hockey League with Kitchener, Toronto, and Mississauga. Following his final season in Mississauga, Pelech was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft.
"I am very excited to join the Wheeling Nailers," Pelech said. "I feel very fortunate to play hockey in these difficult times. I have heard great things about the coaching staff, organization and community. I cannot wait to get the season started."
Nailers Announce First Ten Games of 2020-21 Season
Wheeling Begins 29th Season at Home on Saturday, December 12th
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate, are excited to announce their first ten games of the 2020-21 season.
The Nailers are one of 13 ECHL teams who will begin the season in December and play a full 72-game campaign. The remaining teams will play a 62-game schedule beginning in January, with standings decided by points percentages.
Wheeling begins its 29th season with a home game against its Central Division rival, the Indy Fuel. That game will be played at WesBanco Arena on Saturday, December 12th at 7:05. Indy is the most popular opponent for the Nailers in their first ten games, as the teams will clash three times in Wheeling and twice at Indiana Farmers Coliseum. The Nailers won four of six games against the Fuel last season and own a 17-14 edge in the all-time series.
The second opponent on the docket is the Orlando Solar Bears, who make a two-game visit to Nail City on Friday, December 18th and Saturday, December 19th, with both games starting at 7:05. Wheeling and Orlando split their two-game series a year ago.
Four straight tilts with the Fuel follow the quick holiday break, with the Nailers playing at home on Sunday, December 27th at 4:05 and Thursday, December 31st at 6:05 for their annual New Year's Eve game.
Finally, Wheeling will conclude the opening ten games of the season with a three-game road trip. The Nailers will face Andrew Lord and his Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Wednesday, January 6th, before a weekend pair against the South Carolina Stingrays on Friday, January 8th and Saturday, January 9th.
Season memberships are available for the 2020-21 season. To purchase yours or to get more information, visit wheelingnailers.com or call (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.
2020-21 First Ten Games
Sat. Dec. 12 vs. Indy, 7:05
Fri. Dec. 18 vs. Orlando, 7:05
Sat. Dec. 19 vs. Orlando, 7:05
Sat. Dec. 26 at Indy, 7:05
Sun. Dec. 27 vs. Indy, 4:05
Thu. Dec. 31 vs. Indy, 6:05
Sat. Jan. 2 at Indy, 7:05
Wed. Jan. 6 at Greenville, 7:05
Fri. Jan. 8 at South Carolina, 7:05
Sat. Jan. 9 at South Carolina, 6:05
Nailers Sign Kevin Dufour
20-Goal Scorer Returns to the ECHL
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 14th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Kevin Dufour to an ECHL contract.
Dufour, 28, makes his return to the ECHL, following a successful season with the EIHL's Dundee Stars, in which he racked up 25 goals, 21 assists, and 46 points in 48 games. Prior to that, Kevin spent parts of three seasons in the ECHL with five different clubs, and reached the playoffs in all three campaigns. His best campaign in the ECHL came in 2018-19, when he totaled 24 goals, 17 assists, and 41 points in 58 games with Indy and Manchester, then collected seven goals and ten points in 11 postseason matches with the Monarchs. The Nailers are glad to have Dufour on their side of the ice now as well, as he had nine goals and 12 points in 12 career games against Wheeling. Kevin's career numbers in the ECHL are 46 goals, 42 assists, and 88 points in 136 contests.
"Kevin is a proven offensive player in our league," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He brings speed, skill, and a dynamic element to our team."
Prior to turning pro, the Québec City, Québec native attended Bowling Green State University for four years, where he majored in Finance while playing for the Falcons. Dufour was a three-time member of the WCHA All-Academic Team, and also enjoyed great success on the ice, as he reached double digits in goals during three of his four seasons. As a senior, Kevin led the Falcons with 18 goals and finished tied for second with 30 points.
"Wheeling is a great organization and Mark French has lots of good experience as a coach," Dufour said. "I like to generate a lot of offense with my speed, but I also take pride in my defensive game as well. Pittsburgh was my favorite team growing up, so I am very excited to play in the organization."
ECHL Confirms Start Date for 2020-21 Season
Wheeling One of 13 Teams Who Will Begin Play December 11th
PRINCETON, N.J. –The ECHL, in conjunction with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association, announced today that the 2020-21 Season will commence on December 11, 2020 under a split-season format.
Under the split-season guidelines, the following teams will begin a 72-game season on December 11–Allen, Florida, Greenville, Indy, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Orlando, Rapid City, South Carolina, Tulsa, Utah, Wheeling and Wichita.
Additionally, remaining ECHL teams will begin their Season on January 15, 2021, competing in a 62-game season upon jurisdictional approval.
The Atlanta Gladiators have elected a Voluntary Suspension for the 2020-21 Season due to COVID-19 restrictions, returning to play in the 2021-22 Season. All Atlanta Gladiators Players are immediately Free Agents for the 2020-21 Season.
“The ECHL is excited to be able to confirm the beginning of the 2020-21 Season by working with our local health officials and the PHPA to develop protocols for the safe return of our Players, fans, and employees,” said ECHL Commissioner Ryan Crelin. “The ECHL is getting back to hockey, as we all work together to bring live entertainment back to our communities.”
“Our ECHL Members have been looking forward to getting back on the ice since March 16, and providing the fans with exciting hockey in a safe environment,” said PHPA Executive Director Larry Landon. “I would like to thank Ryan Crelin, the ECHL Board of Governors and the commitment from our Return to Play Committee including Jake Flegel, Josh Holmstrom, Steven Kaunisto, Justin Taylor and Riley Weselowski.”
The ECHL regular season will conclude on June 6, 2021. A schedule for games from December 11, 2020 -January 14, 2021 will be announced in the near future.
Under this split-season scenario, League standings will be based on winning percentage during the regular season. The post-season format will be based on the eligible competing teams in the regular season and will be announced at a later date.
Nailers Sign Dylan MacPherson
Defenseman Produced 17 Points as a Rookie for Greenville
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 13th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed defenseman Dylan MacPherson to an ECHL contract.
MacPherson, 22, is set to begin his second full season of professional hockey, after playing for the Greenville Swamp Rabbits during the majority of his rookie campaign. Dylan was one of Greenville's top offensive producers from the blueline, as he tallied four goals, 13 assists, and 17 points in 54 games. The 17 points placed him one behind current Nailer Chad Duchesne and former Nailer Brien Diffley for the team's lead in scoring by defensemen. One of MacPherson's best single game performances for the Swamp Rabbits came on February 2nd, when he posted three points (1G, 2A) in a 9-3 victory over Atlanta. As an AHL contracted player last year, Dylan also appeared in two games with the Springfield Thunderbirds, following a two-game stint with Springfield in 2018-19 at the end of his junior career.
"Dylan is a young defenseman who as a lot of upside," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He is a good puck mover, he skates well, and he has good size."
Prior to turning pro, the Redcliff, Alberta native played four seasons of junior hockey with the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers. During that time, he suited up in 186 games, and recorded six goals, 37 assists, and 43 points. His best offensive season came in 2017-18 when he amassed 22 points, while the 2016-17 season saw him finish with a +18 rating, as the Tigers won 51 of 72 regular season games.
Nailers Sign Tyler Drevitch
Merrimack Captain to Begin Pro Career in Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 12th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Tyler Drevitch to an ECHL contract.
Drevitch, 25, is set to begin his professional career, following four years of college hockey at Merrimack College, where he majored in Communications/Sports Management. Tyler appeared in 94 games for the Warriors and tallied nine goals, seven assists, and 16 points. His most productive season in terms of points was his junior year, but he received a pair of accolades during two other seasons, as he was named to the Hockey East All-Academic Team as a freshman, then was named a team captain during his senior year.
"Tyler is a two-way forward who brings a lot of intangibles to the table," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He was counted on for leadership at his college program, and we're looking forward to having him bring those qualities to our team."
Prior to his collegiate years, the Middleborough, Massachusetts native played three seasons of junior hockey, primarily in the USHL. In 2014-15, his Muskegon Lumberjacks reached the league's championship round. Then, in 2015-16, Drevitch had his best individual season, playing for the Youngstown Phantoms. Tyler has been teammates with a pair of recent Wheeling players, as he skated alongside Aaron Titcomb for two years at Merrimack, and he also played with Yushiroh Hirano in Youngstown. His father Scott played in the ECHL for Virginia, Richmond, Dayton, Huntington, and Jacksonville.
"The history that Wheeling has and the way that the organization treats its players made the Nailers a no-brainer for me," Drevitch said. "I describe my play as a two-way forward, who is gritty and will get in your face."
Nailers Sign Cody Bradley
Floridian Forward Returns to ECHL After Four Years in Europe
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 11th player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Cody Bradley to an ECHL contract.
Bradley, 26, returns to the ECHL after playing parts of four seasons in Europe. Cody began his professional career by playing in ten games with the Norfolk Admirals during the 2016-17 season, before he finished that campaign with 11 points in 11 games for Füchse Duisburg in Germany. The following year, the forward tallied 11 points in 26 games, playing for teams in China and Slovakia. Bradley then moved on to the Czech Republic and Motor Ceske Budejovice, where he had one of his best performances, as he racked up 35 points in 42 regular season games, before tacking on 13 points in 11 playoff contests. Last season, Cody played for AIK in Sweden, where he accumulated eight points in 23 contests.
"Cody is an offensive player," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He has a good combination of speed and vision, which he will be able to use to contribute to our scoring."
Prior to turning pro, the Tampa, Florida native attended Colorado College for four years. During his time with the Tigers, Cody amassed 27 goals, 47 assists, and 74 points in 135 games. His best season came as a junior, when he led the team with ten goals, 20 assists, and 30 points, as he appeared in all 35 games. Bradley played his junior hockey in the USHL, and following the 2011-12 season, he was invited to development camp with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Cody comes from a hockey family, as his father Brian played in 651 NHL games for Vancouver, Toronto, and Tampa Bay, while his younger brother Trey played for the Newfoundland Growlers last season.
"I had a really good conversation with Mark French, who has me very excited about this opportunity," Bradley said. "I see myself as a play maker, who can also score goals. Additionally, I take pride in playing a two-way game, especially coming over to North America, where they play a harder game and it is more important to play that style."
Nailers Sign Chad Duchesne
Former Greenville Blueliner Enters Fifth Pro Season and First in Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their tenth player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed defenceman Chad Duchesne to an ECHL contract.
Duchesne, 25, was originally acquired by the Nailers in June to complete a future considerations trade that originally sent forward Cedric Lacroix to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits. Chad spent each of his first four pro seasons in Greenville, and saw a big jump in his offensive numbers during his two most recent campaigns. Last season, he was tied for the lead in defensive scoring on the Swamp Rabbits, as he racked up 18 points in 59 games. Over the course of his four years, he has amassed six goals, 42 assists, and 48 points in 237 games.
"Chad is a proven defender at the ECHL level," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He is a heart and soul type player with a great compete level."
Prior to turning pro, the Inverary, Ontario native played two seasons of junior hockey with the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs. Duchesne notched 44 points in 124 career games with the Frontenacs, including a 32-point campaign as a 20-year old, as the Frontenacs topped the East Division. Chad also posted 25 points in one season with the USHL's Sioux Falls Stampede.
"The direction that Mark French and Derek Army are bringing the team is great for the organization, and I'm excited to be part of it," Duchesne said. "I pride myself on doing whatever it takes to win. I have a defense first mentality, but I can also help out offensively."
Former NCAA National Champion Set to Begin Fourth Pro Season
Nailers Re-Sign Kyle McKenzie
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their ninth player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed defenseman Kyle McKenzie to an ECHL contract.
McKenzie, 27, was first acquired by Wheeling in a February trade with the Worcester Railers. Kyle appeared in two games with the Nailers, as he completed his third full season as a pro. Prior to the trade, the blueliner had spent his entire career with Worcester, accumulating four goals, 14 assists, and 18 points in 128 games. His best season came as a rookie in 2017-18, when he appeared in all but one game, and recorded ten points, as the Railers qualified for the Kelly Cup Playoffs.
"Kyle is a steady two-way defenseman," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He adds experience, skill, and leadership to our roster."
Prior to turning pro, the Aston, Pennsylvania native attended Providence College for four years, where he majored in Social Science while playing for the Friars. The biggest moment of McKenzie's college career came in 2015, when he scored the tying goal in the NCAA National Championship Game against Boston University. Current Pittsburgh Penguin Brandon Tanev followed with the winning goal to give the Friars the title. During his freshman year, Kyle was teammates with Nailers Assistant Coach Derek Army, who also served as his assistant coach in Worcester.
"Wheeling is a first class organization that treats its players very well," McKenzie said. "Everyone I met there made an impression on me, then this summer, Mark pushed hard to sign me. I want to bring my experience to help the team make the playoffs."
Nailers Re-Sign Willy Smith
High-Energy Forward Returns for Second Season in Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their eighth player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed forward Willy Smith to an ECHL contract.
Smith, 24, has played in parts of three seasons at the ECHL level, with 2019-20 being his best, as he notched four goals, six assists, and ten points in 44 games with the Nailers. Willy scored three of his four goals against Central Division opponents, including the team's second goal of the year in his Wheeling debut on opening night at Cincinnati. The forward has also seen action in the ECHL with Indy, Utah, and Adirondack, while also enjoying success with Peoria of the SPHL, where he compiled 55 points in 62 games.
"Willy is a versatile player, who can play different roles on our team," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "We really like his work ethic and his energy."
Prior to turning pro, the East Longmeadow, Massachusetts native played junior hockey in both the QMJHL and USHL. Smith spent three seasons with the Moncton Wildcats and enjoyed a pair of deep playoff runs, as the team reached the QMJHL's semi-final round in 2014-15 and 2015-16. Willy then concluded his junior career with the Muskegon Lumberjacks the following year. Between the two leagues, he totaled 44 goals, 53 assists, and 97 points in 250 games.
"I really liked how the Wheeling community embraced me, plus we had such a fun group of guys," Smith said. "We have a new coach and a new atmosphere, so guys will be bringing their best."
Nailers Sign Shane Kuzmeski
Defenseman Helped Clarkson Finish in NCAA's Top Five in Fewest Goals Allowed
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their seventh player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed defenseman Shane Kuzmeski to an ECHL contract.
Kuzmeski, 24, will begin his professional career with the Nailers, after playing four seasons of college hockey at Clarkson University. Defense was a key position for the Golden Knights during Shane's tenure with the team, as they ranked in the NCAA's top five in fewest goals allowed in three of his four seasons. As he developed and saw more action during his junior and senior seasons, the blueliner added to the club's offensive attack, tallying 11 points over his final 53 games. Clarkson captured the ECAC Championship during Kuzmeski's junior year, then Shane was named to the ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team as a senior.
"Shane is a good skater, and uses his mobility to be an effective defender," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "Shane has also shown the ability to play an up tempo game, which will be a part of our team identity."
Prior to his time in college, the Grayslake, Illinois native played two seasons of junior hockey, primarily in the NAHL with the Wichita Falls Wildcats and Coulee Region Chill. In 2015-16 with the Chill, Kuzmeski amassed 29 points in 45 games, which ranked second among defensemen on the club. During Shane's freshman year at Clarkson, he was teammates with former Nailer Troy Josephs.
"I was in constant contact with the organization, and I thought it was a good fit for me, plus I like Mark French a lot," Kuzmeski said. "I see myself as a two-way player, who can get up and down the ice. Skating is my strength, and I'm excited to make the jump to pro hockey."
ECHL Announces Revised Start Date to the 2020-21 Season
PRINCETON, N.J. – The ECHL Board of Governors, in conjunction with the Professional Hockey Players’ Association, has approved a revised start date for the 2020-21 ECHL Season. The anticipated start date is December 4, 2020, for a full 72-game schedule.
“We are eager to return to hockey, but at this time we believe this decision is prudent for the safety of our Players, Employees and Fans,” said ECHL Commissioner, Ryan Crelin. “The ECHL and our Board of Governors are focused on the 2020-21 Season and remain optimistic for the safe reopening of our venues across the continent. We appreciate our partners and fans continued support and patience, as we work together with our venues, local health officials and the members of the PHPA's Executive Committee towards the safe return of ECHL hockey.”
The ECHL 2020-21 Season was originally scheduled to start October 16, 2020. Adjustments to the 2020-21 ECHL Schedule will be announced at a later date.
Nailers Sign Andrew Gaus
Wexford, Pennsylvania Native Attended Pittsburgh Penguins Development Camp in 2018
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their sixth player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Andrew Gaus to an ECHL contract.
Gaus, 25, will begin his professional career with the Nailers, as he recently completed his play at the collegiate level. Andrew first attended Yale University, where he played with the Bulldogs for parts of four seasons. His best year at Yale came as a sophomore, when he recorded six goals, six assists, and 12 points in 32 games, including a series winning overtime goal in the ECAC Playoffs. In 2019, he opted to switch schools, as he finished his college career at Colorado College. Over the course of his five years in the NCAA, Gaus compiled 14 goals, 18 assists, and 32 points in 113 games.
"Andrew played for two strong NCAA programs, where he played under two good coaches," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "He was recommended by his coach as a hard working player, who plays a strong two-way game and is an excellent teammate."
In the summer of 2018, the Wexford, Pennsylvania native got a tremendous opportunity to begin making a name for himself at the professional level, as he was invited to Pittsburgh Penguins Development Camp. That camp had extra meaning for Gaus, who grew up as a Penguins fan and also played for the Pittsburgh Junior Penguins. Andrew's junior career also took him to the USHL, as he played for the Dubuque Fighting Saints and Cedar Rapids RoughRiders.
"I went to Penguins Development Camp and saw how professional the organization was, as well as how much they prioritize development," Gaus said. "This is also close to where I grew up and it will be fun to have my relatives around. I see myself as a two-way forward, and I take a lot of pride in playing both ends of the ice."
Nailers Sign Luke Lynch
Robert Morris Captain One of 12 Players in School History to Eclipse 100-Point Mark
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their fifth player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has signed forward Luke Lynch to an ECHL contract.
Lynch, 24, will begin his professional career with the Nailers, after playing four seasons of college hockey at Robert Morris University. Luke was named to the AHC All-Academic Team during his freshman and sophomore years, then served as an alternate captain as a junior, before he became the team's captain as a senior. During his four seasons with the Colonials, the forward appeared in 155 of the school's 156 games, and notched 41 goals, 64 assists, and 105 points. Lynch finished in the top three on his team in scoring twice, including a career best 17-goal, 37-point campaign as a sophomore.
"We are pleased to add Luke to our roster," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "Luke has displayed an ability to produce offensively throughout his college career, and at the same time, earn the respect of both his coaches and teammates by being named team captain in his final season."
The Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania native follows in the footsteps of his older brother Zac, who also played collegiately at Robert Morris, then led the Nailers with 67 points during the 2018-19 season. Luke will become the eighth former Colonial to play for Wheeling when he makes his pro debut. Both Lynch brothers, Cody Wydo, and Daniel Leavens are four of the 12 players who scored 100 points during their careers at RMU.
"All the positives that come with the coaching staff and the organization make me excited to help the team get back to the Kelly Cup Playoffs," Lynch said. "I talked to my brother about it, and he played a big role in getting me to Wheeling. I tend to play more of a net front presence, but I view myself as a 200-foot player, who will do what the team needs day in and day out."
Nailers Re-Sign Jérémy Beaudry
Late Season Acquisition has Produced 87 Career Points from the Blueline
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their fourth player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed defenseman Jérémy Beaudry to an ECHL contract.
Beaudry, 26, was first acquired by the Nailers in a March trade with the Reading Royals, and went on to appear in four games before the season came to its abrupt end. Jérémy has played in parts of five seasons in the ECHL, as he has suited up with Brampton and Wichita, in addition to his time with Reading and Wheeling. 2017-18 in Wichita was his best year both on and off the ice. The blueliner set career highs on the ice with 13 goals, 24 assists, and 37 points in 69 games, and also took home the ECHL Community Award for his work off the ice. The Montmagny, Québec native has collected at least 20 points in three ECHL seasons, and has accumulated career totals of 24 goals, 63 assists, and 87 points in 182 professional games.
"Jérémy is a proven offensive defenseman, who has a good reputation in this league," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "We look for him to be a contributor in all situations, especially on the power play."
Prior to turning pro, Beaudry played amateur hockey in both juniors and university. He played three full seasons in the QMJHL with Victoriaville, Sherbrooke, Québec, and Cape Breton, led by a 53-point campaign as a 20-year old with the Screaming Eagles. Jérémy also attended the University of Québec Trois-Rivières for three years, where he tallied 51 points in 64 games.
"After the season ended the way it did, it was always on my mind to come back to Wheeling," Beaudry said. "The feeling in the locker room was like a family, and it's a very nice setup with our apartments. Coach French has lots of experience, and is a good addition to the organization."
Nailers Re-Sign Marc-Olivier Duquette
Blueliner Looks to Build off Rookie Season
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their third player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed defenseman Marc-Olivier Duquette to an ECHL contract.
Duquette, 22, began the 2019-20 season with the Fort Wayne Komets, before he was traded to the Nailers on October 26th and made his debut with the team that night in a 3-1 victory over the Reading Royals. One week later, Marc-Olivier netted his first professional goal in Kalamazoo - the team he scored both of his goals against during the season. The rookie blueliner finished the year with two goals, five assists, and seven points in 43 games. Six of his seven points were recorded against Central Division opponents.
"Marc-Olivier is a player who showed potential during his rookie season," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "We expect him to take another step this season and continue to grow his game."
Prior to turning pro, the St-Louis-de-Gonzeau, Quebec native played parts of five seasons of junior hockey in the QMJHL, as he suited up briefly with the Gatineau Olympiques, before his career took off with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. During his three seasons with the Voltigeurs, Duquette amassed 14 goals, 56 assists, and 70 points in 186 games, while he improved his +/- rating from -15 to +33 from year one to year three.
"My first year pro was a learning process, and I am looking forward to coming back, working on my game, and having another shot at the Kelly Cup," Duquette said. "The City of Wheeling is very welcoming, and it makes the experience that much better for us."
Nailers Re-Sign Brad Drobot
Physical Fan Favorite Returns for Third Season with Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their second player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed forward Brad Drobot to an ECHL contract.
Drobot, 30, is entering his third season with the Nailers and the seventh year as a pro. Throughout his career, Brad has earned the reputation of being a physical player, as he has recorded at least 100 penalty minutes in three of his first six campaigns. He has dropped the gloves seven times with Wheeling, including a bout on Thanksgiving in which he defeated Fort Wayne's Kyle Haas, then proceeded to yank Haas down to the ice again during their skate to the penalty box. The Calgary, Alberta native has netted one goal as a Nailer - a game winner at Brampton during the 2018-19 season. His outgoing personality and excellent work in the community has also contributed to him being a popular player among the fans.
"Brad is a good person and a good team player, who adds leadership to the dressing room," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French.
Prior to his time with the Nailers, Drobot played four years with Fayetteville in the SPHL. His most productive season was 2016-17, when he notched five goals and 12 points. His highest penalty minute total came one year later, when he spent 214 minutes in the sin bin. Brad majored in Engineering at the South Alberta Institute of Technology, where he played hockey for four years.
"I am super excited to be back in Nail City, where the fans have embraced me and welcomed me as their own," Drobot said. "My goal is to make opposing teams regret coming to WesBanco Arena this season. It's time to bring a championship to Wheeling!"
Nailers Re-Sign Alec Butcher
15-Goal Scorer Returns for Third Season in Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their first player signing of the 2020 offseason. Wheeling has re-signed forward Alec Butcher to an ECHL contract.
Butcher, 26, is set to begin his third season with the Nailers, after finishing the 2019-20 campaign tied for third on the club with 33 points. Alec got off to a strong start to the year, especially at home, as he recorded at least one point in each of the team's first three home contests, including a two-goal performance in the home opener. Other successful stretches during the season included a three-game goal streak in December in which the team won all three games, then a run in January and February which saw him accumulate at least one point in 13 of 18 matches. Butcher also led Wheeling with three shorthanded goals.
"Alec has shown improvement in each of his first two years with the organization," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "We are counting on him to continue to take steps forward and continue to grow his game."
The Anchorage, Alaska native upped his production in all offensive categories from year one to year two, as he increased his goal total by three, and his assist total by 11, for a 14-point improvement overall. Alec's career totals with the Nailers are 27 goals, 25 assists, and 52 points in 89 games. Prior to turning pro, Butcher played college hockey at Sacred Heart University for three years, then finished his collegiate career close to home at the University of Alaska-Anchorage.
"I've enjoyed growing as both a person and as a hockey player in Wheeling," Butcher said. "I'm looking forward to a successful 2020-21 season, and am excited to get back playing in front of our fans again."
Nailers Extend Qualifying Offers to Six Players
Four Defensemen, Two Forwards Receive Offers from Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their list of players who received qualifying offers for the summer of 2020. Six players were tendered qualifying offers for Wheeling.
Each team was entitled to reserve the rights to a maximum of eight qualified players. Of the eight qualified players, no more than four could be veterans (260 regular season professional hockey games played as of the start of the upcoming 2020-21 season). Players on open qualifying offers cannot be traded.
The qualifying offer must remain open for acceptance until July 16 at which time the qualifying offer becomes null and void and the team may sign the qualified player to any salary or may elect to take no further action. Teams that extend a valid qualifying offer to a non-veteran player shall retain the rights to that qualified player for one playing season.
A team that extends a valid qualifying offer to a veteran player, or to a goaltender who has played more than 180 regular-season games, will retain the rights to that player until July 16. After July 16, if the veteran player or goaltender is not signed to a contract by the team, the player shall be deemed a restricted free agent and shall be entitled to seek and secure offers of employment from other ECHL teams. Restricted free agents may not be traded. When a restricted free agent receives a contract offer from a team other than the team with the player’s rights and the restricted free agent wishes to accept the contract offer, the restricted free agent and the offering member must, within 24 hours, notify the ECHL, the team with the player’s rights and the Professional Hockey Players’ Association. The member with the player’s rights shall have seven days after the date it is notified to exercise its right to match the contract offer.
If a restricted free agent is not signed to either an offer sheet or a contract by an ECHL team by August 1, the player shall be deemed an unrestricted free agent.
The six qualified players for the Wheeling Nailers are:
D Jeremy Beaudry
F Cam Brown
D Chad Duchesne
F Josh Holmstrom
D Steve Johnson
D Kyle McKenzie
If a player has already signed a contract for 2020-21, that player does not need to be tendered a qualifying offer.
Season memberships are available for the 2020-21 season. To purchase yours or to get more information, visit wheelingnailers.com or call (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.
Nailers Name Derek Army as Assistant Coach
Fan Favorite Returns to Wheeling With New Role
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce that Derek Army has been named the team's new Assistant Coach.
Army, 29, played the majority of his career with the Nailers and was a fan favorite, both for his tremendous contributions on the ice, as well as his outgoing personality with the fans and in the community. Derek first came to Wheeling in April of 2014, after finishing his college career at Providence College. He netted three goals in his first four games, then suited up in three playoff contests as the team reached the second round. In 2014-15, the North Kingstown, Rhode Island native led the Nailers with 29 goals and ranked second on the club with 66 points. The following year, Army saw action with four different AHL teams, but returned to Wheeling to be a key contributor, helping the club win the Eastern Conference. Derek was the captain during each of his final two seasons as a player for the Nailers. His career numbers in Wheeling were 59 goals, 71 assists, and 130 points in 159 games. He is one of just five players in team history to play in parts of five seasons with the Nailers.
"Derek was our top target to be our assistant coach, and we are very fortunate that he accepted the job," said Nailers Head Coach Mark French. "As a coach, Derek has similar qualities to what helped him succeed as a player - character, energy, work ethic, and commitment."
Following his career as a player, Derek immediately joined the coaching ranks, as he worked as an assistant coach under Jamie Russell with the Worcester Railers during the 2018-19 and 2019-20 seasons. The Railers posted a 32-29-11 record during his first season, and missed out on the playoffs by only four points. The Army family has seen a lot of success in the hockey world, particularly with coaching. Derek's father Tim has been a coach at various levels from the NHL and AHL to the NCAA since 1987-88, and is currently the head coach for the AHL's Iowa Wild. Prior to that, Tim worked as an assistant coach for Clark Donatelli with the 2017-18 Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. Derek, Tim, and Derek's grandfather Tom all played at Providence College.
"I couldn't be happier to be back in Wheeling and with the Penguins organization," Army said. "Wheeling was such a special place for my career and my development. I know the people in the organization and the fans extremely well, and it's going to be great to be part of that community again. On top of that, I get to learn from and work with Mark, an experienced and successful coach."
Army becomes the third former Nailers player to accept a full-time coaching role with the team, following Joe Harney and Chris Jensen. Tim Tisdale, Terry Virtue, and Ron Wilson all held separate roles, as they were player/assistant coaches.
“We are thrilled to welcome Derek back to the organization,” said Pittsburgh assistant general manager Jason Karmanos. “He is a young coach with a bright future. We believe that he and Mark French will be a great combination for our players.”
Derek and his wife Jenn have a dog named Puck, and are expecting a baby boy.
The 2020 offseason is officially underway, as Head Coach Mark French and Assistant Coach Derek Army may begin signing players for the 2020-21 season.
Nailers Announce Season-Ending Roster
Wheeling Lists 15 Players; Teams May Begin Signing Players for 2020-21
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced their Season-Ending Roster for the Summer of 2020. The roster consists of 15 players.
The Season-Ending Rosters may include up to 20 players, but cannot include players who did not sign an ECHL contract during the 2019-20 season. From this list, teams are entitled to reserve the rights to a maximum of eight players, by extending a qualifying offer to them by June 30th. No more than four of the eight can be veterans (260 regular season professional hockey games), players on open qualifying offers cannot be traded, and if a player signs a contract prior to June 30th, that team does not have to extend a qualifying offer to said player. If a player does receive a qualifying offer, that offer remains open for acceptance until July 16th.
Teams are now allowed to begin signing players for the 2020-21 season. Each signing must be approved by the ECHL, and will be announced by each respective club, following the approval of the transaction.
The Wheeling Nailers Season-Ending Roster consists of the following players:
D Jeremy Beaudry
F Cam Brown
F Alec Butcher
F Brad Drobot
D Chad Duchesne
D Marc-Olivier Duquette
F Carlos Fornaris
F Josh Holmstrom
D Steve Johnson
D Kyle McKenzie
D Andrew McLean
D Nick Minerva
G Jordan Ruby
D Craig Skudalski
F Willy Smith
Nailers Complete Future Considerations Trades
Wheeling Adds Duchesne & McLean; Saracino & Trapp Traded
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced the completions of their future considerations trades. The Nailers have acquired defensemen Chad Duchesne and Andrew McLean, and have traded forward Nick Saracino and Spencer Trapp.
To complete the trade which originally sent forward Cedric Lacroix to the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Wheeling selected defenseman Chad Duchesne. The 25-year old from Inverary, Ontario will be entering his fifth professional season, after playing each of his first four years in Greenville. Duchesne saw his offensive game evolve during his time with Greenville, as he compiled 11 points during his first two seasons, then upped that total to 37 points over the course of the last two years, which includes a career high in points (19) during the 2018-19 season and a career high in goals (3) this past season. Chad is an experienced and stable player, who has appeared in 237 career ECHL games, and has only missed nine games in the last three seasons.
To complete the trade which originally sent defenseman Ruslan Rakhmatov to the Norfolk Admirals, the teams agreed on a deal to send defenseman Andrew McLean to Wheeling. The 25-year old from Waterford, Michigan made his ECHL debut on March 10th in Norfolk's 3-2 road win against the Maine Mariners. Prior to that, McLean played four seasons of college hockey at the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point. Andrew led the Pointers in scoring by defensemen during both his junior and senior campaigns, with his junior year being his most productive, as he recorded 22 points. Overall, the blueliner accumulated 13 goals, 48 assists, and 61 points in 108 games.
To complete the trade which originally sent defenseman Steve Johnson to the Nailers, South Carolina selected forward Nick Saracino. The 28-year old from St. Louis, Missouri spent the last two seasons with Wheeling, and produced at over a point-per-game clip, as he amassed 25 goals, 35 assists, and 60 points in 58 games. Saracino served as team captain for the majority of those two years, with the exception of a 38-game stretch with the AHL's Binghamton Devils during the 2018-19 slate. Nick has played four full seasons professionally, and has notched 46 goals, 69 assists, and 115 points in 197 games.
To complete the trade which originally sent forward Josh Holmstrom to the Nailers, Norfolk selected defenseman Spencer Trapp. The 24-year old from White City, Saskatchewan was acquired early in the season from South Carolina, then went on to play in 42 games with Wheeling. Trapp tallied two goals, four assists, and six points, including his first professional goal in his Nailers debut - a 3-2 road win against the Indy Fuel on November 22nd. Spencer had played in one game with the Worcester Railers during the 2018-19 campaign, after he completed his college career at Holy Cross College, which is located in Worcester.
The next key date in the 2020 offseason is Monday, July 15th, when Season Ending Rosters are due. Teams will then be allowed to begin signing players for the 2020-21 season on Tuesday, July 16th.
Nailers Name Mark French as Head Coach
Two-Time Calder Cup Champion Brings Winning Experience to Wheeling
WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce that Mark French has been named the team's new Head Coach & Director of Hockey Operations.
French, 49, has been a head coach for 14 of the last 15 seasons, working in the AHL, CHL, and WHL in North America, as well as the NLA in Switzerland. Mark began his professional coaching career as an assistant coach in 2004-05 with the ECHL's Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies, who recorded 42 wins and 92 points. He then accepted his first head coaching position with the CHL's Wichita Thunder. Wichita went 70-59-16 under his guidance, and reached the playoffs twice in three years.
In 2007, the Milton, Ontario native joined the AHL's Hershey Bears as an assistant coach. There, he won two Calder Cups - first as an assistant coach in 2008-09, then in his first season as head coach in 2009-10, when the Bears set an AHL record for the most wins in a season, as they went 60-17-3. Hershey qualified for the playoffs in all four of French's seasons as head coach, as they compiled a 180-100-32 record. Mark's .627 winning percentage with the Bears ranks third in AHL history among coaches with at least 300 games. He was also the head coach twice at the AHL All-Star Classic.
"Mark has had tremendous success as a head coach throughout his career, putting winning teams on the ice and developing NHL talent," said Nailers Governor Don Rigby. "He will be instrumental in leading our team back to the playoffs, while working to get our players to the next level. We are extremely fortunate to have a coach of Mark's caliber in our organization."
French continued to his coaching success with Zagreb Medvescak of the KHL, where he led the team to the playoffs in their inaugural season. From there, he returned to North America with the WHL's Calgary Hitmen. Mark led the Hitmen to three consecutive postseason appearances, and also had six players from that team reach the NHL. Most recently, French was the head coach for HC Fribourg-Gottéron in Switzerland.
"Knowing the history of hockey in Wheeling and the relationship of support from Pittsburgh and Wilkes Barre, I see this to be an exciting coaching opportunity," French said. "I believe in getting teams to play to a specific identity, generally built around speed and competitiveness, which certainly in my opinion is a characteristic of current and most recent Penguin teams."
Throughout his coaching career, French has had the opportunity to work with some outstanding players who have gone on to have tremendous success in the NHL. Highlighting the top players are Jay Beagle, John Carlson, Braden Holtby, Matthieu Perreault, and Jake Virtanen. Mark has also had the pleasure of working with some former Nailers, led by Grant McNeill and Dany Sabourin as players, and David Aebischer, who worked on his coaching staff.
“We are very excited to have Mark join our organization,” said Pittsburgh Penguins assistant General Manager Jason Karmanos. “We are impressed with his extensive experience and success. The organization believes Mark will bring the necessary leadership and change we are looking for with our Wheeling affiliate.”
Mark and his wife Kimberly have two children - a daughter Ellie (13) and a son William (11).
See all that happened leading up to the 28th season, 2019.20, by visiting the Pre-season page here: https://www.nailersboosters.com/season19-20