It was announced today that the wheeling nailers have received four players from their American Hockey League affiliates. The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins have loaned forwards Denver Manderson and Christiaan Minella to Wheeling, while the Hamilton Bulldogs have assigned goaltender Mike Condon and defenseman Matt Grassi to the Nailers.
Manderson, 24, missed all but one game last season, following a very promising rookie season in 2011-12. After suiting up in just one of the team’s first five games, Denver went on to appear in 52 games with the Nailers, accumulating 18 goals, 22 assists, 40 points, and 44 penalty minutes, finishing third on the squad in rookie scoring, trailing only Chris Barton and Andrew Hotham. Prior to coming to Wheeling, the Fergus, ON native spent one season in Finland, but had his most successful campaign with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees in 2009-10, when he finished in the top five in the league in goals (40), assists (73), and points (113).
Minella, 28, enters his fourth season of professional hockey, having spent parts of each of the previous three in Wheeling. Prior to joining the Nailers, Christiaan began his pro career with the Cincinnati Cyclones, where he totaled 18 points in 41 games. Late in the 2010-11 season, the forward was dealt to Wheeling, where he and the Nailers made a playoff run all the way to the Eastern Conference Final. Over the course of his three seasons in the Ohio Valley, Minella has appeared in 107 games, totaling 17 goals, 21 assists, 38 points, and 92 penalty minutes. Last season, the Cincinnati, OH native also received his first taste of AHL action, suiting up in eight regular season games and six playoff games for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, scoring a game winning goal in the Eastern Conference Final.
Condon, 23, got his first taste of professional hockey at the conclusion of the 2012-13 season, when he was signed by the Ontario Reign. After posting a 3-1 record, and a stellar 1.48 goals against average, Mike received an opportunity at the AHL level with the Houston Aeros. The Needham, MA native put together a 3-0 regular season record with Houston, before appearing in three playoff games against eventual Calder Cup Champion Grand Rapids, including a 41-save performance to force a decisive fifth game. Prior to making the jump to the pros, Condon attended Princeton University for four years, where he majored in Politics, while also finishing with a save percentage over .900 in all four seasons on the ice.
Grassi, 24, also made his professional debut at the end of the 2012-13 season, appearing in three games with the Hamilton Bulldogs. Prior to turning pro, Matt attended Michigan State University for four years, where he appeared in 121 games, registering three goals, 16 assists, 19 points, and 101 penalty minutes. 11 of those 19 points came during his sophomore season. The Burnaby, BC native also spent three seasons in the BCHL with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, totaling 12 goals, 63 assists, 75 points, and 77 penalty minutes in 143 games.
In addition to those four transactions, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins also released the following players from their try-out agreements, who are under ECHL contract with the Wheeling Nailers: Kyle Fletcher, Barry Goers, Chaz Johnson, Mike Ratchuk, Alex Velischek, and Scott Zurevinski.
The Wheeling Nailers will play their first preseason game on Saturday night, when they welcome the Elmira Jackals to WesBanco Arena for a 7:00 face-off.