Chicago Wolves players are suddenly in high demand by National Hockey League teams.
The Wolves will play as an independent American Hockey League team during the 2023-24 season and general manager Wendell Young has been busy assembling a roster in preparation for the opening of training camp Oct. 1 followed by the historic 30th season of Wolves hockey.
Players inking deals with the Wolves have included several who were on the team last season, veterans of both the NHL and AHL as well as young players about to get their first taste of the AHL.
NHL teams have taken notice of the Wolves roster and must like what they see as five players signed this season have been invited to NHL training camps, including goaltender Keith Kinkaid (New Jersey), forwards Cory Conacher (Carolina), Peter Abbandonato (Pittsburgh), Isaac Ratcliffe (St. Louis) and defenseman Austin Strand (Arizona). Also, Winnipeg added forward Connor McClennon to its roster for the Young Stars Classic.
“I think this shows respect for Wendell’s ability to choose players,” Wolves owner Don Levin said. “Players who were not considered by the NHL before signing with the Wolves are now being sought after by several NHL teams after Wendell signed them. As always, we are thrilled when a Wolves player makes the NHL.”
The Wolves have a proven track record of developing players for the NHL and the five players currently headed to NHL camps will have an opportunity to further showcase their skills with that goal in mind.
“We’re excited as an organization to have guys go to NHL camps and hopefully something good comes out of it for them,” Young said. “Most of these NHL teams have four of their six exhibition games done by the time we have ours and if the players aren’t going to make their rosters they should be back in our organization before we start our exhibition season (on Oct. 6 at Milwaukee).”
Young said those players having attended NHL camps should be well-prepared for the Wolves season.
“It’s good for these guys,” Young said. “They’re filling a need at the NHL level and they’re getting a chance to show their stuff at an NHL camp. Let’s face it, the guys going to NHL camps are going to be better for it coming back to us.”