David Wolf’s North American experiment has come to an end as he has decided to return to the Hamburg Freezers, according to the team’s announcement on Twitter.
The Calgary Flames signed the big forward to a one-year, $925,000 deal for the 2014-15 campaign after Wolf recorded 14 goals, 26 assists, and 152 penalty minutes in 48 games with the Hamburg Freezers of Germany’s top league.
Wolf’s tough play made it easy to link him with Flames president Brian Burke’s preferences and that belief only grows stronger with the knowledge that Wolf was invited to a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect camp when Burke was the general manager back in 2012.
The undrafted 25-year-old ended up spending most of 2014-15 with the AHL’s Adirondack Flames where he recorded 38 points and 168 penalty minutes in 59 AHL contests. However, he also participated in three regular season games with the Calgary Flames and logged 10:25 minutes in Game 2 of Calgary’s second round series against the Anaheim Ducks.
Marco Sturm, the highest-scoring German player in NHL history, has agreed to become the head coach and general manager of Germany’s national team.
“I’m very proud that the DEB [German hockey federation] gives me the huge responsibility and I’m really immensely looking forward to this challenging and exciting task I will work on with huge motivation,” Sturm said, per the IIHF website. “Together we want to go the next step with German ice hockey.”
Sturm, 36, retired last January after a 15-year NHL career that went through San Jose, Boston, Los Angeles, Washington, Vancouver and Florida. He also represented Germany at nearly every international level, participating in three Winter Olympics.
As mentioned in his quote above, this new gig will be a challenge. Sturm, who doesn’t have any pro coaching experience, inherits a struggling national team; Germany finished a disappointing 10th at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, suffering one of the biggest blowouts of the tournament, a 10-0 loss to Canada.
This came on the heels of an equally disappointing effort at the ’14 tourney, in which the Germans needed group stage wins over Latvia and Kazakhstan to avoid relegation.
Currently, there are seven German skaters in the NHL: Tobias Rieder, Dennis Seidenberg, Christian Ehrhoff, Marcel Goc, Leon Draisaitl, Korbinian Holzer and David Wolf. Thomas Greiss and Philipp Grubauer are the country’s lone netminders.
On Thursday, Coyotes GM Don Maloney announced the signing of German winger Matthias Plachta to a one-year entry-level contract.
“Matthias is a big, skilled winger who had a very good season in the German League,” Maloney said in a statement. “We look forward to him continuing his development in our organization.”
Plachta, 24, has spent the last three seasons with Adler Mannheim, displaying a mix of offensive prowess (35 points in 47 games) and grit (73 PIM). At 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, he’ll bring some added size to Arizona as well.
While it’s too early to call it movement, there has been a recent trend of NHL clubs looking to the German League for these types of power forwards. Last year, Calgary signed 6-foot-3, 225-pound David Wolf from Hamburg — he appeared in three regular-season and one playoff game — and, earlier this month, Colorado inked Norwegian power forward Andreas Martinsen, who tips the scales at 6-foot-3, 220 pounds.
Plachta most recently represented Germany at the 2015 World Championships, where he scored a pair of goals.
The Colorado Avalanche have made an interesting signing — 24-year-old forward Andreas Martinsen, who spent the last three seasons playing in Germany.
Martinsen, who’s represented Norway internationally on a number of occasions, scored 18 goals and 41 points in 50 games for Dusseldorfer last year. His size (6-foot-3, 220 pounds) and physical play (team-high 99 penalty minutes) are what’s intriguing; in some ways, he’s not unlike another German League player to come to the NHL — David Wolf, the 6-foot-3, 225-pounder that joined the Flames this season after racking up a league-high 152 PIM in 2013-14.
(Wolf, 25, appeared in three regular-season and one playoff game for Calgary this year. He did make a name for himself, though, by getting after Corey Perry in warmups prior to Game 2 of the Ducks series.)
This isn’t the first time the Avalanche have combed the European leagues for talent. Last year, the club signed Borna Rendulic out of the Finnish league, and he went on to become the first Croatian born and trained player to play in the NHL (appearing in 11 games all told.)