WHEELING - The Wheeling Nailers announced Monday that they have agreed to terms to extend the second of their two affiliations. The Nailers and Montreal Canadiens will be affiliated once again, with both clubs also continuing their affiliation with the AHL's Hamilton Bulldogs. This is in addition to the Pittsburgh and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins.
In the 20-year history of the franchise, Wheeling has had a strong history of developing players for the National Hockey League, as 43 players have suited up for the Nailers/Thunderbirds on their way to playing at hockey's highest level. Seven of those 43 players made their NHL debut with the Canadiens, including Tomas Vokoun and Francis Bouillon, who have both spent at least 10 seasons in the NHL, and will continue their careers in the fall. Frederic Chabot, Craig Ferguson, Scott Fraser, Patrick Labrecque, and Yves Sarault complete the list of former Nailers/Thunderbirds who debuted with Montreal.
During the 2011-12 season, the Nailers' roster contained two players that spent time in both Wheeling and Hamilton. Goaltender Peter Delmas had his second straight strong season with the Nailers, and has posted a 33-20-5 career mark in 61 games played in the Ohio Valley. This past season, Delmas also appeared in four games with the Bulldogs, including a 26-save effort in a 2-1 victory against the Toronto Marlies on Jan. 15.
Olivier Dame-Malka made his professional debut this season, posting 7-11-18 totals in 36 games with Wheeling, as well as 1-2-3 totals in 21 games with Hamilton. After starting the season with the Bulldogs, Dame-Malka spent most of the next five months with the Nailers, before being permanently recalled to the AHL at the beginning of March.
''We are very excited to be working with the Montreal Canadiens again this season,'' Nailers Vice President Craig Bommer said. ''We look forward to working with them to help develop their young talent.''