WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, have announced a trade. Wheeling has traded forward Jordan Kwas to the Kansas City Mavericks in exchange for defenseman Zach Tolkinen.
Kwas, 28, was originally claimed off of waivers by the Nailers in January of 2016, after starting his ECHL career with the Colorado Eagles and South Carolina Stingrays. In his first campaign with Wheeling, Jordan tallied seven goals, ten assists, and 17 points in 33 regular season games, before adding four goals, six assists, and ten points in the team's run to the Kelly Cup Final. He was the only member of the team to score a goal in both game seven victories, as the Nailers knocked off Reading and South Carolina. Last season, the Cochrane, Alberta native had a career year, as he finished third on the club with 20 goals, amassing a total of 44 points.
Tolkinen, 27, will be entering his fourth professional season, and has been a stable body on the blueline, having appeared in over 60 games in all three of his previous seasons, including 74 in 2015-16, when he played for two teams. Zach's ECHL travels have taken him to the Elmira Jackals, Missouri Mavericks, and Rapid City Rush, with Elmira featuring his longest tenure. He has been primarily utilized as a defensive defenseman, as he has career totals of 11 goals, 36 assists, and 47 points in 210 games. During the aforementioned 2015-16 campaign, Elmira traded the Lino Lakes, Minnesota native to Missouri, who went on to capture the Brabham Cup, as the team with the most points during the regular season.
"Zach Tolkinen is a steady right shot defenseman with over 200 games of pro experience, who fits the mold of the defensemen that we've been looking for," said Nailers Head Coach Jeff Christian. "He plays a shutdown role, and we can rely on him to block shots, while being strong on the penalty kill."
Prior to turning pro, Tolkinen attended Quinnipiac University, where he majored in Pre-Medicine, while playing four years of college hockey for the Bobcats. During his junior season of 2012-13, Quinnipiac advanced all the way to the NCAA's National Championship Game, which was held in Pittsburgh. Former Nailer Eric Hartzell was also a member of that squad. Over the course of his time with the Bobcats, Zach appeared in 135 games, notching nine goals, 38 assists, and 47 points. He also played two seasons of junior hockey in the NAHL.
"Everything I have seen about Wheeling has been top notch, and I am excited to be a part of it," Tolkinen said. "I see myself as a defensive player, who blocks shots, kills penalties, and will chip in offensively here and there. My first year, I wanted to be more offensive, but now that I understand the pro game better, I can be more of a value to a team on the back end."
Zach Tolkinen and the Wheeling Nailers will begin the 2017-18 season with two road games against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on October 13th and 14th. The home opener at WesBanco Arena takes place on October 21st at 7:05, when the Nailers do battle with the Cincinnati Cyclones. To purchase season, flex, or group tickets, or to get more information on tickets and events, call (304) 234-GOAL.