WHEELING, WV- The Wheeling Nailers, proud ECHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins, are excited to announce their 14th player signing of the 2021 offseason. Wheeling has signed defenseman Ivan Chukarov to an ECHL contract.
Chukarov, 26, is entering his third professional season, after spending his first two years with the Worcester Railers. Ivan made his pro debut in February of 2019, following the conclusion of his four-year college career at UMass-Amherst. The blueliner ended his first campaign with a bang, as he recorded points in four consecutive contests, including a two-goal game in the season finale - a 5-4 overtime win at Adirondack. The following year, Chukarov accumulated one goal, seven assists, and eight points in 38 games, with his lone tally being a game winner at Reading.
"I coached Ivan in Worcester, and really enjoyed working with him, because he wants to get better every day, and is always looking for ways to develop," said Nailers Head Coach Derek Army. "He is a long defenseman with elite skating ability and good offensive upside. I'm looking forward to seeing him at training camp."
Prior to the start of his college career, the Des Plaines, Illinois native had a special moment, as he was selected by the Buffalo Sabres in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Chukarov went on to appear in 128 games during his four seasons with the Minutemen, and skated away with totals of six goals, 19 assists, and 25 points. The UMass-Amherst program experienced a huge turnaround while Ivan was there, as the team won 13 games combined during his freshman and sophomore seasons, before 17 during his junior year and 31 during his senior year. Chukarov also got to enjoy individual and team success in juniors, as he was a member of the NAHL First All-Star Team and a Robertson Cup Champion with the Minnesota Wilderness in 2014-15.
"I had a great relationship with Derek Army when I was in Worcester, and I know he is extremely passionate about building a winner in Wheeling," Chukarov said. "I pride myself in my skating ability and my vision, while being tough to play against."
In a separate transaction, the Nailers traded the rights to defenseman Patrick McNally to the Reading Royals in exchange for future considerations.
Ivan Chukarov and the Wheeling Nailers will begin the team's 30th season in Fort Wayne on October 23rd, before the team plays its home opener against the Komets on Saturday, November 6th at 7:10. Season memberships are available, and fans can get more information by calling (304) 234-GOAL. The Wheeling Nailers, considered one of the top things to do in Wheeling, West Virginia, provide affordable family entertainment for fans throughout the Ohio Valley.